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 Interior leather replacement.
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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:02:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm only copying my reply from last night. I just thought that this would be more fitting in the "originality police" section since I'm a leather nazi. ;) Subsequent replies will be copied as well.

quote:
Originally posted by Aaron H

I'm glad this subject has come up again. This is a subject matter that I am extremely passionate and proactive about. I cannot express in words the amount of disdain I have for these interior suppliers as of late. The leather that all of them supply is absolutely incorrect. Aside from the differences of shades from one tannery to another, the grain, texture, and sheen could not be more wrong.

The grain is more correct for 1973 and later cars, (you W116 fellas are in luck here...sort of) but definitely incorrect for W100 and W109 cars. In the first picture below, you'll notice the grain is very slight and broad, but noticeable. Some of you may not be aware of this, but Mercedes would often use smoother grained hides on the parts of the seat covering that we sat on, saw with our eyes, and touched. This was more evident on later 600's and W111/W112 coupes and cabriolets, as they had more leather covered pieces on the inside. Most of the smooth grained pieces, with the exception of the seats, was covered in a hide that was shaven thin so when it was stretched the grain became very smooth. Mercedes referred to this as "Speltleder". It was skived (shaved thin) to allow for manipulation and/or to allow for clearances in tight spots. For instance, the leather covered dash pieces on a W111 coupe utilized Speltleder. Have you ever seen a W111 coupe with a grainy dash? If you have, then it's been recovered....incorrectly, no less.

Back to the subject of suppliers....The sheen is flat, or dull. When the sheen is taken out, the color lightens. None of the W109, W100, or W116 cars ever had dull leather. They had an "eggshell" sheen about them straight from the Roser tannery.

The texture is just as far off. This new leather feels like a 2000 grit sandpaper with a stiffness that resembles a 50 year old Roser Hide that's been in the sun it's whole life. It's just not pleasurable to touch and feel like the original was.

I understand that EPA regulations will not let tanneries surface dye hides any longer. So vat dying is our only option, at least to my knowledge. This may not be a bad thing, for it a scratch comes about, it'll hide more scuffs than surface dyed hides.

A few years ago, Mercedes Classic launched this campaign promoting how they had reproduced the correct leather for Gullwings and other models of the late 1950's through the early 1970's. The main target group was Gullwing owners, but the same embossing was used on Gullwing hides as was used on all models with leather interior up to 1972. I bought a lot of this leather, and it is fantastic. It's like going back to the 1960's and buying a new hide from Roser. Unfortunately, stock on a lot of the colors has run out, and they will not be replenishing. That seems to be a trend lately with Mercedes. I digress. There are a few colors still available. i.e. black, light gray, dark blue, dark red, light red, dark green, dark saddle, natural, eggshell, and reseda green. Other mainstream colors like Cognac and parchment have been depleted, and for some reason, dark olive has been exhausted. If any of you are interested in a particular part number for a particular color, send me a message and I'll happily get the number to you. Though, I cannot promise availability. Any dealer can order the leather. Otherwise order it through the classic center.

Below I shall demonstrate what is correct and what is not. Various colors shall be used, but the grain and sheen are my main focus here. Any time I restore an interior for myself or a customer, I always save everything. I've been saving original leather cuttings for 12 years now, and I am armed.

In this first picture, we have original leather from W109, W100, and W111 coupes and cabriolets. These original cutting were cut from areas that weren't exposed to the elements. Note how the grain, sheen, and color look on these original pieces.







In this second picture, we have a few of the colors that we can still order from Mercedes. Note how closely these match the above original samples in sheen, grain, and color depth. For those of you interested, the colors shown in this second picture are dark green (both at top), dark red, (Shane, you like?!) light gray, and parchment (no longer available).

On a side note, The eggshell color (not shown in any pictures here) that Mercedes currently supplies is quite a bit off on grain, but it has sheen, and was supplied by Mercedes as of less than a year ago. The grain on the eggshell color wasn't too noticeable when the whole interior was done, mostly because the sheen was correct. The car that this eggshell color was fitted with wasn't penalized by concourse judges because of the grain, but would have been if the sheen wasn't correct. Unfortunately, most judges have no idea what leather is correct and what isn't, much less correct grain, texture, or sheen.







