I just saw a new post from a new member asking about what can be applied SAFELY to all of our precious Schott leather stuff. For this post lets just try to cover the leather you use in your M/C jackets and avoid any suede or nubuck altogether.
There seems to be a wide range of opinions on what can or should be used, how OFTEN to use it, and who is QUALIFIED to clean/condition leather.
If you search the web this whole mess seems to get messier...each company that produces a leather conditioner claims to sell the best, most of them will not tell you all of the ingredients in their product(s). They also often make statements implying the competitons leather conditioner or a specific ingredient will harm your product.
From my own experience of cleaning and conditioning various jackets one thing stands out...this is not a ten minute job that you can do watching TV on your couch. It takes time, a bit of work and can also be messy.
In today's day in age people are buying vintage jackets that are easily 20 to 40 years old. I recently picked up a JD Horsehide jacket that is now over 20 years old. I've held off putting anything on it because I don't want to F it up...but the leather is a bit dry and it will need something soon. You may be asking how did I determine that the leather is dry? Take a careful look at the end of your jackets sleeve cuffs, do this with plenty of light and even a magnifying glass. Pinch the folded hem and look for small cracks on the top surface...if you cannot see any cracks using this method then hit the brakes and do not apply anything to your jacket.
Many people think that today's chrome tanned leather needs to be regularly maintained by applying some type of product to the leather. This is simply not true and can actually damage your jackets. If you have taken the time to find and begin to read this post you must really care about your leather jacket(s). Now would be a good time to understand the major differences between vegetable tanned leather versus chrome tanned leather. Chances are your jacket is chrome tanned, this way of tanning was developed about 75 years ago and most jackets that have been produced since then have used it due to its superior resistance to rotting or drying out when compared to veg. tanned hides. Bottom line here is that taking care AND THE USE OF ANY PRODUCTS on both of these different types of leather requires very different methods.
It would be nice to know what the best product to use is...here is a running list of what I have read about on the web and this Blog...Lexol, 100% Neatsfoot oil, Mink oil, Armor All*, Pecards*,Obenauf's leather oil, WD-40*, bees wax, carnuba wax, olive oil, pine tar oil and probably several more that I missed.
The * indicates a product with petroleum and for me personally I just cannot bring myself to using anything with petroleum on leather(I had a bad experience with a baseball glove and vaseline as a kid).
Out of all of these products I have used several (Lexol, 100% Neatsfoot oil...sort of a bit gamey, Mink oil...cannot stand the smell) with generally good results. But I do not want to use a product that is going to destroy the stitching, liner, or artifically break down the leather and shorten the life of my SCHOTT jacket over time.
This is a call out to the people at Schott Brothers. Many of your customers cannot afford to spend the cash (at least $150 with shipping) to have their jackets professionally cleaned and conditioned. In many cases the jacket may not need to be cleaned at all but just conditioned.
Could you ask the professional cleaner that you recommend what they use to condition the various leather(s) our jackets are made with (horse, steer, naked cow)? Or provide your loyal fans with a bit more than mink oil and saddle soap?
Additionally, if anyone out there has actually used Obenauf's leather oil first hand and knows ALL of the ingredients in this product I'm interested (the company has not responded to my repeated inquires...which does not sit well) Or a product, maybe one that I have listed above, for the last 40 or 50 years that they know about first hand and have an actual track record of how the leather, stitching and liner have held up.
MANY THANKS and sorry about the long winded post...I hope I have made my point(s).
ive been riding since 1975 and have worn out several leather jackets , usually cheapo stuff or second hand, in the last few years i've been taking better care of my leathers as the quality of them improved! this is what i do, let me know what you think!
step 1 wipe down the leather with a soft cloth dampened in warm water to remove bugs/dirt
step 2 i use vanson leather balm and work it in a panel at a time sparingly!
step 3 wait a couple of hours and buff it up.
step 4 if you need to rub, a minute amount of candle wax on any stiff zips .
Wolverine, You know I only recommend saddle soap and mink oil and then with caution. I am sure professional leather cleaners use professional products on the leather that is not sold over the counter, just as the cleaning products they use to clean a jacket. All professional services use products that are different then products you or I can purchase. Since this is their business and their form of income to make a living I do not think they will tell what their procees of cleaning or conditioning a jacket is. I know it can be expensive to clean a item, but the dirt and sweat to the linings of the jacket and stitching can deteriorated your jacket and can ruin a jacket just as well as dry leather. Would you wear a sweatshirt and never wash it? As you noted condition a jacket is not a 1-2 easy step, it takes a long time and is messy, this is probably why the professionals charge so much, anything that is time consuming is reflected in the labor cost to do a job.
