Vintage leather recovery

Discussion in 'Indian Motorcycle Guides and How-To's' started by dieselgman, Dec 23, 2019.

  1. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    I have a 2014 Vintage with original desert tan leather... problem is the bike has spent many years in the sun and weather leaving the leather in terrible condition. All of the exposed surfaces have UV damage to where there is no longer any of the original color left in the leather - a dull powdery gray throughout.

    I didn't think to capture any images before starting the cleaning process, but here is one of the bags AFTER a good cleaning and surface scuff with ScotchBrite pads. The leather is thick and of good quality in these bags, so losing a little of the degraded surface in the cleaning process did not seem to cause any additional harm.

    Vintage bag 01.jpg

    I ordered a couple 4 oz. bottles of leather restoration basics (this is the stuff we would use for repairing horse tack and such) - Fiebings Leather dye and Fiebing's Resolene.

    A quick once over with the Light Brown dye brought the color back to something close to original light tan. Then after drying time, a quick coat of the acrylic resolene put a semi-gloss water resistant seal back on the leather.

    Vintage bag 02.jpg

    I am pleased with the results... the leather is supple and flexible again. It has retained a completely natural look and is ready to grace one of our beautiful Indians for another 5-years (or much longer if kept out of the weather).

    Notes: I elected to go with inexpensive basic supplies for this little resto.
    1.) because it was totally experimental and I didn't want to spend big dollars on a dead horse so to speak.
    2.) because I have done some saddle and harness repairs for badly decayed leather before. Natural materials have some amazing strengths and abilities to recover if treated right.
    3.) The quality of the original materials in these bags is superior... I have the same setup on a zero-mileage 2019 Vintage that do not look or feel as nice as these older ones do.

    4 ounces of dye was just enough for 1 bag in my case, so back to the store for another couple bottles to do the other bag and the seat. 4 ounces of the Resolene will be plenty to do both bags plus seat. Total cost under $30 plus some time fiddling around with the material to see if the colors were going to match up well.
     
    #1 dieselgman, Dec 23, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
    ScotD, rusty nuts, IROQUOIS and 3 others like this.
  2. geewago

    geewago Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2017
    Messages:
    708
    Likes Received:
    2,048
    Trophy Points:
    138
    Location:
    waco,tx
    That's the trouble with that vintage leather. Has to be maintained way too often. When I saw the first 14 model Indians on the showroom floor I told the salesman, "They sure look pretty now, but four years from now they'll look like a wore out saddle".
     
    IROQUOIS likes this.
  3. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    Funny and true. But, a worn out saddle can be restored.
     
    IROQUOIS and sidecarsam like this.
  4. wildmandmc

    wildmandmc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2019
    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    405
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Florida
    good job d. an i'm sure plenty of elbow grease. they sort of look like the leather bags i had on old 95 soft tail.
     
    dieselgman and IROQUOIS like this.
  5. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    That turned out nice. You kind of hit on something. In all but the worst cases leather can get restored.
     
    dieselgman and wildmandmc like this.
  6. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    To add to the conversation I had a stud come out of my passenger backrest. I brought it to a local Saddlery and he was able to replace it for a whole $10.
     
    dieselgman likes this.
  7. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    What location? If you have a resource like that remaining, you are lucky!
     
  8. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    Couple town's over from me.....Smithboro, IL. Let me get back to you on the name of the place.
     
    dieselgman likes this.
  9. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    Here it is.....CMR Saddlery
    Edit....my wife said it was $15 but still much cheaper than replacing the backrest!
     
    dieselgman likes this.
  10. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    Amish country is likely going to be our last resources of this type (skill-sets and tooling)... or maybe specialists supporting the equine industry.
     
    IROQUOIS likes this.
  11. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    Think Horses and draft animals, y'all.
     
    IROQUOIS likes this.
  12. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    I believe you're right. Fortunately their is a Amish community not to far away from me. I'll have to find out if any of them do this.
     
    dieselgman likes this.
  13. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    Sometimes they operate as closed communities and are very selective about who they choose to do business with… it helps to know someone to make inquiry and/or introductions.
     
    IROQUOIS likes this.
  14. IROQUOIS

    IROQUOIS Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    6,684
    Likes Received:
    15,973
    Trophy Points:
    8,193
    The Supermarket chain I drive for does business with one of the community members. That's part of the organic fruits and vegetables we purchase. I've gotten to know them well. Exceptionally nice family. Had to laugh one time speaking to one of his daughters when I was picking up the last of the season goodies.... pumpkins, squash, gords etc. She apologized they had me waiting but they couldn't get into the fields until daylight.... around 6:15am in late Fall. It's a family affair from the oldest down to the youngest are out in the fields helping with the harvest. I was amazed when they brought the wagon in from the field. He talked to those draft horses backing the wagon to the dock. It was like he had a steering wheel. Nailed square on!
    Sometimes I wonder if they've got it figured out and we're the damn fools. What a simple life. You'll never meet a more happy bunch.
     
    Aargow likes this.
  15. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    No doubt they have a working and healthy life and society. Core values are fundamental and strong. I greatly admire those that I know and interact with.
     
    #15 dieselgman, Dec 24, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    IROQUOIS likes this.
  16. driver10

    driver10 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2019
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    122
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    N.W. Okla.
    Wish they had something for the sorry leather on my 2015 RM. Its pealing and flaking on Passengers back rest.
     
  17. Zipperhead Frankenberry

    Zipperhead Frankenberry Bronze Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    5,051
    Trophy Points:
    1,183
    Location:
    Aurora, CO
    Back around '84 my buddy "Grog" was out wandering the desert around Lake Powell Utah and found a set of US Cavalry saddlebags with a minute amount of gold dust in 'em in a crevice beneath an overhang where he'd climbed up into to get out of the sun for a bit and check out a crumbled rock wall.

    He spent a lot of time and a lot of mink oil on those poor things, but they were starting to crumble apart and he gave up rather than damage 'em some more. Wonder if he's still got those.

    So, yeah in all but the worst cases, and 100 years of sitting out in a desert is sort of a worst case, probably.
     
    Rodd, Aargow and IROQUOIS like this.
  18. dieselgman

    dieselgman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2018
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    223
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Kansas
    Cool story, you have to wonder about how they got there and where is the gold!
     
    Zipperhead Frankenberry and Rodd like this.

Share This Page