The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Where to put it all... » » Cleaning a Vintage Doctor's Bag (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
I've recently come into a vintage Schell doctor's bag from the 60's and it's in great condition. The Leather needs to be treated though. Although it's in good shape, with just a few scuffs/scratches, the main issue is the leather is very dry and hard, so much so that it takes some force to open the bag all the way (or 90% of the way) and it will not stay in the open position. The sections of leather that fold in could crack unless it's softened.

Frank Starsinic has recommended Chelsea Leather Food for restoring scratches/scuffs and making the leather softer. Prior to doing that however, does anyone have a recommendation for a leather cleaning product? I've called amost a dozen places around town and did not get any solid, confident advice. I figured, why not ask the people I know who actually use these bags.

Anyone?
Dick Oslund
View Profile
Inner circle
8361 Posts

Profile of Dick Oslund
Leather is "becoming out of date"! (animals like this!)

I have a "doctor" bag that I bought in a TRUCK STOP about 10 or 12 years ago. The truckers used them to carry in "shower things".) It's not leather, but some sort of "leather-like" plastic material. It has held up very well to carry close up props. I think it cost about $20.

If you can find an old fashioned "cobbler" shop, you might find the cobbler can advise you about leather treatment.

OR! Check out TANDY LEATHER PRODUCTS. (GOOGLE?) Tandy sells all sorts of leather products to people who hand make leather products like wallets, etc. Big city malls may have stores.

OR! Shops that sell saddles for horses, etc. There are more privately owned horses today, than there were in the days before automobiles!!! Horse 'tack' is relatively expensive, and owners take care of it.

Hope that helps!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Bill Hegbli
View Profile
Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22892 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
When people wore leather shoes, there is a product called KIWI Saddle Soap. It is used to clean leather. With a soft damp cloth the hard soap is mixed around with the damp cloth creating a suds. This suds is what is used to apply to the leather in a circular motion all over the leather. Do not use to much water, it will penetrate the leather and to much. After applying the soap, let is set for a few minutes, then buff with a soft cloth or shoe buffer pad.

To soften the leather, there is a product called KIWI Mink Oil. This softens, conditions, and waterproofs smooth leather. Again, apply and wipe off excess, let set overnight, and puff with a shoe buffing pad, it looks like white wool material. These days the best source for these would be then Internet or as Shoe Repair Shop.

There is another way to soften leather, but you have to be careful with it, as to much will rot the leather. There is product that baseball player use to soften their gloves. It is a liquid oil. Apply, and will make the leather very soft. Found at sporting good stores where baseball gloves are sold.

Take note, as none of this may not work, as if the leather is hard as you stated, that means it may be dry rotted and I do not believe anything can restore rotten leather.

Go slow and let the products do the work. I hope it works for you.
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
Great to hear from two guys with a lot of experience! This was helpful! I ended up going to Tandy Leather.

I went with Dr. Jackson's Leather Cleaner. I'm hoping to apply that, followed by the Chelsea Leather Food for softening and conditioning. I am tempted by Bill's suggestion to use Mink Oil, but I believe Denny Loomis cautions against using anything with oil in it because it can dry out leather. So I'm a bit unsure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By the way, if you're bored, check out what happened during my visit to Tandy Leather:

I walk into Tandy Leather today, hoping to talk to an older, experienced person, when a young guy in his twenties shuffles over, cell phone in hand and asks if I need help. As I start explaining what I need, he barely listens and hardly glances at the bag, but when I say the phrase "leather food,” his eyes bug out as if he had just met a crazy person who was literally trying to FEED leather.

"What???"
"It's just a product called Leather Food by Chelsea." He starts shaking his head, but strangely not as if he knows better, but specifically at the word, Chelsea. But he doesn't know the brand, so I'm thinking… either he doesn't approve because he's never heard of it, or thinks some girl named Chelsea told me about this.

I explain, "It's a company in the UK. A guy who runs a leather shop recommended it but I need to clean the bag first."

He says, "Never heard of that," then looks over to the counter and calls out to someone "Hey, do we have that?" I look, expecting to see an older manager but find this overweight girl in her twenties, hunched over, leaning on the counter, head buried in her cell phone. She looks up. Almost appalled that he'd dare speak to her.

He continues, "Leather Food? We have something like that?" She just looks at him and says nothing. He says "We do? I think we do.” Nothing back from her. “Yeah, we probably do. But probably just not by that company, right?"

She just stares. He says, "No? We don't?" And I'm trying hard not to laugh. This guy is having a conversation with himself.

He turns back and points me to Dr. Jackson's Leather Cleaner or Fiebing's Saddle Soap.

I ended up choosing the cleaner (it appeared to have no finishing quality, whereas the Saddle Soap leaves a waxy coating. Plus I recalled having a can of Saddle Soap at home). He explains how any scuffs or scratches can never be fixed and I thank him and pay for the bottle.

I just had to post this because the whole scene was so bizarre.
Dick Oslund
View Profile
Inner circle
8361 Posts

Profile of Dick Oslund
It makes one wonder how these companies stay in business!!!