In this last picture, we have the horrible, incorrect, and hideous samples of leather that most suppliers give us if we buy from them. I've acquired samples from nearly 15 different places worldwide. All of them seem to sell nothing but the incorrect leather. I've tried working with some of them to try to get something close, but they all more or less brush me off, as if they can't be bothered. Notice how the grain is the wrong pattern, the sheen is far beyond dull, and the texture, which can't be seen, only felt, is very saddening.









Myself and a close friend are currently working with Seton Leather GMBH in Germany to see if they will reproduce the correct leather. After all, they are the ones that made the "new old" leather a few years ago for Mercedes. I know they can do it, but what will it take? Wish me luck.

So now that those of you who took the time to read this are schooled, choose your interiors wisely. It's not something to take lightly, and costly to do again if you aren't happy with what you bought.

One last side note..the blue velour carpeting that some of us have in our cars came in a light and a dark blue. Take note of which you have. Most suppliers of new velour carpeting only offer the dark blue.

As always, I'd love to hear other's experiences, advice, suggestions, or any input, for that matter. Thoughts? AARON

Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:04:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jack English

Aaron and all: At the most recent International 190SL Group convention in October, a rather new product was displayed. The company name is Aeristo, Grand Prairie, Texas, and the product line named, "Touranil." This purports to be all vegetable tanned. This might deserve a look as it has been used on recent, 2013, Pebble Beach Best of Show winner. The vendor provides the dyed hides but does not provide any kits or precut patterns. Leather only.

Jack English
300SEL 6.3 #4768

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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:05:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 67300SE5SPD

I spoke to John of German Auto Tops about the Aeristo leather mentioned in the previous post and he agreed that it is very good quality but the cost is the down side of it. He estimated that at $1500.00 per hide the material cost for doing a 6.3 could climb as high as $7500.00 and that's just the leather material cost. I looked at the Parchment 2030 sample photo that John sent me and it is pretty nice indeed. As I said at the top of this discussion, I am very close to pulling the trigger. I am currently distracted financially with the mechanical issues that need sorting on this unit. But I am anxious ....

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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:06:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aaron H

Jack, thank you for this bit of information. While a $7,000-$8,000 price tag to buy enough of this leather to do a job is scary to most, myself included, I also realize that is a relatively small price to pay to get something that is correct for the car, as well as for something that no one else has. Looking forward to getting some samples. :)

I can offer this advice to those of you that don't want to spend, or can't spend, that high of a price for your interiors. World Upholstery has some leather that has a very fine grain, (too fine in my opinion) but would look much better than what everyone else supplies. In addition, the sheen is very dull. Consequently, some of the darker colors will be too light. Nonetheless, it's an option. So if you decide to pull the trigger, just know what to expect.

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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:07:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by benz_head

I assume the Classic Center is the same as the dealer?


benz_head
#1349

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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2015 :  01:08:37  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aaron H

In Germany, I am not sure. In the U.S., the Classic Center is nothing more than a dealership that caters only to the older models. Since they are an approved Mercedes dealership, the answer to your question more yes than no. That is why we can order anything through a local dealership that we can also order through the classic center. The problem is that most parts department employees in local dealerships have no idea how to look up a part for an older model; most don't even know that the EPC goes back to 1960. Consequently, if you use your local dealer, you'll more than likely need to bring a list of part numbers with you to have them order. They know how to place orders.

I recently learned that a lot of dealerships will make customers wait 2-4 weeks on a part if it's in Germany. This is when the Classic center comes in handy. it'll usually take about a week, and no longer. I use both regularly.

Regarding the leather that is still available through Mercedes, local dealerships won't even know that part number exists, so if you want some leather you'll have to have the part number handy.

