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Brooks saddles - modifying the frame/recovering

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Brooks saddles - modifying the frame/recovering

Old 10-12-13, 07:46 PM
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Brooks saddles - modifying the frame/recovering

Whenever this topic comes up there seems enough interest but invariably sidetracks the original thread, and then it is hard (at least for me) to find it.
I thought I would start a new thread.

The purpose of the thread is to exchange information and hopefully learn and improve our crafting.
Rudi (RHM) has considerable experience, and his saddles have graced a number of threads in this forum.
I have recovered a few saddles, starting in 2009 with this
Since then I have modified the work flow.
The most important one was the conversion from machine screws and nuts to homemade copper rivets.
But this required a rivet setting system.
After considerable thought and prototypes, my ever resourceful brother-in-law has come up with this work of art.


It is a three stage process for the setting of each homemade tubular rivet, with different tools for the 1. sides of the nosepiece (the flat tools) and 2. the top of the nosepiece and the rivets on the cantleplates (only one is seen in this image, the other two are on the obscured side of the anvil).
Each tool is mounted on the anvil and the flare in the tubular rivet is started, then widened and finally finished.

Other holes are for working the rivets during their manufacture.
If there is any interest I will post photos of it in use (as I do the current saddle)

I also have an interest in the work of the Ottusi and others and their modifications to the standard Brooks frame.
My current work-in-progress is

as can be seen it is from late 1959.
The cantleplate has been narrowed to 143mm wide and arched. The rear of the cantleplate has also been flattened.
The saddle at Speedplay is the inspiration.
Chuck Schmidt at the CR archive has an informative post

so contributions are welcomed, particularly from Rudi.
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Old 10-13-13, 03:08 AM
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I'd be interested, Big Block, in more photos of the various tools and their use shown. Fascinating stuff. That anvil your brother-in-law customized is fantastic.
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Old 10-13-13, 04:25 AM
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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.
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Old 10-20-13, 04:14 AM
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Making the rivets

using a suitable piece of copper (a coin) the copper is bronze welded onto a steel shaft and it is then placed into the anvil and flattened.
the rivet head needs to be punched into the size required.
so the base of the custom punch is mounted on the anvil allowing the steel shaft of the rivet to protrude into the hole in the anvil top.

with the top having the locator pins seen in the background.
with the punch assembled, a series of sharp hammer blows is used and the rivet head is punched out.

the rivet is punched with the surplus copper seen in a thin ring around the shaft of the punch

the rivet head had deformed in the process,

so it is again located in the anvil and with a few taps of a hammer is flat again


This raw rivet is then 'machined' to smooth the edges and polish the top.
I use a cheap $20 drill mounted in a vice. The shaft goes in the chuck, the drill turned on, then a metal file is used for the edges and coarse sandpaper for the top.
Not very sophisticated, but it is effective.

The steel shaft and the bronze welding can be seen in this last photo.
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rivet prep 1.jpg (97.7 KB, 247 views)
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rivet prep 2.jpg (59.0 KB, 242 views)
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rivet prep 3.jpg (48.7 KB, 243 views)
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rivet prep 4.jpg (71.4 KB, 246 views)
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Last edited by Big Block; 10-20-13 at 04:21 AM.
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Old 10-20-13, 04:33 AM
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riveting the nose

as the nosepiece is thin, the tools for the setting and the finishing of the rivet need to be thin.
There are three tools which are mounted in turn on the anvil.
the final tool used is shown in position.

This tool is the round over the tubular rivet shaft.
the nose of the saddle mounted into position

the side rivet is being set. This is a three stage process (further explained below)
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Old 10-20-13, 04:49 AM
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Cool stuff!
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Old 10-20-13, 05:03 AM
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Setting the rivets

After I have finished the nosepiece, I assemble the hardware and drill from the underside the holes for the rivets.




I have mentioned that the setting of the rivet is a three stage process.
So there are three tools each for the sides of the nosepiece and for the cantleplate rivets and the top of the nosepiece.
The tools look like this

(the ones shown are for the cantleplate rivets and the top of the nosepiece, with similar tips for the tools for the sides of the nosepiece.
The shaft of the rivet is located in the tool mounted in the anvil, then initially flared using the tool on the left, further flared using the centre tool and then flattened using the tool on the right. It is only on this last stage that the sides of the rivet are shaped to the leather.


In this image the cantleplate rivets have been partially set with the first tool. The second tool is mounted in the anvil ready for the next stage. Other tools are seen on the anvil secured in position.

The other tools are used and the characteristic hand beaten copper rivet finish is achieved.
Importantly, the steel shafts are properly secured
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partially set rivets.jpg (97.0 KB, 270 views)
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before drilling.jpg (104.0 KB, 252 views)
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rivet setter 1.jpg (53.5 KB, 236 views)
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rivet setter 2.jpg (56.0 KB, 234 views)
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rivet setter 3.jpg (51.4 KB, 234 views)

Last edited by Big Block; 10-20-13 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:03 AM
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Fascinating but the last post pictures don't seem to be working....just like a suspense film director - build the anticipation!
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Old 10-20-13, 06:08 AM
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Great stuff, Big Block. I'm curious though. Your rivet making operation is fascinating. But I am wondering why you would go to such lengths as opposed to using one of the off-the-shelf copper rivets available. Not that I don't appreciate your hand-made rivets. Unique approach!
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Old 10-20-13, 06:09 AM
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I have relinked the photos. But the final photos will have to wait until daylight (in Australia)

I have trimmed the leather with a disc sander, files and sandpaper, burnished the edges, applied Proofide and then beeswax.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Great stuff, Big Block. I'm curious though. Your rivet making operation is fascinating. But I am wondering why you would go to such lengths as opposed to using one of the off-the-shelf copper rivets available. Not that I don't appreciate your hand-made rivets. Unique approach!
because I use a thicker leather (this saddle is 6.2mm thick leather) than Brooks (max of 5mm), I need a longer shaft than the ones Brooks sell as spares. Copper rivets are scarce in Australia, and postage out of the UK for a box of rivets is expensive.
This way I can vary the head diameter as I wish for various projects.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:21 AM
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I figured it must be availability. Also, it looks as though your steel shaft is actually a piece of tubing? Fantastic effort, Big Block. I love stuff like this. Custom made tools, etc. Thanks for posting all the details.

BTW, Are solid copper coins still available in Australia? Our pennies are no longer solid copper and haven't been for some time. Here, one would have to use C&V one cent coins.

BTW, if you'd ever like to try some off the shelf copper rivets I'd be happy to ship you some. May not be cost effective, I don't know.

Great thread.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
I figured it must be availability. Also, it looks as though your steel shaft is actually a piece of tubing? Fantastic effort, Big Block. I love stuff like this. Custom made tools, etc. Thanks for posting all the details.

BTW, Are solid copper coins still available in Australia? Our pennies are no longer solid copper and haven't been for some time. Here, one would have to use C&V one cent coins.

BTW, if you'd ever like to try some off the shelf copper rivets I'd be happy to ship you some. May not be cost effective, I don't know.

Great thread.
our copper coins are not in circulation but technically are still legal tender, so should not be used.
The steel shaft has been sourced from disassembling conventional pop rivets. Convenient way of obtaining the size and characteristics needed. (again my resourceful brother-in-law)

My other project has been the making of some reproduction Shockstop honking rubbers. So you can see I don't take the easy path if I can take a difficult one.
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Old 10-20-13, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Big Block
our copper coins are not in circulation but technically are still legal tender, so should not be used.
The steel shaft has been sourced from disassembling conventional pop rivets. Convenient way of obtaining the size and characteristics needed. (again my resourceful brother-in-law)

My other project has been the making of some reproduction Shockstop honking rubbers. So you can see I don't take the easy path if I can take a difficult one.
"So you can see I don't take the easy path if I can take a difficult one."

And this , is what I love about this project! I've been known to take the same approach. Easy path? Bah...
See my Record derailleur stop pin, which turned out to be available, NOS. Go figure.

Honking Rubbers. Fantastic. I had never heard of them before.

And now I get it, using tubular steel from pop rivets. Thin enough to be malleable and "peen" properly on the back side.
Your brother-in-law is quite the toolmaker.
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Old 10-20-13, 07:05 AM
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One more question, BB. You say you're using thicker leather than Brooks uses. What thickness? 12 ounce?
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Old 10-20-13, 07:41 AM
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Great thread. Makes me like my B17 less and want to go custom.....
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Old 10-20-13, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
One more question, BB. You say you're using thicker leather than Brooks uses. What thickness? 12 ounce?
Rootboy,
The leather I used for this one is 6.2mm thick. Most leather scales don't go that far, so extrapolating from the published tables it would equate to 15-16oz.
The saddle on the 1948 Spearman (below) has leather 7mm thick or 17-18oz

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Old 10-20-13, 11:21 PM
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the finished saddle

all it needs now is years of use.

When I mold another leather cover I will update this thread.
I have a new fibreglass mold and still use the vacuum-form method.
Philip
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Old 10-21-13, 06:18 AM
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Philip, I am amazed at the amount of work you put into your rivets! I've played with solid rivets in copper and aluminum, and semi-hollow (semi-tubular) rivets in stainless steel and brass. They don't come in the right shape, for the most part; some come with an "oval" or "brazier" head , which I prefer to file flat. Some come with a flat head, which is too thick, so I have to file it down. The most pleasing, I think, are solid copper tinner's rivets, the heads of which are thick and usually a little crudely finished. I put these in a hole in the anvil and pound them out until the surface area is approximately doubled. Then I file them round and flat while spinning them in a drill more or less as you describe.

I bought a cheap 55-lb anvil (Harbor Freight) but found a cut-off from a large I-beam serves the purpose better. I can drill holes in it, or file down the corners, to suit my needs. Being thinner, it is easier to pop the rivets out from the hole I put them in for pounding out the heads.

As for setting them, mushrooming the solid or the tubular ends, I don't think I've figured it out yet. Brute force and a hammer seems to do the job, but not as elegantly as I'd like.
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Old 10-21-13, 06:42 AM
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BB: I think I get it the way the rivit is installed. I can see how the first tool "Flairs" the "Tube" shaft. I assume flair it far enough to use the secton tool to start the inverted radius toward the cantel. The last step simply forms the rivit shaft to the hole and provides the surface to surface contact required to hold the rivit in place. Does this sould close to correct?

I purchased a Brooks Pro with large copper rivit heads which I don't like, I prefer the smaller rivits used on my 72 ish Pro. The reason is the edge of the rivits can be felt on my back side. I assume that I can hammer them down to close the gap. What is your recommendaiton for accomplishing this task? Do I need a solid base foir the frame? Should I use a "punch" or just use a smooth hammer head? Would a ball peen hammer be appropriate and if so, what weight head would be best?
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Old 10-21-13, 07:19 AM
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I'll chime in a bit SJX, since BB is probably asleep at the moment.

When I did the copper rivets on my Ideale 92, I used a small cobbler's hammer. Weight doesn't matter much as you can adjust your blow, but a light hammer, and light taps, is all that is needed.
But what does matter, IMO, is the face of the hammer. I would suggest that if you have the where-with-all, and I suspect you do, that you polish the face of the hammer. As smooth as you can. I've got a mirror finish on one of my cobbler hammers. I did it on a 3M Scotch Brite deburring wheel, very handy item, but can be accomplished with wet or dry sandpaper on a flat surface.

Soft blows, around perimeter of the rivet head but with the head of the hammer "centered" near the center of the rivet, if that makes sense.
And it does help to back them up with something. Hard to do in the cantle plate, but a 1/2 or 5/8 steel rod, slightly rounded off, held in the bench vise works well enough.
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Old 10-21-13, 07:28 AM
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Cool
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Old 10-21-13, 08:11 AM
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Thanks rootboy!
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Old 10-21-13, 03:32 PM
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Rudi,
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.

And thanks Rootboy for your input, time difference as I am on the other side of the world.

SJX yes you have understood what I was trying to convey.
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Old 10-25-13, 02:03 AM
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Peter, my brother-in-law has provided the following workflow and photos on the welding of the rivets.

The pop rivet used is a plain steel rivet 4.7mm OD x 11mm long. (about 5 cents each)




With the inner shaft removed a small dob of silversolder flux is applied to the pop rivet head, and the rivet positioned close to centre over the copper blank.
A homemade jig clamp was used to hold the pop rivet whist bronze welding.



The copper blank is heated with oxy torch till the bronze would melt and flow around the rivet head. (the weld can be done with Mapp gas but not as quick and easy as a oxy torch)


Job done!

Note:- silver solder was tried, but it was not strong enough and the weld broke during the pounding of the rivet head with the rivet setting process, this is why we went to bronze welding, and as yet have not broken a bronze welded rivet.

The hollow stem rivet makes it very easy to drill out should you mess up during the rivet process of attaching the saddle.

As for the source of railway iron, well thats why Adelaide trains are rough to ride in, mainly because of me out late at night with a hacksaw collecting anvil material.
Joking, the anvil was hacked out of a section of scrap that was once used as a fence post salvaged from a job, it dont look so pretty in its original form.


No i am not a tool maker or even an engineer for that matter, and the tools are little more than ball bearings and the heads of burgle head screws cut and bronze welded to various sections of steel.

It was nice to read the kind comments about the tools, but really its not much more than a few bits of scrap junk made to do a job, and the real skill is what Philip is doing with the complete fabrication and assembly of the saddles, and his attention to detail.

I dont even like push bikes, much prefer a grinder and welder anyday!

Peter.
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