Leather sweat band care?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by SET, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. splintercellsz

    splintercellsz I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,133
    Location:
    Somewhere in Time
    I believe I purchased this one from Amazon.

    And old member and friend, Joshbru, told me about Mink oil and I never questioned it.

    It has brought some of my earlier examples back to life, so to speak. I apply a coat to the sweatband, let it sit for a day or two, than apply one more coat and let ir sit for a few hours, than if there is excess, wipe it off [​IMG]
     
    Rumad, RiteStuffBryan, cozy d and 3 others like this.
  2. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been using Bick 4 leather conditioner with mixed results. Amazon has it in stock and it’s $23.46 well spent. Thanks again,
    Brent
     
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  3. Just Daniel

    Just Daniel One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,077
    That is a pretty good endorsement.

    Amazing hat boxes back there, too!



     
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  4. Mustang Mike's Hats

    Mustang Mike's Hats A-List Customer

    Messages:
    395
    Location:
    Southern California
    Might sound odd, but I've used Saddle Butter and found it worked pretty darn well. The beeswax in it does a great job protecting the surface and the other ingredients work well too.

    It has a combination of neatsfoot oil and carnauba wax as well.



    4-12-2018 10-38-53 AM.jpg
     
  5. I’ve used neetsfoot oil straight and came away undecided. It didn’t hurt if used sparingly on old sweats. I might have to give Saddle Butter a try.

    I do occasionally use Leather Honey but I let the hat “cure” for a week or more after applying it. It conditions and leaves the sweatband with a glaze that seems to protect it. It’s also very viscous so it doesn’t soak the leather and cause it to ripple or pull through the stitches. I’ll keep using Leather Honey on the right candidates put I’m replacing my Bick 4 with Justin’s mink oil.
     
  6. cozy d

    cozy d Familiar Face

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    san diego, california
    I bought this 50's Stetson on ebay. The sweatband looked good when I bought it but was a little dirty so I washed it with saddle soap and put some Picard's Leather Dressing on it. After that, the sweat showed vivid gold stamping and looked great. I flipped the band over and one small area started to separate at the stitches so I stopped messing with it and just started wearing the hat around. You can probably guess what happened next....After several days/weeks the leather started becoming more brittle and flake, shrink in places, and distort, it even developed a hole in it, I didn't poke it or anything, the hole just appeared one day. See attached pictures. It's obvious now that the leather was not in good shape and will eventually fall apart before too long. Can anyone try to explain what exactly is going on here with the leather? It looked good and felt pretty good at first but obviously had been improperly stored for a while. In the future, what is the best way to care for a vintage sweatband that is old and dirty but not yet showing obvious problems? What could I have done better to prevent the leather from suddenly deteriorating as this one had? My apologies in advance if this question has been thoroughly discussed, I looked on the "Links to important hat forum threads" and did not see one that discusses vintage sweatband problems/solutions. Thanks!
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. cozy d

    cozy d Familiar Face

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    san diego, california
    Oh and I should probably add that the hat was not a teardrop when I first got it, I shaped it that way after washing/conditioning the sweat band. I wonder how much of an effect the steam and handling of the hat may have had on the outcome of the sweatband...

    Sent from my LM-G710VM using Tapatalk
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  8. Sadly this happens a lot. The leather was dry rotted and despite looking fine the damage was already there and no conditioner can save it. In fact, conditioning a dry rotted sweatband, particularly with a conditioner that is less viscous and more fluid like, will cause the rotted sweat to rapidly disintegrate. Popped sweat threads are another issue that comes from old and weakened threads. Not messing with the sweat is the best prevention.

    A lot of us wear hats with sweats in various stages of failure. At some point all you can do is have the sweat replaced, but until then you can keep wearing the hat.

    Nice hat too.


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  9. Steam and any leather sweatband do not mix. Steam and dry rotted leather is a recipe for immediate sweatband failure. Been there.


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  10. cozy d

    cozy d Familiar Face

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    san diego, california
    Yeah, not my first time either but after a few of these I started wondering what I might be doing wrong. I guess one thing would be, don't let those shiny gold letters fool ya haha

    Thanks for your excellent and quick replies deadlyhandsome!


