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Restoration of OLD [pre WWII style] leather seats

Answerman

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Hey guys: as you might have seen in my post in "New Members" (even though I'm not a new member, but I have a new acquisition) I have added to the stable a 1949 Alvis TA14 saloon. I'm still wrapping my head around the whole project, but one thing I am taking a hard look at is the upholstery.

It's very old school: the seats are thin leather over horsehair. In looking closely at them, other than a couple of minor tears and some general wear marks (it's 70 years old, no surprises there!) the leather actually is in surprisingly good condition. More than anything, it's dirty. And it's rather stiff. I'm thinking a good cleaning and conditioning may bring it back to an acceptable appearance. Having said that, who's done something like this? I'm looking for advice on which products to use, procedure, etc. I'd really like to keep the original upholstery if possible since I'm trying to keep the car as original as I can, and also cost and availability (not like anyone makes replacement seat covers for this).
 

NutmegCT

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Others with more experience will share their thoughts, but here's what I did on my 1953 MGTD.

Original (kangaroo hide?) seats, very good condition, but dirty.

Washed with cool soapy water and a soft brush. Towel dry, then rubbed in a mixture of anhydrous lanolin and beeswax. I actually found an old description of Connolly Hide Food (called Connolly's Leather Food in the article) online, and made it myself. Here's a link to the Connolly ingredients:

https://books.google.com/books?id=9WsABAAAQBAJ&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=beeswax+lanolin+morpholine

Very pleased with the results:

Cockpit.jpg

More info:

https://www.britishcarforum.com/bcf/showthread.php?110198-Connolly-Hide-Food

https://www.tradeclassics.com/wp-co...nolly-bros-leather-cleaning-instructions.jpeg

Tom M.
 

JPSmit

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Hide food seems to make a big difference- there seem to be more products in the aaUK for this. I recall reading a story of a significant restoration where they glued canvas? To the underside.
 

PAUL161

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All I can say is, I used Lexol on our early T Bird seats, which were white leather and they were soft as glove leather to the touch. Even though there are other products out there, If something works for me, I don't change. PJ

View attachment 53577
 
OP
Answerman

Answerman

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Thanks guys. I'll look into all of these suggestions. I'm not expecting that they will be perfect, I am just wanting to try a few things before I give up and hand it over to the professionals. I took a cushion over to a local upholstery shop who specializes in these things and he was confident that they could redo all the upholstery to the tune of $4000 (ouch). I don't have any problem with the seats looking like they are 70 years old, some imperfections and even repairs are fine as long as they look like someone actually cared for them during their lifetime, you know?
 

NutmegCT

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" I don't have any problem with the seats looking like they are 70 years old, some imperfections and even repairs are fine as long as they look like someone actually cared for them during their lifetime, you know?"

Exactly the way I look at it myself. Well said!

Tom M.

 
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