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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/09/2015 :  00:18:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey all. I've an update regarding leather for you fellas. In an earlier post, Jack English mentioned that Aeristo Leather in Grand Prairie, Texas was a source to consider. The owner, Christian, is a very nice fella. He sent me samples, and I must say that the samples pass my requirements and my discerning eye with flying colors. Attached are pictures of the product/business card, as well as a picture of the samples with a piece of original Roser leather up top for comparison.

These hides are surface dyed, and not vat dyed, and in the same manner that Roser used years ago, and with most of the original materials. German bull hides, etc.

Yes, it is expensive. As member "67300SE5SPD" stated earlier, it'll cost around $8,000 just to buy the hides. Then you have to send the leather someplace to have the seats covers and arm rests/head rests sewn up. You'll collectively spend $10,000-#13,000 for everything, less labor for the installation.

This service that Aeristo Leather provides is a lovely convenience, and conveniences come with a price. If you want to do it correctly, then we have to pay to play. I'll definitely be putting my order in as soon as I save up the money. It'll be worth every penny.

As always, I'd love to hear any and all thoughts/inputs! :) AARON








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paul-NL

Netherlands
4193 Posts

Posted - 06/09/2015 :  07:41:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Aaron,

one big point of concern is, if you have somebody, who can bring the correct perfotation (woven cable) in the leather for the pipes.



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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/09/2015 :  23:47:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, Paul. Good point. GAHH in California has the correct machinery to emboss the perforations on the perforated part of the leather. They'll also sew up the seat covers, arm rests, and headrests if you send them the leather hides. Their will be a surcharge for doing so, and rightfully so.
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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/09/2015 :  23:57:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Something else I feel the need to mention is about the piping in the seat covers, arm rests, and head rests. In order to attain the correct diameter piping, you'll have to supply the correct diameter piping cord and you'll have to create your own "Spelt Leder", or leather that is skived almost paper thin. The piping cord itself is easy enough to find. In order to get paper thin leather, you'll have to cut a long strip of leather out of the hide about 3 inches wide. Next is where it can get tricky, but yields superb results. Go buy or borrow a router table with the router attached. Install a "drum" type sander into the chuck of the router. I use 80 grit drums, and you simply run the strip of leather over the turning drum sander and it'll shave it paper thin. Make sure your router is set on its lowest RPM setting. Otherwise the drum dander will fly apart. It's messy. Fluff flies everywhere....so don't do it in the house. ;) I did it in my garage with some green leather when I first started doing this. It snowed green leather for a half an hour. What a mess. I go outside now.
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ctmaher

USA
666 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2015 :  00:33:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aaron, what is their pricing for a hide?

Chris
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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2015 :  08:01:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Chris, it largely depends on whether or not it's a color that he has in stock and/or set up to make. If he has to match up a particular color, then the cost will be more. I think a safe estimation would be $1,200-$1,500 per hide. However, it's best if you speak with Christian himself to confirm pricing.

On a side note, I think I remember Christian telling me that he makes little to no profit doing this type of leather reproduction. He simply has a passion, and loves his work. So try not to be too upset about the pricing. As I mentioned earlier, these conveniences come with a price, but it's definitely worth it. :)
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ctmaher

USA
666 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2015 :  12:58:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Aaron, that's about what I thought. Do you know if he is able to duplicate the color on Cognac? with the reddish freckles?

Chris
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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2015 :  20:22:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I sure he can, and it may be that you need to send him a good original sample to go by if he hasn't already matched up cognac. Again, all we an do is contact them and ask. :)
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Aaron H

USA
427 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2015 :  01:01:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Chris, I spoke with Christian. He does have Cognac leather. I sent you an email with the details.
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Art Love

Australia
6138 Posts

Posted - 06/12/2015 :  07:04:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'd also be interested in what his cognac leather looks like. I have front seat repairs (plus or minus door armrests) to get done in my 280SE W111 coupe and am currently hoping to get enough leather from the rear seats from a cognac 6.3 that I bought over 25 years ago as a parts car. Not yet sure how we will go and another hide may be worthwhile. Australian dollar value and import duties are an issue for me as well.

Art
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