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Basics of cleaning....

Messages
14,966
Location
Central California
$110 is a deal for all the work involved. Buying a block will be more than that, and possibly twice that.

Hello all! Sorry if I'm out of place with this thread, but while visiting family I had my most prized hat, a Stetson Premier Stratoliner in Sage that I put a 4 point crease in, be forcibly taken by the wind (my fault, I should have just carried the hat to the car. we were seeing strong bursts of wind), and disappeared into the night. It spent the night in their neighbor's field, despite my best efforts to find it (even after miles of searching, and soaking my legs in mud). I had to abandon my search and go home, and by the grace of the gods my Step-Father found it the next day in the field. This is how she looks at the moment, more photos are at the bottom of the post.
Y2XK3tW.jpg


To get to the point, what should I be prepping to do to reverse the damage? It seems the brim took a pretty bad hit, and there's definitely mud/dirt still in the felt. Should I pick up a hat block, and reblock it, or do I stand a change getting the kinks out with steam? As for the brim, it was a snap brim. Is fixing it something I could reasonably do myself, or is it getting into territory I need a hatter for?

I'm by no means expecting to return to how it was, but I want to do everything I can to get it back as much as I can. What I have on hand at the moment is:
  • Hat sponges
  • Hat brush
  • Water Kettle with fairly narrow steam vents
  • De-Waxed shellac suspended in grain alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Grain alcohol
She has it sitting on the crown, in an unheated and dry area now. She told me she only ran it under tap water to wash the mud off, but otherwise hasn't scrubbed or blown dried it.
B6BRaeF.jpg

vBhiuxq.jpg

KMxUyYt.jpg

Ce1ZRKM.jpg


Any and all help is greatly appreciated! The drive home had me contemplating selling most of my Hats, to include my prized Gannon to get a new one, so I really want to get it back into shape. Having walking through the pastures, in the gale winds, and pouring rains I honestly didn't think I'd ever seen it again.

As a hatter that loves to refurbish vintage hats here is my two cents:
The crown does not look too bad. Now that it is dried if the mud is not ground into the felt it may be possible with the orange sponge to brush it out.
By all means use steam and hand manipulation to get it back into shape. If you purchase a block it is critical that you buy one the same profile as the hat in its original shape. If you get a different profiled block it is very difficult to reblock it and get it exact so that brim dimension is the same. With your ribbon bound brim it is even more critical as you cannot trim the brim if you reblock it with the brim not even.
The brim if it is really deformed presents more of a problem than the crown. It is hard to get it back to original without a properly matching flange.

If I were to take on something like this I would:
Strip it back to basic felt - removing leather sweat, ribbon
Wash with a mild alkaline Orvis paste soap.
Reblock & reflange
Resew the components
Bash to original
The procedure would cost $110 plus two way postage of $40 total. So you are approaching 2/3's the price of a new one. You have nothing to lose by attempting the fix yourself. Try it, see what you produce as there is no risk other than your time. Then if you are not happy with it then consider sending it out.
 

FunnelVission

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
Oregon
$110 is a deal for all the work involved. Buying a block will be more than that, and possibly twice that.
I've seen these "hat shapers". How well would they work?


As a hatter that loves to refurbish vintage hats here is my two cents:
The crown does not look too bad. Now that it is dried if the mud is not ground into the felt it may be possible with the orange sponge to brush it out.
By all means use steam and hand manipulation to get it back into shape. If you purchase a block it is critical that you buy one the same profile as the hat in its original shape. If you get a different profiled block it is very difficult to reblock it and get it exact so that brim dimension is the same. With your ribbon bound brim it is even more critical as you cannot trim the brim if you reblock it with the brim not even.
The brim if it is really deformed presents more of a problem than the crown. It is hard to get it back to original without a properly matching flange.

If I were to take on something like this I would:
Strip it back to basic felt - removing leather sweat, ribbon
Wash with a mild alkaline Orvis paste soap.
Reblock & reflange
Resew the components
Bash to original
The procedure would cost $110 plus two way postage of $40 total. So you are approaching 2/3's the price of a new one. You have nothing to lose by attempting the fix yourself. Try it, see what you produce as there is no risk other than your time. Then if you are not happy with it then consider sending it out.

Sounds like it's going to be quite the experience, thanks! For that price I think I'd just order a new one for $245, but I want to give this a shot so hopefully I can get it at least serviceable. I suppose worse case scenario, I end up ordering a new one, and this becomes the hat I learn everything on first.
 
