The original leather interior on my 1910 T is hard and very dirty. I suspect I need to give it a good cleaning and then moisturize the leather, but I'm not sure what is the best thing for the job. I'm sure there are other early T owners with original leather out there - what have you used and recommend for cleaning and softening 107 year old leather. Thanks!
Griot's garage leather treatment is the best I have ever used!
Leather needs to own a certain amount of moisture. Once it's dried out "hard", it may not respond to treatment. Cleaning is best accomplished with a good grade of saddle soap, Fiebing's liquid saddle soap is good. To clean thoroughly, use a reasonable amount of water to flush away dirt and rinse off the soap residues. Hopefully the leather will become supple during this cleaning. Once clean and damp-dry, apply genuine neat's foot oil to displace excess water and retain the necessary level of moisture, which will make old leather supple, and preserve the flexibility of any leather. Beware of "neat's foot oil COMPOUND" which is petroleum based oil, not a natural animal oil. Use only genuine neat's foot oil for best results.
I've cleaned and reconditioned a fair amount of old leather this way, including my wife's 130 year old side-saddle which she still rides regularly. I have no experience with "leather treatments", possibly they are really good; Griot's products are usually very good.
One problem with prescribing how to deal with old "leather" is that there are so many possible variations - species ? chrome tanned, or vegetable tanned ? top grain or split hides top finished ? These variables and more can make a lot of difference as to why some efforts at cleaning and reconditioning old, hard leather are successful, and others not so much.
Good luck, it's mighty special to have the interior of your '10 intact. (I'd love to see pictures !)
color plus leather restoration milford , pa. joanne price. 570 686 3158 . have used there leather softener on original leather on my 1908 brush with limited success if you call her she may be able to help. you can call me also.
I second the neatsfoot oil. McMaster- Carr has it in gallon cans.
I agree with Don's suggestion of using Griot's leather rejuvenator. www.griotsgarage.com. They also have a wide selection of leather carte products, including a good leather cleaner. When the rejuvenator is applied, the aroma smells just like a new shoe store, which leads me to believe that it is the same formula used to professionally treat shoe leather to make it soft and supple. I have used it on leather upholstery, on antique book leather and an old dried out WWII leather bomber jacket, and in all cases, the results were amazing. The old, dry leather became soft and shiny as it became infused with whatever ingredients are in the leather treatment and it stayed that way. Jim Patrick
Oops. "care" not carte... Jim Patrick
Rich, here are some photos of my original 1910 interior; the seat cushions were too far gone so I need to replace them but the rest is in really good shape for 107 year old leather!
Thy these folks. Color Plus. Read their brochure about leather.
Bill, thanks for the look-see !! It looks really fine, I'll bet you can get it clean and soft again. Please let us know what you used and how things turned out !
PLEASE, whatever you do, don't use water or any treatment with water in it. The old leather will become like a potato chip.
Go with Neatsfoot Oil like others suggest. The modern conditioners are not meant to be used on really dry, brittle leather. Be darn careful. Learn from my mistakes.
There is a product called Elephant Wax that can be massaged into the leather. It can be found online for about $15-20 a tin. I have not used it on very old leather, but I bought it after seeing a dried-out 1930's leather seat be brought back to life. Some elbow grease and a warm garage would be helpful.
I have had good results on hard dry leather saddle bags and even the hard dry cloth seats on our 16 with vegetable glycerine I mix it with water and brush it on heavy and keep it wet it takes time but worked for me.not cheap at the drug store but I get it from amazon about 12 bucks a gallon