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friendlygoz

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Alright guys, need a helping hand on a shell restoration issue. It happened to me again! Ok, not exactly, but a while ago I mentioned that I had been working on a pair of shell aldens that I tried to condition and sand as part of the restoration and that I had ended up with this weird matte portion of the shell. For that pair, I came to the conclusion that I over conditioned and they are now sitting waiting for more attention... or just time.

Well... I just e-thrifted a pair of AEs and there is a panel that has a similar issue but a different cause (I think). However, this time I have no idea what the history of the shoe is other than what I have done so far, which isn't that extensive. They looked very similar to the below when I got them. They really do not seem to be overconditioned. I gave the shoes a quick scrub with saddle soap and a wet microfiber. Then I did a coat of a neatsfoot + VSC blend (which, by the way, seems to be a good idea since it makes it much easier to modulate the neatsfoot). I then let them dry for a bit and gave them a brushing with a pig bristle brush. Both shoes look much better at this point except for this one section.

Lotta pics, sorry... just trying to figure out what's up here. I realize they are still a little messy. It really does not feel like buildup of polish or wax or conditioner to me and I got barely any color off at all while cleaning. I don't have the impression that the they have been polished much really.

Thoughts?

View attachment 1595286View attachment 1595287View attachment 1595288View attachment 1595289
I’d try acetone and then some Bick4 sanding as suggested by @CWOyaji. Acetone on shell does not take off the color to the degree that it does on calf. In fact the color comes back on shell right after you condition.
 

stook1

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I’ve gotten good results wet sanding gritty shell like that with Bick 4 and these. Sugggest starting with the fine like this, or a 3500. If you search my posts there are some before and after pictures of 93606s IIRC.View attachment 1595326

This post: https://www.styleforum.net/threads/vintage-dress-shoe-appreciation-tips-maintenance-and-advice.526196/page-766#post-9483113
I’d try acetone and then some Bick4 sanding as suggested by @CWOyaji. Acetone on shell does not take off the color to the degree that it does on calf. In fact the color comes back on shell right after you condition.
Thanks guys. Just to be clear, there is a little bit of grit in the rolls but I am not really talking about that part. Rather the overall matte look of the entire piece of shell across the vamp. The first pic shows a good contrast of what I am talking about because where the vamp turns into the tongue it seems to get better. Also right along the seam with the quarter.
 

Quantum17

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There are a couple of awesome shoes out there that are just too narrow. They are there to taunt and to tease. Oh, the sorrows.

This pair is 10A, if anyone is interested

This pair is 9.5 AA
D3835289-F247-433C-8424-3199786A7903.jpeg
 

friendlygoz

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Thanks guys. Just to be clear, there is a little bit of grit in the rolls but I am not really talking about that part. Rather the overall matte look of the entire piece of shell across the vamp. The first pic shows a good contrast of what I am talking about because where the vamp turns into the tongue it seems to get better. Also right along the seam with the quarter.
In that case I would start with the sanding. That will smooth out the shell and help with the shine. Then take a little wax polish on your fingers, apply it, and then buff it with your fingers. You will get an amazing shine very quickly. You can use brown or neutral wax polish. Either would work fine. I use Pure Polish high shine neutral wax.

I resisted using wax polish on shell for years. Then Preston Soto suggested it and I’ve been using it ever since. I strip all of the acrylic coating off my shell. The polish gives it an amazing and lasting shine.

Here’s some instructions:
 
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stook1

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In that case I would start with the sanding. That will smooth out the shell and help with the shine. Then take a little wax polish on your fingers, apply it, and then buff it with your fingers. You will get an amazing shine very quickly. You can use brown or neutral wax polish. Either would work fine. I use Pure Polish high shine neutral wax.

I resisted using wax polish on shell for years. Then Preston Soto suggested it and I’ve been using it ever since. I strip all of the acrylic coating off my shell. The polish gives it an amazing and lasting shine.

Here’s some instructions:
Thanks again gents... I can't seem to locate my 3k grit pad so I ordered up a new one and also a 5k. Agree regarding wax on shell. I do it from time to time mainly just for a different look on some pairs or for pairs where some of the shell is not as smooth (not gritty). In my experience, even a thin coat can be effective and it doesn't seem to be that prone to cracking or hazing so long as you keep it to a single thin coat which is enough to help with the pop.

How do you like pure polish, by the way? I'm still working through some old saphir neutral wax polish but might try it next time.
 

davidVC

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JFWR

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If Cary Grant and Siouxsie Sioux had a shoe offspring, this would be it.

Dear prudence, dry your eyes, baby, it's out of character.

But seriously, what a hideous sole. Holy God.

Great reference, by the way.
 

friendlygoz

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Not-quite vintage shell AE Graysons (early 2000s) for my first date night with my wife in 15 months.
7C33F5DF-F73C-45D4-8AE5-7717C98663D0.jpeg
C7A00B45-0450-4035-81BD-D668A41CCF97.jpeg
 

ashynastyclassy

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If Cary Grant and Siouxsie Sioux had a shoe offspring, this would be it.



