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Brooks saddles - modifying the frame/recovering

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Brooks saddles - modifying the frame/recovering

Old 10-26-13, 06:37 PM
  #26  
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Big Block, you and your brothers are true craftsmen in the Old World tradition; I propose that this thread be pinned so its easy to find.

Thanks for your notes- I have been thinking of how to rebuild an old B-72...
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Old 10-28-13, 07:10 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Big Block
Since then I have modified the work flow.
The most important one was the conversion from machine screws and nuts to homemade copper rivets.
Many thanks from South Carolina on this timely [for me] thread. I am considering a stab at restoring a B-72 that has an excellent frame but a dry-rotted - and now completely foobarred - leather seat surface.

If I tackle this I will probably use your machine screw method as I'm not ready to fabricate a custom anvil as did your b-in-law...

Questions: How did you machine the screws and at this thread, Post 40, were the screws you used the step-shouldered ones like the screw in the middle or the straight-sloped shouldered ones like the one on the right side of the pic?

Reason I ask is that the "finished product" shows all of the screw heads nicely recessed at or below the surface of the leather; something that I'd obviously be shooting for.

PS- LOL, my fisrt "real" car - and it was a monster - 1966 SS427 Chevy Impala Fastback Coupe with Muncie "Rock Crusher" 4-spd and manual [not power] steering and non-A/C. It would, as the GTO Guru Ronnie Gates of Rock Hill sez: "Jump over the moon". A Tonawanda Big Block indeed!
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Old 10-28-13, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by a77impala
I have recovered a few saddles and stopped using copper rivets because of the difficulty in flattening them. They are not tubular. However my local Ace hardware has them in stock, they run about $.50 each.
Steel rivets are much easier to use, I know, they don't look as nice. They run about $.20 each.
I get the leather out of a saddle shops scrap barrel, they thickest I can find 5mm at least. The last ones I did the leather was free.
I only have a 55lb anvil and some modified punches, pretty basic, I like what you are doing.
Maybe not as sophisticated as the work Big Block did but that sure looks serviceable and comfortable to me. Got any more pics & tips on your work?

The more I read and see; the more I'm considering tackling this:

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Old 10-29-13, 02:00 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by PalmettoUpstate
Questions: How did you machine the screws and at this thread, Post 40, were the screws you used the step-shouldered ones like the screw in the middle or the straight-sloped shouldered ones like the one on the right side of the pic?
Reason I ask is that the "finished product" shows all of the screw heads nicely recessed at or below the surface of the leather; something that I'd obviously be shooting for.

For the saddle in the LFGSS thread, I used the ones a friend (not my brother-in-law, as I like to share the work around) machined on his lathe to remove the countersinking. The concern was that the countersinking may, over time, split the leather. It is most unlikely.
To get it to sit below the leather you could run a countersinking bit on the drill, or just tighten it down hard. I have used both techniques, both worked well.

Make sure you get vegetable tanned leather NOT chrome tanned.
I will update this post with the leather cutting, soaking and forming next time I do that step.
Nearly the same as the steps set out in the LFGSS thread, but now with a fibreglass mold.


If you do try, please take photos and post your results and suggestions on this thread.
Philip
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Old 10-29-13, 05:50 AM
  #30  
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I have tried --and posted about-- a couple different methods I've used for forming the leather. I initially tried stretching the leather over a wooden form, much like Philip does but without the vacuum, and found it difficult. I eventually hit upon the method I described in this post (and subsequent posts in the same thread). Since then I've made all my saddles by that method, more or less, while gradually refining the jig on which I stretch the leather. That first jig was far more complicated than it needed to be, and it didn't let me stretch the leather far enough. A simpler one is described in a post on this blog, you may have to scroll down to August 20 2012. I'm now using an even simpler jig, which uses a piece of 3/4" PEX tubing, a piece of 2x4 pine, and several wedges cut from 2" pine.

Here are a few photos of my #57 , now on my Claud Butler track bike. This was a titanium frame I got on ebay. Stretching the leather; the white thing is the PEX tubing.


Since the frame is titanium, I used aluminum rivets:


I later applied beeswax to the top to harden and waterproof it, with the unintended (but not unwelcome) effect of darkening it:


The important thing to keep in mind, is that leather isn't naturally flat. It is naturally shaped like some part of the outside of a cow. So when you take a flat piece of leather and form it into a saddle (or a shoe, or whatever) you want to understand what the natural shape of that particular piece of leather was. As the cow walked around and went about its daily cow business, its skin was continually stretching and contracting. Now, in tanned form, it can still stretch and contract to a degree.

Last edited by rhm; 10-29-13 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 10-29-13, 06:15 AM
  #31  
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I hand form mine as I mount it on the frame, the leather is soaked in warm water and molded to the nose piece rivited, then molded to the rear of the frame. The rear is rivited and the leather is then formed to the final shape by hand and let to air dry.
I use a leather punch and make the holes using the old leather as a pattern. There is tension on the leather as it is stretched when the rivit holes are aligned with frame holes.
Also I stretch the leather when wet by burnishing on the back side lengthwise with a smooth hard object, I have used a piece of deer antler, that works well. An old native American method.
I tried once to use low heat to dry the leather and ended up ruining it and had to start over.
Not recommending my methods, just relating more options.

Last edited by a77impala; 10-29-13 at 06:17 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-30-13, 03:30 PM
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You guys are amazing. Your last creation is gorgeous, Big Block. And so is $57, Rudi.
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Old 10-30-13, 05:07 PM
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I'll second that Tom. The level of skill in the saddles shown here impresses greatly. Big block and RHM deserve the BF Oscar, or something. One of the best threads of 2013.
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Old 10-31-13, 06:15 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Big Block
With the hammering of the copper rivets to get them thinner, may work harden the copper. As a precaution to overcome the work hardening (and it may be overly cautious) I use a Mapp gas torch to heat up the rivet then let it cool before I put them in the drill for the final shaping. It might be worth seeing if this makes the mushrooming the ends easier.
Yes, hammering the copper definitely makes it hard and brittle, but it's a localized phenomenon; if I hammer out the head, the head is hardened; but the other end remains as it was. The solution is to anneal the copper, which you can do at any time, so you might as well do it after you've hammered out the head a bit. You have to heat the whole piece of copper up to cherry red hot, the dunk it into cold water. You can let it air cool but that is less effective.

Honestly, I haven't bothered.
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Old 12-02-13, 02:49 PM
  #35  
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Here's a photo of a saddle I did last summer. I rode 86 miles on this yesterday (I'm calling that my November Century... I know, I know...). It's an interesting saddle, though, because the way I modified the frame gave the thing a rather unusual shape for a leather saddle.



The frame was a Ross branded Speedic 170, made by Takahashi Saddle Manufacturing Co. These saddles usually have TSM printed on the bottom somewhere. The cantle plate is held to the rails by bolts (as is typical of Japanese saddles). I unbolted the cantle plate and used a vise to tip the eyelets on the rails forward a bit, so the whole cantle plate was tipped forward when reattached. Then I hammered a gentle arch into the back of the cantle plate and bent the ends inward a little, making the whole thing a bit narrower than before. And finally I bent the front of the rails downward.

The rivets are copper tinners' rivets, the heads pounded out thin as described elsewhere in this thread.
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Old 12-03-13, 09:50 AM
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Compare the shape:





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Old 12-03-13, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Yes, hammering the copper definitely makes it hard and brittle, but it's a localized phenomenon; if I hammer out the head, the head is hardened; but the other end remains as it was. The solution is to anneal the copper, which you can do at any time, so you might as well do it after you've hammered out the head a bit. You have to heat the whole piece of copper up to cherry red hot, the dunk it into cold water. You can let it air cool but that is less effective.

Honestly, I haven't bothered.
Annealing copper, I have not done that since 7th grade metal shop class... hand hammering a sheet of copper into a bowl using various hammers and lead formers.... they would not let you do that today!
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Old 12-16-13, 02:09 PM
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I found a selection of copper rivets at a local farm implement store, that might be suitable for the purpose of re-riveting a saddle. I'll post some pics when I get them off my phone. A wide, thin head with a good long post, solid copper.
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Old 12-16-13, 09:37 PM
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Old 12-17-13, 10:29 PM
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what a GREAT thread!
I'm so glad you guys are writing it and that I get to read it.
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