How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

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trite
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How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by trite » Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:32 am

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I cut off a piece of rubber from my pulk shaft and used it as a shim beneath the duckbill and binding rivets. I then stitched together some spare webbing and microcord (all I had), and looped it through the slots on the side of the bindings and back around my heel. I tied it off as tight as possible with a trucker’s hitch. This took 4 hours of trial and error.
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The strap broke after about 15 miles of ice, sastrugi, and steep portages. I stitched together another strap that night in the tent, and this one lasted the final stretch. It snapped just as I finished. I checked the other boot, and the duckbill was beginning to crack on that one, too.
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Questions:

The slot that I utilized, what is it for? I’ve also seen it used to run a strap over the top of the boot rather than behind the heel.
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Is there a cable you could use here? Anyone have an idea for a DIY solution, something lightweight to bring along as a backup for a scenario such as the one I had? I tried the same idea with paracord when I got home. It was certainly stronger and quick to make, but it too started to abrade after a few miles. I’ve learned that far more force is kicked into each stride than one realizes.
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Anyone know where I could find the cable attachment that previously came with the Super Tele bindings?
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Alternatively, can the cables be easily removed from the new Super Tele Cable bindings? (Or is my only option Voile?)
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Finally, in addition to having some sort of cable/heel strap, I need a better strategy for field repair for the duckbill. I need to be able to fix it if it happens again in the middle of a 200+ mile trip. Is it possible to screw in a steel smile plate with just an awl, drill bit, and multi-tool?

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On that note, will smile plates resurrect my still-broken boots or are the plates not thick enough?

A note on the Alico Ski March boots:

I don’t recommend them if you need a reliable boot for long trips. Too many of them seem to have sat too long in storage, leading to dried out rubber and plastic. Granted, this size 12 pair had noticeably shoddy stitching on the duckbill compared to my pair of size 11 and my partner’s size 8. Also, the leather started peeling as a result of the crusty snow conditions whereas my partner’s size 8 did not. For the record, I’ve put a lot miles on my pair of size 11, and I really like them. No problems thus far. (I got the size 12 pair in order to wear extra socks in deep cold).

For expedition-worthy boots, I’ve since upgraded to a new pair of no-longer-made Alfa Gaiter 75mm.

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Nick BC
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Nick BC » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:54 am

To answer one question, the cable (rods) can be easily removed from the Rottefella 3 pin cable binding.

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paulzo
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by paulzo » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:02 pm

I dont think smile plates are going to help, since the screws are right in the crack line.

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Woodserson
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Woodserson » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:38 pm

Nice fix! This is the one big difference between the Rott Super Telemark and the Voile Mountaineer-- those slots are literally lifesavers. I like what you did, and the strap over the top could have been another option too, I think. I think Bgregoire has some good advice regarding this, hopefully he'll check in in a few days.

Regardless, you got out.

Where was this and what were you doing? I would love to know.

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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by fgd135 » Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:51 am

Good emergency repair! I once attempted to repair a similar toe break on a tour companion's boot out on a 10th Mtn Div hut trip--2nd full day and his toe snapped--this was a while back, and he was in Asolo Snowfields or Snowpines, can't recall exactly. On examination, his boots were in poor condition before he started the tour--the midsoles on both boots were cracked--and he was aware of that fact, but decided to use them anyway. More on that, later.
There's not so much long distance on each day of these tours, but sometimes tremendous elevation gains and losses, so boots take a pounding. And our tour was a similar distance to yours--maybe 50 miles over several days with as much as a couple thousand vertical feet on a couple of them. Carrying overnight packs as well.
At the table in the hut, I tried to attach some kind of shim to hold the broken toe on to the sole--like yours, the toe was only attached by the insole and outer leather to the rest of the boot--anyway, we tried attaching a piece of steel lid from a food can under the sole, screwed into the toe and the sole behind it. It didn't work, firstly because the area around the pin holes in the Vibram telemark soles has an internal steel plate to reinforce the holes--and without a hardened steel punch and a tap there was no way to properly attach the shim--and secondly, well, there's just too much flexion--the can lid just snapped after a few kicks during testing.
We ended up rigging a heel strap similar to yours by cutting up an avalanche cord (this was a while back when people carried those things). It worked OK--however--the rest of us in the party were pretty upset that this guy started a multiday multihut tour with those boots, and made him leave the group at the next trailhead; he hitched out, rented a pair of boots in Aspen, and met us a day later at another hut.
So--takeaways--sole splits like yours cannot be repaired. The boots have to be resoled, or maybe with these cheap Alicos, by replacing the boots. There's not an epoxy or other adhesive that will even temporarily repair these types of breaks, as it is right at the flex point.
Secondly, as I mentioned, there's already a steel reinforcing plate in the boot at the pin holes; those smile plates are useless unless you have a drill and tap, and even then, they need to be inletted to be flush with the sole or your boots might not fit into the bindings.
Best bet for field repair is exactly what you already did--rig a toe strap and heel strap--or go with a cable binding or a cable-optional binding. I like Rottefella Super Telemarks as 3 pins better than I like the Voiles; the Voile cables are heavy to just carry in the pack--and that new Rottefella cable version looks nice--but does not seem to be for sale in the US at the moment.

