re-proofing a waxed cotton jacket

8:14 a.m. on December 12, 2012 (EST)
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In 1993, when i first learned that i had passed the bar exam after law school, i treated myself to a Browning waxed cotton jacket.  the kind of fabric you see from Barbour, Driza-Bone today; Browning appears to have abandoned this kind of jacket.  it's windproof, waterproof, heavy, a pretty warm experience if you are walking fast or climbing, unless it is very cold and windy.  it wouldn't be my first choice for hiking or backpacking, but i still wear it on rainy, windy days outside for doing something lower-output.  on the plus side, and the non-hiking side, it's a great-looking jacket and a nice alternative to leather.  

over the years, the fabric gradually lost its water-shedding capacity.  over the past few weeks, i finally got around to re-treating the jacket.  Barbour sells small tins of oily/waxy stuff you can apply to the jacket.  a couple of reflections on what became a time-consuming experience.

first, the instructions that say 'apply in light coats' are very important and time-saving.  i smeared too much on at various places in the jacket, and it left the surface feeling tacky, even after using a blow dryer at a hot setting to help the waxy/oily treatment sink into the cotton.

second, the blow dryer is crucial.  extremely hard to get an even coat without it.

third, make sure you have plenty of cotton rags on hand to wipe off excess, spread the hot/melted stuff after using the dryer.  you will want to throw those cotton rags away after doing this rather than putting them in a clothes washer.

fourth, be patient.  in our spray-on, wash-in world, re-treating this kind of jacket is a time-consuming process that requires a fair bit of elbow grease to do it right.  

12:02 p.m. on December 12, 2012 (EST)
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I have had Filson's for years.  You have described in detail a great way to waterproof waxed cotton and I will be sure to try it one of these days.

2:03 p.m. on December 12, 2012 (EST)
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I've had Filson stuff since the mid sixties. Their wax is pretty much just wax, so your technique of a blow drier is a good one. I've also got some Belstaff that I used when touring on motorcycles. The Belstaff wax is soaked in a solution of white gas, or at least, used to be. This made it easier for the wax to soak into the fabric. I would refrain from using a blow drier with this stuff since you might ignite the fumes. I'll note that some Filson fabrics have a "dry" finish. You will ruin these by putting wax on them. One trick I do with the Filson wax(also Snoseal on boots) is to put the tin in a pot of hot water on the stove. That melts the wax and if you get the item of clothing warm it is easier to get the wax soaked in.

12:35 p.m. on December 13, 2012 (EST)
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i know from research that the driza-bone reproofing stuff is a mix of wax, paraffin, and various other things.  I am guessing the barbour stuff is similar - softens very quickly if you sit the tin in a few inches of hot water in a pot, which is how the instructions say to pre-warm the stuff before applying it.  just like filson, apparently.  it's  much softer than candle wax. 

waxed cotton lasts a really long time and costs a heck of a lot today - a barbour jacket similar to mine retails for about $450 today, i paid well under $200 for mine.  ps - barbour re-proofs their own jackets for a very reasonable price of thirty dollars.  not an option for me with my non-barbour jacket, but with the tin of wax costing about 20 bucks retail, that is a very reasonable price.

 

 

3:38 p.m. on December 13, 2012 (EST)
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leadbelly, I'll note that the paraffin in Drizabone is either kerosene or white gas, rather than the paraffin wax we have in the US.

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