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Conditioning Leather

dannyk

One Too Many
Messages
1,812
There is so much leather conditioning experiences in this forum. I always try to read such experiences and comments when ever I have a chance. Also have read similar pecard and conditioner products in other similar forums. However, I only write about MY EXPERIENCES using a particular product. I used to use Pecards back in the early 80s when it was very popular to me. However, I have seen it's effects on my leather items and I do not longer use it. I have replicated a leather conditioning formula given to me by a master craftsman with many years of expertise in leather tanning and industrial garment production. I did shared such formula here but some members had some doubts regarding it's principal ingredient tallow (beef lard). Many people over condition their leather rather than properly cleaning it. Brushing with a horse hair brush does wonders in keeping the leather clean and healthy.
I do agree about over conditioning......thats a big problem from some new hobbyists or those with OCD and/or perfectionist tendencies. Where they obsessively clean and condition them. When a dab or two of water and a soft towel or a nice brush as you said are all you need. If youre a fire fighter or out in the woods or damp places for work conditioning and waxing/dubbing happen all the time and are necessary in those conditions for boots . But thats about it.
 

Kfz

New in Town
Messages
40
I do believe over conditioning is not necessary. But my cowhide shoes aging so well after 3 +years when l apply shoe wax monthly. Why isn’t it good for cowhide or horsehide jacket?
 
Messages
15,134
The general feeling seems to be that a jacket probably doesn't need anything to condition it until it's been 20 years since it was new.

And after 20 years it isn't wise to condition it anymore so it's altogether best to never condition it at all.
 

dannyk

One Too Many
Messages
1,812
The general feeling seems to be that a jacket probably doesn't need anything to condition it until it's been 20 years since it was new.
Only time it really needs conditioning is if its experienced heavy weather conditions, an accident if youre an actual rider that stripped away its finish, or its very old but only a bit dry...if its torn, scratched or flaking no conditioner can save that.. oh and by heavy weather I dont mean one rainstorm, I mean out riding all the time, or being worn every single day and beat up. Then it probably needs a condition or two. But theres no timeframe or specific conditions that must be met to know when. Only the owner who can see and feel the jacket will know when its time. Otherwise like @Monitor said just let it be.
 
Messages
15,134
To clarify, I believe that adding oil to a dry jacket might be beneficial, at least to some extent, which is why I am a proponent of pure liquid silicone. It isn't organic thus bacteria wants nothing to do with it, it lasts forever & it won't affect the color of leather. Once it sets in place between fiber strands, its operation is purely mechanical so that can't be bad.

Tales of silicone clogging pores proved to be a myth with zero basis in reality. I've used silicone on most of the jackets I intended to keep and all of the areas that I felt required treatment have either improved or in the least do not seem to be getting any worse.

Oil does the same thing but it's organic and leather's supposed to be 100% legit dead and I want it to stay that way.
 

Carlos840

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,635
Location
London
I do agree about over conditioning......thats a big problem from some new hobbyists or those with OCD and/or perfectionist tendencies. Where they obsessively clean and condition them. When a dab or two of water and a soft towel or a nice brush as you said are all you need. If youre a fire fighter or out in the woods or damp places for work conditioning and waxing/dubbing happen all the time and are necessary in those conditions for boots . But thats about it.


Speaking of over conditionning, i have just received this jacket:


And let me tell you it is the greasiest, waxiest jacket i have ever handled, it is IMO a mess.
Considering the resin top coat that LW uses i doubt any conditionner actually soaked in the leather, and as it stands the jacket has a thick coat of shmoo sitting on its surface.
You almost have to wash you hands after touching it it's so greasy.

Less is more guys, less is more.
If you have to use a hair drier when applying conditionner you are over doing it.

I have never conditionned a jacket that wasn't at least 20 years old, damp cloth is all that is needed for most things.
I wish the previous owner had left this Suburban well alone...
 
Last edited:

dannyk

One Too Many
Messages
1,812
Speaking of over conditionning, i have just received this jacket:


And let me tell you it is the greasiest, waxiest jacket i have ever handled, it is IMO a mess.
Considering the resin top coat that LW uses i doubt any conditionner actually soaked in the leather, and as it stands the jacket has a thick coat of shmoo sitting on its surface.
You almost have to wash you hands after touching it it's so greasy.

Less is more guys, less is more.
If you have to use a hair drier when applying conditionner you are over doing it.

