Almost OT - Desk chair restoration question

I have in my possession 3 old swivel desk chairs. one dates to the 1940s, I think, another to the late '20s and the third is documented to 1898. They are all in mostly good condition with a few notable issues. The biggest issues is with casters, since every type of caster I have tried that looks even remotely appropriate falls apart after only a few months in use. Normally what happens is that the cheap metal socket that goes into the leg deforms and the casters start leaning, from there the ball bearings for the swivel quickly deteriorate and the caster is worthless. This is even with casters supposedly rated at 200 lbs. I have tried every source I could find for something reasonable, but the only ones I can find that look solid are rather modernistic in design - chrome and clear plastic. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with this short of just buying the casters by the gross and replacing them every couple of months?
Second question is on the 1898 chair. It is white oak and has a crack (along a glue line) down the length of the seat. I have just had the metal tilt/swivel mechanism on this chair repaired and want to fix the crack before reassembling it all. Am I correct in assuming that hot hide glue would be the preferred glue for this repair? This is the only wood repair this chair needs and I want to match with what it was originally built with.
Question 3 has to do with the 1920s chair. It has a cane seat (broken and must be replaced) and a leather padded back. The leather is in reasonably good shape, with no tears or holes, but is very dried out and I want to condition it before this chair goes back into service. Anyone have any recommendations on what to use on the leather?
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Tim Douglass wrote:

These look like they're high quality without looking modern:
http://www.vandykes.com/product/204509/antique-stem-and-plate-casters-1-1-4 -
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Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Nova wrote:

Never mind, I just noticed the part about, "Recommended for decorative or stationary purposes only."
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Jack Novak
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That's the problem with most of the decorative casters that look right, they just aren't built for a 250lb guy to roll around on all day. Virtually none of the casters that look like chair casters have a weight rating over 75lbs ea. and that is, if you read the fine print, "when used in stationary applications".
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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In forth:

it sounds like to me the hole in which the sleeve/collar go into is wallered out. The collar should fit snugly with no slop. You may need to drill the hole out, fill with a dowel and redrill the hole, which commonly are 3/8. If you can post a pic in abpw, I could possibly help some more
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I had the same problem on some "not so old chairs" and solved the problem exactly with that method. Still working 10 years later. My problem was that the factory drilled the holes too big.
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On Wed, 14 Oct 2009 14:58:52 -0700, Tim Douglass

http://www.kennedyhardware.com/casters /
the glue is fine but i would buy the cold version
try lexol on the leather
Regards,
Tom Watson http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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wrote:

That's one I haven't seen before. The casters there may work better because they seem to be more directly under the stem than most. When the caster is offset like most of them are they tend to put too much torque on the sockets. I'll see what these do.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Right with your analysis. That offset would be called rake in a bicycle fork, and it aids in turning/steering. If the wheel is directly under the stem the caster is just as likely to drag as to pivot and roll - bad thing on a wood floor, and not good for the chair either. Try to find a caster with just a bit of offset.
As far as the glue for the seat, why not use standard carpenter's glue? It's the easiest to work with, plenty strong and has been around for probably fifty or sixty years, and let's face it, you're not doing a museum restoration.
Lexol is pretty much the standard, but you probably don't have to go out and buy anything. Roll your own. http://www.bhg.com/decorating/lessons/furniture-guide/leather-furniture-care /
R
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On Wed, 14 Oct 2009 14:58:52 -0700, Tim Douglass

If it is the metal inserts that are causing the problem, get a machinist friend to rurn out a set of good thick ones that won't deform and install the best caster you can find that looks good.

Hide gue would likely be the "best (as far as restoration) method, but nothing wrong with a good epoxy or poly-urethane glue either.

Neetsfoot oil or connolly hide food Clean well with Lexol leather cleaner first. The connolly hide food is likely the best solution.

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On Wed, 14 Oct 2009 22:46:55 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Yeah, I think the inserts are the real culprit, but I'm not sure what to do about it. They are tapered (which is why they waller out the hole) so you can't make them fit snugly and they have to have some spring to them so that they grab the stem of the caster. At the moment I live about 400 miles away from any of my machinist friends, so that is likely to be a solution of last resort.

