Thor

Definition or understanding issues

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I'm just reading through the ASMA website and stumbled upon some terms that left me guessing. I'm hoping someone can turn on the light for me here.

They're writing here http://saddlemakers.org/id393.htm

OFF BILLETS
While single ply off billets are common in the industry, as a matter of policy and safety,
ASMA recommends that single ply leather off billets not be used.   It has been noted that the single ply leather off billets have a tendency to have a high failure rate.  If single ply leather off billets are to be used it is recommended that they be made of heavy ( 13/14 oz+ ) skirting leather.

I haven't seen any layered off billet yet or am I just not understanding this correct?

To me this:

LB3701.jpg

is a single ply off billet. What's wrong about this type of off billet? None of them ever failed on me. Or are these considered to be layered cause they are "doubled" upon the fold?

Further, what's the difference between a latigo and a half breed latigo?

Somebody turn the light on for me please.

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Thor,

The photos you posted are as you stated single ply off billets.  However, you can use a latigo billet just like the on side latigo, so you have two latigos on your saddle; or, you can use a half breed billet.  It is shorter than the on side billet, and is attached differently.  A two ply off billet is basically two lengths of leather sewn together.  The tongue of the cinch is going toward four layers of leather, and two layers of leather are going over your rigging plate (hence, it should be stronger than a single ply). 

It has been my experience that billets fail not while riding, but when the horse is tied and you turn your back to do something.  The horse does something weird, and the saddle is on the ground with the billet torn in half. 

Ron

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Ron,

thank you so much for clarifying that for me. I was aware of the "two latigo" thingy, but not of that terminology. 

Now if I'm going to make a two ply off billet what thickness would I use? Obviously if I'm going to use 2 layers of 7/8 oz. that would turn into a sturdy 14/16 oz. off billet. Would a 6/7 oz. leather be sufficient as this would meet the requirements outlined above for an acceptable single ply off billet? And if I wanted to add additional strength, but not a lot more thickness, could I add heavy duty webbing to that?

Thor

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I disagree with the two ply off billet theory. I normally make single ply off billets out of the absolute heaviest skirting or harness leather I have around.  I wet it at the fold and preform it so as not to crack there.  I also oil them well so aren't so apt to absorb sweat, which would lead to premature failure. What happens when two layers are sewn together is that neither one is heavy enough for the job and one layer breaks down and then you have one light layer holding, and it is sure to follow in short order.  The same generally goes for D & S headstalls for hard everyday use.  If you use heavy enough stuff to avoid that, then you end up with too much bulk. Personally, I think a long latigo on each side is the strongest and least bulky, but the off billet is easier and faster to change adjustment and people want that convenience.  Where people run into problems, is that they don't check their equipment over. Nobody expects the tires on their vehicle to last the life of the vehicle, so check your damn billets once in awhile! You can expect to have to replace them at some point. 

 

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I wore out saddles  (literally) for nearly 40 years and most of them had half-breed off side latigoes on them and they got changed regularly.  95% of the saddles I build have a regular latigo on both sides, per ordered preference.    The saddles I build are rode and used HARD. luckily I have not had  any fail yet.   I have really good hands riding them, that take good care of their equipment.  Big Sioux,  I could not agree more with your choice of leather if you are going to build a fold over single ply off billet.  I think long or half breed off latigoes are a better deal for my clientele.  But, that is just me. Ken

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Big Souix, Ron, and Ken have all done a good job addressing this issue.  To add some to their comments, many commercial single ply billets are made from inferior leather and not strong enough for their application.  A double and stitched off billets should be at least 11/12 oz skirting or harness leather lined with at least 7/8 latigo or harness leather.  The holes should also be stitched with a figure 8 pattern to help prevent tearing.  I have seen a lot of single ply billets fail while being ridden.  This usually causes bodily injury to the rider and a torn up saddle, as the rear cinch is usually still attached.  These failures usually come from the hole tearing out due to cracking of the leather around the holes when they are punched.  I have even seen a couple of good quality heavy single ply billets fail for the same reason.  When punching these holes thru this heavy leather, some punches have a lot of wall thickness, and stretch the leather around the hole, causing cracks that can tear out fairly easily. 

I prefer half breed latigos for off side.  This is a 5 ft strip of heavy latigo 1¾" wide, folded in the center over the cinch ring.  The tails are then run thru the rigging, and then back thru the cinch ring.  This makes an equal number of layers under the leg on each side, and is incredibly strong and has fairly short adjustment. 

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You made a couple of good points there.   I never did trust the fold over off billet and never used them and would not put them on a new saddle, especially one I was going to work out of.  Ken

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Thank you all for sharing your experience on this.

2 hours ago, kseidel said:

When punching these holes thru this heavy leather, some punches have a lot of wall thickness, and stretch the leather around the hole, causing cracks that can tear out fairly easily. 

Keith, this is leading me to the questions if in this case it wouldn't be better to have oval holes.

 

 

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