Leather Seats - Colour matching
There is a leather dye on the market named Surflex which does a nice job of redying leather seats. The dye can be color matched to your leather if you send in a small sample (I took mine from some extra material underneath the seat). It also works on vinyl as well, and is fairly simple to use. I've tried it on my '84 Coupe and am very satisfied. Call Larry Reynolds at Car Care Specialties (201 796 8300).
Leather Seats - Re-dyeing
OK, your seat’s have some years behind them and they are maybe starting to crack or show some wearing spots. Mine was, especially on the driver seat’s left bolster, quite bad because of all the previous owners stepping in and out of the car. The passenger seat was/is in very good shape, but when re-dying one seat you probably would see some color difference why I’m doing both.
The materials I got recommended is coming from Joanne M. Price (Color-Plus, Leather Restoration System, LLC), others have mentioned the brands on the list but not were to get it. If you have a very special color, then send her a sample for color match. The address is:
Leather Restoration System, LLC
Joanne M. Price
3767 Sunrise Lake
milford, PA 18337-9315, USA
These are the materials I needed for two front seats:
1 Qt. Surflex/s Black Porsche 917 (you might need less depends on the condition of your seats)
1 Pt. Soffener
1 Pt. Super Cleaner
1 1" Brush
Booklet about leather (Great reading stuff!!)
Price approx. 135 US$
On top of this you will need:
Fine sandpaper (320 grain and better)
3M Scotch scrub pads (ultra fine or fine), better than 000 type steel wool (doesn’t rip up the leather) last but not least lots of patience.
OK, now that we have the right stuff we are ready to begin. The process is divided into 5 phases which cannot be rushed in any means. The whole process is very time consuming, so be prepared to spend time!. I don’t want to copy the whole process from the leather booklet, but only try to give my 10cents on how to do it.
Phase 0, Cleaning
Wipe down the seats using the Super cleaner deluded in water. Frequently rinse the of the cloth in clean warm water will promote the process. Wipe any left over cleaner of the seats with a clean cloth and fresh water. Don’t soak the seats! Let dry for at 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.
Phase 1, Color removal
Use a quick-dry lacquer thinner. Apply it on a clean rag and work small areas at a time. Use the scrub pad and the sand paper if the surface is ‘stubborn’. Be careful not to turn the leather into suede. Also go easy around the stitching. The booklet says the color comes off easy, well mine didn’t but after some scrubbing and patience!! I got much of it off. Passenger seat was the worst to work on, less wear I guess. Takes at least two long afternoons. Some places you can ‘see’ the leather underneath, just be careful you don’t go to far. The more of the old color you remove the better, that way the new color can stick better. Let dry for 24 hours. Oh yeah, do it OUTDORS! Lacquer thinner is not the
most healthy you can get.
Phase 2, Condition
Sand it light! Just to open the leather, that way the soffener is absorbed better. Apply the soffener using the brush to the stitching’s first and then to the rest of the seat. It will require a few hours to penetrate the surface completely. Best to be carried out at room temperature. If necessary apply a second coat. Now the seat is ready for any repairs. The leather is soft and all the natural oils has been brought back to the leather. Allow to dry for 24 hours, and then buff the surfaces lightly with clean soft cloth.
Phase 3, Repair or filling cracks
There is a special crack filler ‘Flex-Fill’ which can be used to fix any minor cracks. If the leather is torn patch it from behind using a piece of leather or canvas and some contact cement. If needed use the filler to build up the surface before sanding. I’ve seen cracks repaired with this stuff, and it’s quite amazing how flexible it is. Let dry!
Phase 4, Remove excess surface oil
Use a bucket of warm water and a clean Turkish towel and wring it tightly to remove most of the water. Wipe down the seats, repeat if necessary. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.
Phase 5, Apply the new color
Wipe down the surface lightly with quick-lacquer thinner, don’t saturate!! There is two ways of applying the color, Brush or Spray. My mechanic recommends it to be sprayed on why I left this process for him to do. It shouldn’t be so hard but it helps to have the right equipment, which I don’t have. Apply a full wet coat first to allow for penetration into the leather. Follow up with subsequent lighter coats for good color coverage. Avoid the application of a ‘dry’ first coat!. This will create ‘bridging’ effect where the Surflex, instead of penetrating into the leather, dries on the surface in a thin film. This will result in cracking and peeling.
Buff lightly with a soft dry cloth to remove any surface pigment and to bring out the natural low luster sheen of your new leather finish. Surflex contains a special wax that buffs up to a dirt-resistant surface. Allow to dry for 24 hours. The complete curing will be achieved in about 6 weeks. After this time it can be cleaned with soap and water and cared for as any other durable surface.
'83 911SC Guards Red - desparately waiting for the seats to finish.
Michael E. Wildt B.Sc. E.E.