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Supplies for DIY Topys?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Nobody Important, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Nobody Important

    Nobody Important Well-Known Member

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    It seems to me that putting on a topy can't be hard. A sheet of the proper rubber, the proper adhesive, and a few minutes with a sharp knife -- perhaps the flush trim bit of my router might also be useful. Does anyone know any dealers or online sources for the rubber and adhesive?
     


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Search for "shoe findings".

    I might add, in passing, that despite popular opinion to the contrary, Topy needs to be put on when the shoe is brand new for best results...unworn, IOW.

    The whole point of topy is to protect the sole from wear and in that process to protect the stitches that hold the sole on. Wearing the shoe embeds grit and road grime and street oils and so forth into the surface of the outsole.

    All of that has to be removed in order to create a surface which will afford a secure bond between the Topy, which has no pores, and the leather, which does. That means grinding away a certain amount of the leather. In some instances, grinding away the surface of the outsole will expose and even damage the stitching.

    So you not only lose some of the substance of the outsole ...which the Topy is intended to protect...but you expose or damage the stitches which the Topy is supposed to protect.

    The whole procedure is "iffy" enough when the outsole is pristine...meaning only the surface wax has to be removed...but it is much more complicated when the sole has been worn and is consequently not only dirty but of an uneven substance due to that wear.

    I like Topy, don't get me wrong, but it is no magic bullet and needs to be monitored and replaced immediately it gets thin...because if you wear a hole in it, you're right back to the same problem of uneven outsoles and needing to prepare the surface by grinding away the dirt and tar.
     


  3. Chips

    Chips Distinguished Member

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    I feel better for having them placed on all my shoes when brand new then. Certainly don't regret it. I'm on my second pair on my most commonly worn Aldens. They are 3 years old and the first pair of Topys lasted 2+ years when those particular shoes were worn for 12 hour shifts with a lot of walking ( in a large university hospital) every other day for those 2 years. So they definitely hold up. I only replaced them since they were getting smooth and more prone to slipping on the linoleum floors there.

    I guess you could do it yourself if you already had all the tools and equipment on hand, but if not, it's an easy $22 investment in my opinion.
     


  4. UnFacconable

    UnFacconable Distinguished Member

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    I guess you could do it yourself if you already had all the tools and equipment on hand, but if not, it's an easy $22 investment in my opinion.


    Not to derail thread - but where do you go in San Francisco for $22 topy? And is it genuine "topy" brand or generic?
     


  5. Vino

    Vino Member

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    It seems to me that putting on a topy can't be hard. A sheet of the proper rubber, the proper adhesive, and a few minutes with a sharp knife -- perhaps the flush trim bit of my router might also be useful. Does anyone know any dealers or online sources for the rubber and adhesive?

    I bought mine from SugaredPlumFairy_com_1 on ebay. Quite easy to apply. [​IMG]
     


  6. Recoil

    Recoil Distinguished Member

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    I've only put one Topy on a pair of shoes that had never been worn and after 6 months it started to peel at the tip of the shoe. The Topies I've put on after wearing them for a few weeks have never come off or even started to peel.

    All installations were done by the same cobbler.
     


  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I've only put one Topy on a pair of shoes that had never been worn and after 6 months it started to peel at the tip of the shoe. The Topies I've put on after wearing them for a few weeks have never come off or even started to peel. All installations were done by the same cobbler.
    No disrespect to you or your repairman but I've been in this business for over 35 years and I ran a shoe repair as part of my boot/shoemaking business (much of the same equipment and tools...makes economic sense to keep them busy) for 20 some years. Two instances are not proof of concept. If your repairman didn't understand that what appeared to be a clean surface was almost certainly well waxed, he could have failed to clean or remove that layer. My advice about putting Topy on new shoes is that 1) you don't have the embedded dirt and tar that you have to remove and 2) that you don't have an already abraded sole that is almost certainly worn down more in the center of the sole than towards the edges. Topy can indeed be put on outsoles that are worn...it just complicates matters and to some extent nullifies the whole purpose. Any repairman that knows what he is doing will probably agree. Beyond that, the OP wanted to know about doing it himself and without those specialized tools/machines and that specialized knowledge that comes from experience and familiarity with the cements, the materials and the conditions, the issues I addressed were central to answeringhis query.
     


  8. Chips

    Chips Distinguished Member

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    Westlake Shoe Repair

    38 Park Plaza Dr
    Daly City, CA 94015
    (650) 994-2977

    I've taken every one of my 15 or so pair of dress shoes to Victor, the owner. He does a good job with the basic stuff. Many times he'll throw in freebies. The only criticism I have, is he wont tell you what he's charging unless you specifically ask. He just rings prices up at the register and tells you the details.
     


  9. UnFacconable

    UnFacconable Distinguished Member

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    Westlake Shoe Repair

    38 Park Plaza Dr
    Daly City, CA 94015
    (650) 994-2977

    I've taken every one of my 15 or so pair of dress shoes to Victor, the owner. He does a good job with the basic stuff. Many times he'll throw in freebies. The only criticism I have, is he wont tell you what he's charging unless you specifically ask. He just rings prices up at the register and tells you the details.


    Thanks. I'm frequently in or near that shopping center, and will check it out.
     


  10. Recoil

    Recoil Distinguished Member

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    No disrespect to you or your repairman but I've been in this business for over 35 years and I ran a shoe repair as part of my boot/shoemaking business (much of the same equipment and tools...makes economic sense to keep them busy) for 20 some years. Two instances are not proof of concept.

