Leather restoration advice needed...Excelled Incoming!

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by westportrich, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. westportrich

    westportrich Familiar Face

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    Hello Gents, I've got a 70's era Excelled Café Racer on its way. Picked it off of ebay for $100 which seemed like a fair deal (we'll see when it arrives). My gut tells me it'll be a bit dried up. So in anticipation of that any best practices or guidance you can provide for bringing this baby back to life??? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Grayland

    Grayland One Too Many

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    1,869
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    Upstate NY
    I picked up an early 70's Brooks Cafe Racer a few years ago and it wasn't dry in the slightest, so don't assume yours will be dry.
     
  3. westportrich

    westportrich Familiar Face

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    I'd be happy!!
     
  4. Carlos840

    Carlos840 My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I have used Pecards and Lexol.
    I like the lexol cleaner, but am not a fan of the Lexol conditionner, IMO it doesn't do much other than give your jacket a shiny coat.
    My usual course of action when i get a second hand jacket is to wash it with a soft sponge using luke warm water and lexol cleaner. Let it dry and then apply a couple light coats of pecards leaving a day in between coats.
    I then leave it to dry for a couple days before polishing lightly with a damp cloth.

    If the jacket is really a stinker i wash it in the bathtub rather than with moist sponge.
     
    AbbaDatDeHat likes this.
  5. westportrich

    westportrich Familiar Face

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    Sounds good - Thank You!
     
  6. Captain Sensible

    Captain Sensible A-List Customer

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    Location:
    Scotland
    I used Vaseline to good effect on an old Excelled after following Carlos840’s Lexol bathtub method. Can buy big tubs of generic stuff online/Amazon.
     
  7. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    7,051
    Location:
    Australia
    Firstly, old jackets are often fine. If a jacket is dry and cracked it may be a goner. Conditioners create the illusion that the jacket is better. But once the conditioner dries out the jacket returns back to its original state and cracks grow worse.

    Conditioner temporarily lubricates the fibers but does not undo damage or stitch rot. It may prevent rot in future (by protecting the leather form damage form the elements) but all we have as evidence of this are anecdotal stories which are contestable. I, for instance, find Lexol works best of all my conditioners, while Carlos above finds it doesn't work for him. Who is right? Are we both wrong? :eek:
     
  8. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

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    Location:
    South of Nashville
    This discussion comes up every year or so. There are some who say there is no need to condition leather jackets as the treatment is only temporary and does no good in the long run. In other words this camp takes the position than conditioners don't really work.

    I know conditioners work.

    I have been riding (horses) and cleaning and conditioning leather tack for over 30 years. My original bridle from 30+ years ago is still soft and supple, as are many other items from that long ago. Some of my other tack has cracked and is on its way to turning to dust. The difference? Conditioner.

    When my wife and I moved to this farm 25 years ago, there was a broken piece of "western" tack on the wall of the tractor shed. I left it there as I had no use for it. The tack was a piece of leather attached to brass. Over the years I noticed the leather was deteriorating and was turning to dust. A few years ago the only part of the tack that was left was the brass portion. The degradation of the non conditioned leather was complete. I finally threw away the brass remains.

    Every several years I gather my tack that isn't regularly used and condition it. I use different conditioners I have around the house (and I have a lot), but usually I stick with Lexol and a glycerine saddle soap bar on the leather tack as that is what I started with so many years ago. When I start the conditioning process, the tack is a bit stiff. When finished it is soft and supple—good for another 4 or 5 years in storage.

    Over the years my wife and I have collected so many bridles, reins, martingales, saddles and girths that it is difficult to keep up with them all.* Sometimes I don't keep up with all of them. I have several martingales that were broken and kind of forgotten about. They are the ones I see with the dried leather and cracks. Never do I see any cracking on the tack I condition on a regular basis—every several years.

    I know there are those out there who will say leather tack and leather jackets are different. Well of course they are. Tack is used under more adverse conditions. It gets wet and sweaty on a regular basis, whereas a leather jacket may only occasionally get wet. But once the tack is cleaned and conditioned it has the same or similar properties as leather jackets.

    Now I'm not saying you should take your leather jackets out every five years and condition them. I have 15 of them, and the only conditioning they get is a bit of conditioner to the inside of the collars on the one or two worn the most during the year. But if you have a jacket that has a lot of age on it, and is starting to dry out, conditioning it every several years will substantially extend its life. It should outlive its owner.

