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When is it a ghost and not a Brooks?

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When is it a ghost and not a Brooks?

Old 12-18-12, 03:51 AM
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ftwelder
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When is it a ghost and not a Brooks?

I have a couple of "beyond gone" leather Brooks saddles. The first one I tried to do something with simply just got worse and just looks like beef jerkey. I think it's too oily.

I know a couple of the brain trusts here can make new covers and the one mentioned above will have to be recovered.

This was was soaked in water (which took only seconds) and reshaped and dried again. As you can see, the cover is cracked.

I read a thread, perhaps years ago where someone had sanded the surface of a toasted Brooks and treated it somehow. I was also thinking of sanding it except the logo and using shellac to try to re-tan it. I am sure it will still be useless but I have others to use on ride days.

Any ideas?


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Old 12-18-12, 04:18 AM
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When is it a ghost and not a Brooks?

To my eye, the saddle looks like it can be revived. How to go about doing that, I'm not sure. I love those old Brooks saddles.
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Old 12-18-12, 05:39 AM
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Nice oval badged Brooks FT. My only good experience with a saddle of that condition was to Proofhide it, then I applied tan shoe polish and buffed it. Looks old, cared for and ****ions well. My son has it on his daily rider. It's 'patina' cracks. lines and all, look appropriate to the age of the bike and he puts it to good use.

The bad experience was with a dried out Wright's that I let soal up proofhide for a week. The result was a very soft and supple saddle that I had to lace to keep it from becoming an a$$ hammock.

IMO, I wouldn't sand it, let it's age show.
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Old 12-18-12, 06:24 AM
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If you shellac it, the shellac will crack. I tried it on tan cork bar tape, and it was cracking within a week.
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Old 12-18-12, 06:46 AM
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I have a couple saddles on which the top surface has cracked and crazed like dried mud, countless little flakes, all curling up at the edges, separated from one another by shallow cracks. In other words, the surface has turned into something completely different. With something like that, you can use sandpaper to remove the flakes and smooth the underlying surface. Then, I suppose, you can add some kind of coating to put a new, artificial, surface on the leather. I would not bother. When a saddle gets to that point, it is time to put new leather on it.

For what it's worth, I've only seen this on Ideale saddles. I think they put some kind of surface treatment on the leather, which in time destroyed the surface completely. Here, look:
See, it's an Ideale 80! pretty lovely, eh?

Your saddle is not that bad. You have surface cracks, but the surface is still present. Beyond reshaping it, and applying some neatsfoot oil and/or proofide, I don't think it needs much. If you want to put a nice sheen on it, beeswax is pretty safe. There are other things you can try, such as tung oil furniture polish, but I don't know what effect this will have on the surface.

What you have, of course, is a museum piece. I would not ride it under any circumstances, unless you want to put new leather on it anyway (which I'd be happy to do for you). I think this saddle is worth more to you in its present condition than if it were turned into an essentially new saddle.

As for that Ideale in the photos above, well, I made something useful out of it. Here it is with new leather:

Last edited by rhm; 12-19-12 at 07:33 AM. Reason: Maybe it wasn't clear, I put new leather on that Ideale!
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Old 12-18-12, 06:50 AM
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Frank, shellac is not the answer unless you plan to never ride it. Even then, something like Tung Oil I think would be better. rhm* needs to check in on this conversation.

EDIT: *He did! He did!
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Old 12-18-12, 04:08 PM
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Can maybe a suede type finish be more easily achieved instead of trying to revive the original smooth/polished surface??
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Old 12-18-12, 05:04 PM
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Here is some advice I'm re-quoting from blaise_f, who really knows his way around leather:

Originally Posted by blaise_f View Post
"Oil" is a broad term. Use NOTHING petroleum based - that attacks, dries and destroys leather. Proper restoration requires patience of a saint. Soak in neatsfoot oil (NOT compound), let it soak in, naturally "dry", repeat and massage cracks with spoon.
(Quote from this thread.)

For what it's worth, I had a fair amount of success reviving (not quite restoring) a well-worn Ideale saddle. There are still some cracks, mostly on the sides, which I did not try addressing using the advice above. However, after soaking in a bucket of water for a couple hours, then reshaping, and adding some proofhide, the saddle has remained hard and I'm optimistic I will get many more miles of usage.

Before:


After:
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Old 12-18-12, 05:33 PM
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What if you laminate some sort of reinforcing membrane under the old leather to buy it some more life...maybe a material simialr to what Gyes/VO has in their new leather saddles?? Or maybe you can use a thin new leather piece and bond it on with contact cement...maybe...??
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Old 12-18-12, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I have a couple saddles on which the top surface has cracked and crazed like dried mud, countless little flakes, all curling up at the edges, separated from one another by shallow cracks. In other words, the surface has turned into something completely different. With something like that, you can use sandpaper to remove the flakes and smooth the underlying surface. Then, I suppose, you can add some kind of coating to put a new, artificial, surface on the leather. I would not bother. When a saddle gets to that point, it is time to put new leather on it.

