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Old 02-08-2008, 10:15 AM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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Heat Molding Skates

I can't believe I have to post this thread. I just bought new Jackson Freestyle boots for one of my DD's. The pro shop DOESN'T OFFER heat molding. If I had known that (and a few other things that will be left unsaid) I would have bought the boots somewhere else.

So now, the poor kid has these rock-hard boots to break in and it seems to me that I should just mold them to her feet. I don't feel like searching for a local pro shop that has the oven and paying yet more money for the service.

How should I do this at home? I have an electric oven, but it's NOT a convection or fan oven. How hot does it have to be to soften the boot?
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Old 02-08-2008, 10:55 AM
pedonskates pedonskates is offline
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When I heat-molded my SP Teri's I e-mailed the company, and they sent directions. I had ordered the boots at AN 2005 and had them shipped so didn't have a pro shop to use.
They specifically said CONVECTION oven. I would assume that temperature varies between boot makers.
I was moving across country at the time. My aunt and uncle were in Colorado and had just remodeled their kitchen. I was way excited to cook my boots in their convection oven. My uncle said he'd never seen so much excitement about an appliance.

Bottom line - ask the people who make them!!!
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:08 AM
RoaringSkates RoaringSkates is offline
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That really sucks. I second the other poster - contact the manufacturer. They'll give you instructions.

Worse comes to worst, the pro shop in Hackensack has the ovens. I know that's a haul (if you're in NYC, per your name) but it's a good pro shop.
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:13 AM
Skittl1321 Skittl1321 is offline
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I heat molded mine using a heat gun (not a blowdryer) it took about 10 minutes per boot to get them hot enough, but it worked.

My second pair I found out that Scheel's sporting goods had a oven for hockey skates- they let me put them in for free, but I wasn't really sure it got them hot enough to really work- or maybe I didn't leave them in long enough- no one working there had any idea how to use it, they just knew they had one. Do you have a big box store that might have one? (Except I see that you didn't want to track a pro shop down...)
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:25 AM
Query Query is offline
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Could you post to us what directions Jackson's sends you?

A store told me most skates mold at 180-185 degrees, but temperature and time period varies by brand and model. I got contradictory info from Don Klingbeil on what Klingbeils mold at (he definitely believes a well fit custom boot doesn't need molding, and was a little put off one would ask) - one time he told me 140 degrees, with moisture, another time he told me "same as Jackson boots" - which is why I would like to know what Jackson says.

There are some exercises you should do to break things in while molding. I could say what one bootfitter had me do, but haven't time right now.

I strongly recommend you find the best bootfitter you can to help you, even if it involves traveling far. A bootfitter without an oven may not be very good at the other things in making the final mods to the boots.
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:29 AM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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Originally Posted by RoaringSkates View Post
That really sucks. I second the other poster - contact the manufacturer. They'll give you instructions.

Worse comes to worst, the pro shop in Hackensack has the ovens. I know that's a haul (if you're in NYC, per your name) but it's a good pro shop.
I love Jim in Hackensack. Unfortunately, I'm now about ten hours' south of there. Thanks, though!
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:44 PM
sk8tmum sk8tmum is offline
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Here are the directions from the Jackson's website:

You cannot heat mold your boots at home using a regular household oven.

Only certified Jackson Ultima technicians can safely heat mold skates by heating your boots in a convection oven at controlled temperatures.


Jacksons actually have a good warranty; I believe that doing this yourself might void it. (I know this is less than helpful - sorry ...)

it's worth finding someone to do this, because Freestyles mold very well with the heat molding. The comparison with those who don't heat mold them is significant re: breakin time.
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Old 02-08-2008, 02:50 PM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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I agree that heat molding for Freestyle boots is great - this is our fifth pair of these boots. The warranty's already voided because the pro shop guy leveled the bottom of the boot, which removed the plastic coating. (Good news, bad news, who knows?) Another new idea for me, lol.

I'm going to the figure skating store today - they don't sell skates, just great accessories, so I will take your advice and ask if they know someone who can heat-mold the skates. However, I'm not sure if they'll have an option. The skate tech I used is apparently one of the best in the area. I'm also being cheap, because these were verrrry expensive. *kicks herself*
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:03 PM
Rusty Blades Rusty Blades is offline
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I can't believe an "authorized dealer" doesn't offer heat molding. I would DEFINITELY call or email Jackson because heat molding is part of their advertising and if a dealer isn't doing it for EVERY pair of skates, I am sure Jackson would like to know.
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:11 PM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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I can't believe they don't heat mold either! Unfortunately, I didn't find this out until AFTER the boots were paid for and received.