    If your repairman didn't understand that what appeared to be a clean surface was almost certainly well waxed, he could have failed to clean or remove that layer.

    My advice about putting Topy on new shoes is that 1) you don't have the embedded dirt and tar that you have to remove and 2) that you don't have an already abraded sole that is almost certainly worn down more in the center of the sole than towards the edges.

    Topy can indeed be put on outsoles that are worn...it just complicates matters and to some extent nullifies the whole purpose. Any repairman that knows what he is doing will probably agree.

    Beyond that, the OP wanted to know about doing it himself and without those specialized tools/machines and that specialized knowledge that comes from experience and familiarity with the cements, the materials and the conditions, the issues I addressed were central to answeringhis query.


    I wasn't suggesting this was the rule, merely sharing my experiences.
     


  11. meister

    meister Distinguished Member

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    No disrespect to you or your repairman but I've been in this business for over 35 years and I ran a shoe repair as part of my boot/shoemaking business (much of the same equipment and tools...makes economic sense to keep them busy) for 20 some years. Two instances are not proof of concept.

    If your repairman didn't understand that what appeared to be a clean surface was almost certainly well waxed, he could have failed to clean or remove that layer.

    My advice about putting Topy on new shoes is that 1) you don't have the embedded dirt and tar that you have to remove and 2) that you don't have an already abraded sole that is almost certainly worn down more in the center of the sole than towards the edges.

    Topy can indeed be put on outsoles that are worn...it just complicates matters and to some extent nullifies the whole purpose. Any repairman that knows what he is doing will probably agree.

    Beyond that, the OP wanted to know about doing it himself and without those specialized tools/machines and that specialized knowledge that comes from experience and familiarity with the cements, the materials and the conditions, the issues I addressed were central to answeringhis query.


    I undertsand this but I always use a Topy and generally I just wear it for a short while in the city. My (experienced) repairman insists the shoe should accomodate the foot a little before applying the Topy and it needs little abraided surface to take the rubber FWIW.
     


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I undertsand this but I always use a Topy and generally I just wear it for a short while in the city. My (experienced) repairman insists the shoe should accomodate the foot a little before applying the Topy and it needs little abraided surface to take the rubber FWIW.
    Well, that's one way I guess. I don't hold with it, however, and I'll tell you why... On a good shoe the insole conforms to the plantar surface of the foot. That's all the "accommodation" that is needed or wanted in a shoe. And, if the shoe is, again, a good one, made of quality materials, that's gonna happen no matter what the outsole is made of or not made of. I suspect that your "experienced repairman" has seen so many shoes with paper or composite ("shoddy") insoles come down the pike that he has developed a generalized theory that, for his business, fits all shoes. But with all due respect to him the simple fact is that 99.9% of shoe repairmen have never made a shoe in their lives (never even wanted to) and, more importantly, don't really understand the materials or the mechanics of a good shoe. In the end, only you know what kind of shoe you own and what its quality level is. If the results you're getting from putting Topy on after the shoe has been worn a while are satisfactory, don't change what you're doing on my account.
     


  13. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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  14. rs232

    rs232 Senior Member

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    Necro-bump. Searched and it seems like this is the most relevant place to put these pics.

    S, here's how I Topy my shoes - this works for me (4-5 years before getting close to worn through, no delamination). No guarantees about the performance with other people's shoes and gaits (eg I can understand how this would not be a good idea for people who stub their toes frequently).


    Vass saddle Italian oxford. I really love shell. Even in black, I can't think of a single instance where I've preferred calf over shell....
    [​IMG]

    Some of the supplies needed to do a good job:
    [​IMG]

    Create cardboard stencil of the topy shape, cut out, trace onto sole lightly with a pencil, and sand down the sole with some coarse grit sandpaper.
    [​IMG]

    Install toe tap, with both glue and tacks.
    [​IMG]

    Apply topy, wetting both sole and topy with contact adhesive. Tap with soft hammer to get air bubbles out and strong bond. Apply spring clamps all around edge of welt. Tack along bottom, to get adherence there. (Not shown; last two spring clamps along bottom edge at welt).
    [​IMG]

    When dry, trim topy, grind, and sand sole and welt flush with increasingly finer grades of sandpaper. Take the burr off the toe tap. If there is any gap at the glue point, or the transition between sole and topy is not seamless, you'll know that you applied your spring clamps incorrectly. You don't have to sand the whole sole, but I elected to because I wouldn't be able to match the edge dressing paint exactly, and thought I might try a slightly less opaque edge treatment.
    [​IMG]

    Finish tacking.
    [​IMG]

    Apply edge dye. I was debating whether to leave it undyed, but decided that this pair really does need a brown edge. At this stage, the sole edge is matte and porus.
    [​IMG]

    Apply edge wax, and buff.
    [​IMG]

    Polished. On this pair, I was experimenting to see if I can get a nice transparent brown stain that shows off the leather. All up, I don't think I really succeeded, but at least it doesn't look worse than the original. The edges and heels are really shiny in real life, and I do like it better than the original edge treatment.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012


  15. GBR

    GBR Distinguished Member

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    This seems to be an awful lot of effort - is the saving of fitting this thing either your self as opposed to having a cobbler do it (or at all) really worth it?
     


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