I'd be grateful if someone that has a swatch of original 1915 touring seat material would post (or email to me) a photo clear enough that I can see the surface. I'm only interested in seeing an original scrap, remnant, etc.; nothing of modern production said to be correct.
I've searched all the past threads where this has been discussed but those photos either aren't clear enough or are of slightly newer cars.
It is the same as my 1917 runabout which still has its original seat back. Essentially it is cloth sprayed with a rubberized surface finish.
The seat cushion is the current kit offered by Cartouche.
Thanks for the photo. I can't tell from this, so specifically what I want to know is:
1. Was there an asymmetric "grain" embossed on the surface of the artificial leather?
2. Was it strictly the appearance of the cloth coming through the coating with a textile look?
3. Was it a combination of 1 and 2?
In my opinion, the original leatherette is oil cloth.
The coating sits on top of the material - it is not deeply embedded into the cloth like modern naugahyde. That's why over time it can flake off here and there.
If you have ever seen good, original material, it does have a grain embossed in it (not very deep) and the the weave of the cloth does faintly telegraph to the surface. So, combination of 1 and 2 as you indicate above.
Later cars had Ford script faintly embossed every so often in the material. The best example I have seen was on Art Moran's 1921 touring.
I've never measured it, but modern naugahyde seems substantially thicker than original upholstery material and just doesn't look right when installed. The best modern naugahyde I have seen is the material my dad used to reupholster his '17 touring 55 years ago - its nice and thin.
Our 16 touring has a body date of 12-15 if that's what you need I will gladly send you a small piece
Erik: thanks for the description. That is consistent with other material of the era I have seen, but in those cases it was not Ford material.
Paul: a small swatch would be much appreciated so long as it does not inconvenience you and does not cause any harm to your very interesting artifact. I'll send you a p.m. right after I post this message.
Wow, that definitely looks like a "pebble" grain pattern. I have found if you can find an upholstery supply shop, there are thinner versions of modern materials. I think most folks get the thicker stuff as it lasts longer and is perceived to be of better quality. I have seen some modern piano benches done in a very thin material with about the right grain. Now if one can find out where that material came from. . . . .
I think it I similar to oilcloth, but not quite the same as say an oilcloth coat material. It is thinner cloth, so the end product is more pliable than what we have seen in terms of typical oilcloth material.
no problem Walter the rear seat bottom is badly eaten by mice it does not show when in car. the mice pulled most of the cotton stuffing out of the seats and packed it under back seat the mouse piss rusted the hinges off the cover under seat. I even fished stuffing out of cylinders! 70 years of mice! now I hang the cushions on a nail for the winter!
I need to correct my prior post. There is an Ford script "F" embossed in the material in later cars - not the full "Ford."
The following photos are of the 1917 Rip Van Winkle Ford touring.
In order to comply with the size limits of forum, I did some cropping so I sacrificed physical size to hopefully retain some of the resolution:
Looks similar to my '24 touring rear seat back original upholstery.
"Ford Leather Cloth" was the name given by Ford, cotton backed fabric of a rubber like compound, it still lasts and lasts!
Ford Industries (1926)
And the cotton backing was made by Ford too.
Thanks very much for all the great detail photos.
In Dan's excerpt it mentions, "About fifteen yards are required for the top, curtains and upholstery on the touring car." Was the top and seat material the same, or only the same in type with a different grain design or different construction?
I don't believe oil cloth has any place in this discussion.
Back in 1963/64 Al Vivian from San Bernardino,CA had a 1916 Touring car with the Ford script embossed into the upholstery material...It was a barn find survivor,,as they call them now...It made quite an impression on me as a young kid..I remember the car sold for $500.oo Bucks....A lot more than I could afford....
Carl ,aka,,,Slim ,over at The Lazy S Ranch...
"I don't believe oil cloth has any place in this discussion."
Sure looks and feels like oilcloth to me. (Not to be confused with postwar oilcloth which is PVC.)