I have never conditionned a jacket that wasn't at least 20 years old, damp cloth is all that is needed for most things.
I wish the previous owner had left this Suburban well alone...
Yup thats why I hope the emphasis I put on if you actual ride and face long long periods of weather or even casually but you wear it alllllll the time; unlike most of us around here where we have so many the rotation is long or we sell and trade constantly. Most problems can be solved by a damp cloth as you said for sure. Maybe a brush or a safe soap just a tiny dab. People get caught up in "protecting" it, its a big investment and I totally get it. I just wish more people realized that they are actually hurting it with the things they think are helping it.
 

zebedee

One Too Many
Messages
1,585
Location
Shanghai
Yep, the blow drying hot air (dries out the leather further, universally discouraged) and then slathering goo on to hot leather (which may or may not make any difference for longer than a week, or a few weeks and which may not even really be being absorbed) is something I wouldn't do out of worry about doing more damage.

I don't know if shoes and boots are comparable in terms of needing conditioning, but I have well and truly soaked Loakes through and through by accident and then filled them with water to remove mud that had gotten in during floods (big floods and long walk through them). They air dried each time and were fine and just as flexible as before- being a tan colour, I never really polished them, even with neutral polish). I think it might take quite a lot to knock the manufacturer's waxes and oils out of expensive leathers.
 

dannyk

One Too Many
Messages
1,812
Yep, the blow drying hot air (dries out the leather further, universally discouraged) and then slathering goo on to hot leather (which may or may not make any difference for longer than a week, or a few weeks and which may not even really be being absorbed) is something I wouldn't do out of worry about doing more damage.

I don't know if shoes and boots are comparable in terms of needing conditioning, but I have well and truly soaked Loakes through and through by accident and then filled them with water to remove mud that had gotten in during floods (big floods and long walk through them). They air dried each time and were fine and just as flexible as before- being a tan colour, I never really polished them, even with neutral polish). I think it might take quite a lot to knock the manufacturer's waxes and oils out of expensive leathers.
Blow dryer works to get the conditioner in deep but you’ve got use it on the right setting and right distance. If you get it too hot you 100 damage the leather, you can dry it out or even burn it. If you’re going to ever use it I highly recommend trying it on something you don’t care about a few times to get it right. Because if you mess up you can mess up bad. It’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve done it a few times on some
Boots. But I first tried it on some moccasins that I had for years and didn’t care about to find the way to do it. Probably not worth it for most people or most products. The boots I did it on were all rough out and it was putting on Huberds and sno seal for weather purposes for the boots I wear cause I’m from Buffalo NY where it’s winter for like 6 months.
 

Carlos840

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,635
Location
London
I think you can't compare boots and leather jackets.

I experimented on a pair of Frye engineer, tried the "never treat them with anything" approach from new, and after two or three years they cracked everywhere and died.
Since then i condition my boots two or three times a year (twice during winter and once in summer) and i have never had that probleme again.
These are 10 years old, have been worn daily and they aare still great. All i have done is Pecards two or three times a year:

nOB8MrF.jpg


Ujrc32T.jpg


They get soaked on a regular basis, walking in woods and tall grass, no problems whatsoever.

Jackets on the other hand i do nothing other than cleaning bug guts with a damp microfiber.
I also clean the wrist and neck area every few months to prevent sweat buildup, also with a damp microfiber.

When i buy old jackets i will usually give them a clean with some Lexol Leather cleaner and then apply a very thin layer of Pecards with my hands, the warmth is enough to melt it without having to go crazy with a blow dryer.
I have never ended up with a greasy/tacky jacket doing it that way.
 

Johnny deadlifts

Familiar Face
Messages
93
I do agree about over conditioning......thats a big problem from some new hobbyists or those with OCD and/or perfectionist tendencies. Where they obsessively clean and condition them. When a dab or two of water and a soft towel or a nice brush as you said are all you need. If youre a fire fighter or out in the woods or damp places for work conditioning and waxing/dubbing happen all the time and are necessary in those conditions for boots . But thats about it.
I've definately fallen into the over conditioned camp at times. More is usually not better
 

Will Zach

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,583
Location
Northeast USA
Speaking of over conditionning, i have just received this jacket:


And let me tell you it is the greasiest, waxiest jacket i have ever handled, it is IMO a mess.
Considering the resin top coat that LW uses i doubt any conditionner actually soaked in the leather, and as it stands the jacket has a thick coat of shmoo sitting on its surface.
You almost have to wash you hands after touching it it's so greasy.

Less is more guys, less is more.
If you have to use a hair drier when applying conditionner you are over doing it.

I have never conditionned a jacket that wasn't at least 20 years old, damp cloth is all that is needed for most things.
I wish the previous owner had left this Suburban well alone...
Not sure if you managed to get the goo off your LW topcoat, but in my experience rubbing it with a clean absorbent cloth (like old frotte towel or similar) will take the excess off. Gently warming up the topcoat with a hair dryer from a distance (to bring it to 30-40 C, not higher) will liquefy the goo and it will absorb better into the cloth.

