Hidemechanic

Saddle treemakers-sub topic

67 posts in this topic

For those trying to choose the tree maufacturer based on the type of tree that suites their need.

I.E., some mfgs. build trees in high volume for major saddle companies.

Some mfgs. build for the individual saddle makers who build a lower number of saddles per year and those for those willing to use a traditional built tree.

Some tree makers go beyond the traditional technology using sinthetic materials(nylon v.s. rawhide lace, staples v.s. nails,rawhide v.s. fiberglass v.s. bedliner cover ect...) for different reasons, lightness, economy. strenth, weather resistants,ect...

Some tree makers go the extra mile, improving materials (wood type , laminated, ect..)

The diffences in these trees relate to cost for the trees.

How would you guide someone in choosing the tree maker as it relates to their differnces in need from one saddle maker to an other?

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A topic for which there is no answer. only opinions, we all got 'em. It depends on level of experience, customer base, customer's intended use, availability from the tree maker, time frame needed, cost considerations, where you live, and how much you are willing to allow in differences in a tree.

Some tree makers make great trees, and several have a closed book of customers. Someone is going to have to die to move onto the list. Others put out several trees a day and sell orders and off the rack. There are new makers who might hand make a good tree and not have the reputation yet. There are old established names whose quality is not what the predecessor was.

Much in the way of specifics is like comparing Dodge, Chevy, and Ford. You can make the best tree or the worst tree, and every one of them will sell. It is up to the maker and ultimately the customer as to what level they expect. Consider that they sell saddles on ebay for $400, and they have a tree in them. Then there are saddles with a base of $4500 or 5000. They better have someone else's tree in them.

We would all like to get even trees, within a decent time frame, and what we need. Bottom line is that there are more people making saddles, and more demand for middle and upper level trees than there are treemakers right now. A bunch of horses go OK everyday in low end trees, and get by because they either aren't ridden enough to see the problems or they do fit within the allowances of those trees.

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best to worse....ford,dodge...................................chevy lol topic well said !

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Bugsy,

Everyone's expectations and experiences are going to be different, whether we are talking saddle trees, leather, or pickups. Example - My Chevy has 420K miles, cows have run into it, and it starts everyday. My wife was driving the Dodge, hit a 600# feeder steer at 55 mph in the dark full on, and she and the Dodge both survived. The Ford packs the Capri camper around, and hasn't really been baptised yet. I am not sure which truck or saddle trees are the best. LOL.

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The intention was not to pit one tree maker agaist the other but rather get different views and experiences from other saddlemakers as to the differences they see from one tree make to another, or perhaps to class tree makers based on what they offer. Just want to give the newby something to start with and choices as to what to look for.GH

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GH,

First off, all I have ever built on have been rawhided wood trees, nailed, and rawhide laced. I probably followed the same progression a lot of people do. My first few trees were from Bowden, and were and still are OK. I built some barrel racers on a pattern that Hadlock&Fox has. They were alright too. Some issues with lumpy rawhiding on both of these, something to deal with. I had a guy bring me an epoxy dipped tree from H&F and had the seat glassed in already. We opted out of that. I was looking for a little further up the ladder, and started ordering from Timberline. Rawhiding and finish was smoother. Better cantle transitions, more taper to the bar edges, not as clubby, and higher quality for not a lot more money. In 2006 I came home from Sheridan and ordered the exact same tree from Superior, Timberline, and Sonny Felkins as a comparison. The Superior was rugged - thick cluibby bars, lumpy lacing, not what I prefer. The Timberline and Sonny's trees were pretty similar in shape. Nod goes to Sonny's for smoother rawhiding. Was it worth $100 more and 2 months more wait for the rawhiding ? Can't say.

I picked up a few here and there that guys had - old Superiors and Hercules. Good trees, but both no longer made. Some I built on, some I have resold. I still want to move up the ladder for the better customer, and my own philosophy. Started loking at the handmades. I got one from Nikkels via Sheridan Leather Outfitters, recently bought a Jeremiah Watt tree and another Nikkel tree from this list. Another level up of quality in those trees. I have a couple Timberlines in the roper pattern I like. Also have a bronc tree to make myself a toy on. I quoted a guy a NUTS price last week on a bronc saddle, and he is considering it. Living room display model.

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I agree with you Bruce as far as the rawhiding and the braiding goes...some tree maker's produce a lot of trees and sometimes the quaility is lacking...is sorta why I'm leading toward now using line-xed trees instead of rawhide covered. costs about 25 bucks here and I don't have to worry about the bumps and ridges lacing can make.

I know you asked before about the coating and I mentioned that bowden offers a "tuff kote" also...well I asked around and a good friend of mine...my mentor and recently retired saddle maker told me that bowdens kote peels off..not like line-x.