I'm really upset, so I can't write a letter or email right now - I would just sound like a nasty *****. When I calm down, I'll take your advice. Even if I just write it without sending it, it would make me feel better.

This is an incredibly disappointing experience for me and I realize just how lucky I've been with pro shops in the past. In most NY/NJ shops, when you buy the boots and blades from a shop, the molding, mounting, initial sharpening, and adjustments are included.

I'll try to find another shop in this area or wait until we go back to NYC for a visit if the kids need new skates again. It's just not worth the extra expense and aggravation.
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:39 PM
Mrs Redboots Mrs Redboots is offline
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I did Husband's first pair in our gas oven on warm for 2 minutes. Worked a treat!

Some people have suggested having a go with a hairdryer, which sounds like a brilliant idea. Or, of course, the old hot wet sock trick....
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:13 PM
dbny dbny is offline
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Originally Posted by Isk8NYC View Post
I'm really upset, so I can't write a letter or email right now - I would just sound like a nasty *****. When I calm down, I'll take your advice. Even if I just write it without sending it, it would make me feel better.
SEND IT. It'll make me feel better! I hate dishonest, sneaky, or otherwise not upfront retailers. Jackson should most definitely know about these people.
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:43 AM
aussieskater aussieskater is offline
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I heatmoulded my Jacksons (and a friend's Risports at her request once she'd seen how well mine worked). This is what we did:

Both pairs needed moulding around the ankles and my friend also wanted the pinky toe areas pushed out to make room there. We did one boot at a time.

We used a hairdryer inside the boot and held it there until the boot was comfortably warm to touch on the outside. It took about 5 minutes with my hairdryer, and maybe 7-8 minutes with my friend's. (Make sure you leave some air room so the dryer motor doesn't burn out.)

Put the boot on the foot and lace up tightly (more tightly than you would wear). Stand in the boot with a flat foot and a straight knee bearing your weight, and remain there until the boot has reached your body temperature (from memory, this took about 10 minutes?).

Unlace and remove the boot, and allow to cool. Repeat with other foot.

For the pinky toe problem, my friend changed the shape of her feet by using surgical tape to tape cottonwool balls to the outside of her pinky toes and her bunion areas (near the big toes). This made her feet artificially larger at those areas, and when she tried the boots on again after we finished, she said they they were perfect. This was 6 months ago, and the boots have retained their heat-moulded shape.

We both noticed that the boots did not hold their entire shaping when we "home-moulded" - in other words, they shrank back a little as they cooled and had to be touched up (I had to do mine twice to get them to hold). Is this a "home-moulding" problem, or does it also occur when the boots are heat-moulded at a pro shop?
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Old 02-09-2008, 02:00 AM
SkatingOnClouds SkatingOnClouds is offline
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When heat-molding of my Grafs wasn't successful using the recommended fan-forced oven, I rang their Canada branch, and they were really helpful, so ringing Jacksons might help for you too. Of course, if they are going to be antsy about it being done by an authorised person, they might not be helpful.

I also used a heat gun, as opposed to hairdryer, and it worked really well. One word of warning though, do not get the heat gun too close to the
surface of the boot, it can discolour & blister it, which is not good.
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Old 02-09-2008, 03:04 AM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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I might be spared this episode. There's a great figure skating/gymnastics store not too far away. They just started selling Riedells and the salesclerks assured me that they always heat mold their skates. I'm going to send the manager an email asking if they can take care of the skates for me, even if there's a small fee. I'll let you know how it works out, probably won't happen until early next week.

Thank you for all the suggestions.
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Old 02-09-2008, 04:32 AM
Sessy Sessy is offline
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Well at our rink one girl broke in heat-mold graf edmontons without heatmolding. But then, this is also the same girl who had to get her feet operated for bone growths, so it's probably not a good idea!
What a PRO shop that pro-shop of yours is! Geez.
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Old 02-09-2008, 05:10 AM
Rusty Blades Rusty Blades is offline
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Isk8NYC - please let Jackson know about the first shop anyway.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:42 AM
Isk8NYC Isk8NYC is offline
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Originally Posted by Rusty Blades View Post
Isk8NYC - please let Jackson know about the first shop anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbny View Post
SEND IT. It'll make me feel better! I hate dishonest, sneaky, or otherwise not upfront retailers. Jackson should most definitely know about these people.
I DON'T BELIEVE THIS! (Not you guys, lol) The shop isn't listed as an authorized Jackson dealer on their website. I really am an idiot for not checking that first. It explains a lot of the oddness of this purchase. Hey, live and learn, complain and post, right? lol Hopefully, this will spare someone else the aggravation I've been hauling around. (DBNY is such a good friend, I unloaded on her the other night.)