So far I have suggestions for neetsfoot oil, mink oil and the connolly hide food (never heard of that one, so don't know where to get it around here so I'll have to look around. Horse place maybe?). For pre-cleaning I have suggestions for Lexol and Murphy oil soap.
I am hoping to get started on the 20's chair soon - it just looks too neat to leave as is. The 1898 one is just a glue-up, so should have it back in service in a few days. The caster problems are going to be problems. I'd hate to have to pay machine shop rates for something like that - probably run $20+ each easily - but the cheap ones that come with the casters are definitely too weak for the job.
I was looking at some plate mounted casters today and they seem much stronger - but they are also not sized to fit the chair feet. -- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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On Thu, 15 Oct 2009 16:46:49 -0700, Tim Douglass

This may be seen as heresy, but what about using a "filled epoxy" to make sure the "thimble" can't deform? Put the caster in the thimble, butter it with epoxy and stick it in?
Only problem is the thing is then IN THERE - so if it fails again the job just got harder.
Or perhaps fill the hole, drill to proper tight fit, and try that. Could use a forstner bit to enlarge the hole, glue in a good hardwood dowel, and start over, or just fill it with a "filled epoxy". For a "filled epoxy" I'd use hardwood sawdust (or better yet, "wood flour" made from hardwood and a #40 belt sander) and slow epoxy resin.
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Right idea, BUT wrong filler.
Saw dust or wood flour simply soak up resin, but add no strength.
Use micro-balloons for filler.
They are low cost and the epoxy likes them.
An alternate is to buy fairing putty such as:
http://www.systemthree.com/p_st_quikfair.asp
I'd probably drill a hole with a 1" forstner bit the length of the metal insert + 1/4".
Fill hole in two (2) passes.
Anything more than about 3/4" thick pour has a chance of "kicking" since curing is an exothermic process.
NBD other than you lose some material and re-drilling hole to clean out is a PITA.
DAMHIKT.
Correctly done, resulting repair will be "strong like bull".
Have fun.
Lew
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In wrote:

yes you can make them fit snugly and they have to, to work properly. the taper has nothing to do with it The holes have obviuosly wallered out to much and need to be filled and redrilled. You will not find a antique type caster that will hold up, most are for decoration only. For daily use, try these, The Regency http://www.outwatercatalogs.com/lg_display.cfm/catalog/2009_master/page/164 I've installed hundreds of these and have never experienced the problems your describing
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Aha! If you look at those pictures the "friction ring stem" is what I want. All I have been able to get in the past is the "gripneck stem", which has a tapered socket, so your hole with parallel sides has this tapered socket in it where all the torque of the load is on the part where the socket nips in to grab the top of the stem. There is no way to support to top of that socket, so it deforms. The friction ring stem has parallel sides and the socket is supported by the wood at the top of the stem where the side load is greatest. I'm going to order some of those and see how they work.
And yes, the holes have been re-drilled and filled every time I've replaced the casters - usually with cross-grain hard maple dowels that I've turned myself. The holes right now are a rather tight fit for the 3/8" cheap sockets, but I know they won't last. Those from Outwater look like they will.
Thanks for the tip!
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Tim Douglass wrote:

One "gotcha" (maybe)...
I've used a number of casters of that type (not from posted URL). I like the (relatively) soft ball because our soil is sand and the soft ball is kinder to our floors. The problem I have had is that the stem was punch fastened to the caster plate and ultimately it and the plate loosen sufficiently to spew ball bearings all over the place. I hope these are better secured because I need a bunch too.
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dadiOH
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wrote:

Yeah, that's another problem with the cheap casters. What really torques me is that I have a 1950's metal (think military style) desk chair that still has the original casters. It has been used so much that the aluminum base is wearing out, but the casters are still good! Why can't I buy something that good off the shelf? (besides the obvious conspiracy thing)
I have always considered the caster plate deformation to be something of a side effect of the whole wobbly stem thing - in that if the stem is actually held solidly there doesn't seem to be the same deformation problems with the caster plate. When the stem is at an angle because the socket has failed it puts much more side loading on that punch fastened connection.
My wife suggested that the casters would last better if I lost about 50 lbs, but that is clearly un unworkable solution! ;-)
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
Definition of a teenager: God's punishment for enjoying sex.
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It's not unworkable, just unrealistic. ;)
R
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