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Automotive grade leather for use in a brass era automobile restoration?


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What do you suggest as a GOOD source for automotive grade leather for use in a brass era automobile? Considerations to include affordability, availability, dyed not surface stained, UV resistant, type: cow goat or other, and other leather related items I may not be aware of that are good for automobile leathers.

Al

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You are lucky you're looking for leather.  Vintage automotive grade Vinyl and fabrics are hard to find. Single color gray & tan broadcloth or Bedford Cord are obtainable but more than one color, strips or patterns are impossible. They still make cows the way they used to and still dye them the same way. I'll save you a lot of time and horsing around (pun intended.) For Brass era especially, contact  Mel Draper, Mel's Leather, Jerromsville, Ohio.  I'm not where I can look up his number but he advertises in HCCA Gazette and similar sources. He also vends at Hershey. Someone else may post his contact. He is a one man band but he will respond if you leave a message. He was able to match an odd brownish-maroon/purple-lake for my 06 Cadillac. Mel can also furnish you with horse hair stuffing and I think he can provide the burlap and cotton padding you will need too. DO NOT use anything other than the correct horse hair stuffing in a brass car. If you cant find a shop that will work with horse hair....find another upholsterer. 

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7 minutes ago, jdome said:

You are lucky you're looking for leather.  Vintage automotive grade Vinyl and fabrics are hard to find. Single color gray & tan broadcloth or Bedford Cord are obtainable but more than one color, strips or patterns are impossible. They still make cows the way they used to and still dye them the same way. I'll save you a lot of time and horsing around (pun intended.) 

I believe SMS can help with the broadcloth and Bedford Cord, but that's another story for another time.

 

What we feed cows now is not what we fed them 100 years ago!!!  Get your leather from a grain-fed cow to be 100% authentic!

 

Craig

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Posted (edited)

Craig, If we go back far enough, especially where I live......nothing was "grain fed" but everything was pasture or grass fed. Who knows what treatment leather has that makes it UV resistant suitable for sunlight damage intervention on automobile grade leathers? I also desire leather that is "vat dyed" to the saddle brown color through and through, not just top stained on the surface.

Al

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2 minutes ago, alsfarms said:

Craig, If we go back far enough, especially where I live......nothing was "grain fed" but everything was pasture or grass fed.

I guess I should re-phrase that as 'naturally fed' without steroidal or hormone injections.  I wonder what A&W does with their used cows: A&W Changes Beef Supply - DiscoverMooseJaw.com - Local news, Weather, Sports, Free Classifieds and Job Listings

 

Craig

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You will have to ask Mel but I am sure that his leather comes from cows raised and dyed the way they were 100 years ago because he is in Amish country and gets his leather from kosher Amish cows. I've used his leather several times and so have other Brass people I know and everyone is satisfied with it.  I am working with SMS now for 2-tone brown & tan stripe Bedford Cord in combination with brown Vinyl and found a close match. But the tan is darker and brown lighter than original, and I'm trying to preserve the car.  I want to replace the torn front seat to match the rest of the original interior.  I've check around but no one else comes close. LeBaron Bonney used to have the exact match but they are "no more" and no body else has taken their place. I've come across KOVI Fabrics on line and they have multiple shades of Automotive vinal at reasonable prices. Literally thousands of colors in several textures. I have received several samples from them and it is quality material but the online colors don't quite match the real samples.

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Ok jdome, you have captivated my interest as you speak about Tan and Brown stripe Bedford cord material. Not now, but in the foreseeable future I will be redoing the complete interior for an early Limousine, black leather up front and some form of Bedford cord in the back. What project are you working on that requires a combination of vinyl and Bedford cord material?

Al

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Craig, Nothing beats a "quality" hamburger! That's why I grow my own beef, then have it processed to the degree of "lean" that we like and insist no gristle or other unbecoming material added to make bulk. I suppose the best quality leather should come about in a similar fashion. What thoughts of leather types for rugged and long last upholstery should be considered? Hog, Goat or Cow or other as available, elk?

Al

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14 minutes ago, alsfarms said:

I suppose the best quality leather should come about in a similar fashion. What thoughts of leather types for rugged and long last upholstery should be considered? Hog, Goat or Cow or other as available, elk?

Al

Reportedly, Rolls-Royce 'cherry picks' choice cows for their leather upholstery, not being near a barbed-wire fence for one.  

 

As far as 'rugged' there is the thick, firm leather that was used for fenders, but hardly comfortable to sit on.  Keep in mind, its the care and attention leather receives, that most often contributes to its longevity in the long run.   We have discussed various leather treatment products here a number of times in the past:  

Craig

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7 minutes ago, alsfarms said:

Ok jdome, you have captivated my interest as you speak about Tan and Brown stripe Bedford cord material. Not now, but in the foreseeable future I will be redoing the complete interior for an early Limousine, black leather up front and some form of Bedford cord in the back. What project are you working on that requires a combination of vinyl and Bedford cord material?

Al

47 Ford Convertible, Super Deluxe no less. Ford stopped using real leather in convertibles in 46, although they continued to use leather in their woodies. My car is an early transition car with some 46 features and some early 47 and some late 47 features. My dash is 47 but the upholstery is 46 with 1/8 " tan & brown stripe Bedford in combination with Brown Vinal. Later 47-48 Super-D switched to a lighter saddle brown vinal with tan Bedford cord. The other interior combo was red vinal with tan Bedford. I believe the bedford & vinyl combos was available in fords into early 50's. The stripped bedford and vinyl that SMS says is close to mine they said is 53 Packard.  I did a 35 V12 Cadillac Limo that was originally all gray broadcloth.  When I had it reupholstered, I bought a slightly darker gray leather for the driver's compartment. Had a heated argument with the upholsterer who insisted that the ceiling above the driver should be leather too. I had a concern that the leather would sag over time and I thought it woulf look better if the same cloth covered the entire ceiling. And it does. The upholsterer liked it so well that he showed my finished car to his next customer who brought him a V12 Pierce Arrow That had no interior to go by so they copied my interior.  Somewhere out there is a Pierce Arrow with gray leather & broadcloth with Fleetwood pleats and stitch patterns on the side panels, AND cloth over the driver.

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It is just so dang costly for interiors that now days we certainly have to be careful of where and how we spend on these antique automobiles. Further down the road I can see a P-A 12 limousine needing upholstery. Are you comfortable yet with your material and color choice to match/restore your original upholstery?

Al

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2 hours ago, alsfarms said:

...Tan and Brown stripe Bedford cord material. Not now, but in the foreseeable future I will be redoing the complete interior for an early Limousine...   

I know that Nicola Bulgari's collection in Allentown, Pa.

has had cloth reproduced in the exact pattern for some

of their cars.  They have used SMS Auto Fabrics and

one or more other sources.  Al, if you have the correct

original fabric as a sample and you want to be really

authentic, contact Keith Flickinger, their collection manager.

He is now an AACA board member, so his contact information

should be in our AACA national magazine.

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