9C2929B4-C097-43E2-9650-CA214ED33D98.jpeg

May 26th 1906 issue

By comparison the pair in the illustration doesn’t seem so bad after all
 

DG123

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Are you considering getting some shell cordovan shoes and a small home improvement loan to pay for them? Well, an alternate plan is to find some vintage shell cordovan on Ebay. Florsheim had a long history of producing several cordovan styles such as the plain toe blucher (PTB) and a long wing blucher (LWB). The LWB was available in black and #8 cordovan, with the #8 being far more common. The most common style was the 93605. David over at vcleat.com has some terrific vintage information about the 93605 and I strongly urge a trip to his page located here. David did a study of the 93605 sold on Ebay for a year and found the following size and width distributions which I place here with his permission.





The end result is a supply of shell cordovan LWB that are available at fraction of of retail for new Alden or Allen Edmonds. Even though the EEE is as rare as can be, I managed to find these on the Bay several months ago and I bought them before the ad was 2 hours old. When you find the right pair you need to act before someone else walks off with them. Prices range from $75 for worn shoes in only fair condition to as high as $400 for new old stock, never worn, not in a box. Very good to excellent condition will range of $175 to $275. Still far less than $675 to $720 for new AE or Alden.

The width distribution chart for vintage footwear I think illustrates a significant change to retail distribution. Specifically, fifty years ago quality men's footwear brands and their retailers emphasized proper fit, which includes the availability of width sizing from AA to EEEE. However, in current times, to reduce the expense of carrying inventory, even the most prestigious brand names have mostly abandoned the far ends of the width spectrum.
 

DG123

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The size distribution of those Florsheim sold on eBay is interesting. It looks like feet were a lot skinnier years ago.
Carrying a shoe inventory of widths requires both storage space and expense. 50 years ago the better grade men's footwear business model was for a brand and its retailers to offer relatively few styles, make a full range of width sizing available, and keep each style within the product line for a relatively long period of time. This concept was efficient for shoe production, retailing, and consumer fit satisfaction.
I believe the business strategy of offering more models/colors/styles etc...is what has changed, not the shapes/sizes of feet.
 

mreams99

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Carrying a shoe inventory of widths requires both storage space and expense. 50 years ago the better grade men's footwear business model was for a brand and its retailers to offer relatively few styles, make a full range of width sizing available, and keep each style within the product line for a relatively long period of time. This concept was efficient for shoe production, retailing, and consumer fit satisfaction.
I believe the business strategy of offering more models/colors/styles etc...is what has changed, not the shapes/sizes of feet.
Perhaps both sizes and business models have changed.
Americans are much larger now than they were 50-60 years ago. Even cars and trucks have grown wider to accommodate our growing size.
 

FatTuesday

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Alright guys, need a helping hand on a shell restoration issue. It happened to me again! Ok, not exactly, but a while ago I mentioned that I had been working on a pair of shell aldens that I tried to condition and sand as part of the restoration and that I had ended up with this weird matte portion of the shell. For that pair, I came to the conclusion that I over conditioned and they are now sitting waiting for more attention... or just time.

Well... I just e-thrifted a pair of AEs and there is a panel that has a similar issue but a different cause (I think). However, this time I have no idea what the history of the shoe is other than what I have done so far, which isn't that extensive. They looked very similar to the below when I got them. They really do not seem to be overconditioned. I gave the shoes a quick scrub with saddle soap and a wet microfiber. Then I did a coat of a neatsfoot + VSC blend (which, by the way, seems to be a good idea since it makes it much easier to modulate the neatsfoot). I then let them dry for a bit and gave them a brushing with a pig bristle brush. Both shoes look much better at this point except for this one section.

Lotta pics, sorry... just trying to figure out what's up here. I realize they are still a little messy. It really does not feel like buildup of polish or wax or conditioner to me and I got barely any color off at all while cleaning. I don't have the impression that the they have been polished much really.

Thoughts?

View attachment 1595286View attachment 1595287View attachment 1595288View attachment 1595289
Quick thoughts:

Not sure what good sanding will do.

Acetone is a good idea.

Neatsfoot oil may be the devil. If nothing else works, give it time to dry.

Possible original acrylic finish is gone on that vamp but remain elsewhere. That would allow the leather to absorb more.
 

stook1

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Quick thoughts:

Not sure what good sanding will do.

Acetone is a good idea.

Neatsfoot oil may be the devil. If nothing else works, give it time to dry.

Possible original acrylic finish is gone on that vamp but remain elsewhere. That would allow the leather to absorb more.
Thanks - I will just say that I am lucky that both these and the aforementioned aldens were among the lowest cost shell I have ever found. So sacrifice in the name of experimentation isn't the end of the world.

There are some big differences between the two pairs though. On the Aldens, I used a LOT more neatsfoot than I did on this pair. For this pair, I mainly used VSC but spiked it with a little neatsfoot. I have used neatsfoot a decent amount at this point and I wouldn't say it's the devil but you do have to be careful with it. On this pair, they really do not feel over conditioned to me but I do feel like there is something up with the original coating on that panel. The thing with neatsfoot is that it absorbs a lot differently than other conditioners, which is part of why I think it is so effective.

Anyway, I think you are onto something regarding the coating on this shoe. I think it's more that than it is the conditioning.

I have a restock of acetone incoming and will do some experimenting with this pair. I am probably going to re-dye them as well since the contrast is really too extreme even for my taste and this style of shoe will look better if they are more consistently colored.
 

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