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Thread: My First Post and first "real" leather treatment project on my BMW 335i

  1. #1
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    Default My First Post and first "real" leather treatment project on my BMW 335i

    Hi Guys,

    My buddy Anvar (ajvee) recently got a leather doctor kit and to say he had praised it's ability to rejuvinate the leather is an understatement. I felt his steering wheel and the bolsters where he had spent some time with, and I immediately noticed the difference. The leather restoration made the leather how it should be and feel. I also like how these products actually treat the leather, not just give a nice topcoat and fragrance.

    Prior to this I have been using Zaino Z10 leather "treatment", which I was impressed with. The fragrance was actually what I liked the most; Other than that, it performed as well as the other leather treatment oils I've used.

    So with Anvar's enthusiasm, he let me borrow the kit to see how it would work on my car. Now let me give a bit of a background on the leather seats in my car. All the leather in is in perfect condition, meaning there are very few cracks, no stains, and all around new condition. However, It is the lowest-quality leather that BMW makes that is still a real leather. As a low quality leather, it feels more like aligator skin; rough, firm, and having no "depth" to it. In other words, it feels very cheap and plastic-y. It is much different than Anvar's seats which are top-quality leather that BMW makes..it is soft, smooth and feels how leather should feel. My steering wheel is actually very high quality leather, similar to Anvar's. Half of it is perforated, half is smooth. The armrest is also high quality leather. They have become very shiny, which makes sense because I'm a grease monkey--always working on cars/motorcycles/engines..and don't always wash my hands before driving.

    Here is the wheel before

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    So I began to use the Prep 7.7 on half of the steering wheel, side bolsters and armrest. I appled the prep liberally, then wrapped with cling wrap and left on for around 24 hours. The cling wrapping was harder than I expected, haha.

    When removing the cling wrap on the steering wheel and beginning to use the Cleaner, I immediately noticed the difference in appearance. It was matte finish, compared to very shiny. It was still a bit sticky to the touch, but a few more cleanings and rinses took care of it. I wish pictures could show how much of a huge difference the feel of the leather is...it's truly amazing. The seats notice the largest difference...as it went from plastic aligator skin to soft supple leather. Although there wasn't a very noticeable change in appearance, the change in feel was incredible. The texture and feel of the leather after prep and cleaner is exactly how I wish the leather would feel.

    Here are a couple of pictures of the after effects of the Prep 7.7 > Cleaner-3.8 > Rinse-3.0: The treated side is the right, original on the left (kinda obvious).

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    Before:
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    After:
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    After using the hydrator and fat liquor the leather became tiny bit more "slippery" but not much. Then, the satin top-coat brought it back to the non-slippery, soft supple perfectly textured leather...moreso than before the hydrator. The Leather Scent was a great topping, giving a really nice fragrance and leaving the perfect texture.

    I intendid on only using a small bit of Anvar's kit..but after getting a taste of it, I want to keep going and do it on all of the seats.

    Thanks for developing such a great set of products! Another thing that really impressed me was Roger's knowledge on the chemical and scientific properties of leather and what is needed to treat that, and most of that I read in Anvar's post particularly. I always figured the cleaners were some generic softer cleaner, and the lotion was a generic fatty lotion with a leather fragrance. So to hear all the pH levels, acidic properties, hydrating and fatliquor times coming into play, it is clear Roger really knows his stuff...so for that, Thank You.
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    Also I have a question on when to apply the fatliquor after the hydrator. In a couple parts, I currently have the Hydrator liberally applied with cling wrap over it for a few hours. In the other thread, it was in the order of Prep>Clean>Rinse>(Hydrator>Fatliquor)>top coat. Do the ()parenthesis mean I should mix the Hydrator WITH the Fatliquor and let it soak? Or am I right to think that I should wipe off the hydrator then apply the fatliquor?


    Thanks!
    Brian

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    What you are doing in stages is correct regarding the Hydrator > Fatliquor.
    If you have seen how ajvee hydrated his glove first; then thereafter fatliquored it again using similar technique.

