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1998 Conti R - Has anyone had a problem with the leather on the top middle section of the dash shrinking due to exposure to the heat generated when travelling in the sunshine.

My car is rarely used in the UK but travels to the hot climes of Europe every summer. A few years back the leather began to become unstuck and now the shrinkage leaves a small amount of the metal mounting plate exposed. Not a disaster but very unsightly when looking through the screen.

I have consulted a Bentley specialist who tells me that no amount of stretching will restore the leather to original size ( notwithstanding the fact that it is very difficult to get at with the windscreen hampering access). So the advice given to me is dash out, centre console section removed and the entire piece re-trimmed in cream and blue which are the interior colours. Cost estimate ....£ 6,000. Totally ridiculous to contemplate so any other solution or compromise would be of great interest.
 

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Who is giving you that estimate?

I agree that once the leather has shrunk back, and remained that way for any period of time, that hope of restretching is very slim. But any auto upoholstery shop (or even regular one that works in leather) should be able to do a fine job of reupholstering this at far less than the quoted figure. It's not a massive expanse of leather.

But I would consult with an automotive upholsterer to get their professional opinion as to whether the leather might be restretched with specific treatment first. They're the experts on this sort of thing. And they should know whether it's a Bentley or anything else after checking it over.
 

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The top roll is actually a sandwich of leather over foam.sheet padding, glued together. The base is most likely fiberglass and high density foam. Everything begins to fall apart with heat and unfortunately, the cells within the leather are permanently closed, hence the shrinkage.
Your best bet is to remove the top roll and have it re-covered by any basic auto upholstery shop. This is basic stuff and definitely nowhere the price quoted.
You can find local shops or ship out, should not be a problem.
PS When I bring RR parts to a shop, I prepare myself for the usual...what make car? I skirt the issue and say it's a rat rod and this part is leftover from a previous build. Trust me, it could save you money.
 

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Yep. this happens all the time in hot climates. Leather is not the best material for dashboards. My 07 Aston Martin only has 14500 miles and is suffering from the same issue. Your only option is to recover it.

PS When I bring RR parts to a shop, I prepare myself for the usual...what make car? I skirt the issue and say it's a rat rod and this part is leftover from a previous build. Trust me, it could save you money.
This is a huge pet peeve for me, that i've seen in action a few times since I got into these cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Many thanks for the words of advice although tbh I was hoping for a different solution. The Conti R cannot have just the top roll removed it needs the entire centre console surround removed as the trimming is double stitched and continuous throughout the vertical sides and the horizontal top section that has come unstuck and shrivelled. Having had extensive re-upholstery work done on many classic cars my preferred route would always be to re-trim the entire piece but in this case I am concerned that the colour on the rest of the dash top will have faded a bit and thus make a colour match very difficult and then the associated work of removing the centre section is a dreadful faff to consider which could result in future gremlins. I was thinking in terms of cutting the front 1.5" section of leather off the centre top roll and thus exposing the aluminium baseplate and then adhering a new piece butted very carefully to the existing leather with the new piece tucked generously under the ally top plate to avoid future problems.
It is invisible from inside the car as it slopes away from the top of the fascia and so only visible through the screen and only glaringly obvious because the ally and yellow glue can be seen where the leather has pulled back.
This whole description sounds like a bodge which I would never do on a Bentley but I still cling to the hope of a skillful graft rather than a fresh start.
 

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Well, again, consult with your auto upholsterer and they should be able to tell you if what you wish to do is something that can be done. We're all dealing in not-exactly-wild speculation, but speculation that could be put to bed by someone who does this sort of thing on a regular basis.
 

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1998 Conti R - Has anyone had a problem with the leather on the top middle section of the dash shrinking due to exposure to the heat generated when travelling in the sunshine.

My car is rarely used in the UK but travels to the hot climes of Europe every summer. A few years back the leather began to become unstuck and now the shrinkage leaves a small amount of the metal mounting plate exposed. Not a disaster but very unsightly when looking through the screen.

I have consulted a Bentley specialist who tells me that no amount of stretching will restore the leather to original size ( notwithstanding the fact that it is very difficult to get at with the windscreen hampering access). So the advice given to me is dash out, centre console section removed and the entire piece re-trimmed in cream and blue which are the interior colours. Cost estimate ....£ 6,000. Totally ridiculous to contemplate so any other solution or compromise would be of great interest.
2013 Conti GT V8 - Leather colour brunel
My Conti is also rarely used - only +/- 20' kms - and I never travelled with this car to hot countrys. Paint + leather looks like new. But I have exactly the same problem with the shrinkage of the leather on the top middle section of the dash. This is a manufacturing problem - they did not pre-shrunk the leather sufficient and/or did not use a proven suitable adhesive.
My dealer in Southern Germany made the same proposal - order 2 new consoles and the middle piece under the windscreen from Bentley, delivery time +/- 6 weeks, and cost estimate very
simmilar +/- 5000 €.
 

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The dealers are pretty much always going to make that exact proposal so long as the replacement part is available from Bentley at an exorbitant price. And I can't blame them, as they're all part of the Bentley ecosystem.

But there are other options worth exploring as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the responses.I have found a very reputable coach trimmer who is currently re-trimming the entire interior of an S1 Fastback for a close friend and on the back of that he has agreed to attempt a skin graft solution on my Conti by cutting off the shrunken section and applying a matching leather section which is being planed down to wafer thickness on the join and then tucked as was done on the original under the aluminium base-plate ( using 2020 adhesive and a proper tuck so that one fraction of shrinkage will not reveal the base-plate.) His challenge is ensuring that the foam padding is replicated to the same depth to ensure no step effect. we shall see and i will post a picture when sorted. The cost will be buttons compared with the silly numbers for the entire re-trim solution.
 

