I understand that Model T upholstery was stuffed with horse hair. Who were the suppliers and was special farms raising horses to provide this hair? It would take thousands of horses for this.
Well true the early Fords with leather used horsehair for stuffing the pleats. Later seat springs deleted the need for stuffing with as much. And then the later T used artificial leather 'Ford cloth' with cotton stuffing.
So by the time the T was really selling, horse hair stuffing was gone along with the horses that were on the way out for transportation anyway
Today upholstery horse hair comes from Argentina, Canada, Australia and Mongolia.
Dog food & glue factory Slaughter houses
My 17 original un restored touring still has horse hair stuffing in the seats so it was used well past the time of leather upholstery.
My 27 coupe was in need of stuffing, in her cushions, when first purchased. I used the attached product from my locale hardware store.
Non- Itch insulation.
Horse tails and manes grow back after cutting or trimming. I wonder if there were places that bought hair from whom ever brought it in to sell?
Need 10 cents, go trim the horse and take the hair into town to sell. Maybe?
Remember, horse hair was used as a binder in plaster as well. There must have been a lot of horse hair around!
Ah, you city kids. Dale, horse slaughter has been a hot-button issue for many years now. First it was made illegal, then impossible, the FDA refused to provide inspection so horse meat could be shipped to overseas markets. Back to horse hair, until recently, there was a feller who traveled around making contact with guys like my neighbor who was a horse trader. The neighbor saved trimmings from manes and tails, and hair thinned from grooming, usually had a grain sack stuffed full when he came around. The market for it was in making good quality brooms and bench brushes. Factoid, the U.S. Horse population is about what it was in the 1920s.
I never lived in a city, but helped neighbors load old horses to get slaughtered a few times....
To answer your original question, "Who were the suppliers...". I would have to say it was the horses.
Correction. Total equine population in 1920 was estimated at 25 million. Current population is just over 9 million. My confusion was the great number of heavy drafts in 1920 - light horses number about the same. This according to the U.S. Horse Council.
A few years ago we were able to procure horse hair from the Amish folks in Pennsylvania near Hershey. I suggest you contact Witmer Coach in New Holland, PA Tel: 717-656-3411.
When I restored our '12 Touring back in 2000, I was able to retain 95% of the original horse hair. Teaching myself how to do the "diamond pleats" in leather, and filling the low spots with some additional horse hair, produced a very satisfying result! Good luck! Tom
You can easily get horse/pig hair from http://www.diyupholsterysupply.com/HH1lb.html
It says it is 85% pig, and only 15% horse, but I doubt that your butt will be able to tell the difference.
About 1972, dad reupholstered the 25 Touring and used rubberized horse hair. It was green, if I recall. Those looked, and still look great.
Dan, ....Argentina?, ...Canada?.....Australia? I thought all upholstery horsehair nowadays comes from Mel Draper ?? The horsehair he sells at Chickasha looks just like his salt/pepper thinning hair. So I accuse him of saving all his barber shearings to sell at the swap meets.
I am not looking to buy Horse hair, I am wondering as to where Ford bought all the hair he used.
Slaughter houses? The horse population from farming alone was big into the late thirty's. Old,injured or sick horses would have been purchased for very little and sent to kill pen. Today there is still buyers at auction barns looking for horses like that. Grooming would be another source. They keep work horses mane and tails short for harnesses and keep them cool in summer.
Just my 2 cents Jim.
The top dollar market for horse hair is for violin and other bowed instrument bows. While the majority of the hair comes from Mongolia where it is a major cash crop for the nomadic people, there is also a considerable amount of hair from European countries, South America and a very small amount from North America. The best bow hair in the world comes from the Lippizanner mares. (The Stallion hair is a little to coarse for violin bows and is used for Cello bows.)