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  11. cozy d

    cozy d Familiar Face

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    san diego, california
    One of my favorites...still hanging in there![​IMG]

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  12. Just Daniel

    Just Daniel One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,077
    I feel your pain. I am currently going with Picard’s myself, thinking of using their oil.

    But I think what Brent says is right on the mark, when the leather has dry rot it’s done. Even if you can’t see it at first. It never fails to break my heart...


     
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  13. TheOldFashioned

    TheOldFashioned One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    The Great Lakes
    On this topic of dry rot, I pose the following:

    A) wear the hat as is until the sweatband is so far gone replacement is absolutely necessary, with little/no chance of preservation

    B) replace the sweat sooner rather than later before it deteriorates beyond the point of recognition, so as to preserve what still exists
    I see merits in both positions, so I'm torn which path to pursue should I be faced with such a dilemma. I fear I may have one hat that is starting to rear the ugly head of dry rot. Personally, I'm all for preserving hats in their original condition. On the other hand, a preemptive replacement allows for some preservation of history. Maybe I'm being too sentimental in the idea of "saving" a sweatband when ultimately it is a disposable piece.

    I'm not looking to start an argument for one position over the other. I'm just genuinely interested in hearing the perspectives of others so as to help me decide the best course of action.
     
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  14. Jonathan Johnson

    Jonathan Johnson New in Town

    Messages:
    3
    Hey everyone, I'm new here.

    I opened up the box to one of my grandfathers old hats to wear, but the leather sweatband has lots of dead skin on it.

    Any suggestions for cleaning the sweatband/removing what is presumably years of skin and oil build up?

    Thanks,
    Jon
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  15. It’s just leather. A lightly dampened cloth can be used to wipe it clean. If more is needed you can also use a diluted white (clear) vinegar. After it’s clean, use a good quality conditioner.

    Some very old hats have sweatbands that are still in excellent condition, but many more will show damage. Leather has a life span, and while it can be extended by proper care, it will eventually wear out. Also be aware that oftentimes leather sweatbands that sometimes look alright will have dry rot and nothing can bring it back once that happens.

    I use Pecard Antique leather conditioner, but many other good conditioners also work fine.

    You should look for applicable threads too. I found these in less than a minute:

    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/leather-sweat-band-care.70566/


    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/keeping-a-vintage-sweatband-supple.82413/


    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/threads/cleaning-a-sweatband.35739/







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    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  16. Jonathan Johnson

    Jonathan Johnson New in Town

    Messages:
    3
    1. I've tried leather cleaner, conditioner, boar bristles brushes. It's like the dead skin is really in there. The leather itself is fine.

      Just want to clean up my grandpa's old hat but it seems like he never bothered with the dead skin
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  17. I’ve owned a couple hundred used hats, some close to 100 years old, and I’ve never seen one with what you’re talking about. I don’t know what to tell you.


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  18. Jonathan Johnson

    Jonathan Johnson New in Town

    Messages:
    3
     
  19. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,381
    Location:
    vancouver, canada
    This is a long shot. My wife purchased a vintage hat with a good condition leather sweat but it had price sticker residue. I used a small amount of Goop Off on a Bounty paper towel. It took a bit of work but eventually the residue began to lift.
     
  20. cozy d

    cozy d Familiar Face

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    san diego, california
    I would say to just wear and enjoy the hat in it's present condition. No vigorous cleaning job or steam on the sweat! If the sweat starts to break away at the stitches, use Fabri Tac to carefully glue it back in place. If it starts cracking around the top edges or anywhere else, carefully reinforce the backing of the area with masking tape... unless it's so far gone that you can't do that without doing more damage. If that's the case, I'd just go back to wearing and enjoying the hat in it's present condition, until you get uncomfortable with finding little pieces of leather stuck in your hair and on your forehead, that's when you replace it. ;) good luck!

    Sent from my LM-G710VM using Tapatalk
     
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