Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Remolding the Toes of Intuition Liners

I've been skiing my Scapra Maestrale boots with the wrap liner from  my old Scapra Spirit 4s when I want a bit of extra stiffness. The Maestrale liner has a flexible soft ankle region which helps them tour well but doesn't give the boot shell a ton of support. When skiing cut up variable snow with the stock liners the Maestrale can collapse forward from lower shell deformation.

My Spirit liner is a bit stiffer and higher and takes up more volume in the ankle of the shell despite being from a smaller shell sized boot (26.5/27 vs 27.5/28). I have wide feet and my spirits were quite tight lengthwise (too tight for long tours) but snug side to side. The larger Maestrale is around the same width but has more toe room. I decided to remold the front of the liners to give my toes some more wiggle room and better fit the front of the Maestrales.

The process is similar to molding an Intuition for the fist time (see here and here) and should also work if you just need to make more space in the toes (or anywhere else) without remolding a liner.

The basic supplies you need are:

  • Heat Gun 
  • Toe caps or padding for the spot you need more space. I used the toes from some old socks and some neoprene bike shoe toe covers I found for cheap but you can get the real thing from Intuition. If you are just heating the toe you can also wear multiple pairs of socks. If you're molding more then just the toe make sure the padding doesn't go too far back or you'll loosen up spots you want to be snug. 
  • Ski socks.
  • Your insoles.
  • A book or bit of 2x4 to stand on.
  • A bit of wood or cardboard to work on so you don't accidentally melt your workspace. 

You might also consider using tin foil to shield areas you don't want heated.

Prepare your workspace with a chair to sit on while putting the liner in the shell and some entertainment and a cold drink to enjoy while you wait for the liner to cool on your foot.

First pad the areas of your foot where you need more space and put your foot bed on under your sock:

This padding goes too far down my foot but i'm only heating the toes. If I was molding the whole boot I'd cut the toe cap shorter.

Sock goes over this contraption.

Getting the hot liner with your foot in it without any creases or folds is the most tricky part and you may want to practice before you start cooking. If you are heating a large area or the whole boot you may want to use a couple tricks:

  • Tape the inside back of the shell with smooth packing tape to produce a smooth surface you can easily slide the liner in on.
  • Have 2 thin plastic grocery store shopping bags and some silicone lubricant spray handy. When the liner is hot put a bag over it and spray with lubricant. The bag covered liner should slide right into the shell.

Also make sure the shells have the micro adjust buckles adjusted how you want them before you start. Loose buckles during molding will yield a tighter end product and tighter buckles a looser one.

When you're ready to cook, carefully and slowly heat the toe with the heat gun until it is warm and squishy throughout. I started with the gun set quite cool but ended up using a temperature setting around 500 degrees. Keep the gun moving and bring the temperature up slowly. I tried to get some hot air into the inside of the toe but mostly heated the outside. Be careful not to get areas you don't want to remold too warm.

Once the liner is hot and squishy put your sock clad foot in it and insert the whole mess into the boot like you practiced. Once your foot is in do up the buckles put the boots in ski mode, give the heel of the boot a kick against the floor and then flex the boots forward to make sure your foot is in the right place. Stand with the toe of the boot on a book or bit of 2x4 while it cools. This last part is intended to form a heal pocket and is less crucial if you're only remolding the toes though you still need to get your foot in the right place somehow.

I started working on the second liner while standing there waiting for the first to cool which worked well. In the end you want to let each liner cool for at least 15 minutes.

I haven't had a chance to ski these since I remolded them but the end result seems good, plenty of room to wiggle my toes but still a firm hold on the rest of my foot and lower leg.


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Smooth is Fast and Fast is Smooth. When the timer goes off people love to freak out, like the weight of the world depends on how quickly you can get feet set inside the liners. This is certainly not true and if you run into any problems you can always reheat the liners, but rarely is this necessary. So, remain calm and think about what you're doing. Have the customer stay seated and place both feet in the boots before buckling either. Have them kick heels lightly to make sure heel is set. Then pull up firmly on liner around calf and lightly on liner around shin. Begin buckling up the boots starting at the top and working your way down. People love to over tighten buckles here, but you will over compress liners, so set the buckle about where they would be when skiing. The only time you over tighten would be if there are problem areas in the forefoot for which you are over tightening to create extra room. Check this one

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