lump

Need advice on leather and uphosterer

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lump    136

Ok, gang, I need your advice, please. Our old 1923 Hupmobile Model R Touring car has served our family faithfully since I was in 3rd grade, about 1962. My parents were always proud that it had its original upholstery, even though it was worn and had a few minor holes. My Mom got pretty good at gluing in leather patches behind tears or holes, and hiding the repairs (from a distance, of course.) But now that leather has gotten a LOT older, and is simply disintegrating into dust. I find that I must replace it.

 

I contacted the folks at Kanter Auto Products, where I have always bought leather hides for other projects, but they no longer sell it. So now I need to find a source for the original style long-grain black leather, and a good shop to install it for me. Can you recommend a good source for the leather? Also, does anyone know a good trim shop for a project like this...preferably not too far from southern Ohio? 

 

Thanks in advance for any advice. More related questions to follow shortly....

Hupp Upholstery worn out Lo Rez.jpg

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edinmass    241

Usually your trimmer will have favorite sources and can secure a better value than you can. Unless you contemplate a total restoration to show standards in the future maybe a synthetic material would be something to consider. Upholstery costs the same in either material so the only savings would be the cost difference. Nice car. Be sure to see previous work from whoever you choose. Don't let them talk you into doing non authentic cushions and springs. Be sure they do NOT use foam, it will last less then ten years........read what I just wrote several times. Good luck!

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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lump    136
4 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Usually your trimmer will have favorite sources and can secure a better value than you can. Unless you contemplate a total restoration to show standards in the future maybe a synthetic material would be something to consider. Upholstery costs the same in either material so the only savings would be the cost difference. Nice car. Be sure to see previous work from whoever you choose. Don't let them talk you into doing non authentic cushions and springs. Be sure they do NOT use foam, it will last less then ten years........read what I just wrote several times. Good luck!

Thanks for great advice, Ed. The original side panels and door panels on this car were not real leather anyway, so I would consider either material, as long as it was not going to be obvious that it was not "correct." No WAY would I ever consider a restoration to "show standards." I've been in the hobby ALL my life, and if there is anything I detest, it's trophy judging. I intend to drive and enjoy this car, just as my parents did before me. And I'll take your advice, and stay away from foam for sure. 

 

I have family near Springfield, Mass, and I drive up that way once or twice a year. Maybe I'll offer to meet you for lunch or something some day. I would love to see your Pierce automobiles. 

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edinmass    241

Sure, I'm just east of the city. Exit seven off the Mass Pilke. Where are you located, I may know a trimmer. Ed

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oldcarfudd    30

Mel Draper in Jeromesville, Ohio, is a very good source of leather.  He may know an Amishman in the area who will do the work.  Several of us in the HCCA use an Amishman in Pennsylvania, but you might like to find someone closer to you.

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13CADDY    15

the lebaron-bonney web site lists shops they recommend-i found one in n.east Cinti.-did work for me in 1 of my studebakers--very pleased with the outcome--just remember,you get what you pay for--Tom

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lump    136
8 hours ago, edinmass said:
6 hours ago, mike6024 said:

It looks like cotton batting is used to form the pleats?

Yes, Mike. I think you are right on that. 

 

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lump    136
8 hours ago, edinmass said:

Sure, I'm just east of the city. Exit seven off the Mass Pilke. Where are you located, I may know a trimmer. Ed

 

Southern Ohio...near the greater Dayton, Ohio area. 

I love it when people ask me "where" in Massachusetts do my family members live. I enjoy answering as, "Yes. Exactly!" Upon hearing this, they usually look a little bewildered. Then they repeat (often louder the second time, as if I'm hard of hearing).  "But your family members live 'where' in Massachusetts?" To which I joyfully reply, "Yes, you were right the first time!" 

 

By now you understand my joke. I have family in Ware, Mass, as well as Palmer. I hope I'll get to meet you some day. 

