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Leather Recolouring: Modern
Connollising on a Bentley Turbo RT

A restoration project - restoring the cream leather in a Bentley. We also buffed the paintwork!

vID:007
Duration: 09:42
Size: 59.2mb
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GaryGary Wray ~ 23/8/08

Contents

  Don't Try This at Home!
In the video you will see Darrel cleaning the leather with a kitchen scourer. The reason for this is that it scratches up the surface of the leather which helps the new coat of colour to key. We would never clean leather with a kitchen scourer unless we were painting it afterwards, so please don't think that this is how to do it. Always use purpose made leather conditioners and cleaners designed for car upholstery, apply with a sponge or soft cloth and always follow the manufacturers instructions.

This is 'Modern' Connollising, so called because although the method is much the same as used with what you might call traditional Connollising, the products used are modern. Formerly, cellulose based dyes were used, and while very strong they were prone to drying out and cracking over time. They were far less flexible, as-was the leather, which was often 1.6mm in thickness over a bed of stiff horse hair. These days, hides are split so that they can actually make as many as 10 hides out of one -- this thinner leather is also subject to more wear as we tend to do far more miles and are less likely to garage our cars which would protect them from UV light at least some of the time.

Not so long ago we shunned modern dyes in favour of the dyes used by the Connolly Leather Company because frankly, none of the modern colours were very good. They had a tendency to wash off, peel off and seemed to be aimed at quick cover-ups. But the latest dyes are very strong, hardwearing, with good pigment and have the flexibility to withstand plenty of rubbing and squashing. This makes it suitable for leather on all brands of car from Fiat to Ferrari. Of course, luxury cars like Rolls-Royce and Bentley have the very best quality leather - often this comes from Scandinavia where barbed wire fences are outlawed and the temperate climate means parasites are less of a problem. This results in hides which are pristine and require very little processing. These hides are not split multiple times and then stamped with a grain - the hides used are thick and have natural grain.

Unfortunately, video is not the best medium for showing the condition of the leather before-and-after, but the photos in this Rolls-Royce article show a similar kind of restoration. You will see that on a car like this, the leather is done in two stages, inside the piping and outside the piping. Finally, the piping it's self is finished by hand.

We can't give away all our trade secrets, but the process involves:

Cleaning in detail.
Keying the leather with abrasives.
Repairing any damage with flexible resin.
Two applications of base coat by sponge.
Three applications of base coat by spray gun.

As the colour of leather changes over time, the colours cannot be bought in a bottle, they need to be hand mixed and matched by eye which takes great skill and experience.

For prices please see our Leather Connollising Page.

We can carry out this kind of recolouring on most cars, it's always worth asking us through Ask the Experts.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

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This page was last updated on Wed, 23 October, 2013
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