953 Men’s 8-inch Boot

Red Wing Boot Restoration

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My first experience with Red Wing boots came after a moment of blinding pain.  The boss had just cut a piece of cast iron pipe held steady with my foot.  The snapped piece of pipe rebounded against my ankle.  After swelling went down, we visited Vern to inquire into some boots.

red wing boot restoration jim sergovicVern operated the local Red Wing Store;  he kept a supply of discarded boots for the discerning budget-minded tradesperson.  Ten dollars later, I had safely protected my ankles, looked stylish, and felt like a professional.

My sixth pair were purchased  over a decade ago.  As a “second pair”, they avoided the nastiest of abuse.  None the less, after a dozen years, the heels were crumbling and holes had appeared in the soles.

Without visible stitching around the lower, I assumed they were not recraftable.  A call to Red Wing proved me wrong.  After debating resole vs replacement, I went with factory restoration for my 953s.

Red Wing cuts off the old sole with a band saw, cleans it up with pliers and Dremel, and sews on a new welt. The boots then go onto original factory machinery, where new soles are poured in place, directly bonded to the boot. The Chevron Super-Sole® is a urethane which goes into the mold as a liquid and hardens in about ten seconds.  Finally, the leather is conditioned and new laces expertly laced over and under.  The lace tips line up, a skill which eludes me to this day.

It was about two weeks roundtrip from handoff at USPS to delivery by UPS.  Not new boots, but my boots. Same stains and cuts, broken in to my feet.  About half the cost of new boots.

Red Wing Work Boots

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Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 5.30.17 PMTHE ROLLICKING ’20s were a grand time in Philadelphia.  Luxury “flats” stretched entire blocks.  Inside these aristocratic apartments, room after room unfolded in a maze. As an apprentice plumber, a kid in a man’s body, I once found myself on the 8th floor above 15th and Spruce, snapping a piece of 6″ cast iron pipe. We were replacing part of a cracked stack in just such a grande dame near the Academy of Music. 

Snap! Crack! Ouch! . . . wait, what happened? The pipe jumped forward a funny way, and smacked my ankle.  The boss, grinning through his cigarette smoke, christened me Hoppy, chuckling at the swelling.  A few minutes later, he promised we’d visit Vern at the boot store.  My health benefits were about to kick in.

Vern ran the local Red Wing Boot Store.  For ten bucks, Vern handed me a used but serviceable pair of boots in my size from out back.  I was now officially a plumber, with the boots to match.  8″ of leather protected my ankles.  Sturdy soles protected my arches in the trenches, where I practiced the Art of Digging.  I’ve been buying Red Wing exclusively ever since.

There is a city called Red Wing, in Minnesota.  The heart of a country engrossed with mining, logging and farming needed the Right Boots.  In 1905, local shoe merchant Charles Beckman, along with 14 investors, opened a shoe company to develop work boots to fill industry needs.  A new standard for excellence was born!

My current pair was bought as closeouts a decade ago, and finally put into service a few years back.  After Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.48.37 PMthe heels became mushy, I belatedly discovered these boots were not recraftable.  New boots looked to be in order.  However, a shoe genius located, at all places, the corner of 15th and Spruce, cut off the heels and glued on new ones for $40, saving me a thick stack of crisp Yankee dollars. 

Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.