Good quality hair in one pound bundles, triple drawn, unwashed and unbleached on the retail market now is in the 7-800 range, depending on who the supplier is. There are about 2000 hairs in a pound so it will hair about 150 violin bows - give or take. Hair is moisture, humidity and temperature sensitive, being longer when wet and pulling shorter as it dries. To hair a bow, the hair is at the least dampened or more likely soaked in very warm water for a few minutes after the frog end has been tied and rosined to hold it in the knot. As it will swell with heat the tab beyond the knot is then burned with a wooden match or alcohol burner, as it burns it swells to a knob that will hold the hair from pulling out of the rosin and wrapping. The wet hair is then combed toward the tip, the tip is tied, rosined, knobbed, flipped over and inserted in the mortise, a tapered plug with just enough room for the hair path is inserted and the hair combed back to the frog where a wedge is inserted to hold the previously prepared end. The ferrule is slipped on the tab on the frog, the hair is combed again to spread it and the slide is inserted, the ferrule is slipped over the end, another wedge is inserted to hold the spread hair and the bow is hung to dry. If all the estimates are correct on measurements the hair will dry to the correct length that allows the hair to slack when the frog is loosened. If you miss a guess --- do it over. There is no way to make the hair longer.
If you are good, you can rehair a bow in 15 minutes. If you are working on a $10,000 bow that will be worthless if you break the tip or ruin it rehairing it -- better take longer.
The hair is a much bigger business than one might think. There are millions of string instrument players, a good fiddler or violinist will have their bow rehaired at LEAST once a year, some will have it done every couple months as the hair loses it ability to hold rosin with a lot of playing.
Multiply all those players with the amount of hair and you can see why there are many companies that procure, process and sell hair both in bulk and by the hank. Fresh hair is best, if their inventory gets old it reduces the price, gets sold for student bows or eventually just thrown out or sold for horsehair hitching or upholstery.
I do not do this work anymore but it was my family heritage business. My grandfather and father and all my uncles built violins and did repair work. I did this for nearly 50 years, then sold most of my shop out and gave a lot of my tools to a young friend. I no longer have "live" hair so I have my bows rehaired by Anton Lehman in Powell, Wyoming, one of the few people I would trust with my old and valuable bows. I have a new Johannes Schicker Silver mounted triple star bow I bought several years ago when I thought I was rich. He will get i t next time as it is needing to be haired. I drive right by several other shops to take them to him, I would not ship them.
I get mighty cold in the winter do you think I could use it for a Toupee? It may just help cut down on the glare on sunny days too!
A few years ago word circulated among vintage VW people that the stuffing for early VWs, when burnt gave off a foul smelling smoke that was akin to mustard gas. It could be fatal if ingested. I suspect that it was due to whatever the horsehair was treated with. People were urged to use caution when welding on seat frames.
Swing over to Clare the next time Yoder's has a livestock auction. Bring some scissors and a burlap bag and you can get all the horse hair you need- and you wont even have to leave the parking lot!
I think it was all the ABSORBED gas that made those VW seats so stinky when burned....
Being raised on Ranches and Farms, I was around horses and mules a lot. We always kept our saddle horses manes roached short, and pulled their tails pretty short, but left long enough to switch flies. The hair, and there was a lot of it, was just left where it fell, nobody had any use for it. Back in Pre-History, some folks made some very nice horsehair bridles and such, the Convicts at Huntsville did a lot of that, they probably got the hair from their own stock, the Prison System farmed a lot back then, not like now, those boys got outside and sweated. We had a horsehair couch covered in cowhide, I know full well it had to have been 100 years old, but still fairly comfortable enough to sleep on. I have a Mexican made horsehair rope, real long like they made them, I have never caught anything with it, afraid it would come in two, but some folks do.
The all original unmolested 1919-1921 front half of a touring I took down had some horse hair in the padded roll around the top of the seat.
Stan. Thanks for the very interesting formation. I enjoy articles like yours
Thanks!I should have also said that all hair for bows is pulled,not cut, with the root left on to supposedly keep it live longer.
I purchased a gunny sack full of curled pig hair for the upholstery in our 1906 Moline in 1985 and it cost $200 at wholesale back then. I sold half of it for $100 to the upholsterer. I built those running board tool boxes out of oak and put linoleum on them and the running boards as well as the floor boards and bound them with brass trim. The starting crank was in the bottom of the box and was pinned at the inside with two brass larches on the outside. To start the engine you had to take the box off and put it on the ground, take the crank out of the lower part of the box, crank the engine, put the crank back in the box, and reassemble the upper part which was also the entry step for the back seat. We had that car for 22 years and I got so good at that drill that if the engine stalled at a stop sign I could get out, start it and put the box back together all in 30 seconds, but I was much younger back then. The brass crank hole was initially a through hull fitting for the bilge on a boat and had a huge brass nut on the back side.
The hole in the brass fitting acted as a bearing for the hand crank.