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1992 600 SEL x 3, 1998 E430, 2002 E320T 4matic, 1971 300SEL 3.5 project plus 4 more W108, etc
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Discussion Starter #1
My 1992 600SEL is in my wee shop getting some maintenance and I am taking the opportunity to condition the leather while it is laid up.

I have used Mequire's cleaner conditioner for years as a maintenance item but found it did nothing to these 25 year old leather seats but clean them. The seats have lost their soft feeling and are as hard as an old saddle. After having done hours of research and not wanting to spend many more with applying the Leatherique products, I decided to check out Obenauf's leather oil. https://www.obenaufs.com/ This is a product a friend uses for reconditioning old saddles and horse tack. I did more reading online (there is a LOT of crap info out there) and decided to try it.

The only source local was Cabellas and I ordered two bottles, not knowing how much was needed and having lots of leather upholstery to deal with. I applied it to a very hard patch on the seat and awaited results. The instructions (I know it is like cheating but read them anyhow) stated it works best above 75 degrees F but, it is deep winter here and even with the furnace turned up in the shop, 70 degrees was about the best I could do. I laid it on fairly thick and wet and checked daily for a few days but could not tell any difference over the other seat panels.

Well a week or more has passed and I gave it a check yesterday. Wow! What a difference. Not as soft as I want as yet but, the difference is night and day with the test panel much more pliable and will flex under finger pressure where the other panels only flex at the crease lines. I have now laid a nice wet layer on all leather surfaces and will give it a week before the next application. This will also enable repair of some minor seam separation once it softens that up too. I am impressed!
 

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2002 E55 AMG Sedan
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1,164 Posts
I use Meguiar's Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. It works good but it doesn't seem to fix leather that has already dried out and got hard. My rear headrests are like that, even with the windows tinted very dark, I'm assuming it's because they get the most sun.

So I only have two questions.
How long does it take to absorb into the seat? I wouldn't want to sit in the seat a day after application, and then get up with stains on my black shirt or black pants.

Also does the leather continue to have that shiny look or does it go away after a day or two of application? I don't want the seat to stay like that, it looks like armor all was applied.
 

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'95 S600
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426 Posts
Looks like you missed the cleaner part

I use soap method (pears in my case)with a soft bristle brush and a micro fibre cloth, this draws all the dirt etc out of the leather (should be matt finish). It may take some time remove it all if its bad. I then apply a good leather conditioner. You should end up with a nice matt finish. Shiny typically means its dirty
 

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2006 CLK 350 Convertible
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624 Posts
Something I have been using for years is a product called Lexol leather conditioner. After cleaning, I apply it liberally and do not use the seats for about 12 hours.
 

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1995 Mercedes S420, 1995 SL320, 2000 Land Rover Discovery II, 1985 Lotus Turbo Esprit
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1,715 Posts
There are, frankly, a lot of really good leather products out there. Fortunately for us, the leather Mercedes used in our cars is some of the most durable and hard-wearing ever used in a luxury car (especially the early models), so it's really not hard to keep the interiors in good shape.

I've used Leatherique on other cars, but I think it's overkill for my W140. Unless the leather is seriously neglected or very dirty you probably don't have to go that route. I've also used Meguiars Gold Class, and it's very high-quality as well -- in fact, the Mercedes OEM leather care product was basically Meguiars Gold Class for years. But it's not a leather repair product, just a cleaner/conditioner.

For the W140 I'm very happy with Lexol products. First I give a good scrubbing with the cleaner and a firm brush, then I apply the conditioner. Gives the leather a great look and feel. I do this about twice a year (spring and fall).
 

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1992 400SE
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193 Posts
Apparently German Penaten baby oil works great & it's cheap (about €8 for a 300ml bottle)

No joke... A guy on a Rolls-Royce Facebook page swears by it but it may only available in Germany.
Maybe a German based member can chime in. :nerd
 

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1995 Mercedes S420, 1995 SL320, 2000 Land Rover Discovery II, 1985 Lotus Turbo Esprit
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Leather is just skin. Any moisturizer that you can apply to your skin will necessarily improve leather also. Literally anything. Aveeno, Kiehl's, Lubriderm, baby oil... it'll all work just fine.

Automotive products will tend to have heavier waxes and oils in them, which allows their effects to last longer and/or protect a bit better than what we'd apply to our skin.

People with very fine vintage leather in their cars may prefer to use a cosmetic moisturizer because of the age and quality, as well as the fact that they don't see much daily use. There's nothing preventing anyone else from using these kinds of products on their daily driver as well, but you're probably missing out on some longer-term protection.
 

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1992 600 SEL x 3, 1998 E430, 2002 E320T 4matic, 1971 300SEL 3.5 project plus 4 more W108, etc
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765 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I use Meguiar's Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. It works good but it doesn't seem to fix leather that has already dried out and got hard. My rear headrests are like that, even with the windows tinted very dark, I'm assuming it's because they get the most sun.

So I only have two questions.
How long does it take to absorb into the seat? I wouldn't want to sit in the seat a day after application, and then get up with stains on my black shirt or black pants.

Also does the leather continue to have that shiny look or does it go away after a day or two of application? I don't want the seat to stay like that, it looks like armor all was applied.
These seats are getting a good soaking after cleaning with Mequires. As the car is laid up awaiting parts from overseas, I have lots of time to address the hardened leather. It is really soaking it up but takes a few days.

The instructions advise to buff the leather after application and await 7 days to see if it effects the colour. I will get a better answer to your question once I am done.
 

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96 sl600,97 s420(gone) 96 CL600
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618 Posts
Good old neatsfoot works well too, but I like to follow up with Prestine Clean from Leatherique to remove the excess/greasiness. It's the only thing I've found that removes oil on the surface without sucking it out of the leather. Suspect it has some form of wax in suspension as well.
 

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W220 - S430
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18 Posts
Good old neatsfoot works well too, but I like to follow up with Prestine Clean from Leatherique to remove the excess/greasiness. It's the only thing I've found that removes oil on the surface without sucking it out of the leather. Suspect it has some form of wax in suspension as well.
Hello All, hope you take into account that there are 2 different types of leather finishes ( actually more complicated than my simplified approach) but for discussion, 1 finished with a top-coat and 2 not top-coated. If you have the #2 then leather products, such as leatherol, saddle oils and a number of mentioned work into the leather directly. And with the #1 you are working with a finish, coating, a paint like surface coat, that is on the leather. You deal with the coating, cleaning it, touching up worn spots, and filling cracks.

And then you have leather that is underneath that can dry, split over time. Leather oiling does not seem to get into the leather when it is top-coated. My S's, SLK, all were top-coated leather and working with them was matter of cleaning the coating surface and restoring it. Have you found a product that gets into the leather and keeps it supple and flexible....doesn't just stay on the coating, and then wipes off on cloths, or has to be removed .... and maintains the top-coat? That would be the best.


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97 S600 Coupe. Former 83 300D, 97 C230, 93 400E, 92 500SL, a few others
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408 Posts
Lexol and no cleaner

Something I have been using for years is a product called Lexol leather conditioner. After cleaning, I apply it liberally and do not use the seats for about 12 hours.
There are, frankly, a lot of really good leather products out there. Fortunately for us, the leather Mercedes used in our cars is some of the most durable and hard-wearing ever used in a luxury car
I've only used Lexol for 25 years now. I have never seriously entertained any of the others as I've had no need to. The stuff works and I was under the impression that everyone already knew this and preferred it to others :confused: maybe I read too many Lexol ads in the car magazines in my teens.

As for being durable, you obviously don't have the "Exclusive Nappa" used in the 96-99 V12s! My driver seat looks like Swiss cheese after spending 19 years in the California sun before I rescued it. I am on a quest to get the front seats matched (you can see from my other threads it's like climbing Everest to find a match) and I will only use Lexol conditioner on the new hides.

The rear Nappa in my car has somehow survived, but it's not as supple as it should be. I have made 4 liberal applications of Lexol to these areas, thick enough to see a residue and let it soak in for hours before wiping, if at al (Pro-tip: apply it in warm spring or summer conditions, in direct sunlight, and apply by hand - not cloth - when attempting to restore hard leather - as opposed to by applicator if just maintaining already-nice leather. Applying by hand will also soften your hands so that us old people with thinning skin don't need our lotion for the day.

As for cleaning the leather, I've used the Lexol cleaner a couple times on other cars and didn't care for it. It tends to remove some of the dye if you don't get the cleaning technique perfect, and also, I've never had leather that wasn't easily cleaned by simply using a damp cloth to pre-wipe before conditioning. Just the very act of conditioning and buffing the excess will "clean" the surface of your leather (any doubts, look at the drying cloth after you wipe).

On vertical/low-position/non-direct sunlight affected panels I use its cousin, Vinylex. Love the smell.

For ALL horizontal surfaces/surfaces that get direct sun exposure, including the outer upper corners of seats and headrests, dash, upper surfaces of door panels, rear speaker panels, rear headrests, even if I have Lexoled them (my whole interior is leather) I apply 303 Aeropace protectant. Once a month. It is non-silicone, aviation and marine-grade UV sunscreen for your car that has no goop or shine. Buy a gallon from Amazon and get a spray bottle.
 

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1992 600 SEL x 3, 1998 E430, 2002 E320T 4matic, 1971 300SEL 3.5 project plus 4 more W108, etc
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765 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Here we are a month later and I realize this thread should have initially named "Leather Re-conditioning". Perhaps one of the Moderators can change it. I was not aware when I started just how soft the leather seats were supposed to be or how unnaturally hard the leather was. This is some good quality hide, yes.

The lead that got my attention was an article on the Porsche forum at Pelican Parts. This led me to talking to someone I knew who had used Obenhaus, ironically a old time friend who is a professional rancher/ cowboy/ rodeo rider. He runs around the Savannas in an ancient Land Rover S2 or an old Hilux Toyota that just cannot be killed. I doubt he ever sat in a vehicle with a leather interior in his life. He uses this stuff to keep saddles and working ranch leather soft. (The world is wonderfully weird)

Segway aside, here is the link to the lads with old Porsche leather: Soften those "cardboard stiff" leather seats! - Pelican Parts Technical BBS

The difference over the last four weeks in the pliability of the leather in this car is amazing. The old flannel pajama patches I have been using to apply and massage in the conditioner have collected pollution and darkened with each good wet application. It appears that Obenhaus floats dirt and contamination to the surface. Once the hard leather Bottom seat surface has softened, it no longer shines 24 hours after the application. The leather seating surfaces that remain wet looking after 24 hours or so are still hard and wet. I just apply another soaking and rub it in. The perforated leather panels have been soaking up the stuff quicker than the non-perforated ones, due no doubt to them being drier from the perforations? They too are getting softer. 9/10 of the bottle used so far with another bottle in reserve.

I also discovered that the console center upholstery, arm rests and door handles are wrapped in leather, as they absorbed the conditioner for several applications. The front drivers armrest became slightly lighter but I will recolor it when the conditioning is complete. This car is an early 1992 model. Newer cars may have been lacking leather on these items or had leather in other places.

It is taking a while but it has been a nasty, -30 something, frosty, cold winter and my shop heat is furnished by a gas heater. I have it set for 70 degrees F.

So far, so good. Will keep updated as we go.
 

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1992 W140
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49 Posts
So far, so good. Will keep updated as we go.
Any updates? I've found that the better leather cleaners/conditioners have a tendency to remove dye (which can be mistaken for dirt) and can over-saturated perforated leather.

If you get it to absorb too much, next time the car heats up in the sun it can ooze out.
 
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