The only reason I knew the name Tandy was because I spent a lot of summers (off season for school show guys) managing summer camps. We always had a handicraft area. I'm not very 'handy', but I hired staff people who were.

The two you mentioned in the Tandy store would never have made it past the first job interview!!!

I'm glad that Bill and I could be of some help.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
mcharisse
View Profile
Inner circle
York. PA
1217 Posts

Profile of mcharisse
Another vote for mink oil. I use on a doctors bag and a civil war style artillerists hav sack I carry on battlefields.
By the way, mink oil has a good deal of wax in it as well, so it does double duty.
Marc
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
Quote:
On Jul 4, 2015, Dick Oslund wrote:
It makes one wonder how these companies stay in business!!!

The only reason I knew the name Tandy was because I spent a lot of summers (off season for school show guys) managing summer camps. We always had a handicraft area. I'm not very 'handy', but I hired staff people who were.

The two you mentioned in the Tandy store would never have made it past the first job interview!!!

I'm glad that Bill and I could be of some help.


Yeah, I couldn't believe they were basically running the store that day. Frank recommended Tandy as well, so it seems like the craft classes have more to do with their good rep than the hired help.
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
Thanks, Marc!
mhsam
View Profile
New user
50 Posts

Profile of mhsam
I recently purchased a vintage Doctor's bag on EBay (it took some looking because I wanted a certain size). It had almost the same problems as yours. My solution was to take it to the oldest Italian craftsman shoe repair shop in my City, where I left it for a week. It now looks almost new though the hinge mechanism still wants to prematurely close. For that, I now leave it open when not in use to "relax"the hinges.
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
I have thus far treated mine as follows: Cleaned it with Dr. Jackson's Leather Cleaner from Tandy, after which the hinge stayed open for a very long time on it's own before slowly closing back up. I then let it dry and applied a generous coating of Chelsea Leather Food (although I paid Amazon for "Chelsea Leather Food," I received "Chelsea Dubbin Leatherfood," however I don't see anything online suggesting these are different products, so it's probably fine). Now the bag is "curing" and stays open on it's own. The leather on the sides still buckles inwards, as if wanting to close, but the hinge is stronger than the leather at this point. Hopefully as the Food soaks in, it'll soften up a bit more. So far it looks promising.

mhsam, you may want to try the leather food. I applied it to an Onosaka Purse and the leather became more supple after it was completely absorbed. This might just help you out. Otherwise, check out the tip Bruce Meyer shares with me here: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......590957#3
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
After drying/curing, the bag now has a dry/matte appearance. Anyone have any suggestions on giving it a shiny luster? (Polish? Etc.?)
Bill Hegbli
View Profile
Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22892 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
No you don't want to polish it, the black color will rub off on your clothing. I suggest Instant Shine, it is a clear silicone impregnated in a sponge, sold at Wal-Mart and shoe repair stores. Just have to look around, even Walgreens pharmacy might have it. If you did not get the buffing pad as I stated, then 1st try just buffing it with a shoe buffing pad. That will bring the luster back. Just the buffing pad with nothing on it.

I don't know, but the product you used should have suggested to use a show brush and buffing pad. The shoe brush takes off any excess and get in the grain, if your bag has a grain. Then the buffing polishes it with the heat created by your buffing action. Don't want to much goop on your buffing pad, that is why you have to use a brush to remove any residue left over. If so you have to buy a new one.

Join the Army, they teach you how to polish your boot and shoes. If you have a lot of time, "spit shine" the bag. Wait, maybe not, they wear Jungle Boots and Desert Boots now, wonder what they do now, just shine the toes and heals. Hum mm.
Christopher Moro
View Profile
Special user
780 Posts

Profile of Christopher Moro
Great tips, Bill.

And good point: I'm now surprised as well that the product instructions didn't say to use a shoe brush and buffing pad. I have both, but they have been used on my shoes, so they have some old polish on it. Might need to pick up new ones.

I will look into Instant Shine as well. http://www.amazon.com/Sof-Sole-Penguin-I......nt+shine

My dad was in the army and showed me how to shine shoes... but we didn't go as far as the "spit shine." Too glossy.
Lou Is
View Profile
New user
73 Posts

Profile of Lou Is
Fantastic tips! I don't have a doctor's bag - gave up looking for one, but the bag I did find has become scuffed. This info is greatly appreciated!
Pete Biro
View Profile
1933 - 2018
18558 Posts

Profile of Pete Biro
I used Neatsfoot oil. Worked great on baseball glove.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Bill Hegbli
View Profile
Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22892 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
Remember, these oils can also deteriorate the leather as well, when used excessively. Just apply until it is manageable. Nothing will totally restored aged dried out leather, it will only make it manageable.

In the end, you may just have to take it to a leather craftsman, an have him make a duplicate, then use the hardware if it is still in good condition.
Michael_MacDonald
View Profile
1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

Profile of Michael_MacDonald
Go here bro it has some solid advice from a pro

http://backintimeleatherworks.com/leatherCare.htm
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Where to put it all... » » Cleaning a Vintage Doctor's Bag (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.18 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL