Leather would first arrive in the beam house where it was washed and soaked, to remove all dirt and grime. It is also to
loosen the hide from the folded positions, prior to being put into the lime pits. It was then ran through a fleshing
machine to remove any flesh that was left, and then it was placed in the pits. There were a series of lime pits, with more
forceful solutions of lime and sulphide in each, as the hides were rotated from pit to pit on a 5 - 7 day cycle. Once the
hides reached the last set of pits, and were finished, they were removed. Then the hair was removed by hand, usually
using a porous rock like a brick, to help scud the hair off. Later a machine was purchased to forcibly remove the hair,
which made things a lot easier and sped up productions greatly. The hides were then washed again, to remove excess
lime. Then some were ran through a shaving machine, to thin them down to a weight that they needed to be tanned at.
Moser usually never split in the lime, so to speak, but would shave to a desired weight. What this did was to leave as
much weight on the hide as possible, and to clean them up while not sacrificing the strength of the hide. Basically
leaving the leather to as much of its natural weight as possible, unless they were making strap weight leathers. Once
the leather was de-limed, then it was bated and pickled, which made it ready for tanning. Bating and pickling restores
PH to the leather which will make the tanning agents adhere to the core of the leather (in lay mens terms). The extracts
that were used in the tan yard, were a mix of Quebracho and other bark tannings. These were actually ground on site,
and then heated with a hot water solution. This was pumped into the tan yard, which was heated to 72 degrees
temperature. This was a year round temperature. The leather was hung on rockers vertically with approx. 70+ sides
per pit. These rockers would move slowly, but steadily, for approx. 4 - 6 weeks OR until the leather was tanned to its
core. Some leathers were tanned in drums, using a quicker tanning method, which could be done within a week.
Rawhide was done in approx. 3 days, where the hair was taken off, and then the hides were basically not tanned hides.
Rawhide is used for making drums, and braided horns and cantles on saddles. It is basically raw hides, that have not
been finished out. The whiteness to them is because they were bleached in the drum. Lace Leathers that were made
at Moser, were done on chrome tanned stock, that was chrome tanned elsewhere. It was then re-tanned in house at
Moser, with various colors. Once finished, it was then cut into lace. Alum tanned lace was done in house. Auburn
Leather purchased the Caldwell portion of the tannery, and continues to manufacture the lace leathers at their plant.
When Caldwell/Moser closed the New Albany Plant, we moved part of the operation to Hamilton, Ohio. We also
purchased a lace company in Bonne Terre, Mo from Wilson Leather Company, which was called Custom Made Lace.
We ran this for a while, and then in 2006, Auburn Leather Company purchased that department from us, and we stayed
on as their sales reps. We continue to represent the lace leather customers that we acquired from Wilson Leather, and
loyal Moser customers, Auburn also purchased Triple C lace, which makes them the biggest lace maker in the United
States. We can strip cut lace leather, or any hide at our facility, but bundled laces are Auburn's specialty. You can use
your original Moser lace numbers, and we will convert it to their number system that they are now using. Some colors
have been discontinued, but may be made again if you order enough quantity.
Note the overhead rail type system that was used to help pick up the hides to move them from pit to pit in the lime yard.
These hides were heavy when they were filled with lime and water!!! Imagine the work that was done in the old days
before the overhead system was developed. It is hard to keep your prices cheap when you figure this kind of work!
This is showing where the leather was being buffed on the back side to snuff the back.
Some of the saddle makers like to use the back side of the leather to make roughout
saddles and buffing the back side is done to accomplish this. Also this is done to clean
the leather up a bit if there is a little too much flesh left on the leather.
This is a view down wash row as it was called. Many things were done in these drums from coloring to tanning,
depending upon the project and phase of the tanning process the particular item was in. Most of the plant was laid out
in an orderly fashion, but there were some operations that criss crossed the plant. We have a small drum in our
Hamilton plant, as well as the original dipping tanks for making harness and bridle leathers, which we still use today. We
do a lot of hand stuffing, similar to what Tenn Tann used to do in their TN plant. Making hand stuffed, bridle and latigo
leathers is something we have continued to do. We can convert regular vegetable tanned leather into these leathers,
just like the big tanners do because basically that is the foundation that you start with. Everything we are doing,
including some tanning is small scale compared to the old days, but what isn't? We are doing contract tanning with
other tanneries, here in the United States and abroad. We are using our formulas to get the results we want, and then
doing finishing work in our plant. We have a small dipping operation we set up in Texas to help save freight on U.S.
hides we tan in Mexico, and convert into harness leather. We especially have a niche using Bull and Extra Large Steer
Hides that have an extremely large yield that many harness makers like for check lines, etc. The weight is heavy. They
are also very long, and the tack people like them for long reins. Our Mexican affiliates do not mind working with such
large hides, where some of the American tanneries have problems running them through the system.
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