Messages
14,966
Location
Central California
I've seen these "hat shapers". How well would they work?

Sounds like it's going to be quite the experience, thanks! For that price I think I'd just order a new one for $245, but I want to give this a shot so hopefully I can get it at least serviceable. I suppose worse case scenario, I end up ordering a new one, and this becomes the hat I learn everything on first.


I own four Hat Shaper plastic blocks. They work surprisingly well given their price. However, I don’t think that any of them match the Stratoliner profile. Since they come in small, medium, large, etc. it’s just luck to find one in your actual size
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,133
Location
vancouver, canada
I own four Hat Shaper plastic blocks. They work surprisingly well given their price. However, I don’t think that any of them match the Stratoliner profile. Since they come in small, medium, large, etc. it’s just luck to find one in your actual size
Yes, and their footprint is decidedly a regular oval towards an full oval shape so if you tend to Long oval the fit won't be right. I have found they work as a decent substitute for being an inner base to have a hard inner surface upon which to steam a hat. But not for a full reblock.
 

jviss

Familiar Face
Messages
79
Location
Massachusetts
I'm surprised by this thread. I'm new here, and new to the details of hat cleaning and blocking, but I've already cleaned and re-bashed one with good results. I'm just surprised that a good hat ending up in the mud and rain could lead thinking it ruined, and replacing it. Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned using packing tape or a lint roller to remove a lot of the dried dirt first.

I would think that unless the hat was well and truly soaked, you could get it back into shape after cleaning with some steam and "encouragement."

I think a lot of brushing, tape, and vacuuming are in order, first, once it's totally dry.

Interested to see how this works out.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,133
Location
vancouver, canada
I'm surprised by this thread. I'm new here, and new to the details of hat cleaning and blocking, but I've already cleaned and re-bashed one with good results. I'm just surprised that a good hat ending up in the mud and rain could lead thinking it ruined, and replacing it. Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned using packing tape or a lint roller to remove a lot of the dried dirt first.

I would think that unless the hat was well and truly soaked, you could get it back into shape after cleaning with some steam and "encouragement."

I think a lot of brushing, tape, and vacuuming are in order, first, once it's totally dry.

Interested to see how this works out.
Yes, decent fur felt is a wonderful resilient thing. I have found packing tape to be brilliant at removing dust/lint but I always use a brush, orange hat sponge or 3M white non abrasive pads for anything larger than dust particles. Of course there are degrees of a hat being smooshed. Felt can be steamed and hand manipulated back into shape but if it has been wetted, deformed and dried in the deformed shape it can be difficult to get it back. Sometimes reblocking the hat is a necessity if you want it back the way it was. But it is always worth a try to see what you can achieve before sending it to a hatter for a refurb. A good fur felt is rarely ever ruined as a skilled hatter can resurrect some terribly treated hats back from the dead....it is usually a matter of how much you are willing to spend to do the resurrection.
 

jviss

Familiar Face
Messages
79
Location
Massachusetts
She has it sitting on the crown, in an unheated and dry area now. She told me she only ran it under tap water to wash the mud off, but otherwise hasn't scrubbed or blown dried it.

Who's "she?" :)

Washing it may have been a mistake. Kevin, in one of Youtube videos, says that once it's wet/soaked, the shape it's in when it dries is it's new shape, as if it has been steamed.
 

FunnelVission

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
Oregon
I'm surprised by this thread. I'm new here, and new to the details of hat cleaning and blocking, but I've already cleaned and re-bashed one with good results. I'm just surprised that a good hat ending up in the mud and rain could lead thinking it ruined, and replacing it. Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned using packing tape or a lint roller to remove a lot of the dried dirt first.

I would think that unless the hat was well and truly soaked, you could get it back into shape after cleaning with some steam and "encouragement."

I think a lot of brushing, tape, and vacuuming are in order, first, once it's totally dry.

Interested to see how this works out.

Unfortunately it wasn't a little dirt and water. It was at least eight hours in heavy Oregon rain in a field (a farm field, which this time of year is 50% mud). The fact it was even in the field still is unbelievable to me since we had very heavy wind, that was hard enough I had to keep my arm in front of my face just to see. I was convinced it would have been several miles away by morning.

Who's "she?" :)

Washing it may have been a mistake. Kevin, in one of Youtube videos, says that once it's wet/soaked, the shape it's in when it dries is it's new shape, as if it has been steamed.

After a night of non-stop rain, I don't think the sink could have made much difference, however I wasn't there to see how much mud she (my mother, forgot to state that) washed off of it.

The biggest problem I can already see in the photos is that the brim looks very warped; however, that could also be the lighting pulling tricks.


I own four Hat Shaper plastic blocks. They work surprisingly well given their price. However, I don’t think that any of them match the Stratoliner profile. Since they come in small, medium, large, etc. it’s just luck to find one in your actual size

Ah, I see. Once I get the hat in hand I'll asses how bad it is. I might get a smaller one to help with steaming like belfastboy mentioned using theirs for, as I am a long oval and had even hat-jacked this hat to get it to fit better.

Thanks all for your help!
 

jviss

Familiar Face
Messages
79
Location
Massachusetts
Unfortunately it wasn't a little dirt and water. It was at least eight hours in heavy Oregon rain in a field (a farm field, which this time of year is 50% mud). The fact it was even in the field still is unbelievable to me since we had very heavy wind, that was hard enough I had to keep my arm in front of my face just to see. I was convinced it would have been several miles away by morning.



After a night of non-stop rain, I don't think the sink could have made much difference, however I wasn't there to see how much mud she (my mother, forgot to state that) washed off of it.

The biggest problem I can already see in the photos is that the brim looks very warped; however, that could also be the lighting pulling tricks.




Ah, I see. Once I get the hat in hand I'll asses how bad it is. I might get a smaller one to help with steaming like belfastboy mentioned using theirs for, as I am a long oval and had even hat-jacked this hat to get it to fit better.

Thanks all for your help!
I think it will be fine. I'd look at some of Kevin's videos (Guitars and Hats on Youtube). He shows in many of them how to reshape a brim without a flange. I think getting the dirt off is number one, then gradually reshaping the crown, starting with an open crown, then working on the brim. A source of steam is key. I am using my garment steamer, which works O.K. (It's a floor-standing, larger model, Pursteam PS-950X. The handle thing has a holster that holds the steam nozzle which makes it like a benchtop steamer.)

Good luck!
 

dkstott

A-List Customer
Messages
378
Location
Connecticut
I agree, watch some of Kevin's videos on cleaning, steaming hats. Read some of the posts here on caring for the leather sweat band. You'll need some patience and my bet is that the hat will be fine.

$110 for a cleaning, reblocking is a very reasonable price.

Worst case scenario is that this hat becomes your well weathered beater hat and you buy a replacement. Who doesn't need more hats?.
 

glider

A-List Customer
Messages
327
You can bring that hat back and you will enjoy the hat more if you do. Try hair spray for a stiffener if you need it. It would be nice to have a hat block and a Jiffy steamer would be nice also.
 

FunnelVission

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
Oregon
You can bring that hat back and you will enjoy the hat more if you do. Try hair spray for a stiffener if you need it. It would be nice to have a hat block and a Jiffy steamer would be nice also.
Funnily I have a bottle of de-waxed shellac suspended in grain alcohol specifically for a hat stiffener (at least I think that's why I made it, I've used it a lot on walnut since getting it, but yet to use it on any felt).

Hoping to get to my Mothers' within the next few days to get it back and give bringing it back a try.
 

FunnelVission

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
Oregon
Good news, got the hat back, and it wasn't as bad as I had feared. The brim definitely baconed, but it's only noticle with the brim up, which I never leave the brim up so nbd (and imo it made the back flip up more which I actually like). I can tell it was caked in mud, under the ribbon on the front was some serious dirt, but a brush got it out. I got lucky that it was found while it was still soaking wet so the mud never got the chance to set in much.

When I got it, I hit it with a sponge which got most of it out, and the brush the rest. The ribbon definitely lost some luster, and frayed, but nothing terrible. Reshaped it back to pre-rain for the most part and have a clothes steamer arriving on Thursday which I plan to use to set my diamond in better (tea kettle really doesn't pump enough steam). Might give it a light misting of shellac to set it in, too.

Put some Dr. Obenauf's LP on the band, I think it will be the longest to recover as it definitely lost all it's oils in the rain. Luckily cracking wasn't bad, and other than some shrinking it seems that the gold lettering got the worst of it. Can't see that while wearing the hat, and it wears off anyways. Somehow the liner is still white too! If it turns out to bother me I suppose I can always cut it out and sew in a new one.

Thanks for the help and encouragement, all! After the steamer arrives I'll post a follow up pic.

