Caring for an original United Sheeplined A-2

mulceber

Well-Known Member
Hi All,

I recently bought this A-2 jacket from Vic. It's one I'd like to have in (semi)regular rotation, and have already worn it a couple times, but I'd like to get your advice on caring for it, and if there's any maintenance work I should do on it right now. I've attached 4 pictures showing the condition of the knits and 4 pictures (with circles to show the parts I'm talking about) showing areas of the leather that worry me a bit.

The knits have about a half dozen holes in them, and I wonder if I should get them darned before wearing the jacket further, and if so, should I send it to a specialist in A-2 jackets, or do it myself?

Overall, the leather's in good shape, and there aren't any parts that look like they're going to crumble into dust. The leather feels pretty dry though, and I wonder if I should condition it at all, and, if so, what I should condition it with. There's also some patches on the leather (circled in the photos below) that seem to have been damaged:

-Pictures 5 and 6 show what look to be divots in the surface of the leather. I don't think the divots completely pierce the leather, but I wonder if there's anything that can be done about them that wouldn't harm the jacket.

-the leather on the collar and on the decal looks like it's starting to split in pictures 7 and 8.

So what do you all think? How can I best care for this jacket while (gently) wearing it?
 

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jeremiah

Well-Known Member
Depending on where this was for years I’d wager some of those “dimples” as you call them are where bugs have been gnawing a bit. Cockroaches can and will eat leather. Course rodents will too.
At least that has come to an end with Vic owning it and now you.

(Of course you might ask Vic if he used to sleep on a bed of nails)

The area on the rondel looks more like the top worn down to the suede. I would not sweat it( nor would I literally sweat in it).

As for conditioning, I don’t have much experience with vintage jackets so won’t comment. If it were new i would not condition though. Even when it felt dry. The feeling of dry can be quite subjective.

If it’s flexible (think pliable) it’s still got some life in it.
Looks great though for its age.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
(Of course you might ask Vic if he used to sleep on a bed of nails)
Nails would be a good description. Like someone played paintball with a nail gun while wearing it, and was lucky enough only to get winged a couple times from far away. But I think you're probably right about the bugs. Apparently the jacket was too tough for them though, because they didn't manage to put much of a dent in it.

If it’s flexible (think pliable) it’s still got some life in it.
Good point. But once it stops being pliable, doesn't that mean it's too late to do anything? I'm just wondering if/hoping there's some preventative care I can do.
 

jeremiah

Well-Known Member
So on the pliable. If it is I doubt you’d see it get worse if you plan to wear it occasionally and are careful what you subject
It too. When you wear the jacket your body warmth will keep the fibers supple. If you put that thing outside and never cared for it the leather would get stiff and brittle from repeated wet/dry cycles. That’s why I said don’t sweat in it.
Your body salts will do more harm from the inside out than rain would from the outside in.

But I wouldn’t stress too much. If the aero fits Vic is sending me I plan to wear the heck out of it within reason.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
So you decided to go for it? That's great news - I'm looking forward to the post and I hope it fits!

So from what you're saying about sweat, I guess my original plan only to wear it from about 45-65 degree weather (fahrenheit) is a good one.

Thanks CBI - that makes me feel a lot better about wearing it with minimal maintenance. I’ll see about darning that big hole. Anyone got a good guide for farming knits?
 
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Flightengineer

Well-Known Member
Nice jacket.
Cuffs/ waistband are easy to change ( MASH) or darn.
Holes...leather glue mixed with leather dye.
Good luck.
I agree Brice. Very nice jacket.
But before replacing knitwear, you can look for a tailor who will able to repair it.
There is technology, I don’t know what it is called correctly, to restore knitwear. My seamstress owns this art and literally saved the cuffs on one my B-15, I was already thinking of replacing one. However, after her repair it is impossible to distinguish a repaired cuff from a new one.
I would try to keep this nice jacket in its original condition as much as possible.
 

Pilot

Well-Known Member
Just had a look at the holes... J is right... maybe bugs or some other nice little animals.
Best to do against... put the jacket in a plastic bag... and in the deep freezer for 48H...
Best way to kill them all and no chemicals...
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
There is technology, I don’t know what it is called correctly, to restore knitwear. My seamstress owns this art and literally saved the cuffs on one my B-15, I was already thinking of replacing one. However, after her repair it is impossible to distinguish a repaired cuff from a new one.
I would try to keep this nice jacket in its original condition as much as possible.
That’s my hope too. Is your seamstress state-side? I’d love to send it to someone I know knows what they’re doing.

Best to do against... put the jacket in a plastic bag... and in the deep freezer for 48H...
Best way to kill them all and no chemicals...
You think the bugs are still around?! :oops:
 

Pilot

Well-Known Member
As for the bugs...might be...Any chance to go behind the liner...?
If unsure, just pack the jacket in a plastic bag and deep freeze it during 48H...
Then you are sure...no more...

I have one freezer only for my original jackets...” quarantine treatment ” as soon as they come in...Works miracles...
In other words...all my originals are somehow sanitized ;)
 
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Geeboo

Well-Known Member
although that might seem crazy, if the leather condition allows, soak it in water with detergent. because what kills a jkt is the dirt & fungus, it will cause the leather to rot. Leather is fine to water [not for sheepskin with fur cos the fur will shrunk after soaking]. Those dirt & fungus are usu. trapped in seams or deep in the grain that cannot be thoroughly cleaned with saddle soap + mink oil/lexol.
In doing so, just make sure it get tones of conditioner in its semi-dry condition cos drying will take a lot of natural oil out from the leather.
 

Pilot

Well-Known Member
Geeboo is right with the dirt and fungus ...Soaking in detergent and water...huuuuhhh but...with care...
Not sure I would do it...Never did it on my originals....but yes, if with care...why not?
The huge amount of conditioner is surely crucial...
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
I’m a little reluctant to do anything so extreme as giving it a bath - I just start counting the ways I could mess that up and I shudder. o_O I’ve put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer though, as that seems like a good precaution that I can’t really mess up.

Hmm..Flightengineer, do you know anything about how she does it? Like is it a special machine, a particular technique? I’d love to chase down someone who could do this, because I’d really like to keep the original knits.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
I googled knit cuff reweaving for you. If you happen to be in the US a few places popped up that reweave sweaters and such. You might check out some of the places listed. If they don’t do cuffs, they may refer you to someplace that does.
Cheers
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
Ooh, thanks for that, B-man. I hadn't thought to use that combination of words. I used something like "perfect darning" and came up empty. I'll look into that!

Update: with those search terms I was able to turn up a LOT of options and was even able to find someone in my area who specializes in "French reweaving," which is apparently the term for this kind of repair work.
 
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