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katit

What makes leather good automotive upholstery leather?

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This question is loaded as I get really confused with this. And I'm new to this too.

I will put many tidbits of info here (facts) and try to ask some questions to make sense of it

1. Automotive leather has special UV treatment (DYE? clear coat?) Some places claim this.

2. Automotive leather is just an upholstery leather about 1.2mm thick. Called Tandy leather, they have upholstery leather for $90 per hide on sale - she said it's used for cars too.

3. There is bad/cheap and good automotive leather. Stay away from cheap leather

4. I ordered samples from german OEM leather distributor (about $500/hide) - it's soft, pliable.

5. ordered samples from other automotive leather distributor (about $200/hide) - much stiffer, seems like top "color coat" is like plasticky..

6. I watched some youtube video where guy was complaining that leather he got is very stiff/dry and not good (cheap)

 

So, how can I make sense out of it? How can I tell if leather bad or not bad? Is places like Tandy to stay away? What bad leather means? Hard to sew? (and if so what problems exactly?) Or it will dry out under sun/rip, etc?

Bottom line I'd like to understand how to tell, what to look for. Maybe if someone knows also recommend good seller.

 

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Katit, there's no such a thing as "good" or "bad" or our thinking makes it so. Then again, there's good for a purpose, and what is good for one purpose may be unsuitable for another. A thing I learnt long ago is not to start with the leather I have, but to start with the item I want/need to make, and then to source the leather for it. And unless you know the that the quality you get from one merchant is always the same, you might get a different experience in two different orders.

Hope this helps.

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The leather was and is made for purpose, if you were to make leather seats for say a bus, tractor or other well used seat you would use a different leather than say a Rolls Royce where the person wants a luxury seat with fairly modest use

The early days of motoring cars were made like horse drawn coaches and made to l;ast as long as possible and take in all sorts of weather, today most cars only hva esay on average a 10 year life and will never see weather outside of the car

Like most things you get what you are willing to pay for your selected money, and it's not just the leather but also the condition of the leather in visual terms

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Well, I do have exact task: Reupholster car seats. In reality I don't think I will drive more than 50k miles in this car. But I do want leather to last 10 years even if parked in sun.

I also want leather to feel and look nice. I did see nice upholstery hides at Tandys, but not sure if "upholstery" is the same as "automotive".

 

 

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25 plus years ago I was involved with a vintage vehicle restoration company. It was just before I took up leather work. We got the vehicle interiors and seats done by a professional vehicle upholstery company. I learnt from that.

There are 'bad' leathers for vehicle interiors. Bad = unsuitable. There are good leathers, good = suitable

To find out what is good for your vehicle I'd need to know what type of vehicle it is. The leather used on the seats and door cards of my 1930 Austin 7 is not suitable for the seats of my son's Series 7 BMW, nor is the type of leather we used on a 1935 bus' seats suitable for a 1980s Corvette

I'd stay away from Tandy's leathers; from what I have inspected of them none are suitable for any vehicle.

For some uses I would choose either high quality upholstery leather, or cowhide meant for making motorcycle racing leathers

If you live in an area with a lot of sunlight - eg New Mexico, Arizona, California, you'll be lucky to get 5 years out of a good leather. Even with regular feeding it will dry out and the high UV will affect it. My son exports a great number of leather interiors from his company here to very sunny places because of this

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32 minutes ago, fredk said:

To find out what is good for your vehicle I'd need to know what type of vehicle it is. The leather used on the seats and door cards of my 1930 Austin 7 is not suitable for the seats of my son's Series 7 BMW, nor is the type of leather we used on a 1935 bus' seats suitable for a 1980s Corvette

It's for 94 BMW 5 series. And it's St Louis. Get's pretty hot. Car tinted now, should have less UV impact.

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St. Louis, Missouri ?

From what I remember BM leather is about 1.25mm thick, quite stiff, some parts are backed with a thin layer of foam stuck on.  I'll be down at my son's place either Wednesday late or Thursday and I'll look at his stock of BMW interiors, to see just what that leather is like.

Regular upholstery leather will be about the right thickness but too flexible in comparison, perhaps also too stretchy. Motorcycle, lightweight leather, for 'leathers' over suits might be what you need. Although meant for clothing it is much stiffer than clothing cowhide.

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Yes, St Louis, MO. Places I found that sell original german BMW leather sent me samples - very soft I would say. Leather I pulled from seats very hard but from age, don't know what it was back then.

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