    The Hydrator-3.3 serves a few functions:
    First is to neutralized our perspiration stains that contains traces of urea (that’s why perspiration has ammonia odors); it is this ammonia that damages the leather (it slowly shift the leather protein fibers anionic (-) that repels the anionic leather constituents, especially the fatliquor). Besides Rinse-3.0 and Acidifier-2.0 serves the same function to neutralize the perspiration stains on a regular basis. When doing so you will see that the needle holes and the perforated holes always stays round; otherwise split starts from these areas as the moisture transpire through these openings; and seams rips easily when the leather is weaken.
    (Over alkaline exposure result in leather tackiness and can be rectified by the stronger pH 2.0 Acidifier-2.0; healthy well pH balanced leather should have a squeaky feel after rinsing with Rinse-3.0).

    Second is to allow the distorted leather fibrils to relax; so that we can work out the creases caused by collapsing of the leather structure just like a creased cardboard back to its original fullness while still damp.

    Third is to float foreign particulates within the leather structure; and wick to the leather surface to be absorbed by towel while still damp or dry with horsehair brush to dislodge soiling in between the grains.

    Fourth is to ensure that the surface tension is reduced; as a preconditioner for fatliquoring to reduce patchiness or blotchiness.

    The optimum level for leather hydration is to press the leather while still damp and see moisture oozing out. In fact the longer the leather is dwell the better it will be; and can be left safely up to 3 days. (On the contrary you may also hear that water damages leather; that when dries it becomes cardboard hard – well the scapegoat to blame may be the water but actually the culprit to blame is the pH value of the water).

    The right time to fatliquor the hydrated leather is to allow moisture to be extracted with absorbent cotton towel (you will see the soiling that has been absorbed now released, reapply hydrator and towel extract until towel shows clean prior to fatliquoring it.

    Fatliquoring will follow the same technique of cling wrapping and dwelling so that moisture goes one way into the leather structure rather than evaporated wasted away.

    Now if you like the leather scent of the Leather Scent-B; then you would be happy with the leather scent infused fatliquor known as Fatliquor LS-5.5. This has double the strength of the leather scent-B; and since it is absorbed into the leather rather than staying on the surface it will be longer lasting in retaining the leather scent.

    It is always the preparation work that is more tedious than the actual work itself – which we call it “preconditioning” and here in fact the hydrator does more of the work for an effective fatliquoring; to be hydrogen-bond with the protein leather fibrils in the molecular level our eyes can’t see.

    If we know how things work, result can be predictably accurate.

    The basic leather is the same, from auto to garment and everything leather.

    It is the variation of leather fashions that makes it different.

    Roger Koh
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    Last edited by Roger Koh; 12-07-2010 at 05:19 PM.

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    Quick update here. I've had the spots covered with hydrator and wrapped overnight. Then, unwrapped today to find the leather VERY hydrated. Some of the spots that had the cling wrap tight on the surface (Not wrinkles) had a small film of Hydrator left. The other wrinkled areas were dry. The leather has a very moist soft and smooth feeling. More of a smooth slippery feeling than I'd wish for an end result, but now we'll see how the Fatliquor sinks in. I've rewrapped the areas with Fatliquor applided. It is nice the Fatliquor is white so we are able to see consistent application.

    On another note, I can't get enough of the leather scent.

    Here's a couple pictures of the current status. It is much harder to get the cling wrap applied without having any wrinkles than I anticipated.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

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    Tips:

    Prior to applying the fatliquor; since due to air bubbles that may cause uneven absorption – spray Hydrator-3.3 (or rather apply by using the foam brush to avoid overspray) agitate with horsehair brush and extract with cotton towel until towel shows clean. By so doing you achieve dual purpose; first is to even out the surface absorbency; and second is to extract any soiling that the Hydrator-3.3 has wick up to the surface.

    Hydrator-3.3 and Fatliquor-5.0 are both odorless (unless you used leather scent infused fatliquor – that will be Fatliquor LS-5.5, especially if you have an odor issue or fatliquoring the leather more for the leather scent than for the softness).

    One way to get rid of the air bubbles and lay it flat is; lay an appropriate paper sheet (bigger than the 60ml/2oz bottle) over the cling wrapper and using the same bottle to smoothen over it.

    You may want to spray over a tissue paper to hold the Hydrator-3.3 or the Fatliquor-5.0 as a reservoir; so that this amount will eventually seep into the micro-cracks (can’t be seen with our naked eyes) overnight. Cling wrapping assures you that the moisture has gone one direction – into the leather structure.