I'll bet the coating on Ford artificial leather was derived from linseed oil for all practical purposes manufactured no differently than oilcloth that was used on a number of products during that era such as book covers, luggage, automobile and furniture upholstery, spare tire covers, doll shoes, and anything that was meant to simulate leather.
There are a lot of variations of oil cloth depending on the thickness of the underlying cotton fabric, the thickness of the coating and how it is embossed, if embossed at all, etc.
From the 1914 Abstract of the Census of Manufacturers:
Here is the F embossed in the upholstery material:
It appear here on a 1919-1922 side curtain:
: ^ )
I would have to agree with EriK.
Coating cloth was well known in the teens and twenties, the process was derived from papermaking where a head box flowed pulp onto a fine copper mesh called a couch (pronounced "cooch"), through a series of pinch rollers to create a uniform thickness product, as the product was dried, the finished paper was separated from the couch and rolled up.
Oil cloth used a similar process but cotton fabric was used as a substrate to make a tough waterproof fabric. The texture and pattern were created by printing and embossing the finish on the material with rollers.
My guess is that Ford used a similar linseed oil based coating (much like a thick paint) as a coating, possibly with a gum base, to improve flexibility, but not at all different than making oil cloth.
Haartz has done a nice job of recreating the Model T top material in its brand of 'Turf' grain.
Here is the link, scroll down a long way to 'Grain' and you can open the quick link by clicking your mouse over the Ford Model T item.
Most T vendors sell this material.
You better contact Eric Haartz and tell him to make the embossing rollers with the "F" so he can start reproducing that material.
Had to do this side by side with Keith's photo of Ford top material.
Compare original Ford to Haartz 'Turf' grain.
Here's the original top boot from my dad's 1917 touring.
"Turf" is a better match than "Colonial" sold by the vendors to the original top and top boot.
Thanks for this additional information. I'm glad to hear that Turf is available rather than the much overused Colonial. I'll go with that.
Does someone have a source for the Haartz Turf material besides going straight to Eric Haartz?
In the last post made by Larry Smith in a previous thread:
.... there seems to be some conflict over what today is called Colonial is really Turf and not the Colonial of old. I ordered the seat material from Classtique, but Mark says their Colonial is not Turf and he doesn't stock it. Surely he knows what he stocks, so I'm interested in hearing from those that have ordered Turf from a someone who knows it's Turf and sells it as such.
I can go straight to Eric if necessary, it's just that sometimes it takes a fair bit of phone tag to get an order finalized. Understandably, he's a busy man.
Was not the first panel on the armrest leather on a 15? Dan
A discussion of "oilcloth" is always confusing, as what is now commonly called oilcloth (used mainly for tablecloths) is nothing like the oilcloth used in the early cars. Here's a description of the process from Wikipedia (easier than trying to explain otherwise):
"Boiled linseed oil was prepared by a long boiling of linseed oil with metal salts, originally lead dross. The modern oil is less toxic, but also less suitable for making oilcloth. Re-enactors may boil their own oil in the search for a correctly coloured oilcloth. Oilcloth used for weatherproofing may have used a mixture of lead and manganese salts, the sienna and umber pigments, to give a more humidity-resistant cure.
The fabric was first stretched on a tenter frame and sized with animal gelatine. The oil was then applied and allowed to cure between coats. As the cure relies on oxidation by the air, thin coats and long cure times between are required.
Overlaps between sheets of fresh oilcloth would amalgamate naturally when pressed together. This tendency also led to the cloth sticking together when folded. Where a folding cover was needed, the cloth was waxed or dusted with pumice to reduce this.
Seams in traditional oilcloth could be coated after sewing to reduce leakage through their stitching. "
The method described in Wikipedia wouldn't bode well for mass production.
"The Story of Coated Fabrics: I - The Development of Oilcloth" July 1944 edition of "Textile Research"
Note that in the article "American cloth" also known as "leather cloth."
Period ads from 1918: