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Removing old top covers to replace - a pet peeve!

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by DaVinci, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. DaVinci

    DaVinci Well-Known Member

    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    One of my peeves is removing a worn top cover from a plastic orthotic, especially if its poron. It never comes off in one peice and there is a lot of 'leg work' to scratch every last piece off.

    Anyone got any tips to help get the damn stuff off easily?
  2. dyfoot

    dyfoot Active Member

    Hi Davinci,

    I struggle with this one sometimes. :empathy:I have found that the heatgun makes it worse. The dremel with a spiral tungsten bur works pretty well (pretty messy though!).:craig:

    The best way is to request the lab to put cambrelle under the whole topcover in the first place- then it peels off beautifully!:D

    Hope this helps.


  3. I too found this a frustrating process until about 6 months ago when I found an easy solution. I bought a large glass container with a metal screwtop lid (holds about a gallon.....bought it from Costco for about $10.....it had jalapeno peppers in it originally) and then filled it with a quart of Barge thinner (a contact cement thinner). I keep the glass container with thinner sitting upright, tightly capped, in my glueing room. Then, when I have orthoses that have an insole stuck on them so I can't pull it off in one piece, I put the orthoses in the container of thinner, screw the lid on tightly, lay the bottle flat, swirl the thinner to soak the orthosis and topcover, and then give the orthoses and topcover about 30 minutes of soaking in the thinner.

    The topcover comes off in about 5 seconds, in one piece after being soaked in the thinner for this long. Patients must understand that it will take about 30 minutes of soaking in a thinner to get the glue off so I often tell them to go back out in the waiting room and grab a magazine to read or, if they can't wait, I tell them their orthoses will be ready the next day. Glass containers work well since they are not affected by the thinner and the thinner and orthoses can be easily seen while soaking. I wasn't able to find a plastic container that wouldn't warp over time being in the thinner. Just wish I had done this 20 years ago....it is so simple and wastes very little thinner!!
  4. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    If you use a good quality double sided tape and apply it to the flat surface of the poron or top cover only (not the undulating surfaces of the shell), then adhesion will take place and the surfaces separate cleanly - no matter how long there are held together. These adhesives are heat sensitive and body heat alone improves their adhesion. They are excellent for joining flat surfaces together (only one surface needs to be prepared) and do not present as a health or fire hazard in confined spaces like cements and glues. This makes them safe and easy to use.

    Double sided tape is very good when working with serial accommodative orthosis such as the combination of plastazote and visco-elastics. Good quality visco-elastics rarely need replacement, whereas the thermoplastic layer can be replaced at will.

  5. efuller

    efuller MVP

    I use a wire brush in an electric drill. You could use it in a bench grinder. Bought it at the hardware store. Circular brush with a bit perpendicular to the plane of the brush. Rip off the vinyl or cloth of spenco and then grind with a back and forth motion in the plane of the brush. Use gloves as this can really damage some skin as it can take off. It will spread bits of material all over the place so safety glasses are a help as well. I've been tempted to use the brush in a big cardboard box to contain debris. It will clean an orthotic in about 30 seconds. Sometimes there is difficulty with really deep heel cups that have a tighter curve than the radius of the brush.

    Kevin's idea with the solvent sounds grreat except I often use crepe rearfoot posts. I"m pretty sure the solvent would take the post off too.


  6. dyfoot

    dyfoot Active Member

    Hi Eric,

    I tried the wire brush in the Dremel. Works a treat! :DMuch better than the Tungsten Burr with less scoring of the shell (just as messy though!).:eek:

    I have the same problem with the solvent and EVA posts!


  7. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    We too use a thinner/solvent...if you have an EVA post on the orthosis it will be effected by the solvent and may need reattachment, to avoid this dip a rag in the solvent place it on the poron, leave it there and seal it in a jar, come back 15/30 min later and it will peal away without effecting your EVA post.

    Any EVA that has been soaked in a thinner/Solvent will take some time to dry out completely, on a 20 degree day about 1 hour, if it's not dried out it may compress and distort under your clients weight.
    Just a thought
  8. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Active Member

    I peel off a corner or what I can then use some nail polish remover on a cotton tip applicator to wipe a swab of the remover at the area of the cover still attached to the device and then wait a few seconds to then leaver the next section off the device by pulling the edge. Once you get the timing right it works a treat.