    When the cling wrapper is removed – check with a spray of Hydrator-3.3 and agitate with horsehair brush – any residue that strays on the leather surface will again turn white – agitate and drive these strays into the leather structure again. Doing so before the next other steps of application is important as the strays fatliquor lying on top of the leather surface is useless and does not serve any purpose; that may cause adhesion problem for other coating application.

    The average thickness of upholstery leather is 1mm (average 12 sheets of newsprint) in thickness.
    And the whole structure is just like sponges; when new they are spongy with full airspaces and when old it collapse; nothing can be done with these sponges that gets thinner as its age.

    Unlike leather, when old leather is hydrated; it shrink dimensionally (reduce wrinkle stretch) and increase in thickness.
    And when "ionic charged" fats and oils are “hydrogen-bonded” (the (+) cationic ionic charges of the fibrils attract the (-) anionic charges of the fatliquor; thus to say how the leather gain in volume by hydrogen bonding instead of stuffing, thus increase in fullness).

    That’s the meaning of rejuvenation; and among all fabric material, this phenomenal can only happen to leather.

    And among all fabric material, leather has a moisture content of 14%; not found in any other material.

    When leather is kept at this 14% moisture (dry at use) with fatliquor; it will outlive our life with usefulness – that may be one of the many unexplained reason why people like you and I are crazy about leathers.

    Roger Koh
    [email protected]
    Last edited by Roger Koh; 12-08-2010 at 11:55 AM.

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    Thanks so much for teaching more and more about leather and leather care in these threads! I have learned all I know about leather through reading these threads..

    Another quick update: I took off one of the side bolsters' Fatliquor wrap and toweled it smooth and yet still damp. Then, let it sit for another hour and returned to find it feeling great! Unlike ajvee's seat, the Fatliquor is penetrating into my leather seats...at least I am pretty sure it is. The texture now that is less slippery than before, but not as grabby/draggy as directly after the Prep 7.7. With Roger's suggestion, I ordered the Leather Scent "D" with my kit instead of the Leather Scent "B" that I am trying now. "D" is supposed to leave more of a 'draggy' feel, where "B" is more 'buttery'.

    I'll keep the other spots and steering wheel wrapped with the Fatliquor for a couple more hours...or is it beneficial to leave it on for a couple days? It's been on for 7 hours now.

    Another update will follow around 11:00

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    Coming along beautifully Brian! Once you're done perhaps you will give me some tips for my car! Rest assured Roger will help you along the way. I found the process pretty relaxing and rewarding except for the damn cold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMN View Post

    I'll keep the other spots and steering wheel wrapped with the Fatliquor for a couple more hours...or is it beneficial to leave it on for a couple days? It's been on for 7 hours now.

    Another update will follow around 11:00


    The original tannery duration of time for a complete fatliquoring operation average 1 to 2 hours at temperature about 125F (51C); these hides have no finish to impede or hindrance the fatliquor penetration; it is also in a drum just like a huge washing machine; where the hides are completely soaked from both sides.

    What we are doing is the non-immersion system; that have to deal with the leather finishes that is difficult to penetrate; temperature seldom working at this range of 125F (51C); so we have to compensate by having allow sufficient dwell time to perform the fatliquoring.

    Using our fingers to check the leather is the only way we can tell if it is sufficiently fatliquored; and it may varies from leather to leather – only experience will tell us it has reach its effectiveness. Moreover the excess water has to leave the leather by evaporation before additional fatliquor can be absorbed by the leather again. So the fatliquoring can continue at 2 or 3 intervals. In fatliquor, it is about 17% of solid fat and oil the rest is water; these fats and oils are encased by the water molecule to penetrated the leather; when it hydrogen-bond (like magnet, unlike poles +/- attract) with the protein fibers the water encasing breaks free and the water wicks up bringing other foreign contamination up to the leather surface. It is good to take a white dry cotton towel wipe to check what is wicked up. And to have extra softness; the leather is recommended to air dry naturally.

    See this Fatliquoring video by Discovery Channel; and compare if our non-immersion fatliquoring system practices the same principle!

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/disc...quor-video.htm


    Roger Koh
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    Last edited by Roger Koh; 12-09-2010 at 10:16 AM.

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    That was a cool video. One's gotta think that leather is actually pretty expensive, no? I mean, it looks like one of those cow hides would barely make one seat. So I'd think it'd take ~5-6 cow hides to make an interior of a car...but the leather options for most cars is less than $1000. How much does actual hides/sheets of quality leather like that cost?


    Another update: I've taken off the wrapping on the remaining fatliquor'd spots. They were the armrest and side bolster of the drivers seat. The armrest didn't absorb as well, but still absorbed it until it was no longer white. The parts that I have fatliquor'd are a bit shinyer than before, but the softness has doubled.

    One question- The entire steering wheel has currently been prep'd>cleaner>rinse>hydrater>fatliquor'd. I had first prepped the right side of my steering wheel to document the difference, but now after I preped the left side, that side is a bit shinier than the first side...in other words, the prep 7.7 wasn't on as long as it should be, and the left side is shinier than the right.

    SO, what would happen if I re-prep 7.7'd it? Would it take away all the fatliquor that has been applied? Would it bring me back to step one and have to repeat everything?

    Thanks!

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    The cost of leather would depend on the quality the maker puts into the car. A high-end car maker would only use certain back section of the hide so that it has consistent quality; as some parts of the skin is stronger than others; just like not all steak cut are the same quality; even its from the same cow. Another factor is that leather is sold by grades I think it is from A to F; the world production is divided into three regions; skins slaughter in the winter times would be a better quality than if its during the summer time. So there are many other factors that determine the price of a hide. A rule of thumb, the less finishing the leather has the more expensive it is from the gift of nature; the more heavily finished it is with a plastiky look the cheaper the leather is. So in auto, the Aniline type would be most expensive follows with Napa, Semi-Aniline and the lowest would be the more plastiky Pigmented.


    Concerning the shine; I believe it is due to the strays that remain on the surface should drive it in with Hydrator-3.3 with a bit of horsehair agitation; otherwise rinse it off with Rinse-3.0 until the shine is gone.


    Redo the left side again the shine indicates soiling or a combination of conditioner or protector it will match eventually if the process is similar.


    Yes, Prep-7.7 will remove grease and oils regardless, so whenever Prep-7.7 is used, it is recommended to fatliquor it thereafter.


    Need not used prep all the time only in this case where you want to strip all foreign contamination down to the original OEM finish; other periodic cleaning Cleaner-3.8 > Rinse-3.0 > Leather Scent-D suffice.

    Thus the cycle of maintenance should be:

    Corrective or restorative cleaning = Prep-7.7 > Cleaner-3.8 > Rinse-3.0 > Hydrator-3.3 > Fatliquor-5.0 or LS-5.5 > Leather Scent-D, B, S or W (draggy, buttery, silky or waxy).

    Periodic Cleaning = Cleaner-3.8 > Rinse-3.0 > Leather Scent-D, B, S or W.

    Routine Cleaning = Rinse-3.0 > Leather Scent-D, B, S or W.


    Does this cleaning cycle make sense?


    Roger Koh
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    Yep, that makes sense!

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    Another quick update;

    I've re-preppe'd the steering wheel and it's all the same color, texture and finish. I've got it briefly hydrating and then I'll re-fatliquor it.

    Here's a question: What is more desirable. Picture you gripping the steering wheel somewhat hard, and twisting your hands back and forth. If the leather is hydrated and equally textured ,do you want it to make that jumping noise or is it better to be completely silent?

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    If I am a "leather fanatic” in a happy mood; I may want the leather to make me company; a return of what I have pampered her with my tender loving touch; I would want her to talk back if she can!

    So to speak, the cheekily squeak of jumping noise…would be sweet to my ears – just like whispering sweet nothing!


    Otherwise, when I am moody and does not want any distraction…I may prefer her to shut-up!



    Besides...tell us about the scent comparison – Z10 vs. B?


    Roger Koh
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    Last edited by Roger Koh; 12-10-2010 at 05:08 PM.

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    Sounds good regarding the squeaking noise.... I wasn't sure if the noise is indicative of condition.

    The scents between Z10 and Leather Scent B are very different. I think the Leather Scent B is a more aggressive leather fragrance, and I would say I prefer it over the Z10. However, I've found the Zaino Z10 lasts much longer. For instance, If I put Leather Scent B on most of the leather interior, it will smell absolutely great....and how I wish it would smell. BUT, it doesn't last but a couple days

    Is there any way you could make it into a solid or into a spray fragrane that I could smother the headliner in? Haha.. but seriously?

