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steve mason

Oiling Skirt Saddles?

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Howdy;

I was wondering what you all do in regards to oiling the skirts before you put them on the saddle, I have always oiled the whole skirts, including that area where the bar pads are. This is where my question arises, should a guy oil the bar pad area of the skirts or not? I have felt that due to all the moisture that will come from the horse that this should be a good thing. Just about every saddle maker that I have worked with or have been mentored by has done the same. I have talked to a couple other saddle makers lately that have say they never apply oil to the bar pad area of the skirts because they never want oil against the rawhide. I know on Watts video he does not oil the bar pad area of the skirts before the final assembly. What are your thoughts on this?

thanks much

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Steve,

I am with you on this. I oil the whole skirt for the reasons you say. By only oiling part, my thoughts are that most oils will migrate anyway. If you only oil the edges some will eventually work its way to the bar area. Another factor - skirts aren't the only area to contact oiled leather. If we follow that same logic, we also shouldn't be oiling or pasteing the riggings, stirrup leathers, jockeys, swell cover, or any other parts that potentially contact the rawhide. I don't know too many who would advocate that. I thank that group could probably dine at a table for one.

Bruce Johnson

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Interesting question, Steve. Got me doing some research. Obviously, oiling bare rawhide is a bad idea. But treemakers generally use a coating of some kind on their trees to protect the rawhide. So the question is – does oil penetrate a solid covering of the protective coating?

Every tree makers seems to use something different. We use Behr Super Spar Marine Varnish – the satin or matte finish. It is an oil based varnish. We like this one because contact cement will stick to it without roughing it up which breaks the barrier and rather defeats the purpose of coating it. So I called Behr and asked one of their technical support people if oil would penetrate this. First off, the guy told me that to get oil to penetrate I would have to remove the coating. I explained how we use their varnish, and that we don’t want oil to penetrate but wonder if it would, and he said he would check and see what he could find out.

After listening to quite the interlude of nice classical music, he came back on the phone to inform me that “this product was not intended to be used for that purposeâ€Â. And no, he didn’t have any more helpful information one way or another for me. But we feel that Pure Neatsfoot Oil, not being a petroleum product, shouldn’t penetrate.

But maybe there is that information about some of the other coatings that are used by different tree makers. I would suggest you phone them and ask the question. They can then call the tech support line of the product they use and see if the information is available for it.

Or maybe some company could do the R and D needed to make a product “intended to be used for that purposeâ€Â. I am sure they would recoup their research costs in a century…or two…

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For my saddles I oil the entire skirts before I put them on. I then oil the entire saddle after it is complete.

Ashley

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