Friday, September 6, 2013

Waxing the Barbours

"In 1894, John Barbour established himself in the burgeoning port of South Shields, supplying oilskins and other garments to protect the growing community of sailors, fishermen, rivermen and dockers from the worst of the North Sea Weather. " - John Barbour & Sons
How often should one reproof their Barbour waxed items?  The conventional wisdom is every year.

Many people prefer to send their jackets back to the Barbour repair facility in Milford, New Hampshire where they can get a professional job at a very reasonable price.  Many do it themselves, although you don't have the added benefit of their heated tables, which also gets out any ground in dirt.  (However, as almost everyone waits to the last minute, the Barbour facility always gets overwhelmed this time of year.) The process is fairly forgiving.

Without regular reproofing they obviously are not as waterproof, but also can take on an old military fatigue jacket look, especially in the Sage.  The Navy, however,  can still look good for dry weather wear.


Many prefer the bare-handed approach and take care not to get the wax too hot.  Use a new sponge; old sponges tend to crumble a bit and leave behind little pieces.  Pllace the can of wax in a pan of just boiled water and wait a few minutes for it to soften, which it does from the bottom up.

Go heavy on the seams and then wipe them again after letting them hang for a couple of days.  Take a hairdryer to the jacket after waxing to even out the wax,  paying special attention to the seams 

Any bits of wax that get on the corduroy collars are easily wiped off.
Wax over any tears or worn out spots.

Bedale in Sage - One of the Neediest

With the Bedales  tuck in the knit cuffs....

... and always zip them up before starting.



The Giant Bellows Pockets of the Border Jacket

This is how it looks when one should have waited a little longer for the wax to melt.  Now it just has to be worked in more.



They will be a bit tacky (as in sticky) but not for long.   (Now all are ready for any hedging and ditching should the need arise.)



1984 Gamefair Barbour  - Before (on left) and After (on right)


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I'd prefer to do the waxing myself, too. It doesn't appear to be terribly time-consuming, instead, you're maintaining a good investment to ensure years of use. When I was a child, I remember my grandmother having some sort of waxed raincoat, dark green, maybe? I never knew anything else about it. --Holly in PA

snowysailor said...

And if not... The Barbour HQ in Milford, NH, does a fabulous job... I had some sleeves and pockets being very worn. Barbour not only waxed my coat but also trimmed worn edges with leather; the jacket is like new!

LG said...

I really need to pay attention to this lesson but I'm too distracted by that rug.

Bernie said...

I like to wax mine on a hot summer day. I put the can and coat in the sun for an hour to get them nice and hot. After it's waxed, I leave it out in the sun for a few more hours to let the wax melt into the cotton. While this is happening I smugly congratulate myself with a tall glass of lemonade as I watch the wax dry.

David Sucher said...

Any idea if one can wax other cotton jackets? I have an old cotton barn coat (not a Barbour) and it would be nice to have it a bit more waterproof. Wonder what sort of result. Thx.

Flo said...

Great timing on this post, I just purchased a Barbour waxed hat off Ebay and since I am unsure of it's origins, I will want to wash it and will then need to restore the wax finish (if it has any left to begin with). Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

I re-waxed my Beaufort last week. It took four 30 minutes sessions in the 90+ sun and half a can of dressing to get it done. I found the job easier with hotter, more viscous dressing, and it looked great immediately; no waxy build up at all.

I wouldn't wax a barn coat the wax, the wax could leach into your clothes and the overall results are unpredictable. Spray on Scotch-guard would do the trick though.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the other day that L.L. Bean is offering waxed cotton versions of their barn coats and field coats. I wonder how they compare to the Barbours (fabric- and rewaxing-wise, not construction-wise.)

Michael Rowe said...

God forbid L.L. Bean should go back to what they used to do better than anyone else, and stop trying to do what Barbour does better than anyone else.

Lauren said...

Great post! Barbour coats are such a classic!

Paul Connors said...

Is there a rule of thumb to know when a Barbour needs to be re-waxed?

I bought a new one in the middle of last winter and was wondering just how to tell?

Anonymous said...

