Tinsmith's saddle how to...

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle Welding, Fabrication and Paintin' started by silverbear, May 5, 2011.

  1. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    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. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    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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  3. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    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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  4. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    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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  5. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Active Member

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    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. :D
     
  6. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Thanks for the compliment. Good luck with you upholstery project!
    SB
     
  7. Tinsmith

    Tinsmith Member

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    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
     
  8. culvercityclassic

    culvercityclassic Active Member

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    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.
     
  9. fasteddy

    fasteddy Active Member

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    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.
     
  10. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    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
     
  11. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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  12. bairdco

    bairdco a guy who makes cool bikes

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    that looks pretty awesome. i've got a pile of old rusted seat pans and one of these days i'm gonna have a go at re-doing them. thanks for the how-to!
     
  13. fasteddy

    fasteddy Active Member

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    Not the leather or the method that counts, it's the Silverbear touch.

    Steve.
     
  14. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    You guys are kind. Baird, I wanted to congratulate you on your great showing at the Death Race... woohool One of the best things that has happened for me here on the forum was the time I spent with you and Barelyawake in the Rustoration Buildoff over a year ago. I was way out of my league and have learned so much from you both. Good to give back the little I can.
    SB
     
  15. OG-Whizzerdude

    OG-Whizzerdude New Member

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    I wish I would have read this before I did my seat. I was going for the bobber look so I used a banna seat from Italy. That pan was modifed to bend up where it hits the chopped fender. I was lucky enough to let my wife take me to a thrift store. I found a childs wet suit with gel pad knees and a womans leather jacket, cheap. I used a black and Decker knealing pad. I put the pan inside the leg of the suit and cut to length. Super glued it under the pan. Then I cemented the B&D pad to the suit with gel pad in optimum position for the buns. Stuck that assembly into the arm of the jacket, trimed and glued.
     
    #15 OG-Whizzerdude, Dec 14, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  16. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Sounds like you made a very comfortable saddle. Excellent! It's surprising and gratifying, too, to see what you can come up with, winging it. I'd like to see a picture if you're willing to share. I'll try to remember to take a picture this weekend of the saddle from this thread now on Tinsmith's stretch Worksman and having being ridden a good many miles.
    SB
     
  17. OG-Whizzerdude

    OG-Whizzerdude New Member

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    I'm not that proud of this one. A little too bulky. I need to trim down some foam.
    The good news; I still have an arm and a leg. Lol
     
  18. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Understood. The first seat I rebuilt is on my Panther and the upholstery job is kind of rough. I was trying to cover it in the same way it had been covered at the factory instead of using my own instincts. Their material was much thinner than the Elk hide I was using so my attempt was on the boochy side. Works fine, but very obviously was done not quite right, so one of these days when I get around to it I'll do it again and try to make it nicer. That's the good thing about our builds... they're never really done and we always have opportunities to make them better.
    SB
     
  19. darkhawk22

    darkhawk22 New Member

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    Excellent work Silverbear! It's great seeing the old seats being refurbished and utilized on new builds!
     
  20. OG-Whizzerdude

    OG-Whizzerdude New Member

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    I put so much into the front end on this bike, the seat has re-do written all over it!
     

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