The upholstery on my 1914 is original and I plan on using it. However, it's pretty dried out and cracked with age. Is there any kind of conditioner out there that others have used to soften up and re-vitalize their upholstery?
The fast answer is no. Anything you put on dry leather to rejuvenate it will cause it to start to break down, it will get soft and pliable at first and then very soft and greasy.
there has been many discussions on this here in the past. maybe google " leather mtfca" and see what comes up
Except that a '14 doesn't typically have leather except perhaps in the hip panels on the earlier cars. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Warren, you are correct - my 1914 is not leather but it is dried out and hard like leather would get. Is there a conditioner that would soften up the seat material?
There are a variety of products for dry or cracking vinyl, made for the boat industry. I do not know which works the best, but something like this may work.
I swear by Griot's leather rejuvenator. I have used it on all of my old leather projects from stiff delicate turn of the century Conley camera bellows to a dried out WWII bomber jacket and in all cases the leather was restored to it's former look, softeness and suppleness. It has no adverse effects and, unlike Mr. Bryngelson's comment saying the effects of leather rejuvenators are only temporary, the Griot's has left the leather in its' restored condition for years. I did the bomber jacket 5 years ago and I wear it every winter. It even has the wonderful aroma of a pair of new shoes. www.griotsgarage.com. Jim Patrick
Groits is a product I have not heard of, but it is still an oil, and should be used sparingly, dried and cracked leather can not be saved, as once the fibers are broken, they can not be healed.
As far as using it on your seat, there is really no reason not to try it, as you intend to use the seat, and you will have to replace the seat covering anyway.
I can see how camera bellows would be a good place for this product, as the leather is not a bearing surface. As for the WWII bomber jacket, I would suspect that it is rather newer than 70 years old, as the value (monetary and historical) of a real bomber jacket from that time period is a bit high to be using it as a garment.
The bomber jacket belonged to my friend, who, because of my interest in history and in WWII, gave it to me shortly before he died at 85 in 2008. He was in the 8th air force and was a nose gunner in a B-24 Liberator. I built him a model of his plane based on a picture he showed me which he appreciated very much. It was silver. What stories he used to tell about his exploits in the skies over Germany facing down ME-109's that used to fly straight for the formation before veering off at the last second. In that nose turret, he had the best view, but the scariest, most exposed seat in the plane. He said there is no way he would have ever survived without the introduction of the P-51 Mustang to the mix. Even then, I don't know how he survived 35 missions. Jim Patrick
The original leatherette is oil cloth and there is really nothing you can do to rejuvenate the finish. You just have to accept it for what it is and live with it. Over time, the finish does crack. It can also de-laminate. The worst is when the cotton backing suffers from dry rot and is susceptible to ripping/tearing.
The best thing you can do is occasionally clean it with mild soap and water (such as Murphy's oil soap).
Don't put any type of conditioner, dressing, silicone or Armor All on original leatherette. All it will do is seal in the dirt, soak into the cotton backing and make things worse.
Also - never put anything on upholstery that can eventually end up on your clothing.
If you go to the Griots garage website www.griotsgarage.com and do a search on vinyl, a whole bunch of vinyl and rubber cleaning and preservation products will appear. I have never used any of the vinyl or rubber treatment products, but if the quality of their formulas are anything like the quality of the leather rejuvenator, it would be worth a try for they are second to none at least in the leather department. Jim Patrick
I wouldn't consider original factory leatherette as being the same as modern vinyl. The finish is most likely linseed oil based.
Just clean it occasionally with mild soap and water.
Hey Jim, That bomber jacket is a very valuable item, and should not be worn, there are very few that have survived with history, most were worn to destruction by their original owners, and that is excusable, but for some one else to wear such an artifact is not really the best way to preserve history. This jacket is something that should be taken care of with the intention of it lasting for many more years. Leather conditioners are made for leather that is being used, and by that definition something that is eventually disposable. I have handled thousands of leather artifacts that are 100 years old or even older, that are still in great condition, because they were stored correctly, with out the use of conditioner. I have also handled hundreds of artifacts that had been treated with leather conditioner many years before, and nearly every one was in condition that the leather was so soft and pliable that you could stick your thumb through it with no effort. These over conditioned items also had a slimy greasy surface, and would damage any textiles or other leather items they contacted. I would agree that it is OK to use leather conditioners on anything that you plan on using, as anything that is to be used should be considered disposable, but not for something you want to preserve.
Hey Jim you said:
"It even has the wonderful aroma of a pair of new shoes."
I am glad you clarified that. The aroma of old shoes wouldn't be so great.
Neat Foot Oil, for old saddles, harnesses, and other leather goods.
When I worked at Jaguar dealers they always had a product called HIDE FOOD. It did the trick but I have not seen any for maybe 30 to 40 years, but I haven't looked for any.
NAPA stores have LEXOL
There is a LEXOL cleaner and a LEXOL conditioner.
Aaron, Connolly Hide Food? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connolly_Leather
Renamed Hide Care in the US? http://www.autogeek.net/cohica1.html
LOL! Thank you Richard. That was good.
Gusaf, You have some good points. What would be the best way to pack the bomber jacket for permanent storage?
40 to 50% humidity and avoid high temperatures. Also direct sun light is not good for most things. I would not store it away, it is a very interesting artifact, and it could be safely displayed in a shadow box. You should also get as much information of your friend's service and keep it with it. We are not owners of these things, but custodians who will pass them to future generations, and the history is as important as the artifact, more is some cases.
Thanks Gus. You are right. We are only passing through. Jim Patrick