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Old 02-26-2001, 03:44 PM
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I bought my 300SD equipped with a set of three year old red sheepskin seat covers bought from a Mercedes dealer. Although the covers cost over $500.00, the sun had differentially bleached them so they looked like hell. I called numerous places, but nobody would touch a re-dye job and all advised against it. To shorten the story, I worked up a procedure that worked like a charm and the covers now look like new.

Procedure for dying sun bleached sheepskins

1. Have a very understanding wife.
2. Procure the right dye. If you are not fussy and the color is right, get some liquid RIT dye from a fabric store. If you need an exact match, try your Yellow pages for “Carpet & Rug-Dyers” and find a person that does rugs and carpets; it is usually a franchise of Langenwalter Co http://www.langdye.com . Try to talk the guy into selling you some dye that will match your covers. They can mix exact colors, although it is always a crap shoot as it may not end up exact on the sheepskin.
3. Clean the covers. I simply vacuumed mine and then put them (one at a time) in the washing machine, COLD water, delicate setting, and washed them in Woolite Fabric Wash http://www.woolite.com . Do a double rinse to get all the soap out. For the final rinse, add ½ cup of white vinegar to get the pH of the wool right to accept dye. Spin all the water out that you can, then hang them up in a place where the air freely circulates to dry thoroughly in a few days. Stretch the skins as much as you can and add weights to be sure that they will not shrink. I cut a piece of closet rod the width of the skin, ran wires from the rod through the headrest holes and Hung it that way, then put a couple of gallon bottles of water in the lower section to stretch it.
4. Clean the grease from the racks and walls of your kitchen oven.
5. Get at least two (2) good quality, clean plastic sprayers (you may screw up one in the middle of the job)
6. Heat the clean oven to about 180 degrees.
7. Dilute the dye to the proper proportion. I used 10:1 ratio, although 1:20 should also work.
8. Cover the work area in the kitchen with a sheet of plastic or you will dye the tile, grout, etc. and your wife will not be a happy camper. Remember spray travels, so include the walls. If weather permits, do the job outside.
9. Shut off the oven and put the sheepskin into it to warm thoroughly for about 5 minutes.
10. Heat about a pint of the diluted dye in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave to 180-190 degrees.
11. Remove the sheepskin from the oven, turn the oven back ON. Lay the warm sheepskin on the protected work surface.
12. Wearing rubber gloves, pout the hot dye into the sprayer, spray the sheepskin and rub it into the wool with your hands. Cover all areas. Keep re-heating the dye. It will not work unless it is above 140 degrees. You don’t have to soak the wool, just dampen it thoroughly.
13. When you have done an area such as the seat or the seat back, turn the oven off and put the sheepskin into the heated oven to bake. This step will insure that the dye reaches the working temperature ON the wool. Let it sit for 5 minutes, re-heat the dye, repeat steps 11-13.
14. Take the finished cover out into the sun or a bright area and critically inspect it for missed areas. Spot dye them and re-bake. It helps to rub the wool different ways.
15. When you are satisfied, do a double rinse in your washer with cold water, Add 1/4 cup of bleach to the first rinse, spin dry and hang to dry. Rub while damp with a clean, white cloth to make sure you got all the dye out and re-rinse if you did not. Stretch the skins as much as you can and add weights to be sure that they will not shrink. I cut a piece of closet rod the width of the skin, ran wires from the rod through the headrest holes and Hung it that way, then put a couple of gallon bottles of water in the lower section to stretch it. Don’t put the covers back on until they are completely dry and no longer smelling like a wet sheep.
16. Clean up the area, including the washing machine, so you won’t get divorced. Household bleach should remove all traces of the dye. Clorox® http://www.clorox.com makes a kitchen cleaner in a spray bottle that has some bleach in it and also works well. Store any remaining dye in a capped jar in your refrigerator.

CAUTIONS
1. This will work only for all sheepskin covers. Any cheapos with acrylic backing will be absolutely ruined by the baking process.
2. Be sure to NEVER put the sheepskin in the oven when it is ON. The heating element may catch it on fire. Just in case, have a fire extinguisher handy. I used an electric oven. If you have a gas oven and have a exposed pilot light, be careful it does not light up the wool. The dye is water based, so only the actual wool may burn.
3. If you have a sheepskin headrest cover, try that first to be sure your dye color is satisfactory.
4. If you only have a very small area to do, try spraying the area, rub it in, then heat the area with a heat gun or a very hot hair dryer, or even a halogen light to set the dye. When satisfied, use a wet vacuum to remove the excess dye and clean up so you won’t get dye on your clothes.
5. Before sitting on the dyed covers, rub with a clean cloth to see if any of the dye transfers.



[Edited by Ron Johnstone on 03-07-2001 at 07:00 PM]
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Last edited by whunter; 01-20-2006 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 02-26-2001, 03:47 PM
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Sorry folks, that should be DYEING, not dying. So much for depending on spell check.
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'76 240D-Sold
'78 240D-Sold
'85 300 SD, 165K-Sold
'88 300 TE, 165K-Sold
'64 Porsche 356C Cabriolet- under restoration
'86 560SL 124K Miles-Sold
'94 320E Wagon, 74K Miles-128K Miles JUNKED
'06 E350 Wagon, 84K Miles
07 SL550, 14K Miles
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2001, 08:28 PM
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Pretty clever! I guess necessity is the Mother of Invention.
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Old 01-20-2006, 10:10 PM
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Thumbs up Interesting DIY.

Interesting DIY.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:05 PM
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Location: Red Oak, Tx
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Dyeing

I use a similar manner to dye auto carpet and door panels (carpet area) Have two Stingrays I have done. They look good.
Wash carpet good and after dried,Take the dye (RIT) pour it into a used clean butter container. (My wife saves them for me.) Put on a pair of throw away Latex gloves, get a good sponge and dab it on straight. Not diluted. Only takes a little while to dry in summer Texas heat. Makes old ugly auto carpet worth looking at again.
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:04 PM
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I have used rit in a tub and it has worked well with carpets..... dying wool should be a snap.
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