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Fix Inline Speed Skates: Boot Mounting Block Repair How To Cheap DIY for Powerslide C4 or Other Carbon Fiber or Fiberglass Boots

roadskater's picture

I am not recommending anyone else do this, just telling what I did and showing some of it. If you can't do this or don't think it is a good idea, get some professional repair help, or better yet, buy new boots! 

A few years back I replaced my Mogema and my beloved Verducci V-Tec boots after deciding they were too far gone to fix. Believe me. If I can't dream up a fix (whether or not it would work) they really are toast.

Many of my repair dreams involve various types of epoxy (either the two-bottle, dual-syringe, two-tube or the single-tube-of-putty sort made like caramel creams, e.g. waterweld) plus various "found objects" like used USPS Tyvek envelopes (as it's not nice to use the new stuff, ya know?), various kinds of plastic sheeting, air sole material, stuff like that. (Tyvek layers epoxied on can make a decent patch to strengthen some weak carbon spots, in my opinion.) 

This particular project was on a pair of boots with 165mm mounting, not the newer 195mm mounting. The same technique might be used for 195mm, but because the mount of the 165mm tends to be under the ball of the foot, it's important to get this area right and keep it that way. 

So this task came about because while I loved my Powerslide C4 boots for a long time, they were really giving me pain under the balls of my feet, especially on the left boot. I decided part of it was the really cool multihole mounting blocks they used. This mounting block might be a great idea, or it might be a horrible idea. 

It is a great idea because it gives you tons of options for where to mount your frame and how to adjust the angle of it to suit your particular body alignment and skating style. It's a great idea because if you strip one set of threads you can at least try to use another set. 

It might be a horrible idea because these extra holes can let lots of water into the footbed, and eventually, the padding can give way and you might start to feel the uneven surface under your foot where those holes are. 

Over time I was feeling more and more unhappiness underfoot, to the point that this became more of an issue than muscle cramps or other excuses! Amazing! It turns out there was more than one problem, and part of it was metal shavings or thread bits that had gotten between the liner and footbed (see below). 

One day while adjusting the frame, I heard a pop and realized that the mounting block was now loose and able to move around, including being tightened to the frame while not exactly in the right place or at the right angle, perhaps. Even though there should be no problem once everything is clamped down with the bolts, it still seemed a good idea to get some epoxy down in there to make that part of the boot tight again at least. Pain helped make doing the work easier. 

As your skates loosen up over time, you're giving away some energy to that structural weakness, plus losing control of the wheels a bit too. Slow changes can go unnoticed, and doing some tightening up of  the stuctural elements of your skates can make a positive diffference.  

So I got some two-tube style epoxy, as I recall it was about $1 from Harbor Freight, but nothing special. My opinion is get the epoxy that takes the longest amount of time to dry that you can stand to wait or to clamp things down, specifically. I also had some knives in my kit to choose from, including a box cutter type and a lightweight Victorinox like the $10 or so kind for putting on a key ring. I think the Victorinox ended up being the most handy for this task due to small size but sharp blade. 

Here's the basic set of steps and what I can remember about it all:

  • Grab your digital camera and take photos of your process. This will help a great deal in most cases, for example, when you didn't pay enough attention to how things were aligned originally.
  • Take the shoestrings out
  • Pull the tongue outward to increase access to the inside of the boot 
  • Cut the insole liner AND DO NOT CUT THROUGH OR INTO THE CARBON OR OTHER HARD MATERIAL IN YOUR BOOT, as cleanly as possible along the seam line that joins the footbed liner material to the sidewall liner material. The Powerslide C4 is very well made in terms of the quality of the inner materials and the sewing and gluing. Remember you want any imprefections you add to NOT be where your foot can feel it. I cut my footbed liner all the way around the front of the foot from one side to the other at about the widest point.

  • Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Cut Along Insole SeamPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Cut Along Insole Seam
  • Carefully peel back the footbed liner material to expose the mounting block, subliner padding and the mounting holes in the carbon of the boot. 
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Peel Back Insole LinerPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Peel Back Insole Liner   Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Insole Liner and Sublayer OuchPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Insole Liner and Sublayer Ouch
  • When taking the mounting block out, notice the orientation of any side cutouts (see the two semicircular coutouts) and alignment dimples underneath and perhaps in the hard boot material. 
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block BottomPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block Bottom  Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block Top ViewPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block Top View  
  • Clean things as best you can, and scuff things up a bit where you're going to glue, but DO NOT TAKE AWAY CARBON OR OTHER HARD MATERIAL FROM THE BOTTOM  OF THE BOOT. 
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Holes in Hard ShellPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Holes in Hard Shell
  • Get some extra preferably used mounting block bolts to thread into the block to keep the glue out (it might be possible to use RTV BLACK or similar silicone as a filler, which might also work well afterward as waterproofing, which I have used this for before....but if you use RTV BLACK or other silicone make sure you can make it smooth underfoot). 
  • Practice assembling the pieces back together BEFORE you put glue on everything. A little practice can really help avoid problems. 
  • Mix your epoxy per the directions. 
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Repair Harbor Freight EpoxyPowerslide C4 Boot Repair Harbor Freight Epoxy
  • Put bolts into the mounting block from the wrong side except leave the center hole open.
  • Put some glue EVERYWHERE BUT IN BOLT THREAD HOLES on the BOTTOM INSIDE of the boot and on the BOTTOM AND SIDES of the mounting block and align the thread holes and tabs and cutouts with the boot features and press and hold per directions, being careful to get glue off the surface your foot will be resting on as much as possible. Even layers of glue are fine, but bumpy ones are not. 
  • Put the center bolt in as you normally would, from the outside of the boot (with no frame). Tighten the bolt to normal tourque.
  • Remove the non-center bolts from the INSIDE of the boot/TOP of mounting block.
  • Clean the top of the mounting block inside the boot. 
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block Top Before Cleaning Glue GlobsPowerslide C4 Boot Interior Front Mounting Block Top Before Cleaning Glue Globs
  • Make sure the bolts have no glue on them and from the OUTSIDE BOTTOM of the boot, reinsert them and tighten normally to clamp the block to the boot for drying.
  • Powerslide C4 Boot Exterior Front Mounting Block Bottom with Extra Bolts for Gluing PressurePowerslide C4 Boot Exterior Front Mounting Block Bottom with Extra Bolts for Gluing Pressure   
  • Carefully press the inner liner back down making sure to slide pressure from the inner back to the front and outward. Make it as smooth as you can! 
  • String 'em up, and I recommend lacing OVER and INTO the eyes instead of UNDER. Based on recommendations of others and my experience, this helps keep the boots tighter longer. No I can't prove it and haven't studied it! 
  • Sit in a chair and talk about skating for awhile, get dressed to skate, check out the rest room, and wait as long as you can stand it and preferably until the full curing time (times two or three or 24 if you can do it).
  • Remove the bolts and attach the frames and do everything else you should to be skating safely! 

My results from the project were good. The very first day I could tell it was much more comfortable. It is possible, and happend to me, that some thread pieces or other metal gunk can get trapped between the inner liner and the footbed. Anything that went into your boot from the bottom and got pushed in by a bolt can end up causing some pain. Use this technique of cutting around the liner edge to get a look and you may be skating more happily. 

More improvements might be made by experiementing with thin plastic layers, neoprene or footbed inserts: Once I saw the sublayer I knew a lot of spring was gone from that material, so I set about experimenting by making numerous homemade footbed inserts and testing them when skating. You need...

  • A very smooth bottom layer. I settled on some thin hard plastic as a base layer to make the footbeds smooth. I bummed this plastic layer by asking the manager of a grocery store if I could take one of the plastic sheets that they used to cover magazines deemed unfit for viewing, just as I was buying plastic report cover/notebook material (hard but flexible) from them. It turned out the magazine cover stuff was just a bit better than the notebook plastic. 
  • A cushioning layer (above the hard smooth bottom layer, but all of this is above the original inner liner and sublayer). I settled on neoprene footbeds I made from an "exercise belt" purchased at Wal-Mart as a source of neoprene. Experiment with how soft or hard and how thin or thick you can make this. You'll find a sweet spot hopefully, where you're getting some cushion but still controlling your frames and wheels with a very direct feel. 
  • Another thing: If you are feeling lots of pain under the ball of your foot, well, yes it can be that you are leaning forward too much. But if you have been retightening the lower eyelets of your skates very tightly to move your foot back into the ankle of the boot more, for example, the extra pressure from the shoestrings above the ball of the foot can put lots of pressure on the ball of the foot and cause pain. 

This project also gave me a more solid connection to my frames, I think, but another repair made an even greater difference, and I couldn't believe how much. New boots might or might not be better, as so many have found. But for now, my skates have been getting back to good.

Notes on that repair soon, I hope. It involves needle and thread! 

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