Sunday, 7 October 2012

Leather conservation, car seats specifically.

I was reading that first class magazine, 'The Automobile', a couple of days ago which contained this extremely interesting article that is relevant to all Morgan owners whose cars have leather seating.

It followed a visit to the Leather Conservation Centre in Northampton, "" where the magazine's journalist met Yvette Fletcher, the Head Conservator. The main purpose was to find out the service that they offer to people with old cars.

At this point I will quote what was said in the article.

"The biggest revelation comes when Yvette debunks the old myth that old leather needs feeding. 'You can't feed leather,' she says,' it's dead'. Apparently, the biggest enemy to leather conservation is, ironically, the dressings many of us are guilty of applying in the mistaken belief we are helping. 'Leather is made of very short fibres, all intertwined in a 3D matrix. Unlike textile, which has long weft and warp threads, they're very short. And if leather is over-oiled, the fibres tend to slide apart.'

Dressings can discolour leather by darkening it, and can encourage pests, which seem to like them. 'And when you come to conserve leather, a dressing can impede your work because adhesives don't stick so well.'

Leather is a very particular material. It's properties are dictated by its moisture content and its fat content, both of which have an optimum level. Ideally, it likes a high humidity of roughly 50-55%. But while the moisture content will fluctuate, depending on the environment, and is flexible, the fat content is not. The fat content is not coming out, so it's a mistake to think that it needs supplementing. 'Take the example of saddles and boots,' says Yvette, 'If you've been out riding and got sweaty and dirty, you have to wash your tack and, every time you will wash away some of the fat. But with a car its different. The leather doesn't get wet very often, so it doesn't need new fat. It's a mistake to add fat, as it will then have too much.'

The problem of over-waxing leather tends to be the appearance of lots of little splits, as the fibres come apart. Yvette says that older leathers were made to be much firmer, while new leather is made to be soft. People think their old leather needs a dressing or feed to make it soft and flexible, whereas in fact it would never have been soft in the first place.'

FOOD FOR THOUGHT EH! more 'feeding' of leather in either the Morgan or Volvo for me.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Chris,
    Very interesting and also confusing.
    I think it would be a good idea to publish this on TM. I am sure there will be a lot of opinions out there in this matter.