Nostromo Crew Shoes — Final Touches

When we last left off with the shoes, all that remained was to attach the D-Rings to replace the eyelets for lacing.  Well, the D-rings have arrived, I picked up a package of little nickle plated rivets from the local Hobby Lobby along with a small piece of white vinyl.  The original plan was to use Chicago Screws to pass through the existing eyelets to hold a little loop of vinyl with the D-ring in place.  Unfortunately, the posts on the Chicago Screws are too large to pass through the eyelets, so I decided to go with a more permanent attachment: rivets.  I couldn’t find any rivets that were already white, so the nickle plated ones will have to get painted.

Rivet Holding Fixture

Drilling holes in a scrap piece of wood to hold the rivets for painting.

Those little rivets are too small to just hit with a spray can without scattering them to the four winds, so I needed a way to hold them in place.  The solution was to drill a bunch of holes in a scrap piece of poplar that was laying around the workshop and just friction press the little guys in place.  Now they could be hit with a spray can and not go flying.

Rivets for Nostromo Shoes -- Priming

Rivets, primed and ready for a coat of white. You can see my faithful helper in the background.

Because paint doesn’t really stick too well on nickle plated parts, I first primed them with a self-etching primer.  Three quick coats per the manufacturer’s recommendation, and the little guys were ready for a coat of white.  After a few coats of white paint, the rivets are ready to attach the D-Rings and finish up the alterations needed to complete these shoes!

The next step was to cut out the little strips of white vinyl, and punch holes in them for the rivets to pass through.  The little vinyl strips get folded in half with the D-Ring in the loop and then attached to the shoes by setting the rivets through the original eyelets.  I put a little piece of cloth in the rivet setting plate to protect the paint job during the setting process.  Fourteen D-Rings per shoe and my Nostromo Crew Shoes should have been done!  Alas it was not to be…

So, after all of that, the problems really began to present themselves:

  1. The paint job on the rivets wasn’t durable enough to withstand being set.  Touch-up paint would have been a must.
  2. Vinyl was a bad choice.  Setting the rivets was too much for this material, partially cutting nice little circles through the loops.  When I tied the shoes for the first time they ripped right off, leaving me with shoes that had they eyelets filled in with paint crackled rivets.  Ooops!

At this point I got a bit discouraged and set this project aside for about four months–apparently.  Now DragonCon is only a month away and this has gots to get done!

Well, the first disaster to undo was to get the rivets out of the eyelets.  For this I grabbed a pair of wire cutters, and snipped the rivet posts, which, amazingly, worked pretty well.  The second disaster then presented itself in the form of malformed eyelet grommets caused by the hammering required to set the rivets in the first place.  Obviously they couldn’t stay in place, so a pair of pliers were judiciously applied to those offending eyelets, crushing them until they slipped out of the holes punched in the canvas shoe uppers.  This actually ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise.  Remember those white plastic Chicago Screws I mentioned earlier; the ones that didn’t fit through the eyelets?  Without the grommets in the way anymore, those babies were a perfect fit!

Okay, now that the method of attachment had been established, the next decision was what material to use for the D-ring loops.  It turns out that when I bought the plastic D-rings themselves, I had ordered a length of 3/8″ PolyPro Strap white webbing.  I originally decided that the webbing didn’t look enough like the movie shoes and went with the vinyl instead.  Honestly, now that I’ve completed these shoes, I personally think the PolyPro webbing looks better.  Vinyl looked like a random leather bit thrown on a canvas shoe and seemed a little out of place.  Now that I have the PolyPro webbing on the shoes, it looks more like it belongs, and I can actually tie the things without tearing them apart.

So, my final results may not be exactly like the movie worn shoes, but I think they are pretty darn close.  I just wish they were a little more comfortable.

Completed Nostromo Crew Shoes

My completed Nostromo Crew Shoes. After it was all said and done, I think they turned out pretty well.

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