DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert, I’m just sharing what I did. It seemed to work but there may be some blatant errors in my methods. Any experts out there? Please correct me so I can keep the info accurate for others!
Things you’ll need
- Mounting Hardware
- Skate tool
- Additional wrenches that fit your hardware (may vary depending on your plate model)
- Drill and drill bit (Bit should be sized appropriately according to the plate manufacturer’s directions)
- Something to trim the bolts after installation. Dremmel, bolt saw thingy of some sort
- New laces (you’re taking apart your skates so you may as well replace your laces)
- A friend to help you and for moral support
Step 1: Take apart your skates
Take off all your laces, tape, toe stops, wheels and hangers until you’re left with an empty plate. Save your cushions if you want to use them on your new plates. You can read more about how to take apart your skates here.
Step 2: Trace the outline of your existing plate
I was a virgin at all this so I decided the more markings on my skate to help centre my new plate, the better. I just used a pencil.
Step 3: Remove the plate
Using whatever tools needed (I needed a screwdriver and skate tool) remove the plate from your skate. Make sure you take note of positions of washers, etc. because you’ll be installing similar hardware back on in the same fashion.
To get to the toe hardware inside the boot, shift the base of the boot tongue to the side to expose the hardware.
Once everything is removed, give the bottom of your boot a cleaning; careful not to erase your pencil lines.
Step 3a: Fill in your old holes
I didn’t do this step but in the articles below there are some suggestions as to what to use to fill them in. But I’ve heard a hot glue gun will work or any other adhesive-type material that will fill and harden appropriately.
Step 4: Decide where your axles are going to sit
I literally stood on my new plate wearing my boot (I re-laced my skate for this step) and freely moved my foot around until a) the front axle was positioned near the base of my big toe and then b) shifted slightly until the axles felt in a natural position for my feet.
I strictly went by feel. I sort of bounced and shifted my feet around in my boot so I could see if the axles were in a natural position to easily take off from a jump. Having an extra set of hands at this point is helpful so you can hang onto them if you slide off the unsecured plate and they can mark the positioning of the axles on the side of your boot so you can repositioning it after you mark your centerline.
After I made my axle marks I compared both plate positions on each boot to ensure they were positioned the same (front to back) by measuring the plate position from the back of the heal.
I found one was shifted a little far forward than the other so I marked an average position between the two and then stood on my axles again for a final check.
You may have to do this step several times to find out what front/back position you want your axles in. Try far forward, centre and rear mounts so you can feel the difference. Don’t forget to refer to the references in my first article for info on the different mounts.
**Edited to add: thanks to Steph in the comments section who pointed out there is a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ plate for the Avengers. Check your mounting instructions carefully or check with the manufacturer to ensure you put the right plate on the right foot. (Thankfully I got it right the first time)
Step 5: Determine your boot centerline
I initially tried to use existing markings to determine the centerline for my boots. I had a hell of a time with it. I don’t know if it’s because my skates are well-worn and stretched, or because my right foot is a ½ size bigger than my left, but one skate would always be way off centre compared to the other every time I measured.
So instead, I marked the centre of the heal on both boots, then I put the boots on and marked where the space was between my second toe (next to the big toe) and the third toe. Make sure you lace up your skates for this step so your feet are sitting as they normally would in your boots.
Using a ruler I drew a straight line from the heal centerline to my new front markings. Doing it this way I found the centerlines mirrored each other on the boots.
NOTE: I PAINED over the axle positioning and centering for HOURS. This was easily the hardest part.
After I had them centered to the best of my ability, I found how different my centerlines were from the factory markings. So I was either way off or the factory markings were off. Regardless, I took a deep breath and continued on my brave journey.
Once you think you have your desired position, you can tape your plates to your skate and walk around them on a bit to be sure because once you hit the next step, there is no going back!
**UPDATE April 18/12 This is Amanda’s advice from the comment section. I wanted to include it as well in my main post because it’s great info… “The easiest way to measure your centre line is to determine where you want your front axles to be. Mark those points and draw a line horizontaly across the boot between them. Measure the centre point of that line and mark it. Draw a line down the sole of the boot from the centre point of the heel to that centre point. That’s your centre line. The centre line will always be different depending on how far forward or back you want to place your front axles.”
Step 6: Prepare to drill
This is what I SHOULD have done… positioned the plates according to my markings onto the boot and then wrapped 20 rounds of duct tape all the way around the boot to secure them in place.
But I didn’t.
Afraid to ruin my beautiful leather boot, I loosely taped the plate in place to use as a guide for drilling, confident of my drilling abilities.
On my first attempt at drilling through the bottom of the boot, the plate came loose and wiggled everywhere and forced me to stop and reposition the plate again.
So don’t do that. I should have learned from that mistake and super-taped the plate on the boot.
Instead I opted to mark the holes with a pen and drill the holes without the plate in place.
If any of you handy-er derby girls have a workbench with a vice to hold your skate in place, that’s most helpful. I did my drilling on the living room floor holding the skate with my free hand.
Going slow and steady, I managed to drill all the holes. However, with my lack of skill and experience, I realized my drilling wasn’t completely accurate and my holes were off.
Drilling for plates isn’t like installing Ikea furniture where you have a little wiggle room a 1/16 of an inch on either side of your mark.
Step 7: Mounting the plates on the boot
Luckily my drilling wasn’t TOO far off and I was able to muscle my plates onto the bolts I inserted into the boots. We’ll see if this slight adjustment will have any long-term effects on my skates, but I think I only have about 10 months of life left in these boots anyway.
I ended up using the bolts from my previous plates as they were exactly the same as the new bolts that were provided and they fit into the new plates. As a result I didn’t have to track down something to trim the ends of the bolts as manufacturers supply super-long mounting hardware that will need to be cut after installation.
Once I inserted the bolts into the boots I realized that some of the inner sole was going to have to be trimmed out so the bolt would recess easier to be flush so it wouldn’t dig into my foot.
As a test, I fully tightened one bolt and while the bolt did some work at removing the sole as it was recessing, there was still lots of debris in there to keep me from getting the bolt fully flush.
So I grabbed a little knife and carved a small portion of sole material out immediately surrounding each hole inside my boot.
That seemed to help and I continued tightening the hardware on each skate until it was tight and the heads were flush inside my boot.
Step 8: Admire your big kid customization
I was mentally exhausted after this process and immediately vowed to never do it again. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind and try to tackle it again.
Step 9: Put everything back together
Now you can put on your NEW hangers, wheels and toe stops and do your final tweaking of the action of your skates.
Depending on your plate, you will need to figure out your new tightness for your trucks and, in the case of my new plates, adjust your pivot pin. My old nylon plates merely had the trucks seated within the pivot cup. The new plates allowed me to adjust how deep the pivot pin sits within the cup.
It’s not a hard adjustment to do, but difficult to explain. So check out these articles and videos on how to adjust your plates!
Adjusting the action of your skates
I’ve been skating on the new setup for about a month now and I really love them! I think I’m going to have to play more with the truck action because these new plates are super-responsive so I don’t necessarily have to have the trucks loose for more turning action. If I can tighten my trucks and still maintain good turning power, it will give me more overall stability.
The weight of the plates feel no different from my previous set and I’m finding I’m a bit lighter on my feet (due to the change in positioning of the axles under my feet? Maybe!)
And the white plates look really cool 😀
That’s my plate-change journey! Questions, comments or advice? Please post in replies! I found the biggest challenge was finding a single article with all the information I need to do this process so I’m hoping to add to update these posts as more info becomes available! Share! Share! Share!
As requested in the comments section, here is a bottom photo of my mounted plate…