New England Reproofers(newenglandreproofers.com) in Nashua, NH, also does an excellent job. I sent them my Beaufort last fall and it came back looking great. They also offer odor removal, which is handy since waxed jackets can't simply be tossed in the washing machine. They'll wax brands other than Barbour, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tutorial. Very helpful. I've been meaning to wax our Beauforts for two years now. I have the can of wax but it always seemed to daunting a task. Then of course by the time my husband reminds me to send to Orvis to be rewaxed, it's the wrong time of the year and we'd have to wait too for them to be returned.

P.S. Love the rug!

sara said...

You've convinced me to try this so I'm going to do so tomorrow. Dumb question though...you don't have a towel or anything underneath the jacket to protect the table. I'm assuming the wax doesn't really get on it or if it does, it's easily removed?

Agree with LG and Anonymous about your rug. It's gorgeous.

KK said...

I posted earlier that I was going to do my and my husband's jackets. Well, I did and it wasn't nearly as daunting a task as I thought it would be. I do have a couple of pointer for those who which to try it.

1. Turn the can of wax upside down in the boiling water. That way when you open it, the top is melted.
2. Put your jacket in the dryer on high and take it out the very second you're ready to apply the wax. It makes a huge difference in how easily it goes on.
3. I may want to use a towel on the table. That way you an flip the jacket over quickly and continue working.

I have a very heavy pair of rubber gloves that used so I was able to get and work with my wax very, very hot. Also, don't worry if the wax starts to turn white when you're applying it. That's just because the jacket and wax have cooled a little. I placed my wax back into the hot pot if water midway through to losen it up. I hope this info is helpful to folks.

Anonymous said...

I spread the wax out by hand in a thin layer then place it in the green house (usually this time of year here in the St Louis area) to melt in. Works great!

WRJ said...

Re: Avoiding getting wax all over the furniture--when I've done this before, I use a smaller surface (e.g., a coffee table, trunk, bench), wax the front first with the jacket zipped, and then unzip the jacket when I go to wax the back, so the freshly waxed front hangs over the sides of the waxing surface, with only the lining actually coming into contact with the furniture. Probably more time-consuming, but it works pretty well.

sara said...

Muffy; thanks for the info. I just waxed two jackets and a hat outside and used a glass topped table.

The hardest thing about the process was keeping the perspiration dripping from my head and face from falling onto the jackets. The second hardest thing was staggering back into a cool house and realizing there isn't much iced tea left from last night.

It was an easy process and it's time for summer to be over.

Joyce N said...

Love the rugs!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:51 - I bet you'd like to do the waxing yourself.

Anonymous said...

Bernie - nothing more fun than waxing (lyrically) on a hot summer day.

Paul Connors said...

Muffy:

From the time a new Barbour is purchased and if won moderately, is there some method of telling when the jacket/coat absolutely/positively needs to be re-waxed?

sara said...

Paul Connors; this may help determining when your coat needs to be re-proofed. My husband and I have had ours for years and just re-waxed them over the weekend. We wear ours about 10 times a month for half the year; obviously if we get a lot of rain or snow in the winter, we wear them more often.

I didn't think ours really needed to be done but the difference in color and waterproofing is amazing. If we continue to wear them the same amount of time, we'll probably re-wax every other year. The company recommends re-waxing every year.

It's a relatively easy process. You can't really make a mistake; if you apply the wax too thickly in some places, you can heat it up with a hair dryer and wipe it down again.

LG said...

Paul Connors: I know you didn't ask me, but...the short answer is when it is dull. When you are basically looking at the fabric.

Because I never time it right, I haven't waxed my jacket for the (around) four years I've had it. Last winter I noticed that it wasn't really waterproof anymore. I would describe my wear of it as moderate (one year I wore it all the time, the next barely at all) and I probably shouldn't have let it go over two years.

John Rosevear said...

I've never tried the HQ in Milford, but here's a belated endorsement for New England Reproofers, in particular for their repairs. They've patched up my beloved Beaufort a couple of times, and they did one for me -- a Border that my sister had worn to rags over 15 or so years --- that was more like a restoration project. It left here an absolute mess and came back looking nearly new. Their repairs are well-thought-out, done to a standard equal to the factory's, and not expensive. I may try the HQ next time around, just to see, but NER does very fine work.

SousLeCharme said...

I re-waxed my vintage Newmarket jacket then put it into 2 old pillow cases. 2 hours in a hot clothes dryer and it looks brand new. I definitely prefer this method to a hair dryer. The wax is completely absorbed due to the even heat distribution.
Oh, how I love my Barbour.