red wing restoration
Rehabbing old properties sounds glamorous but it’s dirty business. Smacking everything apart and returning it to rights makes of mess of clothes and boots. Clothes go into the Maytag. The boots? Special care is required. Like we learn in the Army, you gotta take care of your feet. That means taking care of your boots. When the dust settles, I return my boots to factory specification. A good cleaning, then boot oil.
For cleaning, I continue a family tradition, trusting the same company my great-grandfather trusted with his farrier business. Since 1895, the Fiebing Company has been manufacturing high quality Horse Care, Shoe Care and Leather Care products in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. – Fiebing
First a strong hose to remove mud and concrete dust, blood and sweat. An old kitchen pad rubbed about in dampened Fiebing’s Saddle Soap gives me a hearty lather for sturdy scrubbing. After a good rinse and a day for the leather to dry, its time to hydrate.
Red Wing Boot Oil came with the Red Wing boots. It sat for years as earlier boots crumbled into tatters. Finally Redfern explained to me in simple terms I could remember. “You’ve got to keep the leather oiled”. My current #1 pair of Red Wings are over a decade old, factory-resoled once. The #2 pair, still almost dressy, six months.
Alternate days gets alternate boots. They both get the same care. Keep’em clean with soap and water, and when the dirt becomes embedded, Fiebing’s Saddle Soap then a good boot oil.
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.
Vern 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.