My collection of John Lofgren & Co. Engineer Boots is finally complete. I was pretty bummed to find out the Ortensia x Navy model was sold out in my size and was determined to find a pair, so when 7 1/2's popped up online, I was ecstatic. Going over the sellers description, however, I was a bit concerned that they were handled in a manner inconsistent with normal, everyday wear. I let the auction run without bidding.
Reading things like, "The original strap was too weak, so I had it replaced" and "one of the rollers came off the buckle" was a bit unsettling. With over two decades of collecting Engineer Boots both old and new and wearing them as they were intended - hard and without reservation of scuffin' or scratchin' them up - these flaws couldn't just happen by accident.
Weeks after the auctions end, I received an e-mail from the winner stating they didn't fit and asked if I wanted a shot at them. I just couldn't refuse. Aware of the noted flaws, I was comfortable with the purchase since I possessed the tools and skills necessary to bring these "doctored" boots back to their full glory ... or I knew of two Cobblers that could - Raúl Ojeda of Willie's Shoe Service in Los Angeles or Takeshi Okuyama from Hukurokuju Boots Repair Shop in Japan. I also think, subconsciously, I wanted to get to the bottom of what the hell happened!
According to the original seller, the roller came off one of the buckles and it appears the other roller is about to do the same. I own the other three pairs John Lofgren put out and and have handled buckles for many, many years and it would take a lot for the rollers to just simply separate, let alone fall off the buckle. The remaining roller appears to have been pried open. Using pliers, I simply squeezed them shut.
A botched stitch job on the buckle keeper. It seems as if the intent to was remove the keeper and replace the buckles. No self-respecting Cobbler would take ownership of this unsightly work. Who spends good, hard-earned money on a pair of Engineer Boots just to turn around and attempt to destroy them?
The straps were "too weak" even with the factory double stitching? This attempt to replace the original strap and use a single row of stitching surely fixed that problem (I'm being facetious). Note the missing middle row of stitching on the heel counter.
Restitched gusset. How does this even happen with normal wear?
This is by no means a jab at the original seller - he/she could have been the second owner. I'm sure they are superb sellers. The bottom line is that I closed the deal on the final, no-longer-available pair to complete my collection of the best 1950's-style of Engineer Boots on the market today with flaws I can fix at home in just minutes. Given these flaws, the boots are surprisingly in overall amazing shape.
Complete collection. Not easy to tell with this grainy photo, but I put my boots through the ringer when I wear them and there's no chance in the world my Cognac Badalassi's, made with the same leather, could ever end up like the Ortensia's without intentionally causing them damage. This Italian leather is strong and super durable.
Experimenting with dye's, I cracked the code on a future belt to match my new boots. I may have to stud up the boots to match the belt.
Although my other three pairs are size 7, these 7 1/2' with thin insoles fit exactly the same. I couldn't be happier.
It appears that John has a size 10 left. Don't miss out on these rarities.