[CR] Replacing the Top of a Leather Saddle

(Example: Framebuilders:Brian Baylis)

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2009 11:04:03 -0800
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <jerrymoos@sbcglobal.net>
To: <Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
In-Reply-To: <4B11FD05.3000100@aol.com>
Subject: [CR] Replacing the Top of a Leather Saddle

The pics I posted of the 1954 Duravia showed an Ideale model 44 saddle. This is quite an old model, appearing in the 1936 Ideale catalog I just received from Jaouen, from his recent offering to the list. However, this model does not usually command super high prices on eBay, as it has a painted steel frame, while it is the alloy railed mod 54 and especially mod 57 that seem to command the big bucks (or big yen).

I had picked up the mod 44 fairly cheap on French eBay and it was not in the greatest shape, but soaking in water helped, except that the leather was stretched quite a bit to achieve decent tension. Too much as it turned out, since on a ride just before Thanksgiving, after maybe 150 km of use, the leather split. I doubt the saddle is valuable enough to justify a professional restoration. But I do have a couple of mod 44 leather tops I picked up from Jaouen a few months ago. These were cheap becasue they are apparently factory seconds, with the stamp either missing or improperly placed on one side. Since neither the frame nor the top are super expensive, I'm thinking of having a go at replacing the top myself.

But I've never attempted to replace a saddle top before, and really don't know how one goes about it. Despite having seen some brief films of the lads attaching saddle tops in the Brooks shop, I don't know exactly how it is done. Is this something an amateur could quickly learn to do adequately? What tools are required? What's the usual procedure for removing the old top and old rivets? Is there an explanation of all this anywhere on the net?

The original rivets are small copper ones stamped IDEALE, except on either side of the nose, where Ideal always used steel rivets. Probably no chance of sourcing these. What copper rivets are available today that would be as close as possible?

BTW, I had measured the seatube ID of the Duravia at 24.4 mm and was having difficulty sourcing a seatpost, resorting to a much smallet post and a shim. Just before Thanksgiving I found a couple of 25.0 alloy straight posts on eBay and bought them, thinking to file one down to 24.4 mm. But today I found the the 25.0 post went into the frame without modification, snug to be sure and with liberal greasing, but without excessive force and hopefully with little scratching. So perhaps 25.0 mm was original, and the seattube had just been compressed a bit in the past. Was 25.0 then perhaps a defacto standard for these old aluminum frames, setting the satndard for the more recent ALAN and Vitus Al frames? I'd be interested in the post size of Barras and Caminargents, as well as other Mecadurals, owned by CR members.


Jerry Moos
Big Spring, Texas, USA