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Brooks Saddle Repairs

Old 02-13-19, 06:20 AM
  #1  
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Brooks Saddle Repairs


(before)

(after)

This Brooks B17 Standard was in a car accident. The guy riding it is fine, but the frame got pretty badly bent.



It's a pretty recent model, I'm not sure how old, probably three or five years I guess. Its owner slathered the underside with a whole lot of Proofide, which I don't think is such a great idea, but it doesn't seem to have done much harm.

I drilled out all the rivets, replaced the frame with a chromed B17 frame from the 70's, and put in new brass rivets.



It seems fine now. Owner has already replaced it, so I'm going to put this in the 'for sale' forum.
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Old 02-13-19, 06:32 AM
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A friend of mine has this Swallow with titanium frame, and he rides a lot... the leather stretched, so he tightened the tension nut a little... and it stretched more, and he tightened it some more... and after 20,000 miles of use the leather had stretched to the point he couldn't tighten the nut any more. I thought I had a photo of it as it came to me, but it didn't come out. Here's the tension bolt after I loosened the nut all the way:


After I drilled out the cantle plate rivets:


I cut off a crescent of leather from the back, almost an inch in the middle, tapering to a point at the ends, and punched holes for new rivets and the badge. I used the same brass rivets as on the last saddle. I had to cut the stitching at the ends.


I plugged the old rivet holes with a little of the leather I cut off; glued the plugs in with 'Goop,' and then soaked the back of the saddle in water enough to soften it, then curved the leather around the back of the cantle plate so it looks more or less like new.




I don't believe this one is going to last all that much longer. You can see a wide tear opening up at the left edge (see the third photo). I could probably tie the skirts together with a lot of stitching, but that would make the saddle uncomfortable. The owner thinks it's good for another 20,000 miles, well, we'll see!
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Last edited by rhm; 02-13-19 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 02-13-19, 06:38 AM
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Nice work @rhm!
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Old 02-13-19, 06:56 AM
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That first example is a switch... swapping out the frame and keeping the leather! Nice work!
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Old 02-13-19, 07:44 AM
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Private message quoted with permission:
Originally Posted by Tandem Tom
Saw your post and wondering if you might show the tools you used to set the rivets? Also are they're brass? I thought that the big ones were copper.
Copper would be nice! But I haven't found a source for big semi-hollow copper rivets. If you want to do copper, you'll want to get 'belt rivets' the kind sold with burrs (washers) though you won't use the burrs. It's hard to find them in a big enough size.

Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
@rhm Rudy, what machine do you use for setting the rivets?



That's the rivet press I use, shown here with the very same saddle as in the first post. To use a press like this, you have to put the right dies in; a flush die for the head, and a die with the specific shape for a semi-hollow rivet.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rivet-Squee...MAAOSw1ZBUyPx5
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rivet-Squee...item414f7dc9ff

I have a third die that I ground to a slightly concave shape, which I use to give the cantle plate rivets a slightly convex shape (which I think you can see in the photos above). You can do all this with a hammer and punch... but it's easier to do a tidy job with a press.

The rivets on these saddles are brass semi-hollow rivets of the kind usually sold for brake and clutch repairs. I get them from this company:

https://rivetsinstock.com/rivets/bra...ch-rivets.html

The rivets I used on these are the size BR 8-6. BR for brass, 8 for the size (3/16" shank, 15/32" head), 6 for the length (6/16, AKA 3/8").

edit 'cuz it's not every day I get to answer a question before the post asking it
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Last edited by rhm; 02-13-19 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 02-13-19, 07:45 AM
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@rhm Rudy, what machine do you use for setting the rivets?

(PS, it's been a while, but I am still interested in getting my B72 frame fixed--lots has happened in the last few years.)

*edit* (the dangers of posting in the same geographic time zone?)
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Old 02-13-19, 08:58 AM
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Bending back a saddle frame straight would not be easy as I found out just trying to flex the too wide apart rails on one of my Brooks Pros to try and install it on a seatpost clamp the rails are just a little bit over a rail's diameter too wide apart and I'm still having a difficult time with a C clamp to squeeze them together, let alone trying to get them sqeezed together enough to "cold set them to a narrower distance from each other. Dang thing just springs right back to where the factory errantly spaced the rails. No matter how much pressure I can exert with the C clamp to the point it was flying off the saddle because the clamp could not get any good grip on the rails anymore.
Only real way to fix such would be to remove the leather cover and clamp the frame on to a bench vise so you can get "heavy" tools on it to bend it back straight. Some heat should help......

