Changing color of custom leather seat - Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-30-2008, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Changing color of custom leather seat

Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me.. I just bought a bike a couple weeks ago (1990 Kawasaki Vulcan 750).. It runs great and I love it, the only issue I have is with the seat.. It has a custom Corbin leather seat. The top (part that you actually sit on) is fine, it is smooth black leather with subtle raised flames. I don't like the sides and the back of the seat however, it is a snake skin texture (red with black circles, almost like a leopard print).. I don't want to replace the seat (don't want to spend the $$$, plus I like that it has a custom seat). I'm thinking that I wouldn't mind the texture if the colors were different.. I would like to change it to all black. I know there are leather dyes, however I'm assuming that the outside of the seat has been treated and new dye wouldn't soak in..

Has anyone changed the color of their leather seat, and\or does anyone have any suggestions??

Thanks in advance..
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-30-2008, 04:31 PM
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Hello, and welcome to the forum. I have a couple suggestions for you. The first is you could buy a seat cover, which would be cheaper than buying a new seat. Or you could dye the existing seat with a color you like, such as black to match the seat area. The bike is about 18 years old and I am sure whatever protection was put on the seat is probably worn off by now. If it is still protected a light sand paper might be your ticket to get that off and rough the leather up to get it ready for dying. A last suggestion would be to take the seat apart and recover it yourself with that plastic vinyl stuff seats are covered with today. Hope one of these helps. Keep us updated.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-30-2008, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. I will first try dying the seat, if it doesn't take I will try some light sanding...
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-30-2008, 05:16 PM
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I think with most dyes you have to do light sanding anyways. But I am not completely sure. The dye directions will tell you.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2008, 12:51 PM
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if it's a corbin seat, it's not real leather, and dye won't soak in no matter what you're doing.

don't sand finished leather. You don't want to 'roughen up' the outside finish, because it will suede it... if it's vinyl it will just destroy it. Leather is porous and dye soaks in, it's not like paint where it sits on top and needs a roughed up surface to bond with.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2008, 01:00 PM
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think more like staining or dying cloth, not like painting.
Now, after the dye is dry you do a light buffing by hand with a cloth or towel to remove an excess dye that is dried on the surface of the leather.

There's an acid that you wash the leather with to remove the colors and take it back to it's natural tanned stage... i can't remember the name... like glycolic acid or something like that. I've never used it, nasty stuff.

But you won't need that if you just want to go to black. If you get a good oil / solvent based black dye (smells like sharpie markers in a bottle) it will cut through just about any sealer that's left on the seat and soak into the leather. Then you'll need to seal the dye so that the leather is protected. Use either a leather sheen, or leather satin sheen in a spray can (costs about $10 a can and worth every penny).

And if all that doesn't work, you can just get someone like me to go ahead and make a custom cover for it. lol.
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