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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 12:12:50 PM   #1
Braymond141
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Default Nappa Leather - OEM Process, Restoration, Color Change Information

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Alright here we go. I spent the past day emailing and calling a few professionals over in the UK that I had seen immaculate, OE type leather refinishing from. I've been cleared on many points, some were right, some were wrong. Hopefully everyone learns a little something from this. I may be using bits of knowledge that were already mentioned here, but this is meant to be a complete understanding.

Now, let's get a little basic background on how leather is made. The leather in question; BMW Nappa.
The leather is drum (VAT) dyed a matching color to the pigment color that is sprayed on later in the process. After the pigment, a clear coat matte (top coat) finish is sprayed on. The true dye process is not always done before color (pigment) coat and top coat are added. This depends on leather type and manufacturer.

What is leather dye and what is pigment?
-Dye is exactly what you would think a traditional dye would be. It stains, it colors, it soaks into the leather and changes the color throughout.
-Pigment is essentially paint. Modern leather pigment is a water based flexible "latex" acting type paint. If you sprayed it on smooth plastic (like a bag or acrylic panel) it wouldn't change the color of the plastic (like a dye would), it would leave a top painted finish. A pigment does not soak into the leather like a dye does. It "paints" on top of the leather attaching itself to the prepped finish.

What is the top coat?
Top coat is a protection coat to the color (pigment [paint]) coat. The finishes can vary from gloss, semi-gloss to matte. A top coat extends the durability, color, and life of the color coat by years and years (if proper care is taken). It also defines the total look and even feel of the leather. Top coats are also a paint, using the same technology as the color coat (polyurethane is one type).

Are there different pigment and top coat types?
Absolutely. Leather Clinic uses a water based Polyurethane type of formula. Leatherique uses a water based complex co-polymer formula. Each company will have their own formula.

When is a dye used?
Dyes are used (not always though) as part of the process leading to the color and top coat of modern leathers. It's also used in older methods of leather color as a stand alone method (ie; no color or top coat after).

How long does a color coat last alone?
The professionals say a color coat is only good for just a few years by itself at best.

How long does a color coat with a top coat last?
A color coat with a proper top coat can extend the life of the finish at least 3 times longer. A frequently used refinished leather would last 1-2 years with just color and at least 4-5 with a top coat added. The professionals say expect 5-7 years with a top coat and even longer if you're super careful and proper care products are used. Remember, a top coated leather is exactly how (nappa as an example) leather rolls out ready for upholstery. Some of us have 14 year old Nappa (like I do in my 96 M3) that is MINT.

What I was wrong about?
I had known Nappa leather was dyed and I have known that the leather had a top coat. I did not know that the leather had a color coat after dye. I also did not know what the color coat was... it's a paint, and "latex" in nature. The color coat is not a dye.

What is my problem with Leatherique?
Firstly, Leatherique is not a dye... nor is the pigment coat of any other modern "sealed" leather including OEM and restoration kits. Leatherique is a color coat, a pigment, a paint. Now that I know that BMW also uses this pigment (paint) process, I can say I was wrong to attack this aspect.

So if Leatherique is a proper leather paint, what else is wrong?
Leatherique is intended to be a one step recolor (after preparation). There is no top coat that they sell that matches the OEM finish. They do offer a Klear Koat (top coat) but it's only offered in a Glossy finish. BMW uses matte finished leather, Leatheriques top coat offering wouldn't be what I want for this interior.
This single step color process is also an issue with some other select products out there. Magic Mender as an example is a one step process... there are more.

What is wrong with Leatheriques preparation process?
Firstly; the Prepping Agent product Leatherique shipped ME was watered down Purple Power degreaser. That's fine I suppose, degreaser is needed for sure.
Secondly; Leatherique says use 400grit sand paper with their product. 400 grit sand paper on supple and soft Nappa leather is too harsh. Perfect soft Nappa being color changed would only require a 1200 grit (at harshest) product, not necessarily sand paper.
The other thing I do not like about Leatheriques process is they say to brush on the color coat. They do mention you can spray it, which is the proper way to get an even coat the retains the natural leather grain (if applicable). Brushing on the color is only okay for the first few coats of color, not for the final 2 to 4 coats of color.

What is the point of preparation and proper preparation?
If you have soft leather to start with (not sun damaged), the point of preparation is not to tear it up, but to gently scuff it up. Gently scuffing the leather gives a proper base for the color to attach to and it also keeps the natural grain (pebble) of the leather. If you sand too hard or rough you will ruin that natural grain.
Proper preparation is done based on leather condition. Again, soft Nappa leather would only require degreaser/and or an emulsion mix that would chemically removes the top coat. Mix this with a soft Scotch pad. You only want to prep the surface enough to get the new product to stick and not ruin the grain. This means you only need to get just past the top coat and stop when you see the color come off. Removing too much color (or all of it), you'll be ruining the natural grain of the leather.
A good color coating product would latch onto gently prepped leather perfectly. A good condition leather would not require a full top coat removal, just a nice gently clean scuffing. A poor condition leather would require harsher preparation.

Would I use Leatherique Coloring?
Now that I know that it is indeed a paint, and a paint is what the OEM process consists of, NO I WOULD NOT... it is not strong enough and it is not matte enough like OEM.