    My oldest leather jacket is a 17 year old Pakistani MC jacket. The leather is thick and supple. It is my beater jacket for those times rain is in the forecast, and I am going to wear leather. It has been wet a few times and fully soaked at least once. I think I may have conditioned it once after it got soaked. It just doesn't need anything. Nor do the others. But when and if I feel them getting a bit dry, out will come my conditioner of choice (probably Pecard) and I will have a go at them.

    Our friends from Aero tell us leather jackets shouldn't need any conditioner for 20 or 25 years. Based on what I have seen from my jackets, I think that is accurate. But once they start to dry out, the prudent course would be to condition them. Otherwise, in my experience, the drying out will get worse, followed by cracking. Once leather cracks, in my experience, there is nothing that can be done to restore it.

    So, my advice is nothing needs to be done to a leather jacket until it starts to dry out. Once leather is felt to be a bit dry, have a go at conditioning. After that it will probably require it every several years. The jacket should outlive several owners if properly maintained.
    ________
    * I have three custom saddles (long legs) including a French Devoucoux which is the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden in. I keep up with my saddles, but sometimes don't use one of them for several years. Mostly all they need is to be wiped down so mold doesn't form. No conditioner is needed.
     
    torfjord and AeroFan_07 like this.
  9. Powerband

    Powerband Practically Family

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    687
    Does the bathtub wash eliminate the stink? There’s a vintage jacket I’m eyeing but am worried it may come with a peculiar smell simply because it’s old.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. Carlos840

    Carlos840 My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
    London
    Unfortunately all i can say is is depends...
    I have given the same bathtub treatment to different stinky jackets, on some it worked great and the jacket came out smelling completely neutral and fresh. On others the smell was still there after the wash.
    I have a jacket that was washed and then hung for almost a month outside under my porch, and it still smells just as bad as it did before the wash.
    I don't know why, but it seems washing doesn't always work...
     
  11. Powerband

    Powerband Practically Family

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    687
    Thanks, Carlos.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. Will Zach

    Will Zach Practically Family

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    Location:
    Northeast USA
    I washed both of my 60's HD Cafe Racers in a tub in warm water with Woolite. The wash water was really dark. Could be 50 years of sweat and grime on them. They were not stinkers, but the leather had that "old" smell and they were not supple at all. After drying, they were really stiff. Not much of a smell. I gave one two coats of Obenaufs Oil, which proved a bit much - the jacket is still a bit oily after a couple of months. But the leather is now soft like a baby's behind...:). The second jacket got one coat of Obenaufs and is not oily at all, just soft enough with some firmness to it. I intend to always wash vintage jackets in Woolite - not willing to wear 50 years of sweat and grime. This treatment is only good for black jackets, though - Obenaufs will darken non-black jackets significantly. They will lighten to some degree with time, but I do not believe all the way back.
     
    Powerband likes this.
  13. AeroFan_07

    AeroFan_07 Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,873
    Location:
    Iowa
    Peacoat - excellent write up there...nice work with the tack and makes a lot of sense. Horse support products are Expensive so proper care is quite important. Any thoughts on your boots? I find I have to clean & condition my riding-type leather boots a lot more regularly or they will start to show signs of degradation.

    I've had very good results using Bick Brand 1 & 4 products. 1 is the Cleaner, and 4 is the conditioner. Most Western shops stock this product. I have used Lexol too, but overall I am more pleased with the Bick products. I have certainly conditioned old leathers from the 60's and newer. But with the CXL Steer & Horsehide used in Aero's I have not touched them with any conditioner.
     
  14. Kalmer

    Kalmer Familiar Face

    Messages:
    96

    Here’s an interesting story:
    https://www.schottnyc.com/forum/posts/my_experience_with_arrow_leathercare.htm

    If you don’t have time to read it all, then in short, OP got a vintage leather jacket with horrible smell and sent it to some well-known professional leather care store TWICE, and it didn’t help at all. Seeing that there’s nothing more he could lose, OP hand washed and rinsed the jacket and got rid of the smell totally and the jacket was still in pretty good shape.
     
    Powerband likes this.
  15. Will Zach

    Will Zach Practically Family

    Messages:
    905
    Location:
    Northeast USA
    ^^
    Yep. I don't know why washing leather jackets in warm water and mild detergent is taboo. Must be some kind of conspiracy by the dreaded dry cleaner cabal, lol.
     
    barnabus likes this.

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