As far as I know, Tony can supply complete saddles, recover frames, or replace frames. I don't know about modifying existing tops, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect that this may be possible. I'm sure Tony would be glad to answer any questions you have. His address is as follows:
East Sussex TN31 6HY
His prices , as of October '00, were 45 pounds sterling for the leather reinforced version on a B-17 Narrow frame, and 75 pounds for the more authentic version. As I remember, my frame replacement cost about $40 including shipping (the shipping cost almost as much as the repair!). Turnaround probably varies; be patient. My repair was back in around 4-6 weeks. It will be about 4 months for the new Swallow. He can take checks in U.S. dollars.
I would just like to comment on two topics that have been kicking around lately, then I'll Shut up and listen for a while.
First, the $425 Ideale90 Ti . That is a lot of money for a saddle, but they just aren't thick on the ground. When will the opportunity to buy one come again? If you really must have something really rare like this, I guess you pay what you must and set the market price for the next however long. I'm glad Brooks is still a going concern and B-17's and Pros are not yet commodities. Actually the rarity factor, the fact that some stuff is practically out of reach, is part of what makes all this fascinating. I've always wanted a Vincent Rapide (or Shadow) motorcycle, but that is in the same sort of category for me. I happily rode Nortons and lusted after Vincents. If you can have everything, what's left? Also, to me at least, using and even creating this stuff is far more rewarding than possessing it. That is not a criticism of collectors, God knows, if I were more solvent I'd probably have Chater-Lea pedals and all sorts of otter stuff around. Just that now if I don't use it, as much as I might like to look at it, I don't feel I need it.
On automation vs. craft, I believe Marchetti &Lange (I'm sure I've spelled this incorrectly) automatic framebuilding machinery was around in the 70's, maybe earlier. I've no idea how or what this equipment did, or to what extent it mechanized the process. Considering how many pro quality Italian bikes were sold here in the late 70's through the 80's through mail order outlets, I'd guess automatic machinery and production line processes were used extensively. I think Remember Bruce Gordon saying something to the effect that there is no glory in doing by hand something that can be done more quickly and accurately by machine. There is some truth to that, and if I stumble upon a horizontal milling machine or lathe cheaply enough, I'll never hand miter another tube. Indifferent hand work is no great virtue, either. Just look at the dropouts on a Crescent.
Didn't Bill Davidson use the internal brass ring trick in the 80's? He used automatic torch arrays and such, I think.
Enough for now. Regards, Wes Gadd