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Thread: Advice for restoration of old Western Saddle

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2023
    Posts
    3

    Default Advice for restoration of old Western Saddle

    Hello!

    I have this saddle which was given to me to keep by someone who's parent had it for about 80 years (and not used).

    It doesn't seem dirty as such but dusty and definitely dry and stiff. I was wondering how I should go about reviving the leather. Some say use oil, some say don't. Additionally, I have no idea what type of leather this is, it feels 'raw', a bit like suede but of course thick.

    I would be most greateful for any advice / pointers

    (Hopefully the photos show ... not quite worked out how to do it here I think)

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.
    Posts
    5,154

    Default

    >>> Additionally, I have no idea what type of leather this is, it feels 'raw', a bit like suede but of course thick.

    This is a veg-tan leather, a leather that has been traditionally tanned by vegetable tanning agents that derive its color directly from the vegetable tannins and the skin itself.

    >>> I was wondering how I should go about reviving the leather.

    Reviving the leather for softness and strength is done through fatliquoring. Fatliquoring is the tannery process of softening the leather for its usefulness; otherwise, the leather is too stiff and may crack when stressed. Unfortunately, fatliquor (fat and oil) diminishes due to evaporation, even when not in use. Heat accelerates the evaporation rate of the fat and oil. Since the leather is already made into an object, in this case, a saddle, fatliquoring is done by first hydrating the dry and stiff leather to relax its stiffness before applying fatliquor with the Hydrator 3.3 and Fatliquor 5.0 system.

    >> Some say use oil, some say don't.

    Oil will also soften the leather, but was not originally used in the tannery. And there are reasons why the tannery does not use them. Oils that are applied, darken the leather with suffocation, and the leather loses its natural transpiration and leads to deterioration of the leather. Any oil that is stuffed in will also leak out and remain oily and greasy attracting soiling like a magnet.

    Fatliquoring is achieved through hydrogen bonding. The leather typically has a pH value of 3 to 5. To balance the pH of the leather back to its neutral range, which is also between 3 to 5, cleaning is done with a low pH value of 1.2, followed by rinsing with a pH value of 2.0. This process leaves the protein leather fiber with a positive ionic charge (+ve). Fatliquor 5.0 has a negative charge (-ve), and as it is applied, the fat and oil content hydrogen bonds with the leather fibers, leaving behind a breathing space as the water that carries the fat and oil breaks free. The hydrogen bonding of fat and oil lasts longer than stuffing oils. Stuffing oil leaks readily and stains clothing upon contact.

    >>> I would be most grateful for any advice/pointers.

    Products mentioned are found in this Vachetta Leather Browning Remover & Care Kit V3

    Name:  Kit_V3__55177.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  101.1 KB
    Vachetta Leather Browning Remover & Care Kit V3 by Leather Doctor cleans, rinses, pH balances, hydrates, softens, removes browning, & protects veg tan leathers.
    https://leatherdoctor.com/vachetta-leather-browning-remover-care-kit-v3/


    Name:  rogerIcon.jpg
Views: 113
Size:  4.8 KB
    Roger Koh
    Leather Care System Formulator
    Consultant / Practitioner / Instructor / Coach
    web: www.leatherdoctor.com
    forum: www.leathercleaningrestorationforum.com
    email: [email protected],
    email: [email protected]
    phone: 604 773 1878

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2023
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Koh View Post
    >>> Additionally, I have no idea what type of leather this is, it feels 'raw', a bit like suede but of course thick.

    This is a veg-tan leather, a leather that has been traditionally tanned by vegetable tanning agents that derive its color directly from the vegetable tannins and the skin itself.

    >>> I was wondering how I should go about reviving the leather.

    Reviving the leather for softness and strength is done through fatliquoring. Fatliquoring is the tannery process of softening the leather for its usefulness; otherwise, the leather is too stiff and may crack when stressed. Unfortunately, fatliquor (fat and oil) diminishes due to evaporation, even when not in use. Heat accelerates the evaporation rate of the fat and oil. Since the leather is already made into an object, in this case, a saddle, fatliquoring is done by first hydrating the dry and stiff leather to relax its stiffness before applying fatliquor with the Hydrator 3.3 and Fatliquor 5.0 system.

    >> Some say use oil, some say don't.

    Oil will also soften the leather, but was not originally used in the tannery. And there are reasons why the tannery does not use them. Oils that are applied, darken the leather with suffocation, and the leather loses its natural transpiration and leads to deterioration of the leather. Any oil that is stuffed in will also leak out and remain oily and greasy attracting soiling like a magnet.

    Fatliquoring is achieved through hydrogen bonding. The leather typically has a pH value of 3 to 5. To balance the pH of the leather back to its neutral range, which is also between 3 to 5, cleaning is done with a low pH value of 1.2, followed by rinsing with a pH value of 2.0. This process leaves the protein leather fiber with a positive ionic charge (+ve). Fatliquor 5.0 has a negative charge (-ve), and as it is applied, the fat and oil content hydrogen bonds with the leather fibers, leaving behind a breathing space as the water that carries the fat and oil breaks free. The hydrogen bonding of fat and oil lasts longer than stuffing oils. Stuffing oil leaks readily and stains clothing upon contact.

    >>> I would be most grateful for any advice/pointers.

    Products mentioned are found in this Vachetta Leather Browning Remover & Care Kit V3

    Name:  Kit_V3__55177.jpg
Views: 109
Size:  101.1 KB
    [FONT="]Vachetta Leather Browning Remover & Care Kit V3[/FONT][FONT="] by [/FONT][FONT="]Leather Doctor[/FONT][FONT="] cleans, rinses, pH balances, hydrates, softens, removes browning, & protects veg tan leathers.[/FONT]
    https://leatherdoctor.com/vachetta-leather-browning-remover-care-kit-v3/


    Name:  rogerIcon.jpg
Views: 113
Size:  4.8 KB
    Roger Koh
    Leather Care System Formulator
    Consultant / Practitioner / Instructor / Coach
    web: www.leatherdoctor.com
    forum: www.leathercleaningrestorationforum.com
    email: [email protected],
    email: [email protected]
    phone: 604 773 1878
    Brilliant! That is very informative. I am UK based but I see that the website you linked to sells worldwide. The testimonials are also useful. I will be ordering soon!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2023
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Dear Roger,

    Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I am most pleased to learn this is Veg Tanned Leather! Having had a look at the website you linked and the testimonials, I will be ordering soon, although I am UK based.

    Best regards,
    RP
    Last edited by Rose Petal; 01-06-2024 at 12:31 AM. Reason: Typos ....

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