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    Strange about our olfactory organ; sometimes I dont even smell it anymore and only need a new nose to detect it even after 4 to 6 weeks.

    Test it out in the dark when you fetch someone, say that this car is pretty new, what do you think?

    See what answer you get!


    Roger Koh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Koh View Post
    Strange about our olfactory organ; sometimes I dont even smell it anymore and only need a new nose to detect it even after 4 to 6 weeks.

    Test it out in the dark when you fetch someone, say that this car is pretty new, what do you think?

    See what answer you get!


    Roger Koh
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    That is very true...my nose does adapt and grow tolerances for scents. A couple months ago I had put Z10 on every surface of my mom's car, and it was overbearing for her, but barely notieable for me. haha

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    Now, back to your choice of Leather Scent “D over B”!

    D = draggy-feel; B = buttery-feel.

    D squeaks but B silence.

    D would give you a matte look vs. B a satin look.

    Let’s see if your eyes could pick up the difference when you test them on.


    Roger Koh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Koh View Post
    Now, back to your choice of Leather Scent D over B!

    D = draggy-feel; B = buttery-feel.

    D squeaks but B silence.

    D would give you a matte look vs. B a satin look.

    Lets see if your eyes could pick up the difference when you test them on.


    Roger Koh
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    Sounds good, can't wait to get the kit.

    So there is a scent difference between B and D?


    Can you make a leather fragrance solid "air freshener" or some type of spray that can act as a fragrance???????

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    The Leather Scent is the same.


    Authentic leather fragrance has to come from the leather itself to make the leather sensuous and thats our objective.

    Thats why instead of lying on the surface; Fatliquor LS-5.5 is designed to penetrate into the leather structure itself for a longer lasting release of the fragrance.

    Try it out when you received the leather scent infused Fatliquor LS-5.5.

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    Thanks, I'm very excited to try that. I didn't go near my car at all today (Crazy snow in Minnesota) and went to sniff it now...and it smells SOOO good!

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    Here's another quick Q.

    So I've been doing this leather work in my heated garage...and have left it around 70* 24/7 the past week or so doing this leather stuff. There has always been a significant difference in texture between the treated (Soft and nice) and non treated areas(Rough cardboard). However, Last night I had put the heat down to 50ish. Came out this morning and found every area of leather was the same, cardboard rough and rock hard. Hmmmm. I cranked the heat up to 80, let it soak a couple hours and voila, it completely transformed the treated areas vs. non treated. The treated areas became super soft and nice, the non treated stayed hard and rough.

    So, if weather has this big of an effect on leather, would it make ajvee's treatment attempts in his cold(er) garage less susceptible to working well? Or rather would doing all of this in 80* climate make it work in significantly easier?

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    Your observation brings home the point of better working in the warm and hot temperature range as mentioned in ajvees thread

    We can assume that there are three temperature ranges when comes to cleaning and conditioning leathers; from Cool 5 to 20C (41 to 68F), Warm 20 to 35C (68 to 95F) and Hot 35 - 50C (95 to 122F); the most ideal temperature would be in the warm to hot range especially when performing the hydrating and fatliquoring process sometimes with our naked hands.

    Your highest temperature at 80F still falls within the warm range; while the temperature in the drum you see in this video is averaging at 125F (this is the max temperature leather is safe to be exposed).

    http://videos.howstuffworks.com/disc...quor-video.htm

    Working in higher temperature especially (68 to 122F) would be significantly easier no matter who does it or where.

    However we must take note that heavier finish (plastiky) leather like yours will feel the greater difference in temperature fluctuation than with the finer ajvees leather, as you mentioned earlier.

    Do you think so?

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    I definitely think there is a much bigger difference in the texture and hardness of my leather in warm vs. cold. Especially if I crank the heat to 85*, I really notice the leather being softer and more supple. Perhaps I'll do another fatliquoring and have the heat of the garage as hot as possible.

    On another note, I recieved the kit on Monday, but have had a very busy week so I barely even had time to open it. The Fatliqor LS and LS-D (kinda sounds like the drug) smells great, but I haven't had a chance to try them out yet. I'll report back with an update soon.

    Roger- Do you have Ph.D in Packaging Engineering from Harvard? haha jeeze, talk about a neat and cozy package job! When you recieve and open a product with great packaging, you really get the feeling that the actual product is very good quality, and it reaffirms that it was a smart purchase.


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