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Old 10-09-2011, 22:57   #1
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Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

I have a pair of sperry top-siders with a gum razor soles. I have not worn them for a few years but they look perfect and have never had much use.
How ever when i wore them recently they were very slippery. upon inspection the soles look hard and shiny.
Does anyone know how to soften or revitalize this gum sole?
or should i stop being a tight-arse and just buy a new pair??

alley cat

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Old 11-09-2011, 00:31   #2
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

Try light sandpapering.

I have a pair of incredibly expensive Dubarry Boots which have had a similar problem. After a couple of years the soles became progressively harder and shinier. Sandpapering helped a bit at first but after about 6 years of very light use they were positively lethal on a wet deck. The still cut a bit of a dash on the dock, but are slippy even on dry land. They are 8 years old and the plastic is now brittle and crumbling. They can be resoled (as can Sperry top siders, I believe) in UK or Eire, but since I live in New Zealand this is not an economic option.

All plastic and rubber compounds degrade. Rates and extent depend on initial quality of the materials, plus age, temperature and chemical exposure. The most spectacular I have experienced was a new pair of Jelate rig boots (the Rolls Royce of Offshore Safety Boots) whose soles completely disintegrated within a 50m walk from the company store in Dubai. This was attributed to a few months storage in temperatures greater than 50 deg. C ; over 200 pairs were similarly affected.

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Old 11-09-2011, 02:24   #3
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

Welcome to the forum Alley cat.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:37   #4
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

Welcome Alley Cat. Just use them as loafers and buy another pair of deck shoes for sailing, it's not worth the risk of using slippery shoes on deck.
Sweet are the uses of adversity.
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Old 11-09-2011, 03:31   #5
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

Thanks for the welcome and the good advice.
Now I can dispose of them and get a new pair.
Another victory for "health and safety"
Thanks guys.
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Old 11-09-2011, 03:36   #6
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

The best soles for sailing were from Teva. Called the spider sole on sandals. Unfortunately they no longer make them, except for those darned thong slippers which I dislike.

I have had the same problem with Sperry even when they were brand new.......i2f
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Old 11-09-2011, 14:57   #7
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

Welcome Aboard Cruisers Forum Alley cat

Sand paper lightly side to side.
Formerly Santana
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Everyday is a good day for SAILING!!!!
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Old 11-09-2011, 16:44   #8
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Re: slippery sperry top-siders

When sandpapering lightly no longer does the trick, go ahead and sandpaper roughly. I've even resorted to using a stiff wire brush to work my way down to the sticky stuff.

At some point though it's all gone dry and there's nothing more you can do but retire the deck shoes to shoreside duty and get some new ones for the boat. Don't deny yourself the pleasure and safety of good deck shoes. Slippery ones are dangerous.
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Old 10-07-2017, 08:34   #9
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

I love my Sperry's but I also now have 3 pairs that are so slippery that I can't wear them on my boat. I think Sperry should post a warning about their so called "boatshoes" ...Do Not Use on Boat After 6 Months
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Old 10-07-2017, 14:29   #10
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

Back in the 60's we called it...Planned Obsolescence
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Old 10-07-2017, 14:40   #11
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

Many years ago Sperry changed the formula
on their soles. This was done to make them cheaper
as market research showed them that most
never got close to a boat.
Think preppy barbque, kaki shorts and
pink polo shirts
Much better stuff available now
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Old 10-07-2017, 16:48   #12
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

When my Dubarry soles go hard with age, I put them on and grind them on coarse concrete. Similar to the twist dance by Chubby Checker. It always works for me. My current pair are 5 years old and still sticky. I managed 7 years out of my last pair. I only wear my deck shoes onboard.
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Old 10-07-2017, 18:44   #13
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

Sperry's "boat shoes" and others with similar tread design have an amazing ability to track dirt aboard. I hate 'em for this reason. I like to wear clay court tennis shoes with a soft rubber or gum sole and no tread at all. They slide predictably on clay tennis courts but grip non-skid or teak decks extremely well. And they do not track dirt and dust aboard. Keep a damp towel at the gangway; one scuff and they're clean. BTW, a belt sander with 60 grit restores hardened treads pretty quickly...Takes a few miles off the life though. Up here in the Great White North they sometimes do this to car tires at the first snow.
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Old 10-07-2017, 18:50   #14
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

As stated prior, Sperry Top-Siders are no longer boat shoes after they got cheap on the soles. They will harden on you no matter what in a couple years. Buying a replacement will only result in same. Save your neck and buy something else.

Timberland used to make a good gum rubber boat shoe. Don't know if they still do though.
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Old 10-07-2017, 19:53   #15
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Re: Slippery Sperry Top-Siders

Have had similar problems with Sperry, Dubarry, Helly Hansen, Henry Lloyd plus a few others that I cannot think of at the moment.
An observation that is fairly consistent across all the brands that I have had experience with is that they seem to have long shelf lives if they are not worn (I tend to buy shoes when they are special and store until needed). But if they are worn a few times and then left untouched for a few months they go hard, making walking on deck an activity akin to ice skating, albeit without the directional control. I have found that hitting them aggressively with a power sander brings back some of the "Stickiness" but not for long. If they are worn consistently they don't seem to exhibit the issue.
Dunlop Volley tennis shoes (are they available elsewhere than Australia?) are great, both grip and longevity, but do have the habit of getting on the nose. Another great shoe is from Zhik, which has a similar sole but not very long wearing.
I try to ensure that shoes are only worn on board or dockside on hard surfaces. I fear for my deck condition when it is attacked by debris captured in the soles of shoes.
I hope I haven't broken too many rule by mentioning brands.

In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. When Sailing, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson. (With apologies to Tony Bodett)
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