By Craig Brougher
|The Player Piano Co in Wichita, KS informs me that they now have a shipment of the very wonderful kangaroo pouch leather from Australia. This stuff is unbeatable. For those who don't trust sealants at all and yet want a tight thin pouch averaging .010 or less, this is the best there is, and you can't tear it. It is also thinner than sheep. So at about $6.00/ sq. ft, it is an excellent buy. For those building pillow pouches, I recommend it over zephyr skin, since I have not been able to locate decent zephyr skin, anyway.
Australian pouch leather is better because the density of the leather is greatest close to the epidermis. Sheep leather is relatively porous where you want it to be strongest and tightest. You are therefore able to tan and sand the skin of Kangaroo much thinner without voids and tearing, and so, make beautiful, soft, super-tough skins which are perfect for pouch leather (and smells so good, too).
The pouch leather of the teens and 20's was taken mostly from herds of 2 yr. old scottish sheep bred just for that purpose. Today, pouch leather is taken mostly from animals raised for food, and much of it is just too weak, since the animals are watered heavily and ranging is discouraged.
To give you an example of its weathering qualities, one needs to look no further than Duo-Art accordion pneumatics. It was the factory's idea to cover these in pouch leather, which, in our area, lasted about 50 years when exposed. After that, it disintegrated. When these were recovered with new pouch leather in the 60's and 70's and resealed with (you know what)-- rubber cement-- the new leather lasted between 8-15 years. Then you could stick your finger through it. By 5 or 6 years it was leaking like a seive, anyway.
If we kid ourselves that we are the good guys using authentic original materials and then it falls apart like that, we can no longer preach that we have not "changed" what the builders intended. It is far better to have used long-lived pneumatic cloth on those external bellows than to have adhered to the "original" materials which disintegrate that rapidly.
Even if modern sheep pouch leather were preserved with a sealer like Dow Corning 111 silicone grease and talcum powder it would have, by now, stretched about 20%, unless countered by straps which you would have tacked around the accordions or else. (a few Duo-Arts used them). New pouch leather for internal pouches is still better than the old original stuff, and will not disintegrate being used as pouches because they are enclosed. But as long as we have offered the world's finest pouch leather at low prices, why not take advantage and stock up? I think I will.
(Message sent Tue 28 May 1996, 12:36:14 GMT, from time zone GMT.)