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Thread: Sweatbands on Vintage Hats

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020

    Default Sweatbands on Vintage Hats

    Hello all, what a wonderful forum. I floated over from the Fedora Lounge, where we have a couple of threads investigating how to treat and care for vintage leather sweatbands on hats.

    Our problem: Some vintage sweatbands arrive and look soft and in good condition, then after one wear they stiffen, crack, and sometimes disintegrate. Some conditioner products seem to hasten this process rather than help.

    So far our threads are working on trial and error, but maybe the experts on this forum can offer some advice or recommendations? I just had a beautiful Stetson 7X Clear Beaver sweatband from the 40s go bad on me. I had treated it generously with Pecards leather conditioner, but the first day I sweat in it it went to pieces.

    Thanks for the help!

    Here is a pic of a typical damaged sweat:

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2020


    Here is another description:

    “I have found the same. Seems once they reach that point, no matter how good they look and feel, any contact with moisture begins the visual breakdown. Crying over a late 40’s Royal OR [Open Road, a Stetson model] as I type this. I was able to roll the [leather] sweat w/o issue when it arrived. After taking it off to wipe away light perspiration, it was cracking in multiple areas and split from the reed by about 3” at the front.“

    These are thin leather sweatbands, some from the 40s and 50s seem to have more problems than earlier decades, but our survey is not so scientific.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020


    Third testimonial, with a couple more details:

    “I like, and use, Pecard's Antique leather dressing but - as stated above - once damage is done there is no reversing it. Dry rot is a real bugger because the leather sweat can look just fine; the damage isn't seen until sweat, water based leather dressings or other moisture is added to the mix and then the sweat goes from seemingly perfect to crap in minutes.”

    Our big question has to be: is there a product that will renew or protect the leather that is dried or cracked inside, before moisture causes it to shrink or disintegrate? It is probably a shot in the dark, but we keep trying.

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.


    >>> Our big question has to be: is there a product that will renew or protect the leather that is dried or cracked inside, before moisture causes it to shrink or disintegrate? It is probably a shot in the dark, but we keep trying.

    In layman terms, leather deteriorates in the presence of alkalinity.
    When the sweat that has been absorbed into the leather starts to ferment, it turns alkaline.
    Leather is acidic, with an ionic positive (+ve) charged, the other constituents like the tanning agents and the fatliquor has an ionic negative charged (-ve). Since leather behaves amphoterically it shifts from a positive (+ve) charge into a negative (-ve) charge. Behaving like a magnet the changed negative (-ve) charged of the leather protein fiber breaks the hydrogen bond with the negative (-ve) charged tanning agents and the fatliquor (fat and oil).

    How to pH neutralized the sweat and replenishing the faliquor (fat and oil) will save the sweatbands. The original fatliquor contents of leather is about 15% and any fat and oil content that is way below the optimum percentage will eventually crack. Any insufficient fatliquoring allowing to dry will also suffer from cracking from the known “London Forces” or “Van der Waal Forces”. A proven technique is by cleaning the leather with a low pH value degreaser or cleaner such as Degreaser-2.2 or CleanPro-1.5 and rinse with Acidifier-2.0 and while still damp (safe from ‘Van der Waal Forces’ Hydrator-3.3 relax and separates the stiff leather and before it dries Fatliquor-5.0 is replenished, repeatedly each time before it is fully dry until full saturation. The leather is let to slow dry and any surface residue is clean away with Hydrator-3.3
    Note that all the product suffix numbers denotes the pH value of the product.

    Let me know if you need further information.

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    Roger Koh
    Leather Care System Formulator
    Consultant / Practitioner / Instructor
    email: [email protected]
    Last edited by Roger Koh; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2020


    Perfect. Awesome answer.

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