One thing though..I've never used timberline and nikkel trees could give me contact info? I'd like to see how a TOP quality built tree and a line-x coating would go together..might be the thing that dreams are made of.

Dave

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Dave don't take this the wrong way but I highly doubt Rod or any other handmade high end tree maker will sell you a tree in the bare wood to have coated. their reputation rides with every tree they make. Greg

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I was just going to ask if anyone knew the status of Hercules, I had read that they were going to try to carry on. I can't think of the owner's name right now, but he seemed to be a very nice man. What a horrible tragedy. Kevin

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Dave,

Google for "Timberline saddle tree comany"and you will the phone number and address (Vernal,UT).

They were very nice and friendly when I visited and looked around for more then 2 hours on my last year's vacation.

At leatherworkers.net click on "members" , type in "Rod and Denise N" , view their profile and click on their url. You'll find their contact info and lots (!) of very interesting info.

Tosch

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Dave. Where does a tree coated with Line X get it's strength from if the rawhide is done away with???

Barra

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I originally used Superior and Hercules way back when. For probably the last ten years I've used Sonny Felkins. I've been real happy with his trees. I tried a couple from Timberline but really wasn't that happy. The rawhiding wasn't that nice and the horn wasn't as refined and nice as Sonnys. Sometime I'd like to try one of Rod and Denise's trees after reading their posts here.

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I can give you timberline info. Watch out for the Google search, there is a Timberline saddle co. that is a commercial saddle co. and not Saddle trees.

Randy and Aaron are the bros. that run the shop, quite quite willing to discuss your needs.

I have a couple old Superiors and a couple unmarked trees. They stayed in a hot shed too long and warped one beyond help, even the cantle board twisted (wall hanger now) I've been tempted to try a reset on the other just to see it it will square up and hold.

Anyone had experience with that I'd like to hear about it.

I'd also like Sonny's info, haven't kept up since he left Colorado.GH

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Sonny's info

Quality Mfg.

P.O. box 1244, Monticello, UT 84535

435-587-5070

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Dave. Where does a tree coated with Line X get it's strength from if the rawhide is done away with???

LineX is far stronger than rawhide. As LineX points out in their sales literature, the product is used to provide explosion proofing protection to the military facilities' walls. It's also waterproof and doesn't rot. It sounds like a terrific application to me.

Bill

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LineX is far stronger than rawhide. As LineX points out in their sales literature, the product is used to provide explosion proofing protection to the military facilities' walls. It's also waterproof and doesn't rot. It sounds like a terrific application to me.

Bill

I am not sure if this would be true, the properties of rawhide covering a tree are incredible, most of the strength in a saddle tree is the rawhide not the wood, although the strength of the wood is important the rawhide is integral to the strength of a tree. I know a few years back a sales rep had a truck liner covered tree he was showing a local saddle maker, he boasted that you could run a truck over the tree, so they had him to so, his tree was was a bunch of toothpicks wrapped by broken and cut truck liner, then they ran over an old used rawhide covered tree, the tree did break, but no where near what the liner covered tree did, and the rawhide was still intact. I believe that the linex is a very durable material that will wear very well against friction and impact punctures which is not an issue since a saddle tree is covered by leather. yet does linex have any strength in regards to reinforce the wood tree, I find it hard to believe that is could be the same as rawhide.

just my 2 cents

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Even as I wrote the reply, I gave some thought to flexibility differences between the materials. Rawhide is a stiffer material, even if its tear strength is lower. So, within its limits, I can see how the rawhide covered tree might hold up in the truck example. You have to ask a few questions, though: Does testing to that extreme even matter?. Saddles have to take handling and storage abuse, but they aren't designed to be run over by trucks, either. Was it an apples to apples comparison - i.e., who's to say what the design & construction goals of the two trees in question were? I guarantee you could make trees that would turn those results around. What were the thicknesses and layup of the rawhide vs. the LineX tree? Were there differences in the basic tree? Does the basic tree NEED to be different to take advantage of one material vs. the other? Etc. etc.

So here's a different question - why would a "properly" constructed (equivalently strong), LineX-covered tree not be better, especially if it were cheaper and more consistent? Is it harder to build on? Present maintenance issues? Heavier? Or is this an aesthetics issue?

Bill

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If a wood tree is completely encased in some sort of waterproof liner, that must mean that moisture can't get out of the wood either... I highly doubt the wood being used in these trees is completely free of moisture; could that lead to rot from the inside out?

Darc

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From Line-X's website ... " Line-X provides the highest tear strength, tensile strength and abrasion resistance."

There are NO specific values for that "highest" designation (likewise is it just for the tear strength or for all three traits listed).

It lists tear and tensile strength but not torsional. It would be interesting to see what the stress-strain curve looks like and some valuable numbers like modulus of elasticity. One of the things that you have to account for engineering wise is flex life from repeated flex and strain and the long term strength associated with that. Will it fail from repeated flexing and strain? Hmmmmm.

All the applications that they presently list are topical. Are there any others that are used like rawhide? Just some questions that I have thinking out loud.

Regards,

Ben

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Even as I wrote the reply, I gave some thought to flexibility differences between the materials. Rawhide is a stiffer material, even if its tear strength is lower. So, within its limits, I can see how the rawhide covered tree might hold up in the truck example. You have to ask a few questions, though: Does testing to that extreme even matter?. Saddles have to take handling and storage abuse, but they aren't designed to be run over by trucks, either. Was it an apples to apples comparison - i.e., who's to say what the design & construction goals of the two trees in question were? I guarantee you could make trees that would turn those results around. What were the thicknesses and layup of the rawhide vs. the LineX tree? Were there differences in the basic tree? Does the basic tree NEED to be different to take advantage of one material vs. the other? Etc. etc.

So here's a different question - why would a "properly" constructed (equivalently strong), LineX-covered tree not be better, especially if it were cheaper and more consistent? Is it harder to build on? Present maintenance issues? Heavier? Or is this an aesthetics issue?

Bill

Bill..you bring up some good points...I can't say about these HIGH END trees..like a said I've never used them...are they alot more expensive?...I personally like the line-x trees better...you build on them the same as a rawhide covered tree. nails..tacks and screws. they are A LOT lighter..and due to friction the nails,tacks screws are sealed when they go in...I HAVE tested this...done a few other tests myself...never tried the truck thing...lol..but really it comes down to preference...I just put out there to let ya'll know there are OTHER options...BUT let me make one thing clear I ONLY use the LINE-X covering...not any spray on bedliner..I've heard that they don't hold up as well...but I don't know for sure could just be rumor.

That IS what this is about right...sharing info..learning...thats why I'm glad i joined this site...Is like one big collabroration between fellow leather crafters and saddle makers. ideas....ideas...ideas..

Dave

Edited by YRsaddles

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... I ONLY use the LINE-X covering...not any spray on bedliner..I've heard that they don't hold up as well...but I don't know for sure could just be rumor.

I can't speak to the differences in any detail, but I've had two different spray-in liners in my own trucks - Rhino and LineX. The LineX appears to be a little tougher. I managed over 10 years in my last truck to abrade and tear off bits and pieces of the Rhino, usually from either pushing pallets into the bed, or from the bottom of a loader contacting the side rails. The same things don't appear to phase the LineX nearly as much. (I do try to be careful with that loader, though.) Over the long term, the Rhino surface also chalked a bit, more like from weathering & exposure than age per se, though.

Bill

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I don't think anyone is casting dispersions on the bed liner trees. I've always liked the idea just someone got to it before I did(as usual)

I personally think however that there just have not been any inclusive or conclusive testing to ultimately prove the actual charactoristics of the material. At this point, what we know about it is anecdotal at best.

And, I agree I haven't worked on any saddles that have been run over by trucks. But I have worked on saddles that have been stomped by a horse , hit from the front by runaway horses through trees, rolled on by horses, and fallen on by a horse that fell over backwards. Sometimes that damage or lack of, may be related to the type of cantle and horn( and swell).

Point being that to me we need to see more testing of limits on these saddles that relate more to the true abuse a saddle will recieve. Most any R/D of that sort would need to be with tree makers and saddle makers who can track the conditions under which these saddles are used. After a time, tare them down and docmet the effects. I also believe to make a true comarision we need to have the trees made to the same standard and compare rawhide over bed liner.

Also there would need to be a comparision of different bed liners and a standard of application of them.

If that ever happens it will be years before the stats are in. At this point I don't have a problem using bed liner trees for endurance and pleasure trees but I am not confident putting my name on a tree(bed liner) that will be used for heavy ranch work or arena work. That's just me.

I recall one tree mfg. using an apparatus for testing different stress tolerences on trees that more closely represented the abuse a saddle tree may encounter, I might go for that in place of a long term test.

I agree that the line-x is tough, I want to see the testing in saddle tree applications.

I saw the testing with fiberglass trees and encased trees and though they pass with high marks in most areas the one I don't like is the flex test. Too rigid for me, and as I mentioned earlier they still have a stigma to overcome that I don't want to take on by myself.

For the same reason I limit my intrest in using the bed liner trees for my saddles. Nothing personal toward anyone just my type of quality control. More sharing of ideas. GH :cheers:

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Just to throw another duck into the puddle here, anybody ever used one of the poly trees the guys from LaPorte put out?

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A good friend of mine, Pedro Pedrini (just voted into the TCAA, see Western Horseman Jan. '08) who maks a lot of saddles for Jeremiah Watt, has started using line-x covered trees. He believes they are every bit as good as the traditional rawhide covered wood tree with way increased longevity. Plus they cost less.

OG

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