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  1. #1
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Brooks B72 advice

    Hey all, sorry if this has been discussed ad infinitum, but search is down

    I've just acquired a Brooks B72 saddle in a parts trade, my first leather saddle ever, yay!!! It's old and slightly dry, but seems unused. I have a few questions about it:

    * It has double rails, and bag loops. How do I mount it properly to my seatpost?
    * The leather is cracking a bit around the rivets, but this appears to be only on the surface. The photo makes it look a LOT worse. Anything I need to be concerned about?
    * the mushroom ends of the rivets have partially cracked off. They seem to be holding the leather tightly, nonetheless. Again, any concerns?

    Lastly, what do you folks prefer to use to oil these things? I know it needs to be broken in, and according to Sheldon's site there is a bewildering variety of oil that can be used on it. Is there any way to break it in without getting my pants filthy with grease in the process? I prefer to commute in regular shorts in this nice weather. Thanks for any advice!
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  2. #2
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    I would check wallbike.com. get some proofhide for the leather. There are lots of other things that will work, but the proofhide is what brooks reccommends. They also have the adapters to mount the double rail to your seatpost. I'm not sure about the rivets, though i know you can buy replacement rivets.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

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  3. #3
    jcm
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    There is a vast body of lore here on BF concerning the care and feeding of Brooks saddles. Lots of treatments work well, but there are some that can stain clothing. Like motor oil or mink oil, especially if applied to heavily on the top.

    The part you need to mount the saddle on your modern micro-adjust seat post is called a 'seat-sandwich.' It sells for about $12, which is a lot, but you need one for that saddle. Wallbike can certainly set you up with that item and the Proofide cream.

    If you use the Proofide, you should avoid the temptation to think "if a little is good, a lot must be better" Proofide contains mostly beeswax but also cod oil and other animal fats. Very good for leather but it can over condition if applied too heavily. If you over soften that saddle, you'll ruin it. And, over conditioning will open those cracks you're talking about.

    I prefer to use Sno-Seal. Others may not. I've not had any problems with staining. It provides a very good water repellent and does not soften leather. I use it on the bottom side mostly, with just a light smear on top. Brooks saddles are comfortable because they are firm, providing a cool, wicking surface that molds itself to the individual over time. More or less time, depending on how much you ride and your weight, to some degree. But the firmness must remain in order for the leather to provide the utmost comfort.

    With the search tool down, you can PM me if you would like to read my Sno-Seal method.

  4. #4
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys! jcm, I will certainly PM you about that Sno-Seal method.

    As for the "seat sandwich", I ended up making my own! I milled it from Aluminum over lunch break (nice having a machine shop available ), and got it so it fits just right. I will post photos and a drawing later.
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  5. #5
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    Thanks, guys! jcm, I will certainly PM you about that Sno-Seal method.

    As for the "seat sandwich", I ended up making my own! I milled it from Aluminum over lunch break (nice having a machine shop available ), and got it so it fits just right. I will post photos and a drawing later.
    I really miss not having my old lathe/mill.

  6. #6
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    I really miss not having my old lathe/mill.
    Well, my first take on the seat sandwich was not perfect... I did not realize how constrained the thickness had to be in order for a normal seatpost clamp to be able to grip it. I've ground it down a bit and will try it again tonight. But ya, having a mill is great. The seat sandwich requires only an end mill and a 1/4" ball mill to make
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  7. #7
    jcm
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    If this is any help, here is a sketch I just made of mine. It's from an outfit in california that you'd probably recognize but I can't recall:
    http://i6.tinypic.com/263igpt.jpg

    As you may have surmised, the "C" dim is the .280 width of the raille 'flange.'

  8. #8
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Thanks, jcm. That is almost identical to the design that I came up with on my own, with a few slight differences in dimension. I used 0.250" diameter for the rail grooves. The main problem I have is I made the grooves a bit too deep, so that the seatpost wouldn't grip the rails firmly until I ground the grooves down. Also the center-to-center width between the rails is 1.625" on my saddle, presumably this is standard.

    I think I also need a longer bolt for the seatpost. Do you happen to know the threading on a normal one-bolt seatpost?
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  9. #9
    jcm
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    yeah, you probably don't want to sqeeze the railles together too much.
    Sorry, I don't have a mm thread gage. The gearheads over in Mechanics will know for sure. They are likely pretty much universal.

    EDIT: my bolt is about 2cm longer than the stock clamp bolt.

  10. #10
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Here's a photo of my home made "Seat Sandwich", milled from a scrap block of 6061 aluminum. The only substantive difference from yours is that the total thickness of mine is 0.480", which is a bit thicker than necessary since it makes it hard to get the device between the rails.