We have received jackets here for repair and though I always caution the jacket must be reasonably clean, some have sent their jackets in that the smell could knock you over. Needless to say we have returned the jackets without repairing them. Like anything if you do not wear it, then it will stay clean, if you wear it, then it will get dirty. So even if you can maintain and condition the leather, you need to also maintain the other materials in the jacket such as the lining, pocketing, and stitching. Gail
Thanks for your comments. Gixxer, I agree with what you mentioned about your process of a light cleaning with water and a rag (or sponge)...allowing it to dry and then applying a conditioner if needed. If the leather is naked cowhide then even using water may not be such a good idea. I would think dry brushing off the jacket first would be better than rubbing in the bugs and dirt into this porous surface. I looked up the Vanson product you mentioned and unfortunately they do not say exactly what is in it but they mention something about all natural ingredients and oils that were used in the tanning process so I think I can assume that means no petroleum.
As far as a response to Gail...I am all for keeping my jackets clean by wearing a layer or two of CLEAN clothing underneath...my point with this whole post was to try to find out if there is a specific product out there that will condition leather and not cause long term harm. Unfortunately because this would need to be observed over a very long time and by an impartial person/company (someone who is not marketing a particular brand of products) it would take the right person and a lot of time. I am not trying to put down the mink oil/saddle soap treatment BUT there are several so called experts out there who claim these products can do harm to leather.
As far as getting ANY info from Arrow Fabric Cleaners, you are correct. I spoke to Heather and then Suzie today and got the old line about how they have been cleaning leather for 90 years and completely know what they are doing, she dropped a few names of retail stores they work with (did not mention Schott)...and refused to provide any information regarding cleaners or conditioners they use on the jackets people mail in.
So I guess we are right back where we started...a whole lot of differing opinions and products with no clear "best product"...and a pro cleaner who wants to keep a trade secret or just plain glorify their business as some type of advanced engineering that people’s lives depend on. For all we know Arrow may be using products that will damage the leather or stitching (over time) and either not know about it or worse not even care…but since they are keeping it all a secret I guess we will never know.
Well, i read about a different way to conditioner Leather (don't remember where), and its going to sound VERY weird, hard to believe, dumb but i already try it a couple of times in my first MC jacket, a copy of the Schott 125 made by Avirex in some leather that looks like steerhide. i used that jacket for more than 10 years when i decide that i a need a new one, i used it under all kind of conditions, rain, sun, dirt and the leather was ok when i puted in the bag of the Salvation Army.
You need a bowl, a clean piece of fabric and the magic conditioner, that its regular MILK, not 1%, not 2%, whole milk, if you are a member of green peace you can use organic milk, pour some milk in the bowl, wet the fabric, squezze, and rubber your jacket, slow, piece by piece and let it dry. Not nasty chemical odors, no mess, you don't have to order online, just go to your kitchen and thats it.
My Schott jackets, 125, 141 and 689hh are some kind of new so i havent try on them, as soon i used my system for the firs time i let you now people what happened. Or if somebody want to try it on a belt, old pair of boots, gloves or a jacket that its almost ready to pass away an want to add your comments....... .
Hey Wolverine, I just gave away of all the leathercare products you mentioned + some exotic treatments, with the exception of Obenauf's which I just ordered more of.. I've used this since the 90's, after I saw it restore a WWII flightsuit. I love leather and live with a collector of vintage horsehide and we won't use anything else on any of our hides, jackets, boots, etc.
I imagine the reason you didn't get much of a response from Obanauf's is because they disclose as much as they're about to on their site http://www.obenaufs.com/ and quite frankly, I'd do the same thing to protect a formula.
BTW, I kept the WD40- this is not a leathercare product.
First excuse my poor English I am new in US
and second I want to apologize because I don't really own a Schott jacket
I read your blog since few hours because I recently received a classic looking touring motorcycle jacket from a well known German brand, the jacket is made of Soft Cowhide and claimed as treated with what they call "TFL cool system". The company who sale it to me gave me a discount because the jacket was used in store for a while.
Nothing is wrong with the garment itself its just that I think the leather took some prolonged doses of UVA/UVB that gave a Grey/Greenish tone to the leather specialy on shoulders.
If I look closely and compare to the leather color in this inside element of the jacket I can see that the original color was more a kind of a Semi-Mat Deep Black anthracite and not the usual Deep Glossy Black as often seen on motorcycle jackets.
The company from which I ordered it told me to just apply some Lexon but it has been contradicted by an old show maker in my area who recomended Cadillac Shoe&Bag care, he said that Lexon will not restore the black color.
So ! my concern is what is the best milk or treatment I can use for a soft cowhide leather originaly deep dark anthracite semi-mat and compatible with "TFL cool System" ?
Thanks for your help and understanting.
I can eventually provide pictures moderator accept a non Schoot garment study case.
Rauol...I got a bunch of leather from the old Schott factory when it moved from Perth Amboy to Elizabeth. E-mail me with your address and I will send you a few pieces of horse, steer and naked and you can try your milk treatment on them rather than an actual jacket. I have learned alot about brake in and how different products alter these very different types of leather. As an example, if you run a piece of the shiny horsehide throught the washing machine about five times the applied finish(sort of like a stretchy rubber coating) will just peel off. Basically, even water...alot of it can...can do quite a bit to these hides.
