I have just dragged a Lee Howell water pump from the back of my Dads garage,
this pump was restored about 10 years ago and rallied twice. During
restoration it had new leather cup washers fitted, but because it has not
been used for so long these have gone hard. Can anyone recommend to me a
suitable oil to soak them in and hopefully soften them up?
Many Thanks Paul.
Personally, I'd recommend Mars Oil, available from any good tack shop. It
revitalises hardened leathers & stuffs them with oil, keeping them supple
It is quite thin & I'd warm some in a tin (smells a bit mind) and lay the
cup washers in it for a couple of days before attempting to bend or
"Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the feet and shin
bones (not the hooves) of cattle. It is used as a conditioning, softening and
preservative for leather, and remains liquid down to a low temperature.
Neatsfoot oil is produced much less than it once was. Currently, the shins and
feet of cattle are usually rendered along with the rest of the body. Also, many
products sold as neatsfoot oil are actually diluted with petroleum oil, which is
bad for leather.
The best quality neatsfoot oil comes from the legs of calves. The fat in
animals' legs generally has a lower melting point than the body fat which means
that it is more fluid and easier to use at lower temperatures making it more
effective for treating leather.
'Neat' in the oil's name comes from an old term for animals of the genus Bos,
Peter & Rita Forbes
Thanks to all who responded, went to the local horse spares shop and asked
for advice and the reply was Mars oil. They are now soaking in a dish of
that, so see what happens over the next week or two.
Don't leave them in too long, Paul. Super saturation may cause the collagen
fibres to separate.
After soaking & gentle manipulation, press them in layers of newspaper to
remove excess oil.
I've been a Friend of Mars Oil for forty years. It has kept my feet dry on
many a dewy mountainside and its distinctive pong awakens memories of the
Island during TT week & soggy leathers, wet through despite the best that
natural products could do! Rain at eighty plus does penetrate so ....
Boots? A man of my predilections doesn't wear boots for hill walking - of
course it was applied directly to the feet.
I'm told the line of oily footprints on Pen-y-van has only just faded after
thirty years in the wild. Good stuff, Mars Oil.