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I have it but I don't find it does any better than any other leather care product. Having been involved in the leather industry (and leather care) for nearly 3 decades, it isn't so much the product as the care.

Honestly, the biggest problem with maintaining automotive leather is how it is finished. The leather they used in these cars was not good leather and the lacquer finish seals out everything...including conditioners. Combine this with the worst environment conceivable for maintaining leather (the automobile greenhouse) and you have a recipe for dry, brittle leather that gets stiff and hard, dries out and breaks down.

Welcome to our TC's.

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I was under the impression that the 89 leather didn't use any kind of coating on it. The Italians prefer to use glove leather in their automobiles for suppleness sake. The English use a much thicker and stronger leather but I've never liked how it feels.

Even with American style leather that is coated to make it shinier (think fine Corinthian leather) I've never had a problem with getting conditioner to soften the leather. I just slather a thick coat of conditioner on and leave the car in the hot sun with the windows closed for most of a day and wipe off the excess. Then I use a cleaner to get the stubborn conditioner out of the grain and crevices.

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There is a very thick and impervious coating to the leather in the TC's. I have refinished automotive leather before, as well as having dyed some auto interiors. I have tried every solvent I can think of that won't outright rot the leather itself and nothing will break down the finish of the TC's leather. I took a piece from the parts car's center console to experiment with. I have tried paint stripper, denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol and a few other solvents. Nothing has worked so far to break down the finish. There are nice Italian leathers, and then there is the leather in the TC.

There are two basic kinds of finishes; pigment dye and aniline dye. Aniline dye is more like a stain without a "finish". Most automotive leathers are pigment dyed, which is a "paint" or "lacquer" coating on the leather. Why? For several reasons. Aniline dyed leather will darken in the wear spots and develop a patina. It will also pick up stains as anything spilled on the leather will be absorbed. Even water will create water spots. It needs to be cleaned and conditioned regularly (as in monthly) to maintain it. Trust me, people who spend $$ on leather interiors don't want to be bothered with such things. They want the prestige of leather with the ease of care found with vinyl. The other factor is that, before this leather was a car seat, it was once a cow. Cows are kept in areas with barbed wire because most other fencing won't keep a cow from fresh grass if it so desires. Cows + barbed wire = scars. Scars are a natural part of the leather, but people who buy leather furniture or auto interiors don't want to see scars. They want FLAWLESS leather. Well, the only way to get flawless leather is to either be really lucky and find a flawless hide and pay serious $$ for it (think Connolly hides) or for the rest of us, the scars are sanded and filled. You can't hide flaws or repairs with aniline dyes. You need to use pigment dyes to conceal such undesireable imperfections. You might find glove leather in a Ferrari, but you won't find it in a TC.

Have you noticed a film on the inside of your windscreen? What you are most likely experiencing with conditioners (most of which are water based) is evapouration. Leather should soak up oils and conditioners in minutes, not hours. I have tried just putting conditioning oils (pure neatsfoot, hydrophane, flexalan) on the leather and letting it sit (especially after attempting to strip it). 5 hours later, it is still sitting. Since oils don't evapourate at the rate that water based conditioners do, I figured it was a fair test. If the pigment finish is impervious to acids, there is no way conditioners are getting through. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Hi CC,

Thats the first time in a very long time I've heard any reference to Connolly hides. yeah been there done that (I ran a trim shop for a couple of years). Part of the Leatherique directions mention sanding the surface of the TC seats with 600 grit sandpaper, Wonder why? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />? To my knowledge "Fine Corinthin Leather" is a figment of the imagination of the "Madison Ave Dudes" (advertisement industry).. I think that whoever cured these hides in the first place, created the problem..LZ <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Jeffin, I bought 16 oz of each and next month I'm going to give it my best shot. I'll let everyone know..

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Car Chick, you know too much. I suspect you are an alien from the planet where these cars were really made. I've tried Meguires (ack) and searched everywhere for Lexol (found it at a horse store). Nothing. I was about to get Glyptol when I read your post. Thanks.

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I purchased the restoration kit, which as far as I'm concerned was a waste of money. On my ginger interior, the cleaner did not work at all, and the so-called leather conditioning 'oil', just sat on the surface for two (yes, two) weeks! After I wiped off the film of oil, I still had dirty, dry leather interior. I then performed the recommended sanding on the rock-hard seats, which did soften them up a LITTLE, however, the results were absolutely nothing what I had expected. I then scrubbed the entire interior with orange citrus cleaner (from supermaket), took off tough stains with lacquer thinner, and rubbed HideFood (from autozone) into the leather, and got much better results, all for about ten bucks. I'm still left with some scarring, and slight imperfections from age, and abuse, but unless someone out there can tell me they had great success with the 'colorant coating', I'm not going to bother. Honestly, unless your car ia an absolute gem, body, and mechanically wise, I would seriously try cheaper methods of restoration, whereas it weems these cars are not holding any type of value, other than for personal pleasure only. (hope I don't offend anyone...) <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

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Here's what they said:

Yes, we can help you with the TC ginger.

