This isn't going to be just an installation instruction page, because I still get a lot of goalies asking about the Graf boot and not understanding why the only solution is to take down that plastic extension. Obviously, I haven't explained things properly, so I'll try again here. Also, I have been sitting on a Youtube video on the blade and as soon as I am done fixing the 'install' pages, I'll get it up, and that should settle the question once and for all. Putting a little square blade in the plastic cutout is not a solution. Putting Overdrive on top of the plastic extension without grinding the extension down is not a solution. If you want mobility equivalent to what you would get from a Bauer or an RBK shell, then you must take down the plastic extension. The reasons are simple, and it boggles my mind why Graf has not corrected this serious flaw in a perfectly good shell.
To the left is a Bauer shell. The area indicated by the red arrow must, MUST, be as narrow as possible, because it directly affects mobility.
To the left is a Graf boot, and the red arrow indicates the area that is made wider by the addition of the plastic extension. Why is this a problem for mobility? Because the angle at which your skate boots out (loses its edge) is affected by two things: the height of the boot and the width of the boot - more specifically, the width of the boot indicated by the red arrow.
To the left is a Flash clip of a bootout, and notice what part of the boot hits the ice to lever the main blade off the ice and cause a bootout. It's exactly the same area as the plastic extension of the Graf skate. The width of that area affects the angle at which the bootout occurs.
Above are two skates built in a 3D program to real-world dimensions. The program is extremely accurate. To the left is a normal goalie skate, equivalent in width to a Bauer or RBK skate. When the foot rolls to its side, the angle that the boot hits the ice is 45 degrees. To the right is the same skate widened a whole lot, and when it rolls to the side, the side of the boot hits the ice at 20 degrees. If this was a ski boot, you would have a lot less cornering ability and your mobility would be seriously affected. Similarly if this were a forward skate - your cornering would be minimal and you wouldn't be able to take a very long stride. For goalies, it should be obvious now that your ability to widen out, which is a goalies main means of mobility, would be seriously reduced. The boot must be as narrow as possible because it affects mobility. I have used Graf skates and found this to be true; you definitely slip out more with that plastic extension.
I also said that the bootout angle is affected by the height of the boot, so here is the same skate made very tall,and when it rolls to the side, it drops down to 61 degrees as opposed to a normal goalie skate which boots out at 45 degrees. This means that a taller skate gives you more cornering ability, more mobility.
So if height and width affect the bootout angle, then the ideal skate would be tall and thin, like speed skaters use. Above, I made the skate tall and thin, and the bootout angle is now 78 degrees. Unfortunately, with goalie skates, the boot can only be so narrow, because of the protective shell, but you can do something about the height if you want to increase mobility, and here I should mention the new X-Blade.
The X-Blade is a taller goalie blade that attaches to an RBK shell with the idea of giving you more mobility. To me it sounded great in theory and I was really anxious to try them.
To the left is my new CCM shell with a taller blade (not an X-Blade), courtesy of Bryden at Toronto Hockey Repair. I have only used them 4 times now (Feb., 2010) but I love them. They make a great combination with Overdrive. There was no break-in period beyond what you would need to get used to any new blade, and you do get more mobility, I'm still trying to figure out how much more. I have used wider boots (Graf) and taller blades (these ones) and I can definitely assert that height and width of the boot affect mobility, in theory and in fact.
So, the Graf boot should be made thinner by taking the plastic extension down if you want increased mobility. Just for the record, plastic does not grip the ice, and I have talked to the Graf people about the initial purpose of the extension and it makes no sense whatsoever - it is worse than useless and should go, whether you wear Overdrive or not. If you understand all of the injury aspects of slipping, you will understand why it is worse than useless.
The pic to the left shows how much of the extension should go to bring the skate almost into line with the other brands. There are a number of ways to do it, it isn't hard and does not damage the skate.
To the left and right are pics of what you will end up with after grinding down the boot and installing Overdrive.
How about if you leave the Graf boot as it is and put Overdrive on so that it sits along the edge of the boot just like Overdrive on other brands? That will work, won't it? Yes, it will work, you'll now have an edge to work with instead of a slipping point on the plastic, but be aware that it is not the best solution and for optimum mobility,the boot should still be as narrow as possible.
To the left is the really wide skate that slips out at 20 degrees, and below that is the tall skate that slips out at 61 degrees. The little red line indicates an Overdrive blade on both. Is it possible to get equal mobility from both just because the slipping point at the edge of the boot has been covered with Overdrive? No, of course not. The narrower boot below still gives more mobility. Why?
With the wide boot above, from 0 degrees until 20 degrees, you are on your main blade, and below that you go onto Overdrive.
With the tall boot, you are on your main blade from 0 degrees until 61 degrees, and below that you go onto Overdrive.
The difference is 61-20 = 41 degrees more of push on your main blade from the tall skate.
The main blade is far more powerful than Overdrive - it is wider, longer, stronger. It is where most of your power comes from. Again, whether you wear Overdrive or not, a narrower, taller skate is better. If you install Overdrive on Grafs without shaving down the side of the boot, you will be losing out on mobility from your main blade.
On one last note, it is possible to put in a metal blade in the Graf cutout, you could even make it, but there is a reason why I made Overdrive in the shape it is, not square like the Graf cutout. Aside from losing the back portion of the blade (red overlay), the square shape will not engage cleanly, especially when backing up - that square cutout does not follow the flow of a goalie's foot on a move. Below is a flash piece showing how the foot rolls through most moves for optimum mobility.
The only difficult part of the Graf installation is dealing with the plastic shell, and that isn't really very hard. Actually installing the blade is really quite easy, easier than on other skates thanks to the cutout on the boot, which almost fits an Overdrive blade and only needs to be modified slightly. The order of install is: remove the screw, expand the cutout to receive the blade, attach the blade, shave down the plastic hump. Again, it's actually quite easy, and only requires some care when you are trimming the boot. It's hard to make a mistake here.
One great thing about the Graf install is that you don't have any rivets to remove, which can be a pain on the other brands. The screw head is Torx, but a standard slot will also fit, so remove the screw and SAVE IT. That screw is now going to hold Overdrive on the middle hole. This is another great advantage of the Grafs. On other brands, the most difficult step is drilling the first hole, and the placement can sometimes go wrong for a variety of reasons. Here, all that is done for you - the first hole is done and you just have to shape the cutout to fit Overdrive. That is the next step.
Below left is how Overdrive fits, or doesn't fit in the Graf slots. Obviously, we have some trimming to do, and below right shows where you need to do it. All you have to do is place Overdrive over the slot, score lines A and B with an exacto knife, take the blade away and start to trim the excess area. The way I do it is to score the line over and over, so I would score line B about 10, 20 times until it is a deep cut. Then I start to score it sideways, from the side of the cutout, until it is a deep cut. Then just trim it away slowly. Just keep nibbling away until it is big enough, and don't worry about making it too big - too big doesn't matter at all. So do that for lines A and B until Overdrive fits inside the cutout. It really is very simple.
Here, a customer had a poor install, and because the holes are already drilled, I am not doing all of the 'A' cutout, but am making the corner more square to receive the blade, which also saves work and doesn't affect use of the blade.
Scoring the 'B' line.
I marked the line with a pen and am nowing scoring it over and over again.
Now I am cutting the other way.
Above, slicing off part of the triangle.
Finishing off the cutout.
The final cutout.
The blade siting in the cutout.
The blade attached and sitting in the cutout.
Marking the boot to trim the shell.
Marking the top of the boot for trimming.
On the pair of skates above, notice that there are 4 holes drilled, meaning that the original Graf hole wasn't used. I forget whether it was because of the original install, or because the Graf hole in this case was too far off. That can happen. You can trim the cutout so that the Graf hole lines up properly, or you can just drill a new hole, which I think is easier, since positioning on the Graf is so easy with that cutout.
Once you have finished the cutout, place Overdrive in it and attach the blade. The great thing about this cutout is that it holds Overdrive in place nicely, and the back edge (red arrow) prevents it from moving when it gets hit by a puck. (this pic is photoshopped - not an actual install).
Now comes the trimming of the boot. The green overlay part to the right indicates what has to come off. Score or draw a line in the plastic marking this area.
When you trim the boot down, TAKE YOUR TIME. You can use a grinder, a Dremel tool, anything that grinds, or an exacto knife, which will take some time and effort. The plastic is quite soft for a grinder, a little hard if you are using a knife. Leave the blade on. If you are using a grinder, leave the blade on until the last little bit needs to come off. Then take it off for the last bit, because you don't want to grind down Overdrive.
Left and right is what a good install will look like. Notice how high the hump has been trimmed. Trim the plastic down until you have about 1/16" of Overdrive sticking out from the side of the boot (right). Again, take you time. If you're not sure, leave it, try it on the ice and then make adjustments if you have to.
Below are some shots of the pair that I fixed.
Left is a pic of an install that didn't trim the bottom part around the blade (blue arrow). Make sure you do this part or you'll slip out on it. Same problem on the pic to the right - it needs a little more taken off below the blade.
If you want to see if the blade will work, run a straightedge (a ruler) from your main blade to the edge of Overdrive, like the blue line. This will show you if Overdrive will hit the ice when your foot rolls over. The area 'a' shows how much room is between the blue line and the boot, meaning the boot is not close to getting in the way.
For an idea of how much boot to trim, run the ruler from Overdrive to the boot (green line) and it will show you at what angle the boot will be getting in the way (a). Running the ruler at an angle similar to this green line will be sufficient for good movement while down.
Also, note that one edge of Overdrive does most of the work (red arrow). The lower edge is used when you need Overdrive to help you stop.