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trimacar    481

That's a fairly straight forward pleated interior, and yes, the pleats are sewn with hidden stitches then stuffed with cotton batting.  "Stuffed" may not be the correct word, as you cut a length of batting and use a certain method to install it into the sewn pleat.  Make sure you get someone who knows how to do these pleats, you draw the correct size on a backing material, then the leather itself gets marked about 5/8" wider for each pleat, and it when sewn it will give you the original look.  If the pleats are 6 inches or wider, there's another method of stuffing, as cotton doesn't like wide pleats and tends to fold up inside them.  The original stuffing was usually a compressed cotton batting, and the nearest I've found for wide pleats is either 20 or 40 ounce jute (depending on look desired) wrapped with quilting batting.

 

If the door panels are not leather, you'll need about 5 hides of 50-60 square feet each, although personally I'd do the doors in leather also, and in that case would want 6 hides minimum.  A grained leather is no problem to find, but make sure you look at a sample from the actual hides offered to you.  It's easy to say "Oh, it's just black leather", but there are different shades and different finishes, just like paint, matte finish, semi-gloss, glossy....you need to see the leather

 

I don't often disagree with Ed, but I'd use leather.  As he says, the ONLY savings is the cost difference of material, as labor will be the same.  I think Draper is less than $200 a hide, or less than $4 a square foot (although I'm not positive as I haven't bought from him and use other suppliers), and he does have nice leather, so it's not a huge material expense.  Very nice leather can be had in the $5-7 per square foot range, and gorgeous leather (which you don't need) gets over $10 a square foot.

 

As far as cost, I know what I'd charge (although I'm not looking for work) and could share that with you privately as a benchmark, the important thing is to find someone familiar with working on early cars who will do it correctly with original type materials.

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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Rusty_OToole    424

Leather is expensive but given the time your family has owned the car, and if you plan to keep it, you should go with leather. One problem with leather (and vinyl) is that they don't allow for mistakes. If you sew cloth wrong you can pick out the stitches and try again. Once you perforate leather or vinyl they are ruined. So, you REALLY need an upholsterer who knows what he is doing. A lot of guys won't touch leather or work on cars. If there is any way you can get Trimacar or someone of similar experience to do the job it is money well spent. This is NOT the time to try and save money. If the job seems expensive, think about the cost per year amortized over 100 years and it won't seem so bad.

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edinmass    241

What would be the cost difference between synthetic material and a decent mid level leather? David, please chime in. Best guess.

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trimacar    481

Decent mid level leather, let's use $6 a square foot, I've bought for more and I've bought for less. 6 hides at 50 square feet per hide, $300 per hide so $1800.

 

In 54 inch high quality Naugahyde, probably $22 per running yard and you'd need about 16 yards, so $352.

 

Yes, it's cheaper.  And, you'd be just like a friend of mine who just bought a beautiful Packard touring, very nice upholstery job, and every time he takes it out he'll have to explain that it's a vinyl interior, not the correct leather.  Same labor cost, so on a car worth tens of thousands, previous owner saved $1000-1500 by putting in vinyl.

 

Also, you can shop a little and sometimes find very nice leather at very good prices, I recently bought some high quality leather, 6 black hides, at less than $3 per square foot, a close out sale at a certain supplier of mine...

 

The way I do it, if someone brought me the car in question and asked me to put in vinyl, I'd send them and the car home, not interested in anything to do with vinyl......

Edited by trimacar (see edit history)
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edinmass    241

1500 dollar difference in materials. I understand why David would choose not to do in in vinyl, and my rule of thumb is do it right if at all possible. I figured leather would be about a 2500 to 3500 dollar difference. I'm not sure the value of the above car, but for the sake of argument I thought the percentage of value of the car VS the enjoyment may have been worth consideration, At 1500 difference it's worth doing right. 

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60FlatTop    1,899

That is an interesting comment on not using foam. I have been approaching some upholstery work on my '64 Riviera the way Art Carney addresses a golf ball. I have noticed that the shoulder area bolsters have cotton batting. And when I did some repair on my Packard seat it was built up with burlap and various types of cotton. The comment got me thinking of building up my seats that were originally foam in the earlier manner. It seems like I might have a more comfortable seat if I leave out the foam and use cotton products.

 

I have a spare seat I could try. Anyone tried it?

Bernie

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lump    136
2 hours ago, 31 Caddy said:

Very cool car, Mr. Lump. Please post a picture that shows all of it.

You are very kind, 31 Caddy. Thanks so much. 

