Sole Protectors - Where to Buy?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by MLR, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. MLR

    MLR Well-Known Member

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    I've always self-installed plastic shoe taps on all my shoes and recently, since upgrading my shoe collection, have thought about getting Topy or Vibram sole protectors for a few of my AE's (not for my SF Tramezza's though) just to try them out. I know all the cobblers really hate to hear it, but I really would like to buy the materials and do this myself (at least on one pair). The problem is, I believe shoe repair suppliers have formed a policy to keep these supplies out of the "do-it-your-selfer's" hands - these products are impossible to find! I can imagine some will suggest to just have a cobbler do it for a myriad of reasons, however, I also install my own tile, do my own plumbing and plant my own shrubbery - Home Depot exists and contractors probably aren't happy but...anyways, I was wondering if anyone had a good source (preferably online) where I could get these products (??). Thanks...
     
  2. skalogre

    skalogre Senior member

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    I have not been able to locate any online so far [​IMG]
     
  3. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    It's a bit of a chore to do this yourself, as you have to cut, glue, and trim the topy to the exact size. I use a dremel to make the trimmed edge flush with the sole.


    Here are some dealers I haven't tried.

    http://www.shoeschool.com/shoeschool...ies/index.html

    This link says to identify the products you want, then order through macpherson.

    You want to order the thin Vibram soling sheets. I use 3.2 mm. It's surprisingly tough, but you will have to replace the heel sections once in a while, or nail a toe tap over the topy material on the heel.


    The thin rubber sheet looks identical to the topy-type material I glue to the bottoms of my shoes. It is very sturdy and thin. I get it at a shoe supplies wholesaler (say you're a student).

    http://wardrobesupplies.com/store/m2_shoerubber.html
     
  4. StockwellDay

    StockwellDay Senior member

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    I've always self-installed plastic shoe taps on all my shoes and recently, since upgrading my shoe collection, have thought about getting Topy or Vibram sole protectors for a few of my AE's (not for my SF Tramezza's though) just to try them out. I know all the cobblers really hate to hear it, but I really would like to buy the materials and do this myself (at least on one pair). The problem is, I believe shoe repair suppliers have formed a policy to keep these supplies out of the "do-it-your-selfer's" hands - these products are impossible to find! I can imagine some will suggest to just have a cobbler do it for a myriad of reasons, however, I also install my own tile, do my own plumbing and plant my own shrubbery - Home Depot exists and contractors probably aren't happy but...anyways, I was wondering if anyone had a good source (preferably online) where I could get these products (??). Thanks...

    My cobbler in Manhattan does taps for $2 a shoe - front and back - it's practically free.

    I don't know about topys, but can't imagine labor would be very much more than the topy itself. Have you tried asking a cobbler to buy a pair of topys from them directly?

    Also, I think the logic of (not) using a contractor - cobbler is quite different. You might have to a pay a contractor thousands of dollars because the job you require may take 10 hours -- when you might be happy to conduct the labor yourself. Putting a topy on a shoe, not so much... however, if i read your post correctly, it might be more of a pride/ego thing than money thing.

    Anyways, all Dutch speak English. You might want to try contacting the propritors of this site to see if they'll sell you Topys:

    http://www.oomens-lederhandel.nl/produkt1.htm

    Click - Reparatie
    then - Rubber Zolen

    (+31)(0)38 - 4215258
     
  5. MLR

    MLR Well-Known Member

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    Actually, my intention of the contractor vs. Home Depot analogy was to advise anyone who felt the need to interject with "only a master cobbler should touch your shoes" commentary [​IMG] that similar types of situations exist where non-trade people do like to attempt non-dangerous projects on their own [and are able to get the supplies they need]. I assume a cobbler would charge me next to nothing for a shoe polish, but I would guess the majority of the gentlemen on this board do their own polishing - I think its more of a matter of convenience and enjoyment of learning rather than pride or money (although I believe it would be $30+ per pair)....besides the fact I really don't have a reputable repair shop nearby.

    Thanks for the site info - I'm going to check them all later and see if this is a worthwhile pursuit...
     
  6. Leslierc

    Leslierc Senior member

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    Most shoe repair shops have them in stock. In my opinion this work should be done by a professional. My shoe repair shop does this work for $28.00/pair (nylon heel plates included).
     
  7. Tomasso

    Tomasso Senior member

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    In my opinion this work should be done by a professional.