    Now all I need is a long M8 bolt, and some SnoSeal, and I'll be riding my Brooks

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  11. #11
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    So... I finally got the seatpost mess sorted out and now I'm able to mount the Brooks on the seatpost with my home-made "seat sandwidch"

    Now my problem is that the saddle is a bit soft. I guess I used too much neatsfoot oil on it? I used less than the 4 oz that Sheldon Brown suggests (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/leather.html) but it sags about 1/4 inch when I sit on it, which seems like too much. I was wondering if it will be possible to harden the saddle... according to this page on hardened leather, the safest way to harden leather is to simply soak it in cold water for an hour or something.

    Has anyone hardened a leather saddle in this manner?
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  12. #12
    jcm
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    Hi moxfryre,
    Well you probably used a tad too much, but old leather soaks up more than new leather. Not to worry. A sag of 1/4" inch in a B72 isn't too much. They are relatively flat saddles and do sag a bit more than, say, a B17, which is more arched. Of more importance at this point: do the skirts flatten out (pancake)as you sit on it? If not, no problem. If so, you can lace the saddle to bring back the firmness. I wouldn't mess with the tensioner up front if you feel it's too soft. You can tear the leather at the rivets. Good lacing is classy, too.

    Intersting site on leather forming. Kinda goes with what I've thought.

  13. #13
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Hi moxfryre,
    Well you probably used a tad too much, but old leather soaks up more than new leather. Not to worry. A sag of 1/4" inch in a B72 isn't too much. They are relatively flat saddles and do sag a bit more than, say, a B17, which is more arched. Of more importance at this point: do the skirts flatten out (pancake)as you sit on it? If not, no problem. If so, you can lace the saddle to bring back the firmness. I wouldn't mess with the tensioner up front if you feel it's too soft. You can tear the leather at the rivets. Good lacing is classy, too.

    Intersting site on leather forming. Kinda goes with what I've thought.
    Yeah, the sides flatten out as I sit on it. Not much, but a bit. Is there any danger of the leather being so soft that it will break from me sitting on it? I assume the oil has only made the leather more flexible, not actually weaker... at least I hope so!!

    I'm sorely tempted to dunk this saddle in water for half an hour or so and see what difference it makes. I found out that Brooks are vegetable tanned, so it should be safe to do. If that isn't satisfactory, I'll definitely lace it up as you suggest. What kind of lacing is suitable for this? And thanks for the warning about the tensioner, I had considered messing with it.

    Thanks for all your advice, jcm. I'm learning a lot
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  14. #14
    Senior Member thomson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    <snip>
    I'm sorely tempted to dunk this saddle in water for half an hour or so and see what difference it makes. I found out that Brooks are vegetable tanned, so it should be safe to do.
    <snip>
    I think that will ruin your saddle.

  15. #15
    jcm
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    Cold water immersion won't destroy the saddle as long as you allow it to dry completely before using it. Don't dry it with heat of any kind - let it air dry. Ride it soaking wet and you can wreck it. I can't tell how soft it is, but it's possible to tear it at the rivets if it's too soft. It's usually one of the rear/outside rivets. If you tension a too soft Brooks, the tear usually occurs at the nose rivets.

    Yes, over conditioning does weaken leather in the sense that it makes the fibers too elastic to hold together, allowing too much stretching. That's why we are cautioned by Brooks to go easy with the Proofide or any other conditioner. You can put on all the SnoSeal you want, but easy on the other stuff. It doesn't sound like you have a drink blotter on your hands, tho.

    If the skirts are flexing a little it's no problem. They will do that. I'm talking about actually pancaking out a long ways - so that they actually interfere with your leg movement.

    FYI: If you go to this link you can see some laced saddles:
    http://www.wallbike.com/content/butchering.html

  16. #16
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Well, I immersed the saddle in cold water for 1/2 hour, which seemed to do absolutely nothing at all... a little bit of the oil seeped to the surface, but not much else. It did not seem to be softer at all in this soggy state. So, I decided to immerse the saddle in cold water for ~8 hours. This morning, there was a lot of oil that had seeped out of the leather, and it seemed to be slightly soft. I wiped off the water, wrapped it in an old T-shirt, and used tape to wrap it firmly into the desired shape (I bent the skirts a little narrower than they were).

    I'll let you know what's happened when this thing has dried out
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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    The saddle has been drying all day, and SEEMS dry, but I'm going to let it dry more to be safe. Absolutely nothing seems to have changed in terms of firmness of the saddle.
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  18. #18
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    Skip the alchemy. The saddles need an occasional treatment with proofhide--maybe once every few months--and an equally occasional light waxing, maybe with Kiwi neutral shoe polish and a buffing after. All this dunking and dipping just ruins the saddle or makes the leather stain your clothing.

  19. #19
    jcm
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    moxfyre:

    Remember, that thing only "sagged" 1/4" That's not too much for a 72. They are a wide model and will sag when used. It might already be stiif enough. Since you've gone and soaked it, make sure you let it dry. I'd say two days at least. I've had soaked leather work boots take that to dry. They aren't nearly as thick. The last post on skipping the alchemy is probably good advice.

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