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joeatomictoad
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by joeatomictoad » Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:58 pm

Being "that guy", I have to say it...
those boots were designed with a high degree of engineering efficiency, sounds like it was designed to this particular failure mode at this particular fatigue level. Engineers, damn!, Respect for engineers, damnation for their management.

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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Roelant » Mon Oct 05, 2020 9:42 am

trite wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:32 am

A note on the Alico Ski March boots:

I don’t recommend them if you need a reliable boot for long trips. Too many of them seem to have sat too long in storage, leading to dried out rubber and plastic. Granted, this size 12 pair had noticeably shoddy stitching on the duckbill compared to my pair of size 11 and my partner’s size 8. Also, the leather started peeling as a result of the crusty snow conditions whereas my partner’s size 8 did not. For the record, I’ve put a lot miles on my pair of size 11, and I really like them. No problems thus far. (I got the size 12 pair in order to wear extra socks in deep cold).

For expedition-worthy boots, I’ve since upgraded to a new pair of no-longer-made Alfa Gaiter 75mm.
joeatomictoad wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:58 pm
Being "that guy", I have to say it...
those boots were designed with a high degree of engineering efficiency, sounds like it was designed to this particular failure mode at this particular fatigue level. Engineers, damn!, Respect for engineers, damnation for their management.
I hate to admit it as well. Getting cheap Alico's was economic justification to replace my suffering Crispi NNN-BC with a whole new system and re-fit my skis to Voile 3 pin cable bindings. I first noticed that one of my boots wasn't straight, in that the heel was almost 2cm off center, then that same sole became unglued after the first outing.
As helpful forumers here pointed out, I could have relatively easily fixed the one loose sole, but that would not fix the base problem, and leave me wondering when the other sole would fail (or something else).
So I bought new Crispi Bre 75mm boots. No long storage to compromise their reliability, and I will take them on multi day trips without worrying. They are also more comfortable than the Alicos, with XC comfort comparable to the NNN-BC Crispi Stetinds I had.

For more vertical runs and resort skiing (never more than a few hours from the car, reliability then of lesser concern) I got used Asolo Extreme Racer buckle boots, and I would have the voile cables in my backpack anyways. If I see a good price for some Scarpa T4s or Scott Excursions I'll consider those as well in the future.

In any case I am happy with the "new" binding system for my use, but it turned out more expensive than I anticipated. I hope I never have to do such "on the trail" fixes 50 miles from destination.
Trite, Good job with the emergency repair.

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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Cannatonic » Mon Oct 05, 2020 1:51 pm

this is a great report, thanks for posting this story. It hits close to home as I am skiing similar boots and Super Tele's on white Asnes skis.

So Rottefella has begun selling the ST in a version with a cable. However it looks like the cable is a cartridge-spring setup similar to the old Chilis. Two of them would be a heavy item to carry around in your pack for emergency backup. I'd love to see something lighter, w/o spring cartridge, to be carried for emergency use. Something that would attach right into the open slot or a similar method.
"All wisdom is to be gained through suffering"
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by bgregoire » Mon Oct 05, 2020 2:30 pm

Hello. Was summoned here by the great Woods.

Trite you did well with your in-field repair. But to be honest, you probably would have faired just as well without doing a thing. You see, the bail compresses the sole in the binding keeping the boot together so to speak, so i doubt the duckbill would ever break off before you make it home. The biggest worry to me is that the crack allows snow, ice and water to penetrate inside of boot compromising its insulative potentiel: icy feet!

I agree with others here, a crack like that in the sole cannot be repaired, in field or out: you need a new sole (or new boot more realistically).

My best advice is to leave for any long trip well prepared. That means new (not new old stock) boots, bindings and skis. If you are planning a long expedition on mostly flat ground, polar expedition for instace, consider going the NNN-BC route. The bindings will usually fail first in that system as opposed to a NN 75m setup where the boot usually fails first. As you'd probably be hauling a pulk in that type a trip, an extra pair of NNN-BC bindings and a screwdriver is a relatively cheap light and easy back-up.

For the NN 75mm enthusiast who still wants a in-field repair kit, I'd recommend a pair of long voile straps and some plastic bags. If your bail breaks (never really saw this happen with telemark grade bindings though), you can thread the voile straps in the slots and tighten them over the boots tight as a bail replacement (i believe this is what those slots were designed for, not the voile straps per say but back up straps if ever the bails were to fail, as they surely did in lower-duty 75mm bindings often used in the BC before the Rotte Mountaineer entered the market). Use the bags as vapor barrier socks and over you last insulative sock to help prevent humidity from entering, particularly for longer winter camping trips.
I live for the Telemark arc....The feeeeeeel.....I ski miles to get to a place where there is guaranteed snow to do the deal....TM

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Chick Maldonado
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Re: How would you repair a cracked duckbill 50 miles into the wilderness?

Post by Chick Maldonado » Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:12 pm

Ahhh... what else but duct tape. Wrap a half roll on your poles. Acts as a second grip. Indepensible.

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