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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Any Leather Care Experts out Here?

This Christmas I received a thoughtful gift! A lineman test set from back in the day. Before I go further I need to know how to take care of the leather on it. Looks like this:

Neatsfoot oil? Saddle soap? Any suggestions for this piece of history? I know the Retrotechnologist can help with the internals, but first things first! 


  1. I'm not an expert, but I would suggest saddle soap to remove the dirt, then keep applying and rubbing in plenty of Bick 4 until the leather is moisturized and slightly less stiff. Any cracks that are already there can't really be reversed, but you might be able to postpone the breaking of the strap for a little while. You can find Bick 4 at most stores that sell boots and tack.

    A ranch camp where hubby worked in the summer during college would dip the reigns and harnesses in a barrel of water with neatsfoot oil on the surface. The trouble is, neatsfoot oil can attract more dirt and also gets sticky after a while.

    Good luck with your new gadget.

  2. Happy new year, Keads. :)

    I'm not an expert on leather care, but this info looks like it would help you.

  3. I've always used Murphy's Oil Soap on leather. It's gentle and doesn't strip what's left of the oil from the leather. You may want to contact Dr. Mike who's done a ton of leather work.

  4. That leather is somewhere on the shady side of 80. Other than set it aside to look at there is nothing you can do to make it useable, Or even to last much longer. I do leatherwork and fool with antiques at a hobby level on a weekly basis. If you want to make that set serviceable you need to replace all of the leather. Other than that there is little you can do other than a "show only" "display case" restoration. For that saddle soap and neetsfoot oil are you best bet. That and don't handle it a lot---Ray

  5. I use baby oil on the saddlebags on one of my Harley' good for me.

  6. I always used Lexol whenever I was restoring the leather grips on old hickory shafted golf clubs. That stuff worked great. Really cool looking stuff that you have there. I always loved those kind of things. Reminds me of stuff that I "experimented" with as a kid. I wish that I still had a lot of it. Would look good in the gameroom next to my old Stromberg-Carlson floor model radio. Best of luck to you with it..........

  7. Ray is right.
    I restored a beautiful old rifle scabbard a couple years ago. The leather was too far gone for it to be of any real use. All I could do was a cleaning with saddle soap and a healthy application of brown Kiwi and a buff.
    Be gentle.

  8. You can probably make a replacement for the leather parts; sewing leather is s-l-o-w but requires only a steady hand and and inexpensive tools.

    The old leather can probably not be made new again; as previous commenters have said, past a certain point, it's just too fragile. This is especially important to know and evaluate for that carrying strap.

    Hard to say if the galoshes-type fasteners are original. I have never seen them used that way, FWIW. The 1/4" phone plug is not older than 1930s vintage and the "Chicago 44 Illinois" city-zone code on the maker's plate suggests a late-wartime (1943) to pre-ZIP code (1963) manufacturing date.