I'd suggest one of our kits that will have everything you need to first nourish the hides, restore the luxurious suppleness, deep clean, prep the surface, then redye.

Kit 2 is $105 and will freshen both seats, and restore all the other leather to be wonderfully clean and luxurious.

We look forward to assisting you,"

I recall someone had good results in here with it.

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Again, the Leatherique products are fine, although, in my opinion they are WAY overpriced. I would go with Pure Neatsfoot Oil (NOT Neatsfoot Compound) or Lexol. Pure neatsfoot oil can be found for $6 a litre at a saddlery (horse supply store) and Lexol is a bit more. Again, the problem is getting the products through the lacquer coating and to the leather where they can do some good. Until you can permeate the coating, the products will simply sit on the seats and not be absorbed by the leather.

I'm sure people have had good luck with their products, but I doubt it was on TC Leather. And Lou, you are correct. There is no such thing as "fine Corinthian leather"...but even that was better than the crap they put in these cars. I had leather in my 1986 LeBaron GTS. That car was black on black and I didn't have a garage so it lived outside 24/7. That leather is STILL soft and supple 21 years later. I no longer have the car (it met an unfortunate demise) but I kept the seats they were that nice.

gavprof... well........ what can I say? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

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Great thread. I have a couple of thoughts.

1. My 89 leather appears to have been very supple when new. I found some new Italian leather in a good color match. It's slightly darker than the sun exposed areas and a good match for the areas sun never hits.

What years are the poster's cars with the hard leather? Mine is just rotted on the seats.

2. Neatsfoot oil was devised to combat the acid sweat of mules. I also read about British furniture conservators using potasium lactate to counteract the acid in the air.

3. I think there are 2 methods of tanning. Acid and vegetable tanning. From all the TC seats I have seen, I would guess the leather was acid tanned.

4. I still have most of a gallon of neatsfoot oil from a long time ago when I restored player pianos. Thus the reason for my having some knowledge of leather. It absorbs readily in the dash on my TC as it should.

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As far as the tanning processes go, they all use acids. "Vegetable" tanning uses natural acids, specifically tannic acids found in tree barks, like oak trees. The mangrove trees in the everglades are high in tannic acid which is why the water in the everglades is brown. For mineral acids, the most common method is "Chrome tanning". This usually leaves the leather a characteristic blueish tinge to the leather if not dyed.

For the record, Guido is an 89 with rock-hard leather, and this car has been garage-kept. The parts car was not treated kindly and its leather is the same as Guido's. Both are the ginger leather.

I believe Connolly hides were chrome tanned as I recall reading somewhere the leathers were blue before drum dyed.

It is hard to say what tanning methods were used in the TC's.

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Yes, have tried Saddle Soap, and Murphy's Oil Soap. Again, your baseball mitt is not sealed and in fact I don't believe baseball mitts are even dyed. Simply tanned. It is the bloody lacquer sealer on the TC leather that is the problem.

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Over the last year or so, remember this is Denver, I have used about 30 oz of leatherique on my burgundy seats. Seems everytime I use some oil and also about the same amount of cleaner, the seats are getting cleaner and cleaner and slowing changing to a lighter shade every time. Who knew a burgundy interior didn't have black seats! Somewhat softer also but the very front top seat panel is very bumpy and not so soft. Maybe it's time to go sanding. I already have the prep and dye. The leather doesn't look so bad just feels rather bumpy. Does someone want to donate a small burgundy piece for me to practice on. Shouldn't leathrique supply this for me??? And what is tanning. Dyeing I can understand. And where in the world do you put neatsfoot on a player piano, Bill??? Took out my seats to condition yesterday and that is a whole lot easier. Easier to put them in the sun also. As we were warned before be careful of the bottom metal seat runner when going in or out with the seats. I had the chance now to try out the dye on a small scratch on the door. Good match <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> Under the driver seat I found a smashed digital watch, button, and of course french fries but no money!!! The inside is so much easier to detail with the seats out. At first I also tried a little Lexol on the seats and had about the same results. I'm still looking for a tack shop for the neatsfoot and most auto stores around here never heard of a micro oiler, have to look online. Overall I would say I'm pretty satisfied with the leatherique, just need a chisal for the seats. Maybe that new black and decker sander I bought will come in handy after all. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Just kidding car chick. Wondering, was your family into cars?

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Tanning is the process of preserving the leather so it doesn't decay. Dyeing is the process of colouring the leather. It is called tanning because the tannic acids from trees was used to stabilise the protein and collagen fibers in the skin to preserve it as leather. If you need a source for Lexol and other leather care products, you can try www.doversaddlery.com . They have a very good selection of leather care supplies.

