[CR]Ideale leather saddle question

(Example: Framebuilding:Brazing Technique)

Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 18:29:52 -0500
In-Reply-To: <MONKEYFOODaJY4kJSFs00000c31@monkeyfood.nt.phred.org>
Thread-Topic: Ideale leather saddle question
Thread-Index: AcfWpTPVPMD7URpbRiqGUJ2nPY/cMQBkDDZw
From: "John Hurley" <JHurley@jdabrams.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>, <bobnroxn@plantationcable.net>
Subject: [CR]Ideale leather saddle question

Bob, Leather saddle care must be one of the deepest, darkest areas of vintage bike lore. Try searching the CR archive. There is a list member named Tony Colegrave who has some practical experience in this area.

What I've discovered so far is that opinions vary all over the place. I have an Ideale 90 IR that is beginning to show its age, and I've been trying to find out how to prolong its life. This saddle has the "Rebour" treatment, which means the leather was conditioned at the factory to be ready to ride without having to break it in. The leather has always been very pliable compared with Brooks. In fact, I was looking at Brooks saddles the other day, and let me tell you, rapping my knuckles on that hard new leather struck fear in my heart.

Based on what I've seen when I used to work at a boot factory, I think leather is a much more robust material than one might imagine. But it was a boot factory, not a tannery. If one knew a little more about the tanning process it would surely help in understanding what restoration steps, if any, would be compatible with that original process. There are different methods of tanning, so what works for one piece of leather might be useless or even harmful for another. I've always been suspicious of over-oiling a leather saddle, because a saddle is supposed to be stiff, not supple like a glove. Of course, if the leather is really dried out, you've got to moisturize it.

Earlier this year I washed my saddle with saddle soap and greased it with mink oil, but it just seemed to look worse the more I rode it. My latest theory is that my saddle actually has too much grease in it, and the extra moisture is accelerating the decay. This is pure subjective opinion on my part. We recently bought some leather furniture and it came with some leather care products. One bottle contains a clear odorless liquid for spot cleaning. I don't know what this stuff is (probably a mild citric cleaner), but I've applied it to my saddle several times, allowing it to dry in between, and the results are encouraging. The next step will be to apply some common black leather dye of grocery store variety, followed by thorough drying. The final step will be a polish that contains some sort of wax. I wish I knew the advisability of using a silicone product on the saddle.

I am guessing the enemies to leather include weather, petrochemicals (or the solvents and detergents they contain), and microbes. If you can drive off moisture, gently but completely, maintain beneficial oils, and discourage microbial action, you're probably doing about all that can be done. If you do a lot of riding, maybe you need two saddles that can be alternated.

Perhaps someone who really knows something about leather will chime in.

John Hurley Austin, Texas USA

-----Original Message----- Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2007 10:27:11 -0400 From: "Bob Newell" <bobnroxn@plantationcable.net> To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org> Subject: [CR]=09 Message-ID: <001201c7d6a3$8bc734d0$a4a2b80c@RCNEWELL> Content-Type: text/plain;charset="US-ASCII" MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Precedence: list Message: 11

I'm new to this site, so thought I'd ask a question and maybe gain some knowledge. I have an old Motobecane with an Ideale Model 80 leather saddle. It had kind of dried out some over time and has tiny cracks on the surface. I have been rubbing it with baseball glove oil and neatsfoot oil to try to "bring it back" a bit. Anyone got any other good ideas for how to preserve this nice old saddle?

Bob Newell
Greensboro, GA
bobnroxn@plantationcable.net