You are right about the LW topcoats - these are serious resins, meant to waterproof the leather for riding. I'd be curious of the type - maybe polyurethane. I don't expect Stu to ever reveal the type. Like @JurassicUtility , as a chemist, I am fascinated by the chemistry of tanning and finishing leather. All the knowledge is trade secret, no patents or papers to read.
 

Johnny deadlifts

Familiar Face
Messages
93
If you over condition, the jacket will let you know. Starts spitting it all back out lol.

OP- this isn’t the Cal I sold you? Can’t be.
It was the one you sold me. I got too aggressive with it all around. Lesson learned, the hard way as usual.lol It was likely a bit small to start so undue force didn't help. I'm still learning about fit and feel, what's to tight or too loose, big learning curve.
 

Carlos840

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,635
Location
London
Not sure if you managed to get the goo off your LW topcoat, but in my experience rubbing it with a clean absorbent cloth (like old frotte towel or similar) will take the excess off. Gently warming up the topcoat with a hair dryer from a distance (to bring it to 30-40 C, not higher) will liquefy the goo and it will absorb better into the cloth.

You are right about the LW topcoats - these are serious resins, meant to waterproof the leather for riding. I'd be curious of the type - maybe polyurethane. I don't expect Stu to ever reveal the type. Like @JurassicUtility , as a chemist, I am fascinated by the chemistry of tanning and finishing leather. All the knowledge is trade secret, no patents or papers to read.

Thanks for the tips.
I haven't done anything yet to try to remove the goo, i was just going to wear it and see if it got better with time.
If not i'll definitely try your method.

I have no idea what the top coat is made from other than it is a resin, i got that straight from Stuart.
I'll ask him what kind of resin next time i talk to him, i'll get back to you if he gives me an answer.
 

Will Zach

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,583
Location
Northeast USA
Thanks, just professional curiosity on my part. I worked with various coatings, just not on leather. Regarding getting off the excess goo - if both jacket and the cloth are warm, I am quite positive you can get rid of the stickiness by gentle rubbing.
 
Messages
15,134
I think you can't compare boots and leather jackets.

I experimented on a pair of Frye engineer, tried the "never treat them with anything" approach from new, and after two or three years they cracked everywhere and died.
Since then i condition my boots two or three times a year (twice during winter and once in summer) and i have never had that probleme again.
These are 10 years old, have been worn daily and they aare still great. All i have done is Pecards two or three times a year:

nOB8MrF.jpg


Ujrc32T.jpg


They get soaked on a regular basis, walking in woods and tall grass, no problems whatsoever.

Jackets on the other hand i do nothing other than cleaning bug guts with a damp microfiber.
I also clean the wrist and neck area every few months to prevent sweat buildup, also with a damp microfiber.

When i buy old jackets i will usually give them a clean with some Lexol Leather cleaner and then apply a very thin layer of Pecards with my hands, the warmth is enough to melt it without having to go crazy with a blow dryer.
I have never ended up with a greasy/tacky jacket doing it that way.

Frye's are a bit precious.

But yeah, boots need to be cleaned. What causes cracks is a build-up of dust and grime which cuts through leather, once settled in the creases so brushing them off is essential. Adding oils helps too.
 

JMax

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,938
It was the one you sold me. I got too aggressive with it all around. Lesson learned, the hard way as usual.lol It was likely a bit small to start so undue force didn't help. I'm still learning about fit and feel, what's to tight or too loose, big learning curve.

Damn. I put that jacket through it paces too. It was a solid jacket. Typical Cal wear, nothing like I think I see in the pics. Given that, I don’t think the product mentioned in the OG post is something anyone should use.

It being small doesn’t help, but that normally leads to a separated seam somewhere. I checked and seams were still strong on this one tho. And I’m not a wiry fellow. With Cals, one area I always concern myself with is the strength of the seams. They are old, and they normally were used in more stressful situations- police on a motorcycle.

Definitely a live and learn. I’ve been there.
 

Will Zach

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,583
Location
Northeast USA
Hi folks, I recently was chatting with our local leather shop owners about conditioning dry, older leather jackets. I've always used Picard's with good results but they suggested UV3 Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. The couple have been in the leather repair and restoration business in this area for over 30 years so I gave it a go. It did make a difference but I've noticed some surface cracking that I don't think was there previously. It started a few weeks after using the product, but I'm not sure if it's from the conditioner or that I've barely taken the jacket off for like a month. Anyone have any experience with this product? Thanks in advance.
Looks like this company put a new meaning to the expression "protection racket":

 

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