Thanks for your input, out of all of the products I have read about the Obenhaufs seems to offer the most promise. I would like to get some of this product from you to use on some sample pieces of leather. Maybe we can trade something...please e-mail me.
I have used the obenaufs products on the schott jackets now for quite some time. I have used it on everything. I dont know 100% whats in it... I do know it never has let me down. It is terrific, its cheap, its non-toxic and doesn't leave you with some sort of "surprise" to your leather. It will darken light colored leather just a tad, I suppose the penetration level. Which is a good thing IMO. Cheap junk jackets, my boots, my saddlebags- even car interiors! and yes my schott jackets all have had obenaufs applied. Love it. Especially the paste that comes in a can, amazing stuff.
I mean as in the leather being saturated by the oil. Depending on the thickness & age, it could take weeks to months to go back to it's original color. (Eventually it does). The dryness where one lives would be instrumental too (Albuquerque as opposed to Seattle).
I don't see any formula breakdown on the TLS system site. This is primarily a chemical that reflects UV from the looks of it. I personally have reservations about treating my leather wth another fixative.
yes, i agree that the darkening will fade eventually, I mentioned it just so noone would be surprised about it. I also think that light leather that is unhealthy(dry) will always stay a touch darker because you will LOVE the Obenaufs! You will treat your leather with it once or twice a year, and it will stay "healthy" looking. You cant go wrong with it.
Thanks for the offer Wolverine, but you have more experience that i do in conditioning jackets, if you want to try the milk formula in the leather samples and let us know your opinion will be great, that wil give to the message blog 2 different points of view.
This is not a radical formula that is going to bring your jacket to a new condition, is just going to improve it in some way.
I bought the Obenhaufs starter pack that costs $40 total with shipping. I also asked them to swap the water-proofer product with the leather cleaner and they did this for me with no problem. So the 3 pack consisted of the LP (which is just a bit thicker than vaseline), the leather oil and the cleaner.
The cleaner was tried on brown naked cowhide that has both general all around wear stains and also what looks to be ball point ink marks. The product is very similar to water...I have to say that I was not that impressed with it. It did not remove the ink marks...it may have lightened them...I used 3 or 4 applications. It did fade the stains/soiling. On a positive note it did not seem to do any damage to the leather, after it dried you really can not tell where it was applied...it is a very MILD cleaner of some kind. I tried it on the naked leather figuring that this would be the most difficult to clean. But again, it seemed to look and taste like water...
Out of the two products for conditioning I prefered the LP. But they are very different products with what I see as having both pros and cons.
The oil penetrates better into the leather/HH especially if the leather/HH has an applied finish. It is much easier to apply and takes much less time to use than the LP. As far as cons, the oil formula has a different smell than the LP and this smell lingers for a while. I did an old HH jacket with the oil about two weeks ago and there is still a mild smell...it has gotten better and maybe after a month or two it will be completely gone. It seems to have done a good job conditioning this HH that was in need of some type of moisture...(but then again so did the 100% neatfoot oil that I used on much drier leather and HH).
The LP has a very pleasent smell, sort of like a mild honey. They reccommend that you apply it with your hands and that is exactly what I did. I used it on a few pairs of boots and also an older steerhide jacket with an applied finish. I applied two coats, let it dry completely (overnight) and then lightly buffed it the next day. There is still a mild smell that is left over but it is a sweet/honey smell rather than chemical smell from the oil. The cons: You have to work this stuff into the leather and it takes a lot longer to do a jacket than with the oil. On a sample piece of HH I applied 4 coats and this was too much...it left a white residue that I had to buff off. so you realy need to be careful on how much of this you use...stick to the 1 or 2 coats that Obenhaufs reccommends. Because this stuff contains beeswax I was not that convinced that it really penetrated into the leather...it will definatley go into a naked finish but it does not seem to go into a leather/HH that has an applied finish the way an oil will.
Both products if applied correctly seem to condition the leather(the oil penetrates better than the LP) and NOT leave behind any type of sticky residue. As mentioned previously, the cleaner seems to be just water...literally.
I wish they would tell us the oils that are used in these products. They say that they are "natural" oils but that would include both neatsfoot and mink which Obenhaufs claims to be harmful to leather. I realize that Obenhaufs wants to protect their formula but their prices for the LP and the oil are so reasonable that even if you knew the recipe, who would want to source out the raw products and make it????? Or better yet, what is stopping someone from analyzing this stuff and figuring out what the actual oil is??? HEY YOU CHEMISTS...INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.....WHAT TYPE OF OIL IS IN THIS STUFF????????
Although these products are marketed as being all natural and seemed to clean the leather OK and condition a bit better I have no idea what is in them or how the leather will be affected long term...for this reason I cannot "endorse" them or reccommend them over other products like Lexol or 100% neatsfoot oil. I will say that I would use the Obenhoufs before resorting to Pecards which is a petroleum based product that is ironically marketed through Schott's largest Northeast Distributor, Legendary (go figure??).