Two videos that sum up PROPER leather care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9rhD...layer_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkIXY...layer_embedded
I'm happy to discuss all of this and correct any mistakes, but I've been quite thorough in gathering info. I hope this also clears up proper leather restoration questions and misconceptions about the so called favorites around here, Leatherique, Magic Mender, etc. I'd also be happy to post companies that offer a proper OEM restoration, prep to color to top coat, that would last just like OEM.
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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 01:16:07 PM   #2
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Interesting, are there companies you know of that sell a better line of
color change products?
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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 01:31:40 PM   #3
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This is about recolor (ie; black to black) and changing color (ie; black to blue). Both are applicable to everything i posted.

Furniture Clinic is the leather restoration company I am ordering from. They offer a full restoration kit; prep, color, top coat. They also offer the same kits for color changes. Their top coats are offered in glossy, semi-gloss, and matte. They have some of the fulliest kits out there and a proper website to boot.
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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 02:32:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braymond141 View Post
This is about recolor (ie; black to black) and changing color (ie; black to blue). Both are applicable to everything i posted.

Leather Clinic is the leather restoration company I am ordering from. They offer a full restoration kit; prep, color, top coat. They also offer the same kits for color changes. Their top coats are offered in glossy, semi-gloss, and matte. They have some of the fulliest kits out there and a proper website to boot.

good research Brett
I've gone to only 1 seminar on leather making but I was way too sleepy that day to have taken anything away from it
what about products like rejunivator from Leatherique (their maintenance products, basically)? those OK to use?
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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 02:57:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braymond141 View Post
This is about recolor (ie; black to black) and changing color (ie; black to blue). Both are applicable to everything i posted.

Leather Clinic is the leather restoration company I am ordering from. They offer a full restoration kit; prep, color, top coat. They also offer the same kits for color changes. Their top coats are offered in glossy, semi-gloss, and matte. They have some of the fulliest kits out there and a proper website to boot.
Neat, I might be buying some Vauxhall VX220 seats for the Miata and would want to give them a color change to match the crap Miata 10ae seats. .
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Old Sat, Nov-27-2010, 10:20:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by das borgen View Post
good research Brett
I've gone to only 1 seminar on leather making but I was way too sleepy that day to have taken anything away from it
what about products like rejunivator from Leatherique (their maintenance products, basically)? those OK to use?
From what I have gathered;

Quote:
eather does not require 'conditioning' with anything other than water.

Keep your leather clean by protecting it with a leather protector and then regular cleaning.
Adding 'conditioners' which generally contain oils and waxes will change the appearance of your leather over time as dirt will build up on the surface and cause a sheen.

Using the correct care methods and products will not alter the factory finish.

Your type of leather is 'coated' leather. This is essentially a 'painted' leather with a clear coat finish over the top. The leather may or may not be dyed through with aniline dyes prior to the finish coating.

Essentially it is this top coating that needs looking after. Cleaning is vitally important as the top coat will wear away if allowed to become dirty. Dirt on the surface will aslo become ground into the finish by constant abrassion.

'Conditioners', balms, feeds etc (traditionally oil and wax based) cannot penetrate this finish so are not worth applying - they can also leave behind residues on the finish which will only attract more dirt if allowed to remain.

A protector will make the finish easier to clean and also inhibit dye transfer etc on pale coloured leathers.

Leather however finished has to remain breathable and it will allow the movement of moisture back and forth (transpiration) so the use of water based cleaners and protectors will keep the leather correctly hydrated which is essentail to keeping it in good condition.
My personal and biggest complaint with Rejuvenator is that it heavily smells like oranges and is extremely greasy. I am not fond of using a product that changes the leather smell. Pristine clean I never had too much to not like, it was a good product to clean with, but I don't know the top coat protection properties of it. It's really just a cleaner to the greasy mess you put down with the Rejuvenator.

My favorite product is Gliptone otherwise known as good old liquid leather. It is highly raved about on Detailingworld. It literally smells like liquid leather, it's intoxicating. The cleaner diluted with water does a great job cleaning leaving the leather matte. The conditioner goes on easily and buffs out to a matte finish, it doesn't leave any nasty oils behind or require an additional product to remove it. The only drawback to this product is the price, but if you have mint nappa leather already you'd be stupid not to invest in this product.

I also use Gliptone in my 59k mi X5 with Montana leather. I bought it from a single owner that drove it 46k miles in 9 years, it was every bit mint and new smelling as... a new car. It continues to stay that way with this product lightly applied, and I'm retarded anal about the interior.
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Old Sun, Nov-28-2010, 12:14:02 AM   #7
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Thank you for posting this, I was looking at doing something like this, this summer if I don't get a seat that is more supportive.

In terms of protection, what product would you recommend? 303 or is there something else out there that would work better for your goals?
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Old Sun, Nov-28-2010, 12:23:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gatekeeper View Post
Thank you for posting this, I was looking at doing something like this, this summer if I don't get a seat that is more supportive.

In terms of protection, what product would you recommend? 303 or is there something else out there that would work better for your goals?
he recommends Gliptone, from the reply right above



I may give it a try....but i have leatherique protection product.....


Brett, what exactly does the Gliptone stuff have that specifically upkeeps the top coat?
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Old Sun, Nov-28-2010, 02:44:15 AM   #9
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Those Gliptone folks make as much stuff as Meguiars. I'd imagine their expertise is in one or two products and they re package the rest. Did they make their rep on the leather care stuff?
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Old Sun, Nov-28-2010, 02:55:37 AM   #10
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Rich,

I'm still gathering information on Gliptone as to it's protective qualities. I can only attest to how easy to use it is, retains the factory matte finish (if you buff the conditioner), and the smell... god I love how it smells.
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Discussing Nappa Leather - OEM Process, Restoration, Color Change Information in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)