Reviving old leather on the cheap...

Anyone got any ideas? My current regiment is to clean with Permatex mechanic's hand cleaner with lanolin (really! it works! does a great
job on old, hard vinyl too) then smear another coat on, let the "goo" soak into the leather, buff dry with towel. Then if the seats are still hard, soak them with some neatsfoot oil until they're soft, then continue care with normal leather care products (Lexol, etc.)
Problem is, I'm having a hard time finding a new bottle of neatsfoot oil. If someone has a better idea let me know before I go online and order some...
Reason I am asking is I bought some old Porsche seats at a swap meet just for the parts; got them home and did a half fast cleanup on them and they actually look better than the ones in my car and are "half leather" whereas my old ones had aftermarket vinyl covers on them, and the power adjustments all work perfectly. They are hard as rocks, however...
nate
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Lexol is a mixture of neatsfoot oil, some other oils, and waxes. The wax gives you a nice shiny surface.

Ace Hardware carries it. Personally I prefer using the "boot oil" from Red Wings shoes... it's a little thicker and takes longer to soak in, but it's a neatsfoot oil blend that seems to last a bit longer than the usual neatsfoot oil.
Note that neatfoot oil and related products will darken leather. Depending on the finish, it could darken it a whole lot or just a little bit. Also note that if you have really old leather, it may take a few months worth of weekly soak-downs with neatsfoot oil for the stuff to soften up.

Hit them with the oil and keep hitting them, but give it a couple months before you give up on them. --scott
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I used to see some ads in my old Popular Mechanics and Popular Science and Science and Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated magazines many,many years ago about some kind of car leather treatment restorer stuff.I guess if you go to a store that sells horse leather tackle,they might have something like that for sale. cuhulin
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On Mar 25, 3:49 pm, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote:

Since the seats are black, I don't think that will be an issue :)

Ayup... I priced some stuff on amazon and pure neatsfoot oil is about 1/3 the price of any of the blends so I just ordered 64 oz. of that which a) was about $20 with shipping and b) should last me a good long time :)
nate
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I missed the first part of this topic so Leatherique may have already been mentioned. Greatest stuff I have found for bringing back aged leather.
http://leatherique.com / Steve B.
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I have heard of the stuff, and mostly good, but the name didn't pop into my head until I read your post... I guess if the oil doesn't work I will have to give it a try, although the stuff appears very pricey!
nate
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N8N wrote:

Follow up: I put some of the neatsfoot oil on the seats friday night and by this morning the seats were noticeably softer. I put some more on this AM because I will be gone all day and it should be nice and sunny. Stuff appears to be working!
nate
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Getting the leather warm, say in good sunlight or with a hairdryer will speed up the absorption process. Neatsfoot oil, not the compound, works very well.
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Knifeblade_03 wrote:

That should be no problem, it was up around 80 degrees today, and the car is black, black, and black :)
nate
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Sounds like you're all set, LOL. Cool. Actually, your use of lanolin-based treatment works well for leather. I'd be very hesitant of a hand cleaner, though, as the detergents and de-greasers don't help the leather fibers and will weaken the fibers.
But, any high-percentage lanolin lotion/oil/wax is good. Leather treats lanolin as a natural oil, although it doesn't absorb as quickly as a neatsfoot.
You want the treatment to get into the leather, not just moisten the surface. The surface is finished, as a result, the treatment needs absorption time to get through the finished surface to the underlying fibers where most of the stiffness is occuring. This takes time and several applications, especially since you can only treat one surface, where I usually treat both sides of my leatherwork to speed things up.
Even though you have a black interior [which makes things much easier, LOL], you want to control the absorption process. Otherwise, some darker areas may occur. [Not too critical for black, but thought I'd mention this]. And, since you have nice weather, absorption should be quick.
I control absorption by applying the treatment, let sit for around 3-5 minutes, and wipe off excess with a soft towel. Leather has it's natural absorption rates, which differ across the leather hide. Your conditions seem to indicate 2-3 minutes.
Then, re-apply, and repeat for a few times. Let it dry [absorb] overnight, and check how it looks the next day. Repeat process until desired softness and colorization are to your liking. Getting the leather soft will most likely darken the color noticeably.
Products like armor-all, maguire's, saddle soap are primarily good for surface after-care, but ineffective in penetrating to the fibers, where you need to get to.
Most horse-tack cordwainers use neatsfoot or some lanolin-based paste/oil to soften their tacks. Oil for the primary softening, and the paste for after-oiling through the leather's usage. They also try to keep the leather warm, around 70-75 degrees ambient, to maximize the treatment. Too low, lower absorption, too high results in spotting.
Sorry if this is a bit long, but I've had great success in leather conditioning with the above. And, as you posted, I'm taking your query from reconditioning a very dried-out leather cover, not a general shine-up.
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