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Old 22-11-2011, 00:07   #1
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Hardening Shoe Soles

Well, it happened again. Another pair of shoes had to be tossed out because the rubbery deck soles had hardened so badly that the shoes became dangerous to wear. I was slipping and sliding with every step and darn near landed on my butt when stepping onto the dock. Last time the shoes had been worn was 11 months ago. These were not cheap shoes so it isn't because of low-quality material used for the soles.

Does anyone know of anything that can be done to prevent rubbery shoe soles from hardening in our salt air environment? Storing in zip locks doesn't help. And vacuum sealing isn't practical for shoes.

Judy
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Old 22-11-2011, 01:36   #2
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

Not sure if this would work but if you were throwing out anyway worth a try. In the old drag racing days racers sprayed their tires with bleach. Softened the rubber so burnout was easier. Try soaking the soles and see what happens.
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Old 22-11-2011, 01:44   #3
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

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Originally Posted by blgklr View Post
Not sure if this would work but if you were throwing out anyway worth a try. In the old drag racing days racers sprayed their tires with bleach. Softened the rubber so burnout was easier. Try soaking the soles and see what happens.
I just heard this yesterday at work for using bleach on tires when driving on ice. What I heard is that (for cars) it works for short distances. I haven't tried it myself but, like mentioned, it's worth a try.
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Old 22-11-2011, 03:44   #4
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

Jude:
I've had same problem and am sure it's common. I took my 4" grinder with sanding disc to the soles of the last pair and it worked very well. The shoes (good quality Asics or something) were treacherous but now are once again decent, if not new. Don't know how the salt air/water does it but shoes become a hazard if when they get hardened like that. Try the grinder before you deep six them.
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Old 22-11-2011, 04:23   #5
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

You might try Shoe Goo in a thin even layer. I've used it to fill in worn areas on my running shoes, and though it starts out looking shiny smooth, it always gives a grippy surface once it's scuffed or used a bit. Not pretty, but effective. . . .
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:41   #6
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

try sneakers or work boots/shoes...never liked boat shoes on boats because I thought they had worse traction than any other shoes I wore on board.
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:52   #7
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

I recently used a little solvent (Interlux, though Acetone might work too) on the soles and used them on land a little to scuff them up a bit. Seems to have helped.
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Old 22-11-2011, 06:30   #8
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

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Jude:
I've had same problem and am sure it's common. I took my 4" grinder with sanding disc to the soles of the last pair and it worked very well. The shoes (good quality Asics or something) were treacherous but now are once again decent, if not new. Don't know how the salt air/water does it but shoes become a hazard if when they get hardened like that. Try the grinder before you deep six them.
Pete
I think it's just the effects of time, but not noticeable on land.
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Old 22-11-2011, 08:07   #9
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

The usual short-term solution is to use sandpaper or a wire brush to remove the hardened surface, exposing the softer layer underneath. You might be able to get an extra year out of the shoes with occasional sanding.

This seems to happen to all types and brands of boat shoes. When mine can no longer be salvaged I use them around the house.
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Old 22-11-2011, 08:20   #10
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

Boat Shoe Repair

Seems like you could find a cobbler who could replace soles cheap.
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Old 22-11-2011, 08:25   #11
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Re: Hardening shoe soles

I just walk in the shoes until the hardened layer wears off--takes a week or so.
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Old 22-11-2011, 08:52   #12
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This fall I used a metal file to my wife's Sperry's and my boat shoes. Worked great.
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Old 22-11-2011, 11:49   #13
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Re: Hardening Shoe Soles

Something about being in the Tropics is hard on shoes. My deck shoe soles went hard and got so slick I couldn't walk up a grassy slope. The soles on another pair just cracked and crumbled. I've had the soles delaminate and come off on Teva sandals, Keen sandals, Sperry sneaker-style boat shoes, and New Balance walking shoes. On the other hand, my Crocs have held up pretty well.

The problem extends to other polymers, as well. The rubbers on the slingshot I use to chase monkeys out of my banana trees break in two months. The elastic in soccer shorts and bathing suit waistbands disintegrates alarmingly quickly. Some of my wife's friends have resorted in desperation to keeping their underwear in the freezer to stave of deterioration.

I have no idea why this phenomenon happens--the warm temperatures, something in the air, stronger sunlight? Who knows, but it's a fact of life down here.
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Old 22-11-2011, 14:11   #14
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Re: Hardening Shoe Soles

There is a difference between Deck Shoes (onboard only) and Dock Shoes (wandering around ashore).

and keeping 'em seperate means the deck shoes last a lot longer. Bit of a PITA sometimes, but soon get used to it.
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Old 23-11-2011, 04:46   #15
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Re: Hardening Shoe Soles

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There is a difference between Deck Shoes (onboard only) and Dock Shoes (wandering around ashore).

and keeping 'em seperate means the deck shoes last a lot longer. Bit of a PITA sometimes, but soon get used to it.
+1 on that. After going through a set of Sperry's, I now use Crocs for walking around the boat and to the shore whenever my feet might get wet.

For shore walking I have shoes that I keep in closed shoe boxes below the water line. Have not had to change the shore shoes yet and no problems with soles becoming slippery. Maybe it's also because I just use normal shoes that are non-marking instead of boat shoes for shore walking - different sole material?
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