Monday, September 23, 2013

Stop, Toe Stop!

Well, hello there!  It seems like it's been ages since we've talked, and I must apologize.  I've been meaning to reach out and check up on you and don't have a good excuse as to why it has taken me so long to do so...oh wait, summer in Alaska is a great reason!  In case you have never lived in a region  close to the Arctic or Antarctic circles, daylight can be non-existent during the winter months.  During the near-24 hours of daylight in the summer months many of us try to get outside to enjoy it as much as possible.  Therefore, I hope you don't hold the two months I took off from updating my G Spot against me.

Short and Standard Stem Gumballs
For my first post-summer article, I wanted to talk about an issue that plagues many skaters: toe stops coming loose or popping off.

Over the years, I have heard the woes of skaters over and over again when it comes to toe stops coming off, often at the worst imaginable time.  There are a couple ways to prevent this from happening.

First, make sure you have at least 4 threads of the toe stop screwed into the plate.  If you are having trouble doing this and also having it come down far enough, you may need different toe stops.  I recommend Gumballs, Bionic Super Stoppers, or Crazy Big Blocs.  These all have nice long stems and thick stops that don't pop off.  I've also heard great things about the Crazy Bounce toe stops, but they are still in my queue of products to test out so I'll have to get back to you on those.  (Soon, my pretties!)

The next item to review is how your toe stop connects to your plate.  Is it a nut that goes around the toe stop or a screw that goes into the side of the plate?  For most of you having issues with your toe stops, it's probably going to be the nut.

Wrong Way!  Toe guard is between nut and plate.
To prevent the toe stop nut from loosening up, make sure you have the nut directly against the plate.  Many skaters that have come to me with the issue of their toe stop popping off have their skates set up like the pic to the right.  The leather toe guard is between the nut and the plate, which can cause the nut to loosen over time and eventually either the toe stop will turn to a strange angle or it will work itself completely loose.  Having a toe stop pop off in the middle of a bout, especially if you are jamming, is one of the worst feelings!  Here is a step by step guide on how to lessen the chances of that happening.

Toe stop stem being inserted through toe stop hole in toe guard.

Unlace your skate and take your toe stop off your plate and the nut off the toe stop.  Next, put your toe stop stem through the toe guard.

Screwing on toe stop nut after toe stop stem has gone through toe guard holes.

Screw the nut onto the toe stop stem.

Toe Stop Nut Under Toe Guard

Screw the toe stop into the plate, adjust to the correct height. 
Tighten down the toe stop with a wrench and lace those puppies up!

Those steps have helped many of my fellow skaters, but sometimes that isn't enough.  Whether you have the nut or screw, if your toe stop loosens or falls out, check all the threads (inner and outer) to ensure they are still serviceable.  If some of the threads are broken or you see metal shavings, you may need to replace that toe stop, screw, nut, or toe stop insert.  Unfortunately, some plates don't have replaceable toe stop inserts, so if you damage the threads on them you will need to replace the whole plate.

If your toe stop connects to your plate with a screw from the side and ratcheting down the screw just doesn't hold your stop anymore, you may have gunk in the space that normally gets smaller as you turn the screw, causing the plate to grip the stop.  I've found that the best way to clean out this crack is to unscrew the toe stop screw completely, then take something thin and hard such as a straightened-out paperclip to clean that sucker out.  If that doesn't do it, inspect your screw to see if it shows any signs of stripped threads, meaning you will either need to get a replacement screw or have to use a toe stop nut to keep your toe stop in place.

The last little bit of advice I can give you is to please, never use Red Locktite (permanent) on your toe stop threads.  If you have followed all of the above suggestions and your toe stop just won't stay put, Blue Locktite (temporary) can help you out and won't make it a pain in the rear to replace your stops.
Cosmo Wheels from Juice's Martini Series

I have quite a few treats for my G Spot fans in the coming months including reviews of wheels including Juice Martini, Radar Presto, and a bunch of the new wheels coming from Atom as well as other Roller Derby gear and, of course, I will be giving away prizes to reward my loyal readers.  To start this season out, I'm putting together a nice gift bag worth around $100 from 2N1 Skate Shoppe and all you have to do to be in the running to win is recommend an item 2N1 Skate Shoppe currently sells for me to test out and review in the comments of this article. 

While you are searching through 2N1's website, why not take a look at the new Wheel Library where you can check out a set for only $20, then when you return them you get a $20 gift certificate which you can use toward purchasing a set of wheels!  The Wheel Library has quickly become a huge hit and has helped skaters save time and money in the long run, so if you are in the market for some new wheels check out the selection, more are being added all the time.

Until we skate again,