Synthetic Motor Oil

Please share your knowledge on how to keep your vintage gloves in great shape and looking sharp.

Synthetic Motor Oil

Postby bbrah » March 5th, 2010, 6:58 pm

I had a throwaway garage-sale glove and decided to try out synthetic motor oil as a conditioner. I followed my normal cleaning procedure of fast-orange with pumice and let it dry for more than a month. I poured about a cup of Mobil 1 full-synthetic (10W-30) into a large bowl and dabbed a wad of paper towels in the oil. I rubbed the glove down with the paper towels until it was completely covered. I did this a few times until the glove was uniformly wet. The results were very good. The oil darkened the glove about as much as petroleum jelly, but didn't leave the glove greasy. The glove started out as a board, and is now fully playable. Oh, I also relaced it. I forgot to take before photos, but here are the after photos:

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Re: Synthetic Motor Oil

Postby Number9 » March 6th, 2010, 1:39 am

Wow. That is surprising. Proceed cautiously. I hope your glove shrine doesn't involve candles.

I have a basemitt from the 20's that has obviously been dipped in a petroleum bath. Ninety years later, it looks like it was coated with roofing tar.
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Re: Synthetic Motor Oil

Postby bbrah » March 10th, 2010, 9:07 pm

Yeah well, I'm sure that Mobil 1 is not more flammable than Vaseline, and that's what I normally use. I decided to give it a try because I remembered when I was a kid my grandpa used light motor oil to condition his gloves. I've got his Rocky Colavito and it's a little dark, but by far the best vintage "player" I own. Results-wise, I don't think motor oil is any worse than Vaseline, and it's a heck of a lot easier to apply. I'm going to give it another go on an old Hawthorne I've got and I'll post my results.
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Re: Synthetic Motor Oil

Postby BretMan » March 11th, 2010, 12:37 pm

Synthetic motor oil is certainly less toxic than conventional motor oil. Dig around on the internet and you can find Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for either product.

Synthetic oils are generally regarded as a possible source of mild skin or eye irritation and that's about it . Conventional oils are regarded as carcinagenic and carry heavier warnings against skin contact, eye inflammation, inhalation or ingestion. The handling, waste removal and spill requirements are much more stringent for conventional oil.

What exactly the long-term effects of motor oil on leather might be, I don't have any idea. The data sheets say that oil has a balanced pH- neither acidic or alkaline- and that means it probably wouldn't be particularly damaging. Too much might make your glove saturated or heavy, but that could happen with anything you put on your glove. Might excess oil trapped in the leather tend to migrate to the suface, giving the glove a slippery or gunky feeling?

Personally, I think I'll stick with glove conditioners that I know are safe for leather- and safe for me, too!
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