For what it's worth, I've only seen this on Ideale saddles. I think they put some kind of surface treatment on the leather, which in time destroyed the surface completely. Here, look:
See, it's an Ideale 80! pretty lovely, eh?

Your saddle is not that bad. You have surface cracks, but the surface is still present. Beyond reshaping it, and applying some neatsfoot oil and/or proofide, I don't think it needs much. If you want to put a nice sheen on it, beeswax is pretty safe. There are other things you can try, such as tung oil furniture polish, but I don't know what effect this will have on the surface.

What you have, of course, is a museum piece. I would not ride it under any circumstances, unless you want to put new leather on it anyway (which I'd be happy to do for you). I think this saddle is worth more to you in its present condition than if it were turned into an essentially new saddle.

As for that Ideale in the photos above, well, I made something useful out of it:
Miraculous resurrection!
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Old 12-19-12, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
As for that Ideale in the photos above, well, I made something useful out of it:
What did you do to that exactly??? Looks awesome.
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Old 12-19-12, 02:13 AM
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Well, these saddles have really brightened my day! It looks like neets foot oil and bee's wax will be my first step. Thanks!
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Old 12-19-12, 04:24 AM
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1. sand it til you can hardly see the cracks - as much as possible. don't worry about losing shines.
2. apply generous amount of leather food e.g) Pecard. leave it for a day or two. do it again. repeat like for a week.
3. buff it til it gets shine using cotton towel

this is how i got my 50 year old Adga re-shined. it was in quite hopeless shape.

before


sanded


dressing + dressing


after


on

Last edited by orangeology; 12-19-12 at 04:31 AM. Reason: adding photo
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Old 12-19-12, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by iptem3000 View Post
What did you do to that exactly??? Looks awesome.
Rudi made a new leather top. He turned this Ideale I found in the dump into the saddle you see below!





Here it is after a season of riding.

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Old 12-19-12, 05:31 AM
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Blown away.. you guys are amazing..
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Old 12-19-12, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by iptem3000 View Post
What did you do to that exactly??? Looks awesome.
Sorry, I was not clear. I put new leather on it. There was no hope for original leather.
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Old 12-19-12, 07:50 AM
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A hide scraper , a leather treating tool normally used for the back of the leather surface before tanning, works well for this . It is shaped like a crescent moon, with a handle added in the middle of the inside curve. You can very carefully remove the treated , finished layer , only about a 64th of an inch thick, and expose the unfinished hide underneath , suede leather .
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Old 12-19-12, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
What if you laminate some sort of reinforcing membrane under the old leather to buy it some more life...maybe a material simialr to what Gyes/VO has in their new leather saddles?? Or maybe you can use a thin new leather piece and bond it on with contact cement...maybe...??
The saddle has a second layer underneath. It's a B15 I think.

Orangeology has a great result. That looks awesome.

The new covers are sublime. That is really beautiful work. Rudy did that?

We should get together and make a bike.

Last edited by ftwelder; 12-19-12 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 12-19-12, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
We should get together and make a bike.
It took you this long to think of that? The two of you, working together, would be unstoppable.

We really must find a way to make this happen. I'll drive you, Rudi.

Frank, I have one of RHM's saddles. I think it's #23. I've abused it, and it looks bad, but it's a great, great saddle.
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Old 12-19-12, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
We should get together and make a bike.
It took you this long to think of that? The two of you, working together, would be unstoppable.

We really must find a way to make this happen. I'll drive you, Rudi.

Frank, I have one of RHM's saddles. I think it's #23. I've abused it, and it looks bad, but it's a great, great saddle.
Tom! You abused one of Rudi's creations! Repent you C&V sinner and treat your saddle with respect!
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Old 12-19-12, 07:14 PM
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Don't worry about it, Bob! I need data on how they stand up to abuse. Tom can do anything he wants to that saddle, as long as tells us what he did, and posts photos.
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Old 12-19-12, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Don't worry about it, Bob! I need data on how they stand up to abuse. Tom can do anything he wants to that saddle, as long as tells us what he did, and posts photos.
Speaking of which, I'll try to take a new photo of the Ideale so you can see how it darkened up after one riding season (about 350 miles on that bike).

Edit: I added an updated picture above.
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Old 12-20-12, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
We should get together and make a bike.
please do! subscribed to the build log already.
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