Leather washers might seem old-timey, an outdated relic of pre-plastic days.
But instead of thinking of them as an old-fashioned tool, think of them instead as an “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” situation. While leather washers are not universally better than their metal cousins, there are some situations where they are the ideal choice.
For example, bike enthusiasts (both bicycle and motorcycle) love leather washers because their cushioning, dampening effect reduces rattling noises and helps prevent the loosening of parts due to vibration.
Plumbing is another place where you will find leather washers are used quite widely. Get a group of plumbers together and ask what washers are best. They can talk for hours about their preferences and the advantages of each!
We have been using leather washers in our hydrants and drinking fountains here at Murdock Manufacturing since our founding more than 170 years ago. We continue to use them today because they create a tight, secure seal, and they are durable as well as flexible.
Leather washers are commonly made from the scraps of leather left over from other products, such as luggage, designer handbags, clothing, etc. So, suppose you don’t feel forking over $1,000+ for a pair of designer Italian shoes. In that case, you can always accessorize with a leather washer!
Plastic washers can crack easily, fiber washers will split eventually, and rubber washers can split and crack when exposed to fluctuating temperatures. Washer failure can cause water to drip out of the fixture and pool on the ground. When that happens in fixtures you pass by several times daily, you’re likely to catch the issue early and remedy it swiftly.
But what about a hydrant in a remote location? Or a drinking fountain in the middle of a park? Out of sight, out of mind. A slow leak, unaddressed, can mean tens of thousands of gallons of water wasted before you even realize there’s a problem.
Protecting against that loss and waste is why we continue to use leather washers. Not because they never wear out, but because it takes them much, much longer. In fact, we’ve heard reports of washers that last years before they need replacing!