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Being the picky SOB that I am, I have always been troubled by the fact that the "whiskey tan" leather in my car has some pretty significat variations in shade. I would like to re-dye those parts that don't match as well as I would like, but I have no knowledge of what's involved. I know Alan Merklin has done this very successfully in the past. Alan, can you provide some insight? Anybody else have some experience with this?

1957 Beck Speedster ('06 Carlisle build car)

Original Post
Being the picky SOB that I am, I have always been troubled by the fact that the "whiskey tan" leather in my car has some pretty significat variations in shade. I would like to re-dye those parts that don't match as well as I would like, but I have no knowledge of what's involved. I know Alan Merklin has done this very successfully in the past. Alan, can you provide some insight? Anybody else have some experience with this?
First, you need to find out the genus of the animal from which the leather was taken (hopefully with the animal's blessing or, if it was too late for that, then that of the head slauterhouse chop-dude). This is important to understand the grain and texture of the leather - texture and, therefore, dye absorption varies greatly between animal families, although it's widelyy known that "Old Goats" are pretty set in their ways (and hues) and it may be difficult to alter the color(s) of old goat leather.

Next, you need to find out exactly which brand and year of distilation the whiskey was that they fed to the animal before he was, er..., "volunteered" to provide the hide. That way, you'll get a much better color match.

Probably the best bet would be to drink a sizeable amount of the aforementioned whiskey which will, hopefully, get you to forget that you have a mismatch in the first place.

Lastly, and this is important, if the leather that you have has some areas shaded darker or lighter than other areas of the same hide, then it's gonna be really, really hard to darken or lighten just one area and have it match the surrounding without looking like it has been, um...., adjusted.
Lane,
Just go find some leather that is the color you want and have the seats recovered. The chances of getting it "right" are slim unless you're a skilled leather craftsman. The chances of ruining it or making it worse are better than getting it "right".
Personally, I like a little "imperfection" in older cars (real or not). Theres just something not quite right about perfect, shiny, clean, pretty cars all neat and perfect, well, at least to me there is.
Leave it alone and drive it!
Let me clarify. Each piece of leather is nicely consistent over its entire surface, but they were obviously not all from some same batch of dye. Some are the dark tan (kinda caramel) that I like, while other panels are lighter, and a couple have a bit of a greenish tint. It's most noticeable on the doors where the panel is made from several pieces sewn together. I have a large piece that would be sufficient to redo the whole dash, but that would still leave a few panels. I can certainly live with it, but if perfection is attainable for reasonable effort, why not go for it?

The two attached photos show some of what I'm talking about, particularly on the passenger's side door. Also, look at the color difference between the dash and the shift boot. That's not an artifact of the photo - it's really that much different.

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Lane, I've gone the dye route three times ( once over leather and twice over vinyl) with great results and it only takes a few hours including removing and installing the seats and door panels.

It's a no brainer to actually see the color you want so do as I've done and choose a Corvette interior color because Dave's Corvette's has OEM color dye in a rattle can that frig'n works. I wash off the material and let it air dry ( no towel to avoid little nasty cling on's.) then wipe the surfaces with rubbing alcohol and that will air dry in a minute. I do three light and even coats and it dries in 15 minutes to the touch..I wait overnight to reinstall. The below is "GM -Corvette Oak" over a darker medium brown. ~Alan

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Alsn, is that dye or paint? I didn't think vinyl could be re-dyed. Besides Lane, leather isn't supposed to be perfect like Cory said, would there have been perfectly matched leather in a car of the 50's?

I know where you are because I get there all the time, once you take care of the bigger issues on a car the smaller, less significant ones, start to look bigger. I'd hate to see you ruin a perfectly nice leather interior. If anything, price out a new one before you do anything to it, figure you could probably sell the one you have for a bit (I hear theres a guy in PA that builds these things every other week) and use that money toward your new interior. The only time I take drastic measures to "fix" something is when it's already F'd and I can't make it any worse.
I will probably use the extra leather I have to reupholster the dash as it had a gouge that a local repair guy did a mediocre job fixing. I just don't want to remove the recently sealed up windshield. The right-side door is the worst spot other than that, and I'm in no hurry to do this. Still, I had remembered Alan saying it was pretty easy, so I'll put this away as one of those jobs to do when I feel the need to mess with something.

Alan - I have some worn spots on the seats from getting in and out and from the belts. I assume that this approach will fix them as well, right? It would be good to know how to keep ahead of such things as the car ages.
I've use the spray dye offered by the Corvette after-market and it works BEAUTIFULLY ! ! ! I mean it honestly comes out looking like a factory Corvette interior and would be a perfect option for a red car.

But . . . if you have some extra coin, you might want to pick up a second interior in the color that you want, or even a vinyl interior in that color and save that leather set-up for another car.

I swear, with a series of "treatments" with Connolly hide hood, the color will even out to a darker tone, but also pick up the beautiful flaws in the hides. Soft, irregular and as much patina as a fine old holster. Drop an interior like that into a Denali Black Speedster with a dark tan Hartz cloth top, oatmeal square weave, Nardi wheel and shift knob, and . . . . well, anyway . . . . oh, and that smell ! ! ! That Connolly smell.

Of course, now you're jumping into a whole new project, and all you really want is a dash that doesn't slap you in the face when the sun hits it and make it look all washed out.

But, to dream.
This is an interior that I redid. It was pretty aged, cracked, some spots the original color had worn through. There are before and after pics on this thread. If you send the company, Leatherique, a small sample of whichever piece you want the whole interior to look like, they will custom match it for you as they did on this car.

http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/406029-butters-gets-budge-seat-makeover.html

By the way, the car is a daily driver and still looks just about the same as when those pictures were taken (2 plus years ago).

angela
Nice job as usual, Angela. Can you redo the whole 911 for me, on a budget? I have a couple hundred bucks, think we can do it?



Just kidding. I am not ready to start that project yet, too many pans in the fire right now! I will of course post project pics somewhere on theweb when I start though. Hey, I did sell those carbon RSR front fenders though at Hershey.
Gosh! Lane you are picky. It looks fine .

If you have one place that you dont like. Have a ulpholsty shop try to match and replace just the dammaged peace.

The companies that dye leather hide these days do a pretty good job of keeping the lots consistant form year to year.

If they need a sample you should have a place somewhere out of site to rob a snip of leather to send them.

That is the best I can suggest.

Napa Use to offer a dye paint that was mixed on site to match I dyed the steering wheel in m El camino, back in 94 . with a 2 part Dye you spay in a gun It's still fine but Now I can find a dealer that sells that durable dye It was urethane . The spray bombs are JUNK
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