After quick sponge cleaning:
SZv8AL7.jpg


After brushing, and reshaping. Seems it fought the barbwire fence, because there's a small nick/hole, but nothing I'm worried about.
AG95I5Y.jpg

Still needs some more brushing, but my colored hat brush decided to disappear and everyone sold out of them locally, so I used a clean horsehair boot brush (like using a sledgehammer to drive finish nails). Was hard to get into where the brim and crown meet.
 

jviss

Familiar Face
Messages
79
Location
Massachusetts
colored hat brush
Could you please elaborate on this? I am new to this topic, and don't understand the distinction between colored hat brushes and others. I have one - a "Redecker Natural Pig Bristle Hat Brush with Oiled Pearwood Handle, 9-1/4-Inches" - bought on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2022-01-09 at 8.42.43 AM.png
 
Could you please elaborate on this? I am new to this topic, and don't understand the distinction between colored hat brushes and others. I have one - a "Redecker Natural Pig Bristle Hat Brush with Oiled Pearwood Handle, 9-1/4-Inches" - bought on Amazon.

View attachment 394008

It’s good to have one light and one dark to avoid transferring contrasting colored fibers between your light and dark hats.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,133
Location
vancouver, canada
Could you please elaborate on this? I am new to this topic, and don't understand the distinction between colored hat brushes and others. I have one - a "Redecker Natural Pig Bristle Hat Brush with Oiled Pearwood Handle, 9-1/4-Inches" - bought on Amazon.

View attachment 394008
Looks good. The important aspect is to have a brush designed specifically for hats. If you use another type of brush with bristles too stiff then you risk wearing your hat out each time you brush as the stiff bristles remove fur fibres along with the dust.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,133
Location
vancouver, canada
Good news, got the hat back, and it wasn't as bad as I had feared. The brim definitely baconed, but it's only noticle with the brim up, which I never leave the brim up so nbd (and imo it made the back flip up more which I actually like). I can tell it was caked in mud, under the ribbon on the front was some serious dirt, but a brush got it out. I got lucky that it was found while it was still soaking wet so the mud never got the chance to set in much.

When I got it, I hit it with a sponge which got most of it out, and the brush the rest. The ribbon definitely lost some luster, and frayed, but nothing terrible. Reshaped it back to pre-rain for the most part and have a clothes steamer arriving on Thursday which I plan to use to set my diamond in better (tea kettle really doesn't pump enough steam). Might give it a light misting of shellac to set it in, too.

Put some Dr. Obenauf's LP on the band, I think it will be the longest to recover as it definitely lost all it's oils in the rain. Luckily cracking wasn't bad, and other than some shrinking it seems that the gold lettering got the worst of it. Can't see that while wearing the hat, and it wears off anyways. Somehow the liner is still white too! If it turns out to bother me I suppose I can always cut it out and sew in a new one.

Thanks for the help and encouragement, all! After the steamer arrives I'll post a follow up pic.

After quick sponge cleaning:
SZv8AL7.jpg


After brushing, and reshaping. Seems it fought the barbwire fence, because there's a small nick/hole, but nothing I'm worried about.
AG95I5Y.jpg

Still needs some more brushing, but my colored hat brush decided to disappear and everyone sold out of them locally, so I used a clean horsehair boot brush (like using a sledgehammer to drive finish nails). Was hard to get into where the brim and crown meet.
great work...looks good. A word of caution on the shellac....many premixed shellacs (such as Zinsers) in a spray can also have wax listed in the ingredients. The danger is the wax might discolour the felt. I only use pure shellac/denatured alcohol that I mix myself
 

FunnelVission

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
Oregon
Could you please elaborate on this? I am new to this topic, and don't understand the distinction between colored hat brushes and others. I have one - a "Redecker Natural Pig Bristle Hat Brush with Oiled Pearwood Handle, 9-1/4-Inches" - bought on Amazon.

View attachment 394008
I have a brush for my two silverbelly hats, and one for colored hats (which is only my sage and chocolate ones), or had at least. I did order a replacement. You don't want to use a silverbelly hat brush on anything but silverbelly because it'll transfer the silverbelly powder to it.

great work...looks good. A word of caution on the shellac....many premixed shellacs (such as Zinsers) in a spray can also have wax listed in the ingredients. The danger is the wax might discolour the felt. I only use pure shellac/denatured alcohol that I mix myself

Thanks! Yeah, I don't use hardware store linseed oil (spent extra on double boiled, chemical free linseed oil. It's worth it), or shellacs. The shellac I have is dewaxed, and suspended in Everclear grain alcohol (smells pretty good too).
 
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