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Motorized Bicycle Welding, Fabrication and Painting - The Chop Shop Custom fabrication and projects, tanks, frames and more.

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  #1  
Old 05-05-2011, 07:27 AM
silverbear's Avatar
silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Tinsmith's saddle how to...

I like vintage seats for my vintage builds, but they are usually in poor shape with worn out and inadequate padding. An old seat with the covering long gone needs to be brought back to life, but how do you do it? Last summer I posted a how to thread on one way to go about it using my favorite leather, elk hide. It is durable, flexible and can stretch a bit, making it pretty easy to work with. And it looks good. I'll post the link to that when I remember what I called it.

I also like the look of motorcycle seats in nice. thick harness leather. It is harder to work with and requires different methods, but the results are real nice and the seat will last forever. I was in Tinsmith's shop a couple of weeks ago when he showed me a great seat he found on Ebay for his stretched out 4 stroke Worksman build. The bike is nearly done, just wanting some final tweaking, paint and a seat worthy of such a build. When I saw the seat I immediately envisioned it in harness leather.

I took the seat home with me and rebuilt it. I took pictures along the way so you can see how it was done and how it might serve as a guide for you if you choose to do the same. I'm not saying this is the way to build a seat. I am saying, this is the way I built this seat. I've rebuilt a number of them, but taught myself how and maybe what I do is not how a professional would go about it

The seat Dan found is solid and in great condition with very little rust. It has an interesting "7" seat post which is in two diameters: the smaller solid steel upper portion which will allow Dan to have a lay back effect. Usually these 7 seat posts are of the same diameter. I used one on my Worksman and had to do a lot of shimming to make it fit a more modern seat post tube. This one has a larger seat post diameter on the lower part... perfect! No shimming required.

First thing to do was to disassemble and run over the parts with a wire wheel to remove rust, then prime and paint in black enamel.
(cont.)
SB
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2011, 07:52 AM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Next up was to cut out the first layer of rubber padding. I found a great pad from a Nordic Track exercise machine at a good will last year and have used it on a number of seats, eight I think, and am sorry to see the supply now gone. You don't want something which will absorb moisture or break down easily, like carpet padding. I will be on the lookout for something equally good. Maybe some sort of camping pad, or yoga pad.

I cut out the first layer extra large after tracing the seat out. Once cut, I gave a thin coat of contact cement to both the metal seat and the pad... let it set up to the point of being tacky... carefully put the two surfaces together and press down.

I cut out a second layer, wanting this seat to be comfortable for long rides. Again, both surfaces to be glued together are covered in a thin layer of contact cement... let it get tacky and then press together.

Now trim off the excess with scissors and lay out the seat onto the harness leather. The leather is thick and fairly stiff. I have this left over from perhaps thirty years ago when I raised Lac LaCroix Indian ponies and made my own horse tack, saddles and harnesses. This is tough stuff, made from cowhide and has to be strong enough for work horses. I found a scarred section for the bottom piece, since appearance doesn't matter on an unseen part of the seat. I traced it out extra large and cut out the leather with a utility knife. I located the seat bolts onto the leather, drilled out holes and now the bottom piece is in place.
(cont.)
SB
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:14 AM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Next I tacked the two pieces of leather together seeing that the bottom piece stayed flat to the bottom and the top piece came down over the side of the seat. At several points I used the awl to make two holes so that I could tie the top and bottom together with sinew. Once tacked together into the general shape of the seat, I used two harness needles with one long piece of thread... each needle is toward an end of the thread.

Now I make holes with the awl as I go around the saddle. Each needle passes through the same hole, one from under and the other from above. Keep going until you've made it all around, tie it off and burn the end of the sinew (a thick synthetic thread which is used in place of real sinew) and mash it while still hot... now it can never come untied.
(cont.)
SB
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:22 AM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Now carefully trim off the excess leather with a razor knife and clean up the edge with sandpaper or the dremel tool to get a smooth edge. It's done. If you look closely you can see some irregularity in the stitching... it is obvious this saddle was hand made. It should last a long time, as long as the bike lasts and long after Tinsmith and Silverbear have left this earth.
So here's your saddle, Bud.
SB
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:23 AM
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DuctTapedGoat DuctTapedGoat is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Very awesome - my brother's got a vintage build he's been working on, and I'll now be helping him reupholster it's original euroseat.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:15 PM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Thanks for the compliment. Good luck with you upholstery project!
SB
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:53 PM
Tinsmith Tinsmith is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

OH BABY!! Look at that! I'm gonna bring the bike home from the shop so we can mount it and have a look this weekend before you leave for the summer. Got another one sittin' here that I can try now for the 51 Panther frame I'm about to receive too. I think there is an old yoga mat around here somewhere, I'll see if I can dig it up. See ya this weekend. Dan
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:17 PM
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culvercityclassic culvercityclassic is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

The "Silverbear Show" should be on cable. You have so much knowledge and history to share with us, thanks Silverbear. That seat turned out very nice. I am very impressed with your talent.
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:33 PM
fasteddy fasteddy is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Silverbear, I was looking at my genuine Silverbear seat about an hour and a half ago with my brother as he marvelled at how nice it was.
It's going on the Indian Tri-Car and only if it deserves that quality of the seat.

Really nice to see how it was made.

Lucky Tinsmith.

Steve.
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Old 05-06-2011, 07:51 AM
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silverbear silverbear is offline
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Default Re: Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Thank you, guys.
Yes, we'll put it on the Worksman and take a picture tomorrow. See if your bony old butt likes it.

If they would put some old fart like me on cable TV, I now know why I don't have cable.

Steve, your seat is made differently and is elk hide. The other how-to thread I can't remember the name of shows that method. Glad you like it, though.

Something inviting about an old seat with new leather.
SB
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