My father was a shade tree mechanic of sorts and when I was little I loved to help. I did my first oil change and flush-n-fill at 7, started doing body work at 12 on the 65 Dart that would eventually be handed down to me, and never looked back.

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Had Connelly hides in my Rover Sterling(great car actually) and they were nice for the years I had it. Held up fairly well-at least as hides from those cows of Corinthia...

Let me know how it goes Lou.

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Car Chick - just thinking about this, no plan to actually try it, but what do you think would happen if you took off the leather and oiled it from the inside? Again, I've had zero luck with any product, including lexol. I read that neatsfoot oil (because it is the fat in cows' feet or ankles or whatever) can take on a rancid smell over time.

I remember reading that TCA ordered new leather seats from the original manufacturer some years back - did anyone of this site get one of them? How do they compare?

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I have found Leatherique penetrates & softens the leather in my TC's just fine. But I would emphasize that all my cars are early builds with the notably supple hide. Later cars, especially the Gen-II 1990-91's have much stiffer, more heavily plasticized surfaces.

You might want to take a look at my posting #168100 from June '03. I continue to stand by that procedure, & will likely give a demo of this technique at the upcoming Nat'l Meet.

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gavprof, that is the ideal way to condition leather; from the "raw" side. That is the side that was inside the cow and where the cow's own natural oils came through to the outside or "top grain" side. It would definitely soften the leather, but won't do anything for the cracking that already exists. I have strongly considered doing just that in Guido.

I have never had neatsfoot oil go rancid, although I suppose anything is possible. The batch I currently have is...6 years old? I buy it by the gallon though.

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Great thread indeed all! Car chick, you are absolutely too much! You definitely have too much knowledge under your proverbial seat belt lady! A lot of good stuff going on here, but I will add my 1 cent. (not smart enough for 2 cents). I tried everything over the course of a month, and the only thing that would soften up my rock hard Florida sun dried leather was to lightly sand it down with the 400, and 600 grit paper. Problem is it makes it look a little sanded down, but hey, what the heck, better than it looked and felt before... Hey jeffn, by the way....where in the heck is Corinthia, anyway?? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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Well, apparently Lido was asleep because Greece isn't known for its cows, but rather its goats. And while goatskin is very soft, it really isn't suitable for upholstery. Perhaps that is the correlation Lido was trying to get across to the buying public? That his make-believe "fine Corinthian leather" was kid glove soft? xxrotflmao.gif

And Jeffn.... I do love the smell and feel of leather <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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not to sound like i know about coatings, even tho i work in the coatings industry, but if you cant remove the coating with lacquer thinner, its probably not a lacquer, thats the easiest test. lacquer thinner will desolve most solvent based finishes and coatings, including lacquers, and if you wna try one stronger, Xylene or Acetone would be your next 2 stronger thinners. obviously all 3 have serious drying properties, any of these can cause serious damage to leather, but if you are testing to remove what you think is a "Varnish or Lacquer" from your leather seats, these would be your likely reducing/thinning agents. if sanding with sandpaper is making your seat leather feel softer, i doubt there is any coating at all on it

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I think they stopped using true lacquers per se back in the early 80's. I've just been doing the leather thing for so long, it is the term I still use. Most people don't know the difference between a pigment dye and an aniline dye when it comes to leather but most people have some idea what lacquer is and can relate. I can say that acetone doesn't work, denatured alcohol doesn't work, and "Strypeeze" doesn't work to remove the finish. Like everything else, these strippers just sit on the leather until they evapourate. Rubbing only yields a very small amount of finish removed from the leather (if there was no coating, nothing but dirt would come off on the rag) but not enough to do anything to really get through. I'm tempted to take a piece of the scrap leather and let it soak in strypeeze overnight and see what happens. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

I've refinished other auto leathers from the same era (I did a friend's VW Corrado door panels) and even though German Leather is notoriously stiff (not unlike Germans themselves... that's an old equestrian joke, not a diss on Germans of which I am one) I had no problem removing the finish on the leather, softening it up very nicely, and refinishing it. I've never had to sand to remove a finish, although I know this is done when trying to restore cracked leather; sand then use a leather "filler".

I have also worked leather in Lincolns, Imperials and Porsches among other cars. None of them have been like the TC leather. There is definitely a coating of SOMETHING that completely seals the leather on the TC leather though. Uncoated leather soaks up anything and everything like a sponge, especially as it ages. I think you could probably spill battery acid on these seats and it wouldn't reach the leather. Ok, not quite, but you get the idea.

I would say it is possible that the earliest cars had different (nicer) leather to get the interest flowing. They probably would have kept it until they realised they wouldn't reach their sales numbers and wouldn't make a profit. Then they started cutting corners. And leather quality hugely affects the price of a hide. Going to cheaper leather could easily cut manufacturing costs by $500.00 per car. Just my theory, not a fact.

