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Cattle Hair - authentic restorations


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Many here have top prize winning vehicles that in a field of competitors take home the top award because of their use of authentic period materials these are well researched and document the use of correct material, wood, colors and to garner the award over their competition - floor board protection !!!  There was a trade magazine that most coach builders and auto and truck manufacturers subscribed to but was not really available to the general public that had many large advertisements in it to keep the industry aware of the latest materials. I present /share one here from August 1930 that if you want to be the tip top of your class it should really be researched and located to place in your car.  Note that the ad states it was used in car floors and roofs as well - so you can surround yourself in the security of hair felt. Hope all of you are paying attention to this - if you are you may now have a smile on your face due to your new knowledge of automotive history. 🧐

CattleHair 1930.jpg

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Horse hair was used for many years to stuff upholstery. It had been used in the carriage trade going way back, and automobiles from the beginning up to at least 1930 on some cars. My 1927 Paige's original upholstery over the springs was stuffed in horse hair, covered by cotton batting. Some 'horse hair' today is actually hog's hair.

 

Walt G, Very interesting. I had not seen that before.

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That where our beloved "old car smell" comes from?

 

One of my other "obsessions", if you will, is wet shaving. Brush, shave soap, mug, vintage safety razor etc. No Good News razor or can shave cream here! 

 

The best shaving brushes are badger bristle, but since that's kinda high $$$, hog (boar) bristle is an acceptable substitute.

 

It's amazing what uses humanity has created for animal hair.

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43 minutes ago, 40Clubcoupe said:

My circa 1850 house had Horse Hair Plaster walls. When I removed the plaster and lath in order to put in insulation, I could see tufts of hair throughout.  Or at least I think it was Horse.

It was. Very commonly added to plaster over lath....bob

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Who would think an automotive forums would get a conversation going about animal hair used in 90 to 100 year old motor cars !

It is another fact that was a common thing in the industry a decades ago that if you mention it today ( even to the owners of current car dealerships and their staff) people would look at you as if you were crazy.

I have so many things here in my archives and library to share about cars made in the WWI to WWII era. , Very Happy it is making all of you think and carry on a active conversation.  My reward is your taking the time to participate . Thank you.

Walt

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I used to do a lot of work with a guy who worked on 70's-80s Mercedes. We were talking one day, maybe I asked him about the distinctive smell, and he told me the seats were stuffed with horse hair. 

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Several of the most recent cars I had a hand in of the restoration, Pierce, Buick, Lincoln L had traditional stuffing, hog hair, horse hair or similar, used for the interior.

Most upholsterers these days don't want to go through the trouble of stuffing seats, they prefer to use foam and push the project out the door. The use of correct internal materials can make or break a correct restoration.

Edited by a griffin (see edit history)
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I’m aware of an old mattress factory that went out of business, and in the remaining inventory were 60x60 and 60x80 sheets of one inch thick horse hair woven into burlap.  
 

Identical to a lot of seat cushion coverings of the 20s and 30s.

 

I have some, if anyone is interested can get them.  Only problem is they’re about $200 a sheet to acquire.

28F4513D-3025-4025-9BF7-EE6023CFDBC3.jpeg

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Back in the day (1820-1960 )when movers use to use large wood barrels ang kegs to move and store stuff, they use a material discribed as a coarse, yellow ,curly grassey ,straw stuff for cusioning and in old car repainting (brush paint and varnish and early Duco ) they often discribe rubbing down between coats of this and that with "curled hair".

I'm not sure that all of what is called loose horse  wadding for upholstery was even horse hair..

If it was, I guess it was all collected from the mane and tale of millions of dead horses going through the fat and bone rendering and glue factory plants of the period  ,ick!

I heard of hogs hair too which is more renewable from live hogs , but probably slautered just the same like cattle and old horses.

 

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6 minutes ago, trimacar said:

I’m aware of an old mattress factory that went out of business, and in the remaining inventory were 60x60 and 60x80 sheets of one inch thick horse hair woven into burlap.  
 

Identical to a lot of seat cushion coverings of the 20s and 30s.

 

I have some, if anyone is interested can get them.  Only problem is they’re about $200 a sheet to acquire.

28F4513D-3025-4025-9BF7-EE6023CFDBC3.jpeg

May be interested.......

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Not to get too far off topic but Hastens, a Swedish mattress company sent me a catalog. They use horsehair and their process is pretty fascinating to read about . I was really interested in one until I found out they start around $40000! Gulp.

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/style/home-decor/a34194620/hastens-mattress-swedish-royals/

Here's a $390k model they made! It must be good stuff

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When I did more of my own older car  upholstery I would scavage those old fashion mattreses for the heavy brown cotton batting and the coarse hair like padding. Still have a roll. Great for Model T's and Maxwell's.

0723211421.jpg

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1 hour ago, Billy Kingsley said:

Now I've got a mental picture of a bunch of shaved cows standing in a field somewhere!

 

Moo, y'all!🐄

 

Had never considered mattresses though I know a lot of furniture used horsehair.

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I used to have ready access to a flooring contractor. They were very happy to give me all the old carpet padding felt I would be willing to take away. About thirty years ago, I got two large rolls of loose hair (I don't know what type of hair?) carpet felt. Old stuff, rarely used after about 1970 when foam became the thing. I have used the stuff to upholster two model T pickups, four model T speedsters, and my 1915 T runabout. It works quite well, and when done has an authentic feel to it.

I would imagine some carpet contractors still get stuck with the stuff. And they have to pay to get rid of of it! If one is on a budget, ask around.

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I had an uncle who farmed with horses up into the 1970s, he had a 100 acre farm and never owned a truck or a tractor. He had Belgian horses  which he took good care of. When he curry combed them he saved the hair. From time to time a Jew peddler would come around buying horse hair, old burlap bags, bones, rags, bottles, scrap metal etc. They would buy the horse hair and it would get sold along, eventually being used to make upholstery stuffing.

Old time upholstery shops used to have a machine that combed out the horse hair and fluffed it up, old matted hair from an old chair or sofa could be run through the machine and would come out 5 or 10 times the volume. If you had an expensive car from the twenties or earlier or expensive furniture it would have come with horse hair stuffing in the seats.

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18 hours ago, Bryan G said:

I used to do a lot of work with a guy who worked on 70's-80s Mercedes. We were talking one day, maybe I asked him about the distinctive smell, and he told me the seats were stuffed with horse hair. 

I believe that's correct...my dad kept one of his Mercedes a long time and eventually it would shed onto the carpet. I had a BMW's seats of the same vintage restuffed as well as the hair disintegrated or came out over time. The replacement foam was not quite the same.☹️

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Horse hair used in many early cars and fine furniture was not the chopped hair of today, but long strand tail and mane which packs with more stability and is less likely to shift or "ball up". Yes, some of it was sewn to a fabric backing and not always burlap, some times a light weight duck. For many years long strand hair was available in old horse hair mattresses.

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I will go off topic.

I worked on outboard motors most of my life.

Twice I drained gearcases that still had whale oil in them.

Talk about stink !!

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By the 1960's Ozite became more famous for their indoor-outdoor carpeting, a totally synthetic product. 

 

I recall many front steps covered in this product when delivering newspapers, but my favorite was my mom's experience with it.  My aunt and uncle in a different city had Ozite on their front doorstep, and they did not allow smoking in their house, and my mom stayed there to attend a wedding.  On my uncle's next visit, he mentioned my mom went outside to smoke three times, as that was how many burn holes he found in his Ozite carpet by the front door!!

 

Craig

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