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Thread: Zebra Hair-on Rug nearly 50 years old - very dry, creases and cracked

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Zebra Hair-on Rug nearly 50 years old - very dry, creases and cracked

    Dear Roger,

    I have read some items about your work on the Internet.

    A few months ago we were visited by a couple whom we had met through the local vintage-car club. They saw that we have in our buildings the skin of a cougar and various other animal-parts and they offered me the skin of a zebra that they had had for many years. They told me the skin was very dry as it had been in the roof of their house for many years; nevertheless, I accepted their kind offer.

    When my friend delivered the skin to me he also brought the paper export licence – it is dated September 1971, so the skin is nearly 50 years old (incidentally, the paper licence, like the zebra-skin, is folded, dry and split!). He told me that, long ago, he had been working in Uganda and had been in a supervisory capacity when the animal had been culled. I think that he was given the skin as a kind of leaving present. I believe, however, that it was too big to display in any of the houses that he and his wife have lived in, so they folded it up and stored it in a dry place whenever they moved house.

    I don’t know if the skin has ever been treated in any way, other than, fairly soon after the skinning of the animal, and then the removal of flesh, etc., some simple stitching of cut-lines and glueing of patches over quite a few smallish holes.

    I believe that, in Canada, you still use Imperial units of measurement, so I’ll uses inches:

    (a) Tip of nose to tip of tail – 128”.
    (b) Across front legs laid flat – 88”.
    (c) Bulk of body(ignoring head, neck and legs) – 78” x 59”.

    Do you think that the skin is too far gone to be rehabilitated, or is it feasible to treat the suede side with your fatliquor, etc. that would soften the skin to the extent that would allow me to flatten it and remove the creases caused by the folding? I might then be able to repair the cracked areas by glueing patches over them on the suede side.

    I attach a couple of photographs.


    Dr David Pike.

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    Last edited by Questions!; 09-16-2018 at 07:35 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Dear Roger,

    Thank you. Yes, the kit arrived some days ago, after we had found and then sorted out the reason for the delay – the parcel was being held by the Royal Mail until we paid the equivalent of about $60 of Customs Duty!

    Over the first few days we completed the rehydration step, using all of the fluid provided (plus our water). This revealed that some parts of the leather, especially those covering the lower parts of the belly, were thinner than the more robust parts, and that this thinner skin had become cracked and split to a much greater extent than the stronger parts when the object was stored, folded and very dry, for decades. Now we have started adding the fatty fluid, and soon we’ll need to start on repairs on the splits.

    I attach a few photographs. In the first pic you will see my tape-measure. The first red mark on the tape is 12 inches from the edge of the skin and the second red mark (at the top of the pic) is 24 inches. The main split here is about 22 inches long. You will also see various cracks spreading sideways. I guess that I shall need about 6 feet of your repair-tape to deal with this single area, and there at least six of these areas. My second pic shows one of the similar, but slightly smaller, areas. I reckon that I’ll need about 30 feet of tape to complete this job.

    I haven’t opened the small pack of repair-tape yet but I am fairly sure that it won’t give me 30 feet. Please can you send me a large reel of tape, or can I use a product that I can buy in UK?


    David Pike.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.


    >>> Now we have started adding the fatty fluid, and soon we’ll need to start on repairs on the splits.

    Read this information on the percentage of fat and oil to be replenished from preventing the leather from cracking. As years go by it will slowly evaporates and will need to be replenished once again in the future - thus the hides will lives longer then our lives. For more information on Fatliquor-5.0 read from this link:

    Leather Approximate Quantity or Percentage of Fatliquor:
    The quantities of fatliquor (fat and oil) contents retained in the leather after an universal tannery fatliquoring process may varies up from 14% to 16% depending on the leather types and it usage. This percentage drops as the fat and oil content diminishes or leaches through ageing, water, heat or chemical overexposure. Leather rejuvenating or fatliquor replenishing is base on weight of the leather in relation to the percentage of remaining fatliquor. A simple calculation of percentage of fatliquor topping up requirement would be as follows: If the weight of the leather in question is 100gm and fatliquor (fat and oil) content meter reading is less than 1%. By applying 80gm of Fatliquor-5.0 to it will deliver an end result incremental of 13.3% fatliquor when dry as the 66.6% water contents evaporates. In the leather rejuvenating Hydrator-3.3 > Fatliquor-5.0 > Hydrator-3.3 system, Hydrator-3.3 plays an important role by relaxing, opening up the inter-fibrillary spaces, facilitating and redistributing colloidal water movement, protonating and doing all the pre-conditioning work prior to fatliquoring including cleaning up any excess surface remnants to have a sticky-free surface. In practice with severe dryness the ratio for Hydrator-3.3 is 2 to 1 of Fatliquor-5.0. It works out to be approximately 160gm of Hydrator-3.3 plus 80gm of Fatliquor-5.0 to replenish a 100gm dry leather from less than 1% back to the original tannery up from 14% to 16% fatliquor content. In every bottle of Fatliquor-5.0 by weight content is comprises of 16.66% ionic negative (-ve) charged fat and oil, and 83.33% of water, the water content that encased the fat and oil molecule in an emulsion suspension when hydrogen bond with the ionic positive (+ve) leather protein fiber will break free and discharged clear from the leather structure to the surface.

    >>> can I use a product that I can buy in UK?

    See the #2 pictures above, you find the stitching. You may buy the same thread and stitch the same style along all your split or cracks, thereafter Bond-3D is applied along the line and cover-up the stitching. It will be good enough and looks more natural as compared to the patch to the left top and bottom.
    1st- You have to make sure that the hide is hydrated so that the stiffness is relaxed and sufficient Fatliquor-5.0 is absorbed into the hide. If the suppleness of the hide is sufficient, there would be no needle tear. If a test of needle tear is present, the hide fat and oil level need to be increased until there is no tear. And all the cracks, split and tears can be stitch up and Bond-3D
    accordingly. So the thread by a stitching awl or curves needle replaces the Patch-4S to become the most economical form technique of repairs. To avoid delays through custom - we declare parcel as “gifts”.

    The bubble plastic sheet should be replace with a flat sheet, so that the creases can be easily rolled over with a barrel, cylinder or rolling-pin to flatten out the hide.

    In my last project, almost 2 gallons of Fatliquor-5.0 was used to satisfaction.

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    Roger Koh
    Leather, Skin & Hair Care System Formulator
    Consultant / Practitioner / Instructor / Coach
    email: [email protected]
    Last edited by Roger Koh; 10-10-2018 at 11:48 AM.

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