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How did they take care of the holsters?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by 4v50 Gary, Aug 25, 2012.

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  1. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I was watching an old Roy Rogers movie last night (Wally Welt special, 100 Westerns for $17.95) and he chased a fellow into the Pacific Ocean where they fought and the fellow drowned. Anyway, Roy walks out soaking wet.

    How did the prop men preserve the holster afterward? I'm sure the guns were rubber dummys so they could be left in the sun to dry, but leather with salt?
     
  2. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    They mostly didn't take any special precautions to preserve the leather except to not go into the ocean, especially in the middle of Arizona or New Mexico. Those who might have cared had neats foot oil, same as now and it still works.

    But a gunfighter didn't want a soft leather holster as it can cling to the gun and that is ungood for a fast draw.

    Jim
     
  3. bubba15301

    bubba15301 Member

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    saddle soap
     
  4. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    bubba15301 said it: saddlesoap.
     
  5. St8LineGunsmith

    St8LineGunsmith Member.

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    bubba beat me to it:D
     
  6. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Member

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    I'll chime in here and disagree with the saddlesoap thought. In my experience saddlesoap is exactly that, "soap". It works good for cleaning but doesn't do much for preservation in and of itself. I can't stand the smell of neatsfoot (but for some reason I like the smell of Ballistol), so my choice for moisture repair and preservation is mink oil. Or in the case of a pair of gloves that my neighbor left out in the rain a few weeks ago just hose 'em down with Moose Milk after they dry.

    In reality, the producers of the old westerns probably didn't worry too much about how a little water was going to effect the holsters. It wasn't like they were shooting in 3D HD after all, all it really had to do was "look" like a holster on the screen and they were good with it. And when they did fall apart I'm guessing that the prop department could whip another one out in pretty short order.
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Quite frankly, the movie producer probably rented the leather rigs, revolvers, and model duplicates from a prop house. If so, they likely didn't give a darn how these items were treated. Someone at the prop supplier's business might have got out the saddle soap after the leather items were returned.
     
  8. St8LineGunsmith

    St8LineGunsmith Member.

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    it is not a thought on my part it is what I use and is a preservative as well as a cleaner.
     
  9. AJumbo

    AJumbo Member

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    I spoke with a man who served on a submarine during WW2, and was basically the boat's armorer. He was in charge of caring for the web and leather gear as well as the firearms. While in port, the subs posted a 24/7 security detail in all but the worst weather, so the web and leather gear got plenty of seawater and salt on it. His solution was to thoroughly rinse belts, holsters, slings, etc, in fresh water and apply neatsfoot oil while the leather was still damp. He'd follow that with saddle soap and black shoe polish.

    Historically, I think most most holsters weren't cared for much at all. How many original rigs do you see out there? Neatsfoot oil is a good answer for a while, but it eventually reacts with the oils found naturally in the leather and causes the fibers to break down, causing cracking. Saddle soap is a fair preservative, but far from perfect. I like mink oil, but I wonder how available it might have been to most folks in 19th/early 20th centuries. Today, I'm all about Sno-Seal, Lexol, and atom wax.

    If you really want a tutorial on keeping leather alive, go to a saddle shop and find out what the horse folks are using on their $2000 saddles. Horse sweat is just about as bad for leather as saltwater immersion.

    I don't imagine Roy was wearing his "parade" rig when he jumped into the surf. It was most certainly a stunt rig, and likely worn by a stunt MAN. I have seen a big ol' buscadero rig that was painted black, with painted-on "silver" spots. I'm willing to bet it was a stunt rig. Crash Corrigan had one that was so loaded down with silver that it weighed over 35 pounds, and some of Roy and Gene and Hoppy and Clayton's leather couldn't have been far behind.
     
  10. St8LineGunsmith

    St8LineGunsmith Member.

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    Erm It's called saddle soap for a reason.

    just like you mentioned oil breaks down leather and makes it flemsy
    good for baseball gloves not for saddles or holsters.

    I worked for a saddle maker when I was a teenager that is how I learned to do leather work.

    truth be known the movie props were probably made from latex rubber made to look like leather.
     
  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Rubber holsters for rubber guns. Sounds reasonable and cheaper too; especially for b/w films.
     
  12. unknwn

    unknwn Member

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    If I were tasked with rescueing a rig that had been immersed in salt water (or some other noxious substance), I believe that a thorough rinse in fresh water (distilled being the best alternative), followed by a slooowww dry (no heat/light/forced air) with the holster blocked into shape with a well-oiled gun wrapped real well in saran wrap.
    After the leather has dried, I would use a Pecard's product labeled for leather restoration.
    Too many of the oils (mink, neatsfoot, ect. -AND- saddlesoap) that are suggested for leather care will be the death to a properly manufactured gun holster. You don't want a gun holster to take on "soft" characteristics because it will loose properties needed to allow it to retain the firearm it had been made to hold.
    Another aspect of those various oils and such is that they can cause the stitching to stretch and disintegrate.
    Be VERY careful when "taking care" of gun holsters. It is real easy to perform irrepairable harm to leatherwork.
     