Last edited by Chombi1; 02-13-19 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 02-13-19, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
Bending back a saddle frame straight would not be easy as I found out just trying to flex the too wide apart rails on my Brooks Pro to try and install it on a seatpost clamp the rails are just a little bit over a rail's diameter too wide apart and I'm still having a difficult time with a C clamp to squeeze them together, let alone trying to get them sqeezed together enough to "cold set them to a narrower distance from each other.
Only real way to fix such would be to remove the leather cover an clamp the frame on to a bench vise so you can get "heavy" tools on it to bend it back straight. Some heat should help......
Yes indeed, they are hard to bend. The one I took off, in the first post, I believe I have straightened it by using a small sledge hammer on an anvil. But I'll do some careful measurement before I use it.

If your rails are too wide, I can think of two things you might try.
1, just to get it into the saddle, try pulling the rails together with a hose clamp


2, place two pieces of scrap lumber, like 2x4's or something, about three inches apart, and put the back of the saddle over the gap, leather down. The ends of the rails should be right about at the edges of the lumber. Hit the cantle plate with a hammer directly between the rails. As you put a little bit of curvature into the middle of the cantle plate, the rails will come together. It won't take much.
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Old 02-13-19, 11:08 AM
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Nice save on both but especially the Ti Swallow. You make it look so easy ----- which, is not!
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Old 02-13-19, 02:37 PM
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I have three @rhm saddles, all with custom side stamps. Here's RHM176:

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Old 02-13-19, 06:37 PM
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RHM 185....
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Old 02-13-19, 08:34 PM
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I have a B17 that needs new rivets but it's a bit worn so would rather not invest too much in it and the factory rivets are pretty pricey. Any idea if these would fit?

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Old 02-13-19, 08:50 PM
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That is awesome work! How much does it cost for a b17 frame repair? I bent mine in a crash and was going to send it off but its going to be about 130.
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Old 02-13-19, 09:21 PM
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A tool that will narrow the seat rails to any width you want is a bench vise. I make no claim as to whether the seat will survive the experience, but those rails will get narrower, permanently.

The bench vise. The singular best, most versitle and most used tool I have ever owned. I bought my first house to have to have a place to install it.

Ben
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Old 02-14-19, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bluehills3149 View Post
I have a B17 that needs new rivets but it's a bit worn so would rather not invest too much in it and the factory rivets are pretty pricey. Any idea if these would fit?

Yes, those should work. Installing with a hammer and punch can be challenging.


Originally Posted by jamesj View Post
That is awesome work! How much does it cost for a b17 frame repair? I bent mine in a crash and was going to send it off but its going to be about 130.
Well, I charged $60, with shipping, for the B17 above....

Last edited by rhm; 02-15-19 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 02-14-19, 06:26 AM
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Rudi just finished this vintage B66 for me. I wanted the old style frame for a 50s Raleigh project I'm working on and he turned a ruined old saddle into this beautiful restoration. This will add considerably to the charm of my project. What a great job.

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Old 02-14-19, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
A tool that will narrow the seat rails to any width you want is a bench vise. I make no claim as to whether the seat will survive the experience, but those rails will get narrower, permanently.

The bench vise. The singular best, most versitle and most used tool I have ever owned. I bought my first house to have to have a place to install it.

Ben
Okay, well, I realize you're being mildly facetious here, and for sure, I know a bench vise can be a very useful tool. But the way saddle rails are attached to the cantle plate is not really a very strong joint. The rail is swaged with a lot of heat and a lot of pressure. Here's a screenshot of a video on Youtube:



If you just squeeze the rail together until something bends, you have to assume that both sides will bend evenly. But there's no way to know whether that will actually happen. Instead one side of the rail may bend while the other doesn't, or you may break the swage loose on one side and not the other... either way, not good.

If you want to bring the rails together, make sure you know exactly what you're bending and exactly where you're bending it. That's why I suggest bending the cantle plate at the center.
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Old 02-14-19, 07:15 AM
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Rhm, than for your info!
I have done 3or4 B17'S rivet conversions with copper rivets. I made a spevspe anvil for the nose and another for the cantil. I do use the supplied washer on the underside as I want Abit more support for the peened rivet. I use a small ball peen hammer to give the rivet head the facetted look.
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Old 02-14-19, 07:18 AM
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A follow-up. I started going this route ,to large rivets . because the smaller rivets started giving my wife saddle sores on each side. They were actually protruding up by 1/32". Plus I like the look!
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Old 02-14-19, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Yes, those should work. Installing with a hammer and punch can be challenging
....
First I greatly admire the work on exhibit here.

I had a nose piece crack on my B17n and I ordered a new one and the brooks rivets. After I got it all I decided to go with copper rivets as above. Yes they were a pain to drive home and honestly I had to do two of them over. (It helped immensely to shorten the rivet to a bit over 1/8 inch extra in length.) But I think the hammered look comes off real nice. The sides of the nose are hardest. For those a steel bar mounted sideways in my sturdy bench vise worked. Not as clean and elegant on the underside though

Last edited by obuckler; 02-14-19 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 02-14-19, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by obuckler View Post




First I greatly admire the work on exhibit here.

I had a nose piece crack on my B17n and I ordered a new one and the brooks rivets. After I got it all I decided to go with copper rivets as above. Yes they were a pain to drive home and honestly I had to do two of them over. (It helped immensely to shorten the river to a bit over 1/8 inch extra in length.) But t I think the hammered look comes off real nice. The sides of the nose are hardest. For those a steel bar mounted sideways in my sturdy bench vise worked. Not as clean and elegant on the underside though.

Those look great!

For an anvil, I use a cutoff I-beam that I got from a metal fabricator in Trenton. To them it's scrap metal, I gave the foreman a sixpack of beer for it. You're really supposed to put the head of the rivet against the anvil and peen out the other end with a punch; but in a pinch I've found I can do it backwards: that is, put the corner of the I-beam inside the nose piece and beat on the head of the rivet. It's not an ideal solution... but it works.

Another useful tool for the side rivets of the nose is a railroad spike. The offset of the head is enough to get around the bend.

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Old 02-14-19, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
..,You're really supposed to put the head of the rivet against the anvil and peen out the other end with a punch; but in a pinch I've found I can do it backwards...
i have some spikes in the garden...will have to go find them. I also have a short piece of a railroad rail for an anvil when needed. I will smooth the top and try the hitting from the underside when I do the cantle next. That makes sense, but I did see a video of a brooks guy working from the top. He may have been just dressing the head of the rivet as a last step I guess. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 02-14-19, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by obuckler View Post


i have some spikes in the garden...will have to go find them. I also have a short piece of a railroad rail for an anvil when needed. I will smooth the top and try the hitting from the underside when I do the cantle next. That makes sense, but I did see a video of a brooks guy working from the top. He may have been just dressing the head of the rivet as a last step I guess. Thanks for the tip.
Yes, to your last point: he's probably tapping the edges of the rivet down as a last step.

The cantle plate rivets are not that difficult. The main challenge is finding something to hold the saddle at the right angle so you can hold the punch with one hand and the hammer from the other.
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Old 02-14-19, 10:03 AM
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Here another repair. This is not meant to be a long term fix as I know it will fail. But when I pulled the B17n off the bike I needed a saddle to put back on (it was this or a white ladies saddle). The best choice was this torn and retired Professional.

So so I took out a rivet and glued three layers of cloth on the underside with Barge cement. I hope it lasts a few rides anyway. Did not even bother to fill the rip because the leather is dicey there and did not want to have it pull more out.

For everyone’s amusement only.

The saddle was extremely comfortable. Previous owner probably stored it

inside a garage but in the sun. Was very dry.

Could be be a candidate for a recovering in the future?! I love the chrome rails.
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Old 02-14-19, 10:44 AM
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What is that on the underneath? That can't be Proofide.... looks like candle wax... maybe to keep the water spray off the leather?
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