The Horse Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an old barrel saddle that is very dry & quite dirty. I'm preparing to do a serious cleaning on it & working on bringing its color back. (Its a reddish, brown colored leather & the skirt is dry & layered with dust to where its almost grey.) It is pretty much the skirt of the saddle that needs working on... it FEELS dirty.
I want to start out by giving it a good scrub & getting the dust/mold off. (It is basket weave pattern so I really want to get those little ridges clean...)
Is it okay to use a bucket of soapy water (Maybe a drop of hand soap?), dip my soft brush in it, & give it a good scrub? Afterwards, I'll dry it real good & immediatly apply leather conditioner.
The saddle is in great working condition. I just want to bring shine back into it.
Advice, please? :) Tell me your experiences with bringing an old saddle back to life.
Also, the conchos on it aren't shiny any more because they turned a slight green color... I don't want to replace them, just clean them up a little. I heard dipping a toothbrush in vinegar & scrubbing them works to take a bit of the green off.
Ahh... advice please!! LoL.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,306 Posts
I would try to avoid using a lot of water on the saddle, its not good for the leather and will dry it out even worse. A toothbrust works well for really dried on grime, but also tends to dry the leather out a bit as its rather rough.
What really works well is using feibrings saddle soap and warm water (wring your cloth out well). Rub the saddle soap in a circular motion on the saddle while blowing a hot hairdryer on the area. You can keep blowing the hair dryer on it after scrubbing and work the leather back and forth, it will soften it up quite a bit. After you all are done you can wipe off the extra soap with a damp cloth. I know it sounds like a strange thing, but it works great. I did this with an old stiff, moldy western saddle and it made it look new again.
I don't know about the vinegar trick, I've never tried it, I just use silver polish.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
First is this something you plan on us? I have worked with conservators who reccomend glycerine and thats what I use. For the mold there is a product called IPS that or Lexol PH. I work with a lot of saddles in fact 2 are at the AQHA Hall of Fame for and exhibit called the "The Art of the Western Saddle"you can check it out online.
One is a Bohlin with Acorn pattern the other is a Visalia with Sunburst.
The conchos I would clean with silvia sounds strange but it works that and a little elbow grease(spit shine) good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,138 Posts
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, scrub the leather with any kind of brush, scrubber, or sponge. If you do, you will remove the top finish of the leather and it will look like crap... I made that mistake before myself, lol.

If it's really dirty, take it outside and hose it down. Use your hands to gently rub the dirt off as it loosens up. Once you have it as clean as it will get that way, get a soft sponge and some glycerine soap (I like Lexol's cleaner). GENTLY rub the soapy sponge on the leather in a circular pattern. If the suds are brown or brownish, wipe them off with a soft cloth, and clean again. Keep cleaning gently until the suds are no longer brown. Use a very soft toothbrush to get in to any tooling or crevices. Use a suede cleaner kit to clean any rough out or suede.

Let the saddle dry, indoors.

The next day, use a good conditioner like Passier Lederbalsam or Ultra Leather Conditioner. Put a thick coat on all surfaces of the leather, front and back. Do not use on rough out or suede. Once it's soaked in, put on another thick coat. Let the saddle dry for a day or three. If the leather is still dry in places, or all over, put another coat on. Buff with a soft cloth after the leather has dried.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,166 Posts
I would do as luvs2ride suggested but I would use Murphys Oil Soap and water. It will do wonders for the dirt without drying out the leather any further. Water should not hurt it if you use caution. Personally, I would not use a hose on it, but rather a bucket of water and a sponge. I use the Murphy's mixed 25/75 with water in a spray bottle. The strength is not critical.

As for conditioner, there are many out there but I really prefer Hydrophane or BlackRock. If all you can get is Neatsfoot oil, then it's ok too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
i just did this to my old pony saddle that i haven't used since my Appy was retired. It was... shall we say, in terrible shape... and VERY dirty and full of spiders.

I used warm water without any soap at first and just used a wash rag, i rang it out REALLY good and just used it to get the majority of the bad dirt off.

I used an extremely soft toothbrush for crevices, and put a combo leather conditioner/cleaner on right after washing with water.

I'm gonna condition it again, it looks really good. I had to replace a few screws/staples but it's almost good as new. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
I would do as luvs2ride suggested but I would use Murphys Oil Soap and water. It will do wonders for the dirt without drying out the leather any further. Water should not hurt it if you use caution. Personally, I would not use a hose on it, but rather a bucket of water and a sponge. I use the Murphy's mixed 25/75 with water in a spray bottle. The strength is not critical.

As for conditioner, there are many out there but I really prefer Hydrophane or BlackRock. If all you can get is Neatsfoot oil, then it's ok too.
Neatsfoot oil will rot linen stiching.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,166 Posts
Neatsfoot oil will rot linen stiching.
True, but you need to have used a lot of it for a long time ..... besides the fact, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, that saddles made in the past 20+ years typically use a nylon thread rather then cotton.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,166 Posts
You may be right, I can never remember which one was the problem but it still takes an awful lot for a long time to have any affect - and, again, it is on the older saddles anyway.

I just looked it up and rotting stitching is attributed to the compound not the pure oil. It will, over a long period of time, have some affect on cotton stitching and adhesives. Thanks Luvs2ride for pointing that out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,138 Posts
Very good! Over oiling any leather product is never a good idea. I will use oil on really dry pieces, but I prefer to use a "leather balm" that has beeswax and lanolin in it. It's a more natural softener/conditioner and the beeswax helps seal the moisture in, so you don't have to use as much or condition as often.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
Very good! Over oiling any leather product is never a good idea. I will use oil on really dry pieces, but I prefer to use a "leather balm" that has beeswax and lanolin in it. It's a more natural softener/conditioner and the beeswax helps seal the moisture in, so you don't have to use as much or condition as often.
I would not use any animal by product on leather. I have used the bees wax before and I like it. I just sent 2 saddles from our collection to the AQHA Hall of Fame. I asked the Curator there what they use and he said Lexol PH. Everybody has their own opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,166 Posts
That's good to know, Phaeton, thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,138 Posts
Animal products are what is used and recommended by most leather tanners. Many make their own leather conditioners that are a combination of tallow (sp?) and lanolin. Animal products are what is natural to leather from the start.

Sure, if you want leather to stay exactly how it looks, then a light weight conditioner like Lexol is just fine. But for working leather that is used often and is exposed to sweat, dirt, water, grime, etc., then Lexol just isn't going to cut it...

We need nuttysaddler to weigh in on this ;-).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
i was always told it was pure neatfoot that was known to rot stitching. have also heard people say its the compound. i just stay away from it these days.

but i am having massive sucsess with olive oil soap. my old bridle has never looked better, and not only does the leather shine now but it's soft as well :D
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top