I had written a first-draft note for the Jackson that strongly suggests sending a rep to the area to train the five or six shops' staff and questioning their quality control since the shop felt the need to level the boot before mounting the blade.

I have a contact from one of the coaches' seminars I attended - the man was very nice, even though I was voicing concern for the blade peeling issue. (My DD's blades were replaced for free as a result.)

Now I have to rethink that note because this shop wouldn't be included in a training seminar. However it could affect their agreement to BECOME an authorized dealer.

Hmmm... Maybe Jackson just has an out-of-date list on their site? That could be possible - I might just send them an email to start, ASKING them to confirm that the shop is an authorized dealer and definitely recommending that they add this figure skating store. (It's absolutely wonderful and the staff is excellent.)

Good starting point at least, before I lose too much of my anger.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:01 AM
Mrs Redboots Mrs Redboots is offline
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Well at our rink one girl broke in heat-mold graf edmontons without heatmolding. But then, this is also the same girl who had to get her feet operated for bone growths, so it's probably not a good idea!
What a PRO shop that pro-shop of yours is! Geez.
Oh, I don't know - I didn't heat-mould my Gams, they were comfortable enough without. And Husband didn't do his new pair, either. He did do his previous pair, but this pair he said were fine as they were. The only bit of my Gams that needed attention was the toe-box, which isn't heat-mouldable, and my fitter punched it out for me a couple of years later.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:30 AM
Query Query is offline
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Aussieskater: Is there a way to accurately control the temperature of a heat gun? Or do you soften it by feel?

There seems to be more than one style of heat molding. aussieskater describes a passive style, in which you just stand there wearing the hot boots.

I'm preparing this rather long explanation partly for a web page:

Professional bootfitter Don Giese had me lace the hot boot very tight, balance on that foot, and do repeated ankle flexions (pitch the foot forward and back while wearing it), like one needs to do while skating.

He told me heat molds are temporary in terms of the fit, just as punching out leather is. Part of the idea of a heat mold, both the heat and the exercise, from his perspective, is to "break in" the leather - i.e., to soften it.

Some people heat mold more than once to accelerate the break-in. Be careful - repeated heat-moldings reduce the longevity of the boot.

If the leather is softened enough during break-in, the shape change doesn’t need to be permanent, because it continuously remolds itself to your foot. At least that is the theory.

I haven't had the courage yet to heat mold boots myself yet, so what follows is pure guesswork. Pre-heat, then wait for the temperature to more or less stabilize. Definitely use an oven thermometer with home ovens to check where it stabilizes first, and base the setting on the hottest part of the cycle - home ovens often are 25-50 degrees (F) off, and have a wide temperature cycle. A non-convection oven heats the inside of the boot more slowly, so you might need a longer heat time then the manufacturer suggests. 180 to 185 degrees (F) is fairly safe for most boots, but temperature and time vary by brand and model. One bootfitter told me manufacturers specify anywhere from 160 to 300 degrees F, along with specific times, for use in professional convection ovens.

Don Klingbeil was miffed that I would consider heat molding Klingbeil custom fit boots, because they are supposed to be fit well enough that isn't needed, though he sometimes heat molds to people at the factory store, if you make a special appointment for it. When I went there in January 2007, he said that they use 140 degrees (F) (if I recall correctly), with moisture. I called in January 2008 to verify that, and he said one would mold them as one would heat mold Jackson boots. I haven't been able to find out yet the temperature and time for Jacksons.

---------------------------------------------------

From what I've been able to find out, the way to make a change to leather fairly permanent, like when forming a boot, is to use a combination of heat, pressure and moisture.

If moisture is used, be very careful, as it hardens and cracks leather, by washing out or breaking down the oil droplets, as well as making it rot, because it helps micro-organisms and worms to grow. This makes sense. Boot leather is just dried animal skin, tanned (poisoned to slow decomposition), with added oil droplets to condition it (lubricate the fibers so they move more freely against each other, making it pliable). Your own skin also hardens and cracks if there isn’t enough oil in it. (BTW “Dry” and “moist” skin refers to oil, not water.) Your own skin also has problems if it soaks in water too long. (I'm not sure all the reasons are the same - living water-soaked skin looks loose and puffy because the cells lose water by osmosis due to electrolyte concentration issues.)

