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13.6 - General Leather Care and Info. ( )

CONNOLLY Brothers do sell touch-up dye but it's likely to cost you more than $30. In the UK, if you send a small section of the leather they supply the correct match. They also advertise a range of leather care products for cleaning etc. Their products used to be available from Hirsch's in Newark, N.J. who offered a similar colour matching service.

Over the years Jaguar have used less and less leather and more synthetics in the upholstery. Although the Daimler VDP has what is called a "full leather interior", comparison with the interior of a Bentley or an Aston Martin reveals a wide difference in interpretation of this phrase. Lower down the Jaguar range practically the only leather in the XJ40 is on the seat facings.

A major change in leather finishing occurred in the 1960's. Since then new lacquers composed of ketones, polymers and plasticisers have been used in leather finishing.Virtually all hides now are painted and surface protected.

The two main hide suppliers are Bridge of Weir and Connolly. Most car manufacturers claim to use Connolly hide probably because it's the best known name but I've seen both types in Jaguars.

The main difference between Bridge of Weir and Connolly is that Bridge of Weir is dipped in dye vats, then given a final finish, whilst Connolly is painted. The way to tell the difference is to look at the back of the hide. If the reverse is the same color as the front it's Bridge of Weir; if not it's Connolly. Connolly is just a brand name, not a type of hide and their hides are no better than an equal grade of any other hide.

13.6.1 - Routine Maintenance ( )

Leather may be the ultimate upholstery material but it takes more maintenance than synthetics. It has three main enemies:-

1. Abrasion

2. Grease/tar based stains

3. Drying out

Modern leathers are finished with easy care finishes which means that a wipe over with a damp cloth is all that is normally necessary, followed by an application of Hide Food.

Cleaning is fundamental to both regular care and repairs. The process of washing helps keep the leather supple. For a thorough job, the seats need to come out but, if not, remember those electric motors and heating elements inside! The routine cleaning sequence is:-

1. wash with Saddle Soap and a damp cloth or a brush if heavily soiled

2. wipe off all soapy residue with a damp towel;

3. wait about 45 minutes then buff with a towel.

4. remove any grease spots with a naphtha-based cleaner followed immediately by washing.

5. allow to dry properly before proceeding.

Next, consider care of the leather. An Oil Dressing such as LEXOL can be used but not many of the leathers used since the 1960's are porous.

HIDE FOOD is a more effective treatment on today's leather. The term 'Hide Food' is probably misleading as it suggests a feeding action. Modern upholstery leather does not require to be fed and most hide foods are actually wax emulsions which leave the surface soft and supple whilst the thin protectivecoating of wax helps repel dirt.

If you're recolouring, and therefore removing/stripping the old lacquer finish, then a hide food is ideal to make it supple. These dressings are about 90% soap and 10% oil. Due to the limited breathability of many modern leathers, however, hide food's effect is limited to surface dressing on finished hide.

13.6.2 - Recolouring ( )

This is cheap on materials but high on labour. The only satisfactory way to obtain an even depth of colour and finish is to treat the entire seat or (at minimum) the panel section. Spot repairs are always visible.

There are many Refinishing Kits on the market which fall into two types:-

1. water-based

2. lacquer/resin-based emulsions

Your Jaguar leather was originally finished with the second type which is what Connolly supply for refinishing. The lacquer/resin-based emulsions are also less likely to come off on your clothes in hot weather - not that anyone ever has problems with the air conditioning, of course!

Leather must be kept supple enough to take the refinishing process. With regard to renovation it is absolutely essential that the surface of the old leather is prepared properly by cleaning followed by degreasing with a solvent. This is absolutely essential if the new colour coat is to adhere properly. Spray application is preferable to hand application as an excess build up of lacquer emulsion caused by the latter can produce unevenness and a cracking effect at a later date.

1. Remove the seats.

2. Clean thoroughly with saddle soap.

3. Solvent degrease

4. Abrade with fine wet & dry

5. Apply the dye.

After thirty minutes drying time, the result should be a smooth, even, natural finish, with good color consistency, on all except the most worn areas. A second coat, applied three hours later will produce a consistent color and high-quality finish.

Depending on the seriousness of your problem, thorough cleaning and/or partial re-colour should restore the original finish.


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