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Restoring Leather Holster

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Will, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. Will

    Will G&G Newbie

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    Just got a CZ-52 from SOG complete with an original leather holster that is not damaged, but is crying for some cleaning and conditioning. It has some mold/mildew on it but looks pretty dry. I also have an old leather sling that looks about the same - needs similar treatment.

    Anyone have a favorite procedure or reference/link for cleaning/restoring/conditioning old leather?

    TIA.

    Will
     
  2. Will,

    I do extensive leatherwork as a hobby and have had many, many people bring me older leathergoods for reconditioning. And, I tell them basically the same as I am about to tell you......risky business sometimes.

    Keep in mind there are many different leather types and methods by which they were tanned or preserved. So, with that knowledge, Ill give you my advice mixed with some related facts.

    Keep in mind, asking any leather worker for advice in cleaning and reconditioning leather is like asking for people's winning tips at poker or the slot machines. Everyone will have a different solution they swear by. Knowing that:

    First fact, let me say that leather dries out in time if not properly cared for and when it dries out bacteria attack the leather fibers and literally begin rotting them (fact number two). If ANY leather has gotten to that point reconditioning is a short term solution at best, and cleaning may actually azccerlate the destruction process (fact three). Please, realize that before you proceed.

    Some people, particularly horse tack sellers and some saddle owners will tell you saddle soap is the thing to clean with....NOT...as saddle soap also strips away NATURAL oils while it replaces it with beeswax, etc. I don't recommend it...not even for softball gloves.

    Anyway, all leather develops a patina (a sometimes shiny surface some mistake as a rubbed finished taken on over time) on the surface and this is the surfacing of the oils. Cleaning it is going to remove the patina and, subsequently essential and natural oils.

    Different leathers react differently to various proceedures. For example, top grain chrome tanned leather is heartier than bark tanned leather. Split leather is more delicate than top grain leather, suede is more delicate, etc.

    Older leather is very delicate. So, understanding that I would NOT clean ANY leather with a detergent, let alone one particulary designed to remove oils. In fact, cleaning any older leather is, perhaps, somewhat risky and I will tell anyone who brings me the leather I am not responsible for it's condition or the results...heck I'm not a biologist or a chemist.

    Perhaps the simplest and safest attempt is to combine a mild solution of 1-2 tablespoon each of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1/2 cup of COLD or cool water. Sponge the mixture on a very inconspicuous area of the holster to test for dye removal, etc. Let it work for about ten minutes and if it appears OK then do the whole holster or even let it soak in a soultion for a period of time. The water will obviously not allow it to dry out and that is what you want not to happen.

    Please, keep in mind, old age color is sometimes impossible to remove and I'm not sure who would want to. It adds character and some greasy and severely oiled leather will never come clean either. You might have to live with it if that's the case.

    One thing people will do is wet leather cleaning it and let it dry before conditioning......please, DON'T. While it is still wet from the cleaning prepare a solution of 1/4 cup of glycerin (available at nearly all drug stores) and two cups of water (glycerin is water soluable). Soak the leather in the mixutre overnight.

    As it begins to dry out you can tell if the leather has enough oil. If not, mix a slightly stronger glycerin/water mixture and sponge the leather good until you get the results you want. IF the original mixture is too oily (and it shouldn't be) for the holster...don't sweat it.....natural oils are good for leather. Although too much glycerin not absorbed by leather fibers tend to be somewhat waxy and sticky.

    I find that is the cheapest , simplest and safest method to cleaning and reconditioning older leather.

    You can find all sort of leather cleaning products out there sold by Pep Boys to Walmart but don't recommend them because of the detergent and chemical harshness. In fact I would NEVER take one of my own leather jackets to a dry cleaner either (gawd, the though makes me shiver), for the same reason and I know of no product to replace the natural oils already in the hide.

    I know this is lenghty but I hope it helps.

    Good luck......and regards.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2002

  3. Will

    Will G&G Newbie

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    Thanks.

    Soon as I can get to the drugstore, I'll give this a try.

    I'm glad you posted. If I hadn't gotten a reply, I was going to buy saddle soap...

    Will
     
  4. Will,

    Last evenig a buddy of mine came over and we got to talking about your post.

    He belongs to a group that does mountainmen reenactments and they wear alot of calf and deer skin. He says he and several others of the group use a leather cleaner called Lexol-Ph. He says he's had good luck with it and they also sell a decent conditioner he says.

    He says he has his shipped from a factory or distributor in New Jersey but he says if you look around any of the tack stores, or any store selling saddles or horse riding accessories (such as a feed and grain ) store) you might have luck that way.

    Regards
     
  5. Will

    Will G&G Newbie

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    Thanks NavajoNPaleFace, and thanks to your buddy too. I haven't made it to the drug store yet (I went out and shot my CZ-52 instead), so I'll check around for Lexol-Ph.

    Will
     
  6. Will,

    What did you think of you 52? Did you get a chance to see the muzzle blast.....fire like a dragon's breath!
     
  7. Will

    Will G&G Newbie

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    Hmmm. The reply I posted last night apparently didn't stick...

    I enjoyed shooting it. I liked the balance and feel in my hand and was pleased with a lower recoil than I expected. I shot it outdoors at mid-day, so I didn't see a muzzle blast. (I'm pretty sure my eyes were open!) I really like how easily it breaks down and reassembles. I wish it had a handier mag release and slide release though.

    About half the 1963 Yugo rounds from SOG that I was shooting required a second strike of the firing pin to fire. The pin was and is clean and free and made a good dimple in the primer, so I'm assuming it was the ammo's fault. I'll get some modern commercial rounds to make sure.

    Will
     
  8. Mico

    Mico G&G Newbie

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    Did you find your CZ52 not only to be amazingly accurate, but that it had a habit of tossing brass about 20 feet away, and that it delivered its load with a roar that is far bassier than any other handgun you ever heard? And that you walked off the range with an ear-to-ear grin? Or was just that my imagination?

    I agree with your comments about the mag release, that was also my thought. I have the very same ammo, and the same thing happened. Since the firing pin is dimpling the primer consistently I also assumed it was the ammo. This was confirmed when I shot newly-loaded ammo, and there were zero misfires in 100 rounds.

    This gun kicks butt.
     
  9. Will

    Will G&G Newbie

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    Yup, I agree, and no, it's not your imagination.

    WRT tossing the brass, I also noticed a little brass scuff mark on the slide behind the ejection port where, apparently, the vigorously ejected brass spins around and hits the slide before continuing its 20 foot trip off to the right rear.
     
  10. Mico

    Mico G&G Newbie

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    This gun is absolutely one of the best buys I have ever made. $119 from SOG, no transfer fee (I have an 03FFL), and after firing a LOT of ammo since your post, I've decided to get into reloading, because the stuff for sale generally leaves much to be desired... like dimpled primers and wondering if you've chambered a dud or a hangfire. These guns deserve better; their inherent accuracy can only be improved by using good ammo.

    Which brings me to my point... read what Starline says about this round at starlinebrass.com.... interesting.