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Fixing a vintage brooks saddle

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Fixing a vintage brooks saddle

Old 06-10-22, 02:17 AM
  #1  
nickynick
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Fixing a vintage brooks saddle

Sup evereyone,I'm looking for advice to take care of an old leather saddle.
I fond this really old and worn saddle, but after a good cleaning It apars to be pretty nice. Bt the leather is pretty worn out. Do any of you have an advice on what I should use to fix it, without getting my pants dirty everytime I ride it ? I was thinking first a lot of grease than a varnish of some sort.
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Old 06-10-22, 06:01 AM
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ZudeJammer
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dont put anything on it besides proofride and if its soft dont put anything on it but tighten up the bolt in the front, and just wear black shorts.
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Old 06-10-22, 06:55 AM
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Can you post a picture? Being "worn out" means different things to different people. If there are tears starting at any of the rivets (either the nose or the cantle plate at the back) you can probably us it for a while but in my experience the tear will eventually give way. Crackling of the surface is not a real issue other than visually.

Personally I have not used anything on any of my saddles other than the very occasional leather cleaner just for looks. Do NOT soak it in anything as that will not help the leather at all....if you use proofride or similar use it sparingly....

Mark
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Old 06-10-22, 08:22 AM
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Try judicious application of Proofide. As long as there are no tears in the leather, it should be good to ride. If/when the leather does fail, Rudi Meyer can replace it: https://www.rhmsaddles.com/
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Old 06-11-22, 07:19 AM
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I have to check but it is not in a perferct shape, plenty of cracks but no tears. I'll post a picture later.
Thanks for the advice though. Is proofride this good ? The can is probably worth more than the saddle haha
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Old 06-11-22, 07:36 AM
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I just bought a Brooks pro from our bike coop for $5.00. It looked really rough and the leather was very stiff. But there are no cracks and the tensioning bolt looks to have never been tightened. It just looks dried out and very neglected. So I used liberal amounts of Obernauf's on the top and bottom. I did this several times over the week and tightened the tension bolt just until I felt tension. I then went for a 10 mile ride two days in a row. Guess what, it still looks crackly ( is that a word) but it rides real nice. So yes save it and enjoy.
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Old 06-11-22, 09:41 AM
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I have tried to restore 2 vintage saddles with different results . both were soaked in water till saturated, wrapped or tied with zip ties back to their original shape, dried thoroughly, sanded with 400 then 1000 grit sand paper, and finally proof ride ed.

The first saddle which had lost its shape but didn't have any cracks in the leather came out like new the only issue was that there were marks in the leather where the zip ties had been. The original sanding had left the surface swede like . the second fine sanding had reduced that and the proof ride and polishing left it smooth although not as shiny as a new saddle.

The second saddle was in much poorer shape and after soaking the leather basically fell apart.
My take on this is that if the leather looks good but the saddle is misshapen from use (i.e sagging) then the soaking and reshaping will work great. If the saddle has deep cracking the leather is probably shot. The only way to know for sure will be to soak it and reshape it. If it is a goner you will be able to tell.
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Old 06-11-22, 09:57 AM
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Al right thanks ! I did the soaking part, worked great. I didn't go for sanding though, just cleaned it.
Now it has a ok shape and the leather is not teared so I guess I can just use it like this then. It feels really dry though, this is why I was thinking about grease. i'll consider the proofride if I like the ride
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Old 06-11-22, 09:58 AM
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This is what it looks like :
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Old 06-11-22, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by nickynick View Post
This is what it looks like :
I would get some proofide on it stat, that front rivet may rip or tear at anytime. I would loosen the tension bolt, let the proofide soak in and be patient. The soaking shrunk the leather at that rivet, pulling it away as it dried.

This saddle is usable until its not, they rarely fail catastrophically.
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Old 06-11-22, 03:59 PM
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I did not soak mine. Mine looked like yours except for the pulling away from that rivet. Although mine has the large copper rivets. Yes , I would also suggest backing off the tension bolt and liberally apply proffride and let it sit then take it out for a ride.
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Old 06-11-22, 04:41 PM
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the tension bolt needed to be released prior to soaking
"all that needs to be done is to detension the tension bolt and place the saddle into room temperature water."
as the leather dries it shrinks.

and zip ties will excessively localise the restraint on the leather
"If the side skirts are spread too wide, gently containing them as the leather dries is required. No force is needed, an old toe strap is traditional."
The shaping is done by holding the leather in its position which is why I used "gently containing". I use toe straps and regularly reposition them over the first few hours of drying to ensure an even drying of the leather.

BUT the water treatment is only required to reshape the leather, ie where it has gone out of shape. That is why I posted this thread: Brooks style leather saddle reshaping from where I have taken these quotes

with no 'before' photo, it is hard to suggest the appropriate treatment that would have been required or the state of the leather around the front rivet.
To spread the load around the damaged leather for that top rivet on the nose cone you could replace it with a new rivet with a larger head. The reason larger rivet heads were used in the first place is that they covered the change of hole spacing arising from the aftermarket customising of the shape of the saddle frame. The Brooks rivets are readily available. Check with a saddle shop or shoe repairer if you prefer to have the rivet installed by someone with experience.
This thread sets out how I make the rivets and install them.
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Old 06-11-22, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by nickynick View Post
I have to check but it is not in a perferct shape, plenty of cracks but no tears.
Cracks shouldn't be a problem, but keep an eye open for tears. I rode a 1967 Brooks Professional with plenty of cracks until about a year and a half ago, when it started to tear. I had Rudi replace the leather and it's good for another half century. Before and after pictures below.

Is proofride this good ? The can is probably worth more than the saddle haha
It is expensive, but a little bit goes a long way. One can lasted me over twenty years.
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Old 06-12-22, 06:44 PM
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Be careful how you store the proofride. I left mine in a hot garage and months later when I opened the can It had all dried up. I would suggest stashing it in the freezer if for no other reason than you will always know where it is.
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Old 06-13-22, 02:32 AM
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I would get some proofide on it stat, that front rivet may rip or tear at anytime. I would loosen the tension bolt, let the proofide soak in and be patient. The soaking shrunk the leather at that rivet, pulling it away as it dried.
Actually not really, the front rivet was like that when I got the saddle. The bolt was loose all the time, but the leather is so dry it didn't move, even with soaking.

Thanks for all your advice, I think I will give it a few rides and if I like it I'll invest in proofride and change the rivets if needed.
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Old 06-13-22, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by nickynick View Post
Actually not really, the front rivet was like that when I got the saddle. The bolt was loose all the time, but the leather is so dry it didn't move, even with soaking.

Thanks for all your advice, I think I will give it a few rides and if I like it I'll invest in proofride and change the rivets if needed.
You're welcome and it doesn't matter when the leather pulled away from the rivet, it could still rip or tear at anytime, could be a day or a decade, just keep an eye on it.

I wouldn't ride it very much but I have several and plenty of spares so..... YMMV.
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Old 06-13-22, 05:55 PM
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When I try to rejuvenate an old leather saddle, I use only Proofhide. I rub the Proof hide into the top and underside of the saddle a lot, doing my best to help it penetrate. Then, I put the saddle in a plastic grocery store bag, sort of seal it up but not air tight, then put it in a window that gets the sun. The contents heats up and helps the leather to soak up the liquefying Proofhide. That said, there are no guarantees about the structural integrity of the leather itself. You can make it pliable again, but you cannot restore its original strength or even shape. Best of luck with your butt purchase endeavor.
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