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My 89's tan leather softened up quite a lot with conditioner but I never was able to get it really clean. Re-reading my earlier post I realized I left out one of the finer points of how I soften leather. With the seats already hot, I would slather the conditioner on in a thick layer. I would then knead the leather as much as possible, (I would even sit on the seat), starting at the stitching on the outer edges and working inward, then let it sit in heat. Even on the dried, board hard black leather of the passenger seat in my 91 TC I got a much softer leather after about 5 or 6 applications over as many weeks. The only parts of the leather that didn't soften a great deal were the front 'under the knee' area that was shrunken to the point that the grain had collapsed, like the windshield side of the instrument pod of most TC's. You can see the lines of grain very close together and almost touching while the rest of the grain lines are separated by space.

I think the coating on the 90 and 91 TC seats was used when owners complained about premature wear on the 89 leather. I also think that it wasn't a standard coating, it was more a filler that went into the cell structure of the leather (or maybe the dye did that) and that is why you can't remove it. You have to open up space in the cell structure to let the conditioner in, maybe that is why the kneading worked for me.

The mystery of 'Corinthean' leather is really simple. In the mid 70's Chrysler started plasticizing the leather and coined the name. They simply added a coating of plastic on top of the very thin leather they used. Basically simplified, they created a vinyl by putting plastic on leather backing instead of plastic on cloth backing. The result was very pliable and impressively shiny with a natural leather grain.

The leather in my T-top Cordoba is where I learned that kneading the leather with lots of conditioner on it was the way to go from board hard to pliable.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I think the coating on the 90 and 91 TC seats was used when owners complained about premature wear on the 89 leather. </div></div> And this is exactly what I was referring to in one of my earlier posts. Natural, aniline-dyed leather will darken and develop a patina in the wear areas as well as absorb stuff spilled on them. This is a characteristic of leather as it ages. And something that people who order leather in their autos DON'T want to see. If people were complaining about this premature "wear" while the 89's were still on the sales floor (meaning less than a year into ownership) I'm going to venture a guess that the earliest cars did have a nicer leather and that this "premature wear" was simply the leather aging as it should and showing all the characteristics of leather that make it desireable.

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OK boys and girls, this is getting really out of hand! Ghostymosty is sitting on his hot leather seats which are filled with 'conditioner', (pants on, or off?) and Jeffn is telling us he loves women who love leather.....OK..my kind of crowd <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> what I was saying in my earlier post was that my rock hard SEATS...I was able to soften up the leather by lightly hand sanding them. It really worked! THEN, it semmed to have actually taken the 'finish' right off (not the color), then, I put the conditioner on, and it seemed to improve them greatly, although, not really as much as I had expected after spending $180.00 in products. Hope this er....helped <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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the alternative is seat covers or reupholster. i didnt spell that right, 1500$ i was told to redo my interior in my TC. i dunno is that better or worse than spending 180$ to find something thats good to use on them

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<img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />I saw a red '89 for sale on eBay about 2 months ago that had the greatist looking Ginger seats <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> I think it was from Fla. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/ooo.gif" alt="" />.Again about 3 weeks ago another was for sale fron W Virginia <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> or somewhere close with maybee the 2nd greatist looking seats. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> The seller said they were original and always covered with Lambswool..(i don't know if i buy that) but anyhow I want my seats to look like them <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />. Lou <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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1500. is outrageous. If you pull the seats, it should cost about 350-400/seat if you find some matching leather cheaply. I have a guy here in NY that supplies GM and he charges $55/pelt for overruns.

Just cover the seating areas and tart up the rest of the seat with neatsfoot or whatever seems to work on yours.

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I had lambswool seat covers at one time. On a road trip one time outside temp over 90 deg on a 7 hr trip,stopped to get something to eat,and while standing in line,my Wife and I wondered what this nasty odor was,smelled like a dead animal. Upon smelling a little closer it was us <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />. Needless to say those covers came off after that trip. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

Worse 400.00 I spent on custom made covers. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />

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i honestly dont consider 1500$ a bad price, that was the whole interior, dash, seats, panels, etc. not just patching all redone, considering the price i paid for my 16V, i'd spring for it one day because its worth having a new interior if the whole car looks like new. i have quite a bit of extra leather, enough to patch stuff, i have 2 front seats worth and i have extra door panels. i doubt i couldnt do a decent patch job with what i have, but whats my time worth in the end honestly.

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OK, time to lock this thread. I vividly dreamed last night that I got my new top from Chick but it was the fabric only so I had to unzip the frame pieces from the old top and install them into the new top. It was all quite detailed and mechanical but upon doing it, I realized the new top material was a beautiful kid glove leather in ginger color....

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