 

The black and white photo is from the fall of 1962, shortly after my parents sold their Model A roadster and bought the Hupp. I'm in the back seat in that photo. 

Bill Pat & Jimmy Wirth Alexander Dr Fall 1962.jpg

IMG_6006.JPG

IMG_6009.JPG

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31 Caddy    108

Great pictures! Thanks for posting them. The old black and white is really special. You are fortunate to not only own a neat car, but one that comes with so much family history.

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Rusty_OToole    424

$1500 amortized over 50 years is only $30 per year. Besides it only hurts when you are writing out the check and is soon forgotten.  Using cheap material will rankle every time you drive the car.

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edinmass    241

Love the early photos of the Hupp!

 

Nothing makes a car more special than many decades of family ownership. Currently for me it's forty six years. A local friend has a P-1 Rolls Royce town car his father purchased in 1941 for 25 dollars. Interestingly, they didn't have their own garage, so the rented one from the next door neighbors, and it still in the same garage for 76 years! That's a lot of rent! They probably have ten time the investment in the storage than the purchase price and restoration. Here it is today. It's on it's third engine rebuild, almost 200,000 miles. 

 

IMG_2442.PNG

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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trimacar    481

Two comments.

 

First, on the material comparison, I was using a very nice leather cost comparison.  If one goes to a super soft, nice hand (hard to explain, how it feels when you grab a piece and wad it up, should be smooth as squeezing butter for very high quality leather, should be very nice like squeezing silly putty for good quality leather, if it's crinkly and sharp in the hand then it's inferior).  You know, as I type the previous "nice hand" comment, it's something that takes very little time to learn, as it's a tactile experience, but can tell you a LOT about the leather quality.

 

One can easily spend $12 to $15 a square foot for leather, or even more, and then Ed's comments make sense.  I've heard numbers for extraordinary leather in the 3 figures per square foot. But, there is very nice leather available in the single digit per square foot range that can make very nice interiors.  I've done numerous cars with such leather that are AACA Senior cars, and in fact, some are CCCA winners.

 

Second comment, on foam.  I've researched foam use in cars. it started in the late 1930's, and the foam used was a very heavy closed cell foam.  It actually has lasted quite well, if you take apart an old seat, but sometimes it's started to let loose, and the smell will stay with you for days.  And yes, through the 50's and 60's a lot of foam was used.  I'm talking pre WWII cars, I don' agree with using any foam.  You can't buy the heavy, closed cell foam, that was available, and even if you find a supplier, it's NOT the same stuff.  Foam these days is sold as 8 year, 10 year, 12 year, foam, since the additive that allowed foam to last was a cancer causing additive, and our gov'ment outlawed it about 15 years ago.  So, you can install foam, and it's readily available for a lot of post WWII cars, but within a few years you'll start to see little pieces gathering under the seat.  Look under your Lazy-Boy, that's not dust, that's the foam disintegrating.  A certain percentage of the foam content just evaporates to the atmosphere, more starts to come apart.  The reason for the 8/10/12 year designation is that furniture manufacturers know that the pieces they are making will be trashed, in all probability, before that...Modern furniture, for the most part, is throw away and replace furniture.

 

Sheesh, didn't mean to go on so long, but this is a hot topic with me.  The original materials, burlap, jute, cotton batting, curled horsehair, are still comfortable in a well preserved car 100 years later.  Substandard materials are just that, temporary pretty that won't last...

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mike6024    135

The Hupp deserves the real thing, leather, for sure.

 

But there does seem to be some good looking faux leather dirt cheap suitable for less special projects of more recent vintage. I bought some and am pleased with the look. s-l1600.jpgs-l1600.jpg

Door Panel Small.JPG

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)

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Stude Light    68

Love the Hupp.  My opinion.......leather is the way to go.  If you don't mind making the trip to Michigan, Mark Larder Upholstery in Homer, Michigan does top notch work.  I already had the upholstery done on my car, but after seeing the quality of their leather work, I had them do the top and storm curtains on my car. Getting a quality interior made is not a cheap investment so if you find someone to do it cheaply, run away, don't walk.  In the end, you get what you pay for.

Scott

20161113_122112.thumb.jpg.80f7e13292846421d0614066e2a063d4.jpg

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