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Breaking in aero H/H

bumphrey hogart

One of the Regulars
Messages
159
Location
cornwall,England
Had a really interesting conversation with my friendly neighbourhood tanner/leather worker today and thought I'd pass it on and see what you chaps think.
I bought 58panheads aero stockman off ebay a few months ago and was shocked by how stiff it was,he had described it in the ad as nicely worn in so I can't think how stiff it was new. The only other FQH/H jacket I own is a thunder bay,still aero but their 2nds line,(hides not up to scratch, made by learners,I suppose any reason they think it's not up there with the aero standard). This I also bought 2nd hand and the leather is amazing,it almost molds to you,really soft but so hard wearing,and very different from my other cowhide jackets.
So having read all the threads on the FL and VLJ about breaking in H/H jackets I set about wearing it to death, to no avail, Wearing it in rain and snow all over winter made no difference at all,it was still like armour.
I mentioned it to our local leather worker today and she asked me whether I'd 'broken' the leather, I obviously looked suitably blank and she took out a strip of leather that was 4/5 mm. It was like cardboard, she banged it on the table,it might as well have been a piece of wood. She then began to twist and roll and compress this strip using considerable force,within a few minutes she had in her hand a piece of leather that was soft,pliable and ready to be used.
She said most skins after tanning start like that and you have to 'break' them to the softness you want.
When I got home I took my 'stockman'and initially just rolled it from the bottom to the top,keeping the arms inside the roll,and when it was all rolled up into a tube I knelt on it and flattened it a little. I then rolled the flattened tube into a little doughnut and started squashing that by kneeling on it. I then unrolled it, turned it over and did the same. Then top to bottom,then diagonally,etc,etc,I'm sure you get the picture.
What a difference,it's a different jacket.I don't know how many years normal wear that half hour session equates to,but going by the difference normal wear over this winter has made, a hell of a lot.
The jacket is now soft,it curves round me instead of trying to hold me stiffly in its shape. I can bend my arms without feeling the leather fighting me.
One drawback though,it won't stand up on its own any more lol
 

Grayland

One Too Many
Messages
1,997
Location
Upstate NY
I look forward to pics as well. I have a 3 oz HH Lost Worlds jacket that is quite stiff and it's too cold where I live to wear it right now and get it broken in. This sounds like a good technique.
 

bumphrey hogart

One of the Regulars
Messages
159
Location
cornwall,England
One thing I haven't a clue how to do is pics, I must get round to buying a digital camera, I've got to do it there's some stuff I want to sell on ebay and I'm not going to do that without photos.
I'm not sure anyway what a photo would tell you,if there was a before aswell and the definition was great you might see a few more creases,it's in the feel of it that the change has occurred. This is really hard to explain,I've just deleted 2 sentences because reading back over them they were not clear. The coat now behaves like a fabric,it bends,not where it wants to but anywhere.
Again this isn't making a lot of sense,I suppose you have to own one to understand how stiff and unforgiving they can be and to go from that to a coat that's now wearable(like my other H/H), is such a bloody relief.
It actually hasn't been fun to wear a coat that stiff and after seeing how little difference a whole winters wear made, I was beginning to wonder if I had the stamina to 'wear it in'. I honestly think aero take unbroken hides because they are pretty impressive when you take them out the box,they look great because there's no creasing and being so stiff you feel like it's a real mans leather. They're just a real pain to wear,20 minutes manipulation changes that.
 

Dav

One Too Many
Messages
1,708
Location
Somerset, England
That sounds like as good a method as any bh, when I first got my steer hide coat I intended to let it soften totally naturally but after about a week of wearing cardboard I decided it needed some manipulation to help things along so I did pretty what bh did, rolled it, squeezed it, scrunched it, then laid it over the back of the sofa and kneaded it with my knuckles(no rings on) until it became the beautiful soft wearable garment it now is. I personally don't see this as artifical ageing just breaking it in.

Just realised the title said HH, oh well, the same applies as I gave my HH Highwayman the same treatmemt.
 
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Fifty150

One Too Many
Messages
1,408
Location
The Barbary Coast
I guess it all depends on what you do. I wear my jackets for everything. If you're physically active, the jacket breaks in. Crawl under a few cars, go down a super slide, fall off a bar stool, get into a street fight, pass out in the gutter and sleep off the booze on cold concrete, crawl through some bushes, chop some wood, stand on the bow of a cutter and let the fog & salt water spray hit you, go on a roadtrip and let a seat belt dig into your chest for 15 hours, let your wife find out about your girlfriend, strap a 50 pound sack on your back and go for a hike.......getting the picture? Not only do my jackets break in, sometimes they wear out.
 
Messages
10,195
Location
Pasadena, CA
I guess it all depends on what you do. I wear my jackets for everything. If you're physically active, the jacket breaks in. Crawl under a few cars, go down a super slide, fall off a bar stool, get into a street fight, pass out in the gutter and sleep off the booze on cold concrete, crawl through some bushes, chop some wood, stand on the bow of a cutter and let the fog & salt water spray hit you, go on a roadtrip and let a seat belt dig into your chest for 15 hours, let your wife find out about your girlfriend, strap a 50 pound sack on your back and go for a hike.......getting the picture? Not only do my jackets break in, sometimes they wear out.

Well, at explains your handle here! ;)
 

HeyMoe

Practically Family
Messages
698
Location
Central Vermont
This-thread-is-useless-without-pictures.gif
 

Corky

Practically Family
Messages
506
Location
West Los Angeles
This has to be the Best Visual Image and Short Story Post of the week...

Fifty has given us a masterpiece of visual alliteration in his avatar and a jewel of a post.

I don't know how he pulled this off. But in the image below, we see:

Fifty150.jpg


Fifty150 (OneFifty)
Familar Face
The Falcon
The Barbary Coast (evoking a red-light district in old San Francisco)
...and it's his Fifty First post!

And his Breaking-In-His-Leather-Jacket tale is a prime example of concise storytelling.

I guess it all depends on what you do. I wear my jackets for everything. If you're physically active, the jacket breaks in. Crawl under a few cars, go down a super slide, fall off a bar stool, get into a street fight, pass out in the gutter and sleep off the booze on cold concrete, crawl through some bushes, chop some wood, stand on the bow of a cutter and let the fog & salt water spray hit you, go on a road trip and let a seat belt dig into your chest for 15 hours, let your wife find out about your girlfriend, strap a 50 pound sack on your back and go for a hike.......getting the picture? Not only do my jackets break in, sometimes they wear out.

Bumphrey hogart's original post on breaking in new leather in this thread is also a keeper, but many of us already perform similar rituals on the too-stiff crowns of our cowboy hats.
 
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