  13. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Saddlesoap and "dubbin'" wax is what I use. I avoid anything with oil, or at least any sort of higher oil content, being used on leather stuff which is intended to hold it's shape.
     
  14. mr16ga

    mr16ga Member

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    My wife has her grandfathers saddle holster. I think it was made back in the 30's or so. All the rivets have turned green, the leather looks like it was immersed in some sort of wax, bees or paraffin I don't know which. It is just as hard and stiff as can be. I would guess water prof as well.

    Oh the gun he used is a .348 WCF now owned by her brother who uses it as his primary elk gun. Good medicine for elk I think he as taken 4 or 5 of the wee beasties with it.

    If I ever needed a saddle holster I would not think twice about using that one.
    Joe
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  15. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Ajumbo,

    horse sweat.

    I have a date with a silver mounted Circle Y saddle to day. SHow horse comes back from horsy school tomorrow and the saddle I could buy a pile of BP revolvers for "needs work" according to the wife. SHe has one of the recommended liquid products I have not used and a pile of rags waiting for me in the barn. I have after examining the saddle recommended a change in how we store saddles, saddle pads, and blankets because of the effects of horse sweat. There is both black and grey mold at work.

    My most embarasing leather event was I had not worn a safariland shoullder holster in a couple of years and was carrying a full sized 1911 in it. Discussing the caracteristics of various concealed carry with a couple of guys I meantioned the shoulder holster. They asked to see it so I pulled the pistol from undr my arm......along with the holster, leaving the harness portion behind. Can we say dry rot?

    -kBob
     
  16. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Broken record, saddle soap.
     
  17. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    This is supposedly a factual story that was relayed to me by one of the two men present:

    Back in the late '50s or early '60s two scullers (a method of duck hunting) were glassing rafts of ducks in California when Roy Rogers and a friend pulled up and asked about the technique. Each sculler took one of them in his boat and they laid down in the boats and went for a hunt. Both Roy and the other guy killed a couple of ducks and thanked the guys. Roy used an engraved O/U shotgun that was inscribed as a presentation gun to Clark Gable. When asked about the possible harm to the gun from the salt water, Roy replied that Clark Gable didn't ever shoot any of his guns so he was doing it a favor by taking it on a trip.
    On the way back to shore Roy Rogers sang "Happy Trails To You" to the guys who took them sculling.

    I always liked Roy Rogers but after hearing this story I liked him even more .. just a regular guy.
     
  18. YumaKid

    YumaKid Member

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    I don't have a lot of leather holsters in my kit; mostly nylon, and one Safariland "duty holster" for my S&W 629 -but at the moment it's carrying my 5-1/2" Remington, still gotta get something for that BP.
    Several people mentioned horsesweat and saddle soap; NOW you've hit upon something that I know only too well. Saddlesoap for cleaning horse sweat is okay, but wellll-ll-ll-ll....
    It's supposed to be in the low 100's today, and the winds out of the south will be bringing a bunch of moisutre up from El Golfo de California - I'm pretty sure my wife and I are gonna have a couple of pretty sweaty saddles in about 3-4 hours. NO saddle soap - I prefer the previously mentioned "Lexol" cleaner followed by their conditioner. It keeps the saddles a lot softer; and softer just lasts longer on the back of a horse.
    Bought a saddle off a guy several years ago, he had been dragging it around since he bought it for his daughter to use in 4H horse shows -and she's now pushin' 30- and he saddle soaped it religiously every 60 months, made it stiff as a board. Put it on the back of ol' Dutch-horse (RIP, Good Horse. I miss you old man) and it creaked and squeaked like the oldest bedsprings in a house of ill repute! Took a quart-and-a-half of Lexol cleaner to strip off all the layers of saddle soap. Oiled 'er up good with the conditioner and it was nice and supple, and quiet.

    One thing I've learned though - and this is most important! If you "cheaped out" like I originally did and bought the top grain BP holster from Cabela's; and if you Saran Wrapped your revolver, shoved it in a soaking wet Cabela's holster to "mold" the holster around your iron; DO NOT use the Lexol!!! It will make that holster more soft and "floppy" than when you first bought it! And I haven't figured out yet how many times it has to be soaked in hot water to suck all the Lexol out.
    It DOES NOT do that to my Safariland holster - but that sucker weighs more than two of the Cabela's rigs.

    Use the saddle soap on your thin holsters to keep them squeaky-stiff. Every once in a while, I'll hit the belts with Lexol; but not the lightweight holsters!


    Take it or leave it.
    Just Sayin'
     
  19. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    BTW, the movie was In Old Caliente.
     
  20. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Member

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    Good read and interesting notes on leather care.
     
  21. Mk VII

    Mk VII Member

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    My limited experience suggests movie and TV production companies have zero interest in taking care of the props and costumes they hire, and the hire charges reflect this.
     
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