    I have also found emerald sand paper is perfect to get the last old bits and pieces of adhensive and dirt etc off the shell before re-applying the new cover
  9. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    I have used all the options discussed so far. Don't like the solvent fumes without a fume cupboard extraction system, don't like the dust without extraction. The quickest is the small diameter wire brush on a flexible shafted grinder or bench grinder. Mostly I do the work in my workshop, with all these things in place. The never ending problem of people wanting everything done immediately is a problem, you don't have to meet those expectations at the expense of your health......I'm still wrestling with that one myself. Everyone else in my area sends stuff off to the factory so even small jobs take over a week, an over night turn around from me is still a good deal faster than their other choices.
    regards Phill
  10. footdoctor

    footdoctor Active Member

    Agreed it is a nightmare.

    Grinding off is messy, acetone base removers without use of a fume extraction unit/respirator are pretty nasty

    This is mind I have found a less toxic solution, its called "sticky stuff remover:, a domestic/household product, also works very well for removing the old adhesive from a polypro/carboplast/graphite comp shell.

    First peel off the vinyl,( might need a 5 second blast with the heat gun first is stubborn) then apply solution and leave for 10 mins, then use a wire mesh pad to remove from shell under hot running water, it lifts in 20 seconds leaving the shell good as new.

    It is important to degrease the shell after with detergent (fairy) as sticky stuff remover is oily and the new adhesive wont bond.

    Then dry the shell, abrade with 80 grid sandpaper,clean shell down and reapply your adhesive.

    NOTE: if you have extrinsic eva posts applied to the shell, be careful not to apply the solution to these as they will loosen as well!!

    Its available from lakeland plastics, john lewis, and on-line.

    and it smell nice too !!!

    Scott ( the kim & aggie of orthotic manufacture)
  11. Jbwheele

    Jbwheele Active Member

    Just soak it in Turpentine. Smelly and messy but effective. Not as harsh a solvent as Contact cement solvent, swells up the top cover withpout the risk to the eva glue on posts etc.....hope it helps

  12. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Citrus oil/ orange oil will also destick most glues if left for a while, and I have used that a lot as a wax solvent on snow skis, not harmful to people, but it does take a while to work for glues.
    regards Phill
  13. If you use the large bottle with screw on metal lid filled with contact cement thinner, there is very little issue with noxious fumes since the seal on the bottle is tight with very little evaporation of thinner over time.

    I use all polypropylene rearfoot posts on all my polypropylene orthoses so actual time that I spend to remove topcovers from orthoses is about 30 seconds to put the orthoses in the bottle, cap it, swish it and lay the bottle on its side. Then I spend about 1 minute to remove the orthoses from the bottle, recap the bottle and use a screwdriver to peel the cover off both the orthosis plates. About 90 seconds to remove a pair of topcovers!! Time is a very valuable commodity in my practice.
  14. jpurdydpm

    jpurdydpm Active Member

    One of the easiest ways of removing any top cover and replacing it is to send it back to the company it came from and have the patient pay their refurbishing fee.
  15. dyfoot

    dyfoot Active Member

    Hi Jon,

    The only problem with this is the turnaround (patients can be without their orthotic devices for up to 10 days).:mad:

    Most of my patients want it done yesterday and may not be able to afford a 2nd pair at that point in time!:rolleyes:

    I think that there are a lot of useful tips in the above posts.:D


  16. jpurdydpm

    jpurdydpm Active Member

    Not a problem but an opportunity. Would you rather take your high dollar time to actually lose money performing that task, or would you rather give the patient a superior alternative?
    Have them purchase a pre-fabricated orthotic In my opinion Powerstep is superior. This will give them support while they wait, plus it will provide them an additional insert to use in another shoe they may otherwise not use an orthotic in because they didn't feel like switching it to the shoe.

  17. Sorry, Jon, this makes no sense at all. You are asking patients to make an additional purchase of an over-the-counter insole, in addition to paying for repairing their custom orthosis, so that they can wait a week or two for the lab to replace the topcovers on the orthoses?! :bang:

    I replace the topcovers for patients whenever possible, don't lose money on it, and offer this as a service to my patients, done in either 15-30 minutes, if I can take the topcover off without soaking it, or by the next day, if I need to soak it off. Patients are happy with our office's service of their foot orthoses, which leads to more orthosis referrals which then leads to more income. Therefore, the argument could be made that the practitioner that won't offer their patients basic orthosis refurbishing services done in-house, could be losing money from not having as many orthosis referrals from pleased patients.

    How do you explain to the patient that this "Powerstep" insole is a "superior alternative" when you had already explained to them that they needed a true custom foot orthoses (that now needs to be recovered)? If you feel the "Powerstep" insole a "superior alternative", then why not just recommend all patients get these "Powerstep" insoles rather than getting custom foot orthoses??:confused:
  18. jpurdydpm

    jpurdydpm Active Member

    Thanks for the reply Kevin. I like the banging head. Cute

    I know you and your background and I think we will have to agree to disagree. I don't do a lot of custom orthotics and would argue that in my opinion it is often an unnecessary expense for the patient. I do use them in certain situations. For me to spend 15-30 minutes working on a refurbishment is a losing proposition no matter how I look at it based on the number of patients I see in a day and what my overhead is. I am also not looking to drive custom orthotic business.

    A powerstep is a fantastic product and is superior to the patient not wearing anything in their shoe. I also think it is a superior product since it can be dispensed on the same visit and works well in 90% of my patients that need support. I would contend that if the custom orthotics are that necessary, one should encourage the patient to buy a second pair of customs and then only send them back for refurbishment if after the new pair arrive. I could also wow a patient by sitting in the room talking with them for that amount of extra time to get referrals but there is a law of diminishing returns.

    I won't argue that custom orthotic are overutilized in other hands, but there is no way I am fighting with a pair to impress a patient. There are many more ways to do that and not only help a patient but increase your revenue.

    Jon Purdy, DPM
  19. Jon:

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, we will have to agree to disagree. Very few of my patients receive custom foot orthoses before they have been unsuccessful in treatment with over-the-counter orthoses. Most of the custom foot orthoses I do are referred to me by other doctors.

    I also often recommend a second pair of orthoses for patients to avoid doing without their orthoses while they are being refurbished (I don't do leather and vinyl topcovers in-house). However, for those that need recovering with spenco insole material, I do provide that material for topcovers in my office and it has never taken me 30 minutes to refurbish a pair of orthoses with spenco topcovers....more like 5-10 minutes of my time. I can understand that if you don't like doing it, then don't do it. It is certainly your choice.

    However, many of my patients truly appreciate that my practice provides them with a premium custom foot orthosis service here in Northern California and may partially explain why I do so many pairs of custom foot orthoses every month in my practice. So I can't see in any way how my taking the time to remove and add a topcover for a patient every now and then will cause me to "lose money".
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  20. lcp

    lcp Active Member

    I hold the base of the orthotic with my left hand then rip off the top cover with my right. Following this I usually swear copiously as the chunks of poron sit laughing at me on the shell. Then I use a flat head screw driver to dig and gouge at the left over chunks of poron whilst thinking to myself, great ive still got the 2nd one to go. Next step I use gods gift, fingers, to pluck and pull off any loose bits I can see, following up with a session on the bench grinder, again swearing as I accidently get my knuckle trying to manouver the shell into the far corner regions. Finally, an old bit of sandpaper is used to "clean up" the mess ive just previously made.
    The thinners in the jar is sounding great..........................
  21. Just thought all of you might like a glimpse of my beloved Jalapeno Pepper jar with Barge thinner for removing topcovers.....works like a charm!!

    Attached Files:

  22. Berms

    Berms Active Member

    Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for sharing your very useful method (and the picture). :D It is very convenient that you routinely use poly posts instead of EVA which would be a problem....

    This got me thinking, why do I always use EVA posts? Yes, they are much cheaper and easier for the Lab to use - but what is your rationale behind using Poly Vs EVA? Is there any other benefit of poly posts besides that they are stronger/more durable?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  23. Polypropylene rearfoot posts are very durable, lasting over 10 years in many cases, and do not compress near as much as EVA or other such materials. They don't ever shear off and they never delaminate, the glue doesn't weaken in thinner or when getting wet since they are fused, not glued, to the polyproplyene shell. To me, there is very little reason to use any type of rearfoot posting material on a polypropylene orthosis other than polypropylene. In other words, in my opinion, all other rearfoot posting materials are inferior to polypropylene for polypropylene orthoses.
  24. Phil Wells

    Phil Wells Active Member


    Have you ever had problems with over correction with the PP posts?
    We have had a couple of issues where an EVA post has been replaced with a PP device and the patients has complained.
    We advise customers that if the orthoses are going into brogue style shoes with leather soles etc, then the posting value needs to be reduced when compared to the EVA devices.
    We also build in pronation grind offs/ allowances to reduce this over posting.

  25. I rather like "Lions tongue", which is an abrasive mesh i also use for finishing casts. But to be honest I think much depends on whether you like playing with that sort of thing in your clinic. Personally , as a technician forced to be a clinician (rather than the other way around) I'd do them myself but if you don't want to have glue, tape, thinner, abrasives and materials in your office there are Labs who will do them by return.

    Most people i know can live without their devices for 3 or 4 days without resorting to a spare set.


    PS Loved your post LCP, I think we all feel your pain :empathy::D

    PPS I think comments about certain pre fabs being superior without explanation of what they are superior TO are inferior to specific descriptions of why. ;)
  26. Phil:

    Since I never use ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) rearfoot posts on my patient's orthoses, I can't comment on your question. However, this anecdotal observation does tend to demonstrate how something as simple as the compressibility of the rearfoot posting material may affect our patient's symptomatic response to foot orthoses.

    Funny......Sole Supports, the orthosis lab that makes the "only true functional orthosis", never uses rearfoot posts on their foam-bed casted, extremely high-arched orthoses...I think I know why.....and it has nothing to do with improved function or therapeutic effect.....:wacko:
  27. It’s not the compressibility of the rear foot post which scares me, although EVA will compress some i've not had huge problems there. My concern is more the compressibility of the sock liner of the shoe, which is generally a good deal softer than EVA! The orthotic pushes down on the sock liner just as hard as it pushes up on the wedge after all!

    How often de we see patients take their polyprop insoles out to see a deep impression on the medial side of the inside of the shoe where the insole has "sunk"? And it’s not easy to control which shoes the patient puts their devices in!

    To be perfectly honest I’m using less and less extrinsic wedges and more and more skives of greater or lesser degree.

  28. Moose

    Moose Active Member

    go the moore's disc side on as a cutting edge not a sanding disc.... works for me.
  29. drfoot2

    drfoot2 Active Member

    Dear Colleagues it seems we all have all have our own favored techniques. Some seem simple and others sound laborious and a great cost of our time. Personally my bug bear is the repairing of the Orthotics either the EVA an our the polyprops etc. I feel my time is waited doing these tasks, whereas I send mine to the Lab and I get a return generally within 4 days. Most patients are OK with this,and moreso I add a ,all lab fee to this.
    They are happy, I have provided them the service they require, and am still better off treating patients.
    Dr Kirky's idea has certainly given me an option for the simpler repairs.....so thank you Dr Kirby, but only for simpler repairs.
    Our clinical repairs are cost from lab, 20% add-on and freight.
    Easy For me and the patient is also happy the repair cost.

    View it as either lazy OR good will for the practice.


  30. Kevinl

    Kevinl Member

    I have used a plastic squeeze bottle with a long straw type end cap on it. If you squeeze the bottle filled with thinner directly on the topcover material it will soak in and bubble up. Just peel away after 5 minutes or so. 90% of the poron/spenco will come right off and then just use a piece of sandpaper to remove the leftovers. PEL supply company sells these thinner bottles and the thinner.

    Note-use gloves as it gets sticky and the thinner drys out your hands after years of use....

    I would agree with many of the statments above, but nothing beats saving time. If your orthotic company can do the refurbs in a week then send it out. 2 pairs of inserts is best so the patient never goes without orthotic care.....

    happy new years all.....
  31. stevewells

    stevewells Active Member

    Kevin - I wonder if the fumes alone would soften the glue - so laying the orthoses on something that holds them out of the solution or suspending them in the fumes would do the trick? I know that works with my glue pot if I leave it open and the glue dries on the brush. Just a thought although I guess its likely to take longer than immersing them. Might help people that wants to avoid the immersion process e.g those with eva posts?


  32. Steve:

    I don't think that glue fumes would work with the topcovers I need to get unstuck.

    However, I have found the fumes from my glue jar to be quite helpful on those mornings when I need a little extra "pick-me-up".....:rolleyes: jes foolin' roun agin!:drinks
  33. stevewells

    stevewells Active Member

    I know what you mean - Happy New Year to you and yours :D

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