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Best of luck! A highly skilled leather upholsterer should be able to accomplish this with "adequate effort."
 

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Thanks for the responses.I have found a very reputable coach trimmer who is currently re-trimming the entire interior of an S1 Fastback for a close friend and on the back of that he has agreed to attempt a skin graft solution on my Conti by cutting off the shrunken section and applying a matching leather section which is being planed down to wafer thickness on the join and then tucked as was done on the original under the aluminium base-plate ( using 2020 adhesive and a proper tuck so that one fraction of shrinkage will not reveal the base-plate.) His challenge is ensuring that the foam padding is replicated to the same depth to ensure no step effect. we shall see and i will post a picture when sorted. The cost will be buttons compared with the silly numbers for the entire re-trim solution.
This sounds like a great solution to a tricky problem. I think this will be a lot easier to match the colour with a small piece - my own dash top is clearly a different colour to the sides and areas out of direct light (it's in wildberry - may be less of a problem with other colours) and I think replacing the whole section would be tricky without it standing out.

However, I have the same problem - so will be very interesting to see how you get on!

On the whole, the dash on these cars can endure a huge amount of heat battering - but the Conti R dash does have this weakness on that centre section.

Not to difficult to take the dash apart on these cars as they used proper screws and not the sort of clips and awkward fixings on mass produced vehicles.
 

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Hi
I have a Corniche II from 1986 which spent its first 28 years in USA and also has this issue.
Mine has wrinkle at the right hand side from air vent to windscreen and both far corners have areas of exposed padding where the leather has shrunk. I too opted not for redoing it due to expense and the likely hood of it being just the same in 2 yeras time.
Last winter I did recolor all the interior leather using a series of deep cleaners, sanding down and filling the larger cracks and then used a color matched impregnation product, (a big job complicated by it having dark blue leather and almost white piping). I got it all, with full instructions from a French company I became aware of at the Essen Oldtimer motor show in Germany last year.

What I noticed was it made the leather softer and more pliable, especially after using the after care cream.
I treated the dash board 2 or 3 times more with the "after care" cream in the hope of re stretching it and reducing the wrinkle. The result is that wrinkle has reduced a lot and the exposed areas in the corner have reduced a bit too, and are now so small the are covered by a small "Guardian angel teddy bear" in the windscreen corner.
:)
Not perfect but it is not an eyesore anymore.

Maybe a suitable leather feed product sufficiently massaged in could help you too?

cheers
Chris
 

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Hi
I have a Corniche II from 1986 which spent its first 28 years in USA and also has this issue.
Mine has wrinkle at the right hand side from air vent to windscreen and both far corners have areas of exposed padding where the leather has shrunk. I too opted not for redoing it due to expense and the likely hood of it being just the same in 2 yeras time.
Last winter I did recolor all the interior leather using a series of deep cleaners, sanding down and filling the larger cracks and then used a color matched impregnation product, (a big job complicated by it having dark blue leather and almost white piping). I got it all, with full instructions from a French company I became aware of at the Essen Oldtimer motor show in Germany last year.

What I noticed was it made the leather softer and more pliable, especially after using the after care cream.
I treated the dash board 2 or 3 times more with the "after care" cream in the hope of re stretching it and reducing the wrinkle. The result is that wrinkle has reduced a lot and the exposed areas in the corner have reduced a bit too, and are now so small the are covered by a small "Guardian angel teddy bear" in the windscreen corner.
:)
Not perfect but it is not an eyesore anymore.

Maybe a suitable leather feed product sufficiently massaged in could help you too?

cheers
Chris
Would be interested to know the French company you obtained from?

Many thanks
 

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My favorite leather treatment, after trying many, is pure mink oil. After allowing it to penetrate for a day or so (preferably in a very warm car) you do have to wipe down all the surfaces again if it does not absorb completely, everywhere, but it works beautifully and does not go rancid or get tacky (if you don't leave unabsorbed pools).
 

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Brian, any brand recommendation? I have used fiebing's on boots but I'm pretty sure that it contains silicone for water repellent
 

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Al, I'm definitely not talking the type that you get for shoes and boots, as that is a product that contains "other stuff," as you're well aware. When I said 100% pure, that's exactly what I meant. I purchased from a company that went by the name "Think Mink" and this is the actual page for what I bought:


They describe the bulk oil as having a "very slightly musky fragrance" but I can't even pick that up. And even if it did, it shouldn't be permanent as scent is volatile.

I got the 20 oz size and it goes a long way, unless your someone who's doing monthly (or very frequent) treatment of your leather. I used it on my Solara convertible right after I brought it home in January, and need to do a summer "hot weather" treatment, as it tends to absorb better as heat increases.

It's certainly not investing a king's ransom in order to try it and see if you like it. Many, many moons ago when my mother was a representative for a now defunct cosmetics company called Koscot, they sold a scented pure mink oil as a face moisturizer. And I can definitely say that after doing an application of this stuff to whatever leather you're using it on that your hands will feel wonderful!
 

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they sold a scented pure mink oil as a face moisturizer. And I can definitely say that after doing an application of this stuff to whatever leather you're using it on that your hands will feel wonderful!
Brian, thank you for the link. It's interesting. I met the Leatherique guys who did a product demo for us at the Mercedes Benz M-100 group gathering in 2005. They said that their product did the same. I'm pretty sure that my building gets up to about 130 degrees in the summer. I'll try it one of the cars and see it comes out.

How do you clean the leather?
 

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Joanne at ColorPlus has a softener which is part of the rejuvenation process before applying the color to the leather.
I can say the product does a fine job and use the heat to your advantage for absorption.
 
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