Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Sweatbands on Vintage Hats

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    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:

    Name:  C74EC76E-A3EB-4407-B45F-B4E03FCB6388.jpg
Views: 82
Size:  58.9 KB

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    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.

    Daniel

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    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
    Location
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.
    Posts
    4,689

    Default

    >>> 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.

    Name:  03c797711426b424282865a6cd8c1dcb.jpg
Views: 69
Size:  4.8 KB
    Roger Koh
    Leather Care System Formulator
    Consultant / Practitioner / Instructor
    web: www.leatherdoctor.com
    forum: www.leathercleaningrestorationforum.com
    email: [email protected]
    Last edited by Roger Koh; 01-10-2020 at 05:12 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Perfect. Awesome answer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    I lost another 40s sweatband to what looked like burnt edges; they came apart a few millimeters from the top and sewing edges. They do certainly look like a pH reaction as you described.

    I went ahead and ordered the Hydrator and Fatliquor products. I’m overseas, so they will take a while to get here. We’ll see how it goes!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.
    Posts
    4,689

    Default

    >>> I lost another 40s sweatband to what looked like burnt edges . . . They do certainly look like a pH reaction as you described.

    The "burn edges" is alkaline over-exposure and body oil will need to be degrease with Degreaser-2.2 > and or pH balance with CleanPro-1.5 and rinse with a lower pH value rinse using Acidifier-2.0. The suffix number of the products denotes its pH value, thus we are working with a pH 2.2, pH 1.5 and pH 2.0 products. You will observe that the browning effect is reduced and rinse any tacky-feel is rinse reverting to a healthy squeaky feel for the tanning agent to be re hydrogen bond back to the protein fiber. While still damp Hydrator-3.3 > Fatliquor-5.0 > Hydrator-3.3 system applies. The entire process is known as the "wet system" and the leather should not be allowed dry during any of the step (to prevent the Van der Waal Forces to set in). Leave to slow dry and gently massaging it prior to entirely dry to save any sweat contaminated leathers. What I mentioned is also practice by leather chemist in today's modern tannery.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Leather Doctor:

    I tried out the Hydrator > Fatliquor process on a leather sweatband and the sweatband ended up drying out and turning brittle. The sweatband was originally cracked in points so it was not in the best shape to start with, but maybe I did something wrong in the process? Now that I see your post above, I may not have finished it with a last application of the hydrator.

    One additional question, if I have a sweatband in relatively good condition, will it be helpful to treat it with the fat liquor and follow-up with mink oil? Or Hydrator and mink oil?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.
    Posts
    4,689

    Default

    “Mink Oil” is never used in a modern tannery to soften leather for suppleness.

    “Mink Oil” is just a stuffing oil versus “Fatliquor-5.0” an anonic negative (-ve) charging fat and oil. The fat to plump the leather and the oil to lubricate the thickness of the leather structure.

    In most cases a sweatband denaturing into rawhide is caused by the sweat that when ferments turns alkaline when the pH value rises up to almost 10. Leather has a pH value of 3 to 5. The contaminated leather with sweat shifts the amphoteric leather material from ionic positive (+ve) to ionic negative (-ve). Just a magnet when the leather shifts ionic negative (-ve) it repels the ionic negative (-ve) fat and oil, and the fat and oil leaches out. As this is the scientific modern tannery explanation why your headband becomes still and cracks.

    To replenish the sweatband with the original fatliquor it has to go through this process.

    1- The body oil need to be degreased with Degreaser-2.2 > Acidifier-2.0

    2- The leather need to be pH balanced and charged ionic positive (+ve) with Acidifier-2.0

    3- Hydrator-3.3 process to relax and open up the leather fiber structure.

    4- Fatliquor-5.0 replenishing up to 14% when dry back to the original percentage of fatliquor content level.

    5 - Sticky residue clean up with Hydrator-3.3

    6- Routine rinsing with Acidifier-2.0 stabilized the ionic hydrogen between the leather protein fiber and the Fatliquor-5.0.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Roger,

    Here is a sweatband I treated with the hydrator and fat liquor.

    The leather dried and turned crispy. Is this a result from not properly prepping the leather with the degreaser? Or was the sweatband just already too damaged? The underside turned black and the whole thing came apart.

    Daniel

    Name:  Before Sweat.jpg
Views: 22
Size:  31.7 KB

    Name:  After Treatment.jpg
Views: 26
Size:  29.0 KB

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.
    Posts
    4,689

    Default

    >>> Is this a result from not properly prepping the leather with the degreaser?

    Hydrator-3.3 > Fatliquor-5.0 > Hydrator-3.3 system commences once the leather sweatband is free from grease and its pH balance to charge the leather protein fiber ionic positive (+ve) to hydrogen bond with the ionic negative (-ve) fatliquor (fat and oil).

    When the leather contamination from body grease that clogs up the fibrillary spaces, there is little room for the fat and oil content to make contact with the leather fibers.

    The sweat contamination shift the leather fibers ionic negative (-ve) as leather is an amphoteric material, thus it will need Acidifier-2.0 (with a pH value of less than 2.0) to pH balance the leather protein fiber back to the ionic positive (+ve) state.

    Fatliquoring works by hydrogen bonding, and pH value of the leather has to be conditioned to an acidic pH value of between 3 and 5 with the help of Acidifier-2.0.

    What I am sharing with you is the theory and practice of leather chemists in every modern tannery.

    The practice follows the proven theory and may go wrong when the preparation is not up to standard, as in this case.


    >>> Or was the sweatband just already too damaged?

    It is possibly correct that beyond a certain threshold, the sweatband is too damaged to be restored.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Perfect.

    Thanks for the additional information. It really helps me understand. I’ll get it right.

    All the best,
    Daniel

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Posts
    9

    Default

    Roger,

    Here is the parallel thread on sweatband care over at the Fedora Lounge. It Isaí forum for vintage hats and clothes; they have a rather large leather jacket crowd too.

    I have been posting your responses there, quite a few members are interested in restoring sweatbands. I have noticed you have posted on some other leather care sites; this might interest you as well; I also would not want to get anything wrong.

    https://www.thefedoralounge.com/thre...e.70566/page-7

    All the best,
    Daniel

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •