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Sagging leather saddle

Old 10-29-19, 01:45 PM
  #1  
WGB 
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Sagging leather saddle

I know there are older threads with this as a subject but just seeking any new advice or recent attempt info.

I just acquired a leather Sprint saddle, circa 1966/67. Surprisingly the leather is still quite good and it is reasonably tight to the top, though I do forsee having to tighten it's nut about a 1/4 to 1/2 turn. I have added the Proofhide and will give it several days to absorb before reviewing the tightening option and I have added a drop of oil to the threads as the bolt probably hasn't been turned since it was new. The real problem is the sides are very saggy/loose. The saddle is not overly valuable but if it's a reasonable price to fix it, I'd like to save it.

I am strongly considering using lacing to bring the sides in a bit.

First question: Should tightening the adjustment bolt pull the sides in anyway? I'm guessing not but asking incase I am missing something.

Second question: If I have to lace, should I just go to a shoe repair store and have holes neatly and professionally added along with brass eyelets? Lastly how many holes would anyone suggest? I'd guess 4-6 holes per side?

Side view (I should have waited until I had better light as photo seem to show saddle finish as dull)



Top view showing sagging




Underside - old underlay is cracked and falling apart

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Old 10-29-19, 01:50 PM
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I recently reshaped an aged Brooks B15 that still felt rigid by giving it a 15-20 minute soak in cold water and stuffing the underside with newsprint to get the desired shape. I also lassoed it gently to pull in the sides while it dried. Proofide after. It has held its new shape for a couple of rides so far, so it was worth the effort. Sorry, I did not take pics.
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Old 10-29-19, 02:22 PM
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Careful...... when a saddle is that old and stretched,......it could be only a couple of turns of the tension bolt neatly from tearing apart at the rivets....
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Old 10-29-19, 03:28 PM
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"I am strongly considering using lacing to bring the sides in a bit."

That's really the only way to do it. Just use a small drill bit. No drill needed. You can put the bit in a set of vise-grips. Make two (or more) holes in each skirt. Be careful not to make them too close to the bottom of the skirt for fear of it tearing. Then remove one of the laces from those black dress shoes you never wear. Lace it in the four holes. Pull it tight and make a simple bow in the middle. It can be easier with a helper to keep it tight while you secure the lace.
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Old 10-29-19, 10:14 PM
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C.S. Osborne rotary hole punch .
no eyelets no closer than 12 mm on center apart.
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Old 10-30-19, 03:14 AM
  #6  
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Too much of a good thing

Go easy on proof hide. Less is more, too much can ruin a brand new saddle and /or a perfectly good saddle that could have lasted decades if it hadn't been overdone with dubbing.
Your tensioning bolt looks like it is on the factory slack setting.
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Old 10-30-19, 04:58 AM
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Worth doing? Of course! I'll only add that once your saddle starts sagging badly, its really just the beginning of the end. The tensioner is really only there to adjust firmness - not to take up a bunch of sag. If you do use it for that, the saddle becomes more and more distorted and gross. Like @SurferRosa said, the only real way is to lace up the skirts, however that's only stalling the inevitable. Also beware that once you lace up the skirts, the saddle will never feel the same. The laces change it from a hammock to a box. It may take some getting used to.

No worries - hey, the "inevitable" could be many years away. Just don't put any more leather conditioner of any kind on it.
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Old 10-30-19, 07:28 AM
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As bought




After i got it home I simply wiped it down with damp towel and then buffed in a little brown boot polish for the scuffs and finally the Proofhide. Actually a thin coat of Proofhide but picture taken within a minute of that which explains why the seat glistens. I'd planned to let sit a week before tightening the nut.

Your tensioning bolt looks like it is on the factory slack setting.

Seller said she couldn't ride the bike because the seat "wouldn't adjust". I think she meant she was trying to set the ubolt clamp underneath the seat but that wasn't solving her problems. The factory slack setting maybe why that happened. The tightening bolt hasn't been touched in a long, long time.

It was a $25 bike so if it goes, it goes. I see a lot of people aren't fans of Sprint seats but the leather is surprisingly thick.

I may try noobinsf's method before drilling: "I recently reshaped an aged Brooks B15 that still felt rigid by giving it a 15-20 minute soak in cold water and stuffing the underside with newsprint to get the desired shape. I also lassoed it gently to pull in the sides while it dried. Proofide after. It has held its new shape for a couple of rides so far, so it was worth the effort."

If I do go this route I'll photo and post for posterity.
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Old 10-30-19, 11:18 AM
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Too old for the drill

I would lace as the last resort. Change the rivets to bigger ones or leave the current crop and add some more. But definitely get some WD 40 on the tensioner bolt and wind it. If the bolt rotates grip the very end of the thread with some locking pliers and work the nut. You have the whole tension range available but keep the tension to the minimum suitable for your weight.
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Old 10-30-19, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
I recently reshaped an aged Brooks B15 that still felt rigid by giving it a 15-20 minute soak in cold water and stuffing the underside with newsprint to get the desired shape. I also lassoed it gently to pull in the sides while it dried. Proofide after. It has held its new shape for a couple of rides so far, so it was worth the effort. Sorry, I did not take pics.
before drilling, or anything else, try this suggestion.
I did take pictures, and provided similar instructions at https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...reshaping.html
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Old 10-30-19, 07:29 PM
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https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...-any-good.html
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Old 10-31-19, 08:22 AM
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I would not tighten to try to restore shape. Usually what happens is that a ridge is raised down the middle of the saddle, which tries to support the weight of the rider. The problem it does not support the weigh at the sitbones. The smooth shape of the saddle at the sitbones must not be changed, at least for my butt. I think perhaps it's ok to tighten to make sure further loss of shape does not occur, if that is possible.

Lacing tends to keep the skirts in a vertical orientation as they were originally made, by keeping them from splaying out sideways. This added support (my theory) tends to stiffen the upper contours of the leather top - the skirts are placed in tension, minimizing the sag of the narrow portion of the saddle top which is no longer in pure tension. Deflection of the saddle top is reduced, cutting down the shape change of the saddle viewed in side profile. There is still tension placed on the cantle rivets, so I don't expect lacing to extend the durability of the leather at the cantle.

I also don't know if leather failure at the cantle rivets is a common failure mode in long-term saddles, so maybe the ultimate failure modes I'm imagining are highly unlikely except in the most aged or most abused leather saddles.

I think I would try Big Block's idea to first restore the shape, then increase the tension without raising even a small ridge, then ... possibly to lace, but tension the lace gently. I overdid it on a B 17N Imperial and on a Selle AnAtomica, and was not a happy rider afterwards. The laces can be too tight.
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Old 11-01-19, 01:19 AM
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Lowrider pimping

On an old hammock saddle I mounted a spring from an old saddle mid way on the rails between the nose and the seatpost bracket. I used the upper clamps off old seat posts, clamped them midway as per normal, inserted the clamp post bolt thru the bottom curl of the spring and a large flat washer on the top that pre ssed on the underside of the saddle when I hit a bump. Works a treat.
You can't see it coz the side skirting of the saddle conceals the rail anyways.
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