    I agree.
     
  8. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I had my toe-taps done for 50 cents in Shanghai.
     
  9. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    Toe and heel taps are easy to find and install. The Kiwi brand taps sell for around 30 cents each and take seconds to install.

    Topy or vibram sole sheets (3-4 mm thick) are a chore to track down and a bit of a pain to install, but feel much better (to me) when walking. I can also walk on wet sidewalks or rock salt without worrying about trashing the shoes. I've paid less for EGs than EGs wants to resole them ($300?).

    30-40 bucks a pair seems about right for topys for what I've read here, which is why I do it myself. If it were only a couple of pairs of shoes that's one thing, but not for as many as I want to protect. It takes around 15 minutes a pair now that I've done it a few times and have the mini grinder. It's also important to me to have the rubber soling really thin. The sheet I see slapped on my girlfriends shoes are around double the thickness I prefer.

    It definitely comes down to how much your time is worth. Home cobbling isn't exactly fun, but I have some cool shoes I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. If I were a glue addict, however, it would be my favorite activity!

    I've also had good luck just gluing small hemispheres of topy material to the toes and heels. It really cuts down on the wear (rip em off and replace them every couple of months), but the perks of leather soles (dancing, slipping on marble stairs, etc) are unaffected.
     
  10. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    While we're on this topic: are there lug-topy soles available? I.e., something that could be glued onto a leather sole that would turn it into more of a commando or at least Dainite-type sole?

    Also, when you do this yourself, do you hammer the topy down onto the sole to set the glue? If so, how? Do you have an anvil? I seem to remember that being a crucial part of securely gluing a half-sole onto a shoe.
     
  11. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    There are lug pattern half soles and heels of every type available in cobbler supply shops. Vibram has quite a variety in their catalog. It may help to use tacks in addition to glue when putting on a commando heel. Anyone with non-theoretical experience care to comment?

    http://www.vibramrepair.com/en/html/catalogo_eng.htm

    I don't use a shoeform or pound on the soles for my topy. Barge cement is extremely tough. You have to use it correctly though. Put a minimum on both surfaces while completely covering them, let it dry 15 minutes, warm it with a hair dryer and press them together firmly from the center out to avoid air bubbles. I let them cure 24 hours. I also bevel the edges of the topy so they can't catch on anything. This is especially important for heels, which get dragged around on the floor mat while driving manual transmission cars.

    When resoling athletic shoes that undergo lots of stress, you have to rough up both surfaces to give the glue something to hold on to. Then yes, I do pound the soles on with a hammer. I've never had delamination when I did this. You can also park a car on them overnight on a flat smooth surface like a garage floor.
     
  12. Tomasso

    Tomasso Senior member

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    It takes around 15 minutes a pair now that I've done it a few times and have the mini grinder.

    I've also had good luck just gluing small hemispheres of topy material to the toes and heels.


    Can we see some photos of your equipment and some examples of your work?
     
  13. MLR

    MLR Well-Known Member

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    billiebob - doing the toes and heels is actually what I had in mind for first attempts; I'm glad to hear you've had success with this method. Now that I think about it, I also agree that this is a "numbers" game - if i had just one pair of shoes I'd probably give up at some point and shell out the 30 bucks [due to the difficulty in getting the stuff]....but when you get up to double-digits in your shoe collection, $$$ does become an issue!
     
  14. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    Sure, I'm actually going to topy one of the Grensons I got from Paul Stuart tonight.
     
  15. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    Here are some pics of my topy setup. I have no equipment, just a sharpie, sheet of rubber 3.2 mm thick with micro tread, barge cement, sturdy scissor, and handheld grinder like the one below.

    This grinder including 50 or so accessories was $20 at harbor freight tools. The adjustable speed is nice so the rubber doesn't burn. The dust is powdered rubber. This isn't a job you want to do in your apartment.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a finished shoe. How much of the sole to cover is pretty arbitrary, as is the shape.
    [​IMG]

    I grind the sole flush with the leather. Since this always takes off a tiny but of leather, I use some sole edge dressing
    [​IMG]

    The inside of the heel
    [​IMG]

    Here is an example of just the toe and heel, done a while ago. You can cut the heel piece to cover the dovetail, or not.
    [​IMG]

    This whole process is easier on new shoes. When the heel and sole is worn already, it's still possible to do this, but delamination is more likely.
     

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