Lotus Elan

Home brew leather retrim?

PostPost by: Plus 2 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:04 am

The areas on a full hide do vary and yes the outer parts and under belly area are usually softer but this is useful when re-uphostering as these parts of the hide can be selected for specific areas say an armrest where the leather needs to be stretched, contoured and formed more into shape. Again though modern leather production processes split the hides into controlled thicknesses and can roller them to maintain an even thickness.

One of our departments jobs (essential too for piece price costing) was to maximise the parts that could be used on a car from the hide. Selecting the right part for the hide area was also key. The planned cut pattern which looked more like a jigsaw would then be tooled or programmed into a CNC robot cutting machine.

Hides can be dyed in colour or surface coated on top of if I recall what they termed blue hide or white hide which is what they all turn out like after the tanning processes depending what modern chemical process used nowadays.

The dyes penetrate all the way through as the hides are just soaked in big vats. The top surface coated coloured hides will generally show a difference of colour on the reverse sueded side. A lot of technology has gone into modern leather surface coating..... http://www.bader-leather.de/cms/index.p ... 61&clang=1

Both are used in the auto industry and my Rolls Royce leather is actually just a tan colour under the Catkin green top surface finish. After 40 years the drivers seat showed some wear through and I just reconnolised the surface. At the time Connolly were still in business and provided me a kit. Now there are companies like Gliptone providing the same surface refinishers and I do believe some ex Connolly workers continued the right to produce and market Connolly restoration products.

I would think if yours are Moroccan hides they will be from the traditional old tanning processes which included soaking the hides in pigeon droppings and urine :mrgreen:

Any leather re upholsterer will know the best areas of the hide to select for certain parts of the seating but I would not be too concerned about surface finish resistance to scratching.

As I mentioned before though, don't assume you can just do this on any sewing machine, especially if you have got full hides as even if lambs skins they can still be quite thick in places.

Probably worthwhile googling leather tanneries, tannery factories etc.............. avoid the word 'tanning' though you will get sun cream and holidays. :lol: In fact put ''youtube leather tanning'' in google you will get lots of video information............. here is a modern tannery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbj1QicTdpI vs a traditional Moroccan tannery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeuMcYB4BL8 here which is the actual one I visited (never again)

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PostPost by: vxah » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:43 am

Well in the end I got 14 skins @ £16 each and a bobbin of thread!
I am told the skins came from a factory in Casablanca as most of the older places only do Goat or Camel skins that don't have the outer finish and are used for handbags etc.

Found a few bits on YouTube showing how to go about the job.. We will see!!
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PostPost by: theelanman » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:39 am

my interior was done in connolly and looks like this
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PostPost by: vxah » Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:38 pm

That looks very nice! I see it's an early car though unlike mine, I do like the way the early seats look though.
I bought two yellow skins as well thinking I might do the piping in that to match the car?
Oh and some yellow thread!
Might have to seek a professional though :?
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PostPost by: Plus 2 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:44 pm

Yes absolutely super trimming job there elanman, the interior looks really nice. What is the headlining. I can't see any perforations and part of the air flow through the car relies on the perforated headlining. Some headliners were done in foam backed nylon which passed the air through but trapped the dirt particles like a filter.

Vxah you have to use the really thin soft parts of the leather for the piping so be aware.

Maybe consider yellow piping and use the thicker parts of the yellow skins to do some yellow flashing or inserts.

I did red flashing when I did the Ferrari interior seats in cream and red piping but you could also use some yellow inserts on the door and centre console and make a nice feature. Just a thought.

Also make sure your thread is again seating quality. You should not be able to break it with your hands.

For any twin stitching areas if done on a twin needle machine you also have to have a left and a right handed twist on the thread for each needle. I simulated my twin stitching as I only have a single needle industrial sewing machine. It would only be noticeable to an eagle eyed experienced trimmer so not a big issue.

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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:03 pm

Just a thought but might there be a problem in importing unknown animal skins back into the UK?
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PostPost by: Plus 2 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:36 pm

I believe, if tanned hides from a tannery process, they are exempt. But well worth checking as you may get charged some duty on a bad day at cusoms..... http://www.ukleather.org/trade-issues/v ... icates.htm

Just pack them separate from your clothes and remove any left over pigeon droppings :mrgreen:
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Fri May 03, 2019 3:03 pm

Was there ever any follow up to this? Did it have a happy ending?
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PostPost by: vxah » Fri May 03, 2019 10:15 pm

Err, well no not really! Although I had no problems importing the skins and they did look very nice they had something of a smell to them that wasn’t quite the leather smell! I hung them out on the washing line for a few days and it went away. I took some skins to my trimmer and he reckoned he could not sew it because it was too stretchy! I used some of it where I could glue it in place but had the seat covers made from some kind of reconstituted leather stuff, looks and feels pretty good but, I have quite a few skins rolled up in my garage loft!

Strangely the mrs didn’t fair too well either, bought a lovely goat skin handbag but the thing just would not stop stinking of shite despite being outside for days, think it ended up in the bin!
Lesson learnt ;-)
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sat May 04, 2019 12:54 am

Bah! Handbag! :D
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PostPost by: disquek » Sat May 04, 2019 12:52 pm

My car has a custom leather interior too. The PO had it done. It looks close to stock, but a careful inspection shows it to be leather.

The PO had everything done. Seats, door cards, center console & pad, and dash pad.

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PostPost by: The Veg » Sun May 05, 2019 12:09 am

The only leather in my car will be the steering wheel. The wheel had no covering when I got the car, just bare rubber on the rim. Since something had to be put on, and since my hands are going to be all over it, I figured why not be a bit indulgent with it. Expensive, but I think it will be worth it, especially I'd the leather wheel in my former Esprit was any indication.
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