Boots last several times longer if you let them dry (possibly using a low temperature dryer - I sometimes use the Dry Guy Circulator dryer, because they have one model that works off my car cigarette lighter, and it isn't supposed to go over 99 degrees F) after each use, rather then leaving them closed up in a bag, or in a very cold car, and if you occaisionally recondition the leather (work in some Lexol or equivalent oil for most leather. Suede needs something lighter designed for it, as Lexol will stain it and destroy the knap.) Don't leave them in a hot car, as that will allow them to return to something like initial shape. You should also occaisionally waterproof the outsole (the leather sole at the outside bottom of the boot), perhaps using a wax like Sno-Seal. (Probably don't waterproof the rest of the boot - just let it dry, so it can breath a bit. The outsole is of a type of leather that rots too quickly when wet for that.)

One boot manufacturer of boot stretching equipment sells a fluid composed of alcohol and water to help stretch. I guess the alcohol helps the oil and water mix, and breaks down the oil droplets that lubricate the fibers so they can move against each other. After using water, you would probably want to replace the water with oil, by drying and reconditioning. Then you might use a low temperature boot dryer to evaporate the water.

As an example of the effects of water, professional hockey players used to wear their leather boots into the hot tub, for a very rapid break-in. Since the boots were freely provided, they didn't care that they only lasted a few weeks. You find advice to break-in riding and hiking boots by soaking them in water, lacing up tight and wearing them until dry, but that is much thinner leather. Besides, it proably creates longevity problems for thin boots too.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:43 AM
Skittl1321 Skittl1321 is offline
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Originally Posted by Query View Post

There seems to be more than one style of heat molding. aussieskater describes a passive style, in which you just stand there wearing the hot boots.
If I recall correctly the instructions that come with Jackson boots tell you not to move while heat molding, and that doing so can cause damage which will void their warranty. Or maybe that's just what my fitter told me. (I bought the skates long distance, so I couldn't have them done at a pro shop.)
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Old 02-09-2008, 09:12 PM
aussieskater aussieskater is offline
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Originally Posted by Query View Post
Aussieskater: Is there a way to accurately control the temperature of a heat gun? Or do you soften it by feel?
Query, I don't know as we were way too chicken to use a heat gun and used a hairdryer instead!! We did it by temperature because that's what we were told to do. When the leather was nice and warm on the outside, we put the boot on. It seemed to work OK. Does that help?
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Old 02-09-2008, 11:29 PM
TreSk8sAZ TreSk8sAZ is offline
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Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
If I recall correctly the instructions that come with Jackson boots tell you not to move while heat molding, and that doing so can cause damage which will void their warranty. Or maybe that's just what my fitter told me. (I bought the skates long distance, so I couldn't have them done at a pro shop.)
Whenever my pro shop heat molds, my fitter ties the skates very tightly and we are NOT to move. Apparently moving in them while heat molding can mess up the placement of the leather around your feet. We sit on a high bench and just keep still. It makes sense to me as even if you stand and bend deeply, your ankle bones and such will be in a different place than if you are just standing normally or at rest. This is what I did with my Klingbeils, at the same time someone was doing it with Reidells. Don't know about Jacksons, but I think they've been done the same way while I've been there.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:33 AM
SkatingOnClouds SkatingOnClouds is offline
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I'm the one using the heat gun. Graf Galaxies are meant to get really soft when heated, and the guy I spoke to in Canada confirmed that they should get really plastic. The smell of burning leather is a good clue that you should stop

Everything I have heard, read, been told, says NOT to do ankle flexions or walk in your boots to heat mold or break them in. Heat molding is to get them to fit the feet, not aid the actual break in, and I get the impression that trying to do flexions will cause unnecessarily fast break down. And walking is not the action of skating, so isn't recommended.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:36 AM
fsk8r fsk8r is offline
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When I bought my Jacksons the shop told me that I could redo them in the oven at home with it set at 70C if I wanted them redoing. I've been too much of a chicken to take the blades off and do that, and thankfully haven't really needed to. But I have found that leaving boots in the trunk of the car during a hot day in Texas makes the boots nice and toast when you put them on at the rink and gives you a similar sort of affect. Unfortunately, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, that technique is going to have to wait for another few months.
I like the idea of the hair dryer though, might have to try that next time my feet decide to change shape and give me blisters in the boots.
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