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It's been awhile since I last posted anything, but I recently finished repairs on an old ranch saddle I picked up a couple years back. Thought I'd post the results.

However, I have an extraordinarily difficult time posting photos to this forum, so I'll just post the URL to my blog, where I posted photos and information about the repairs.

https://westerntrailrider.com/wordpress/blog/finished-my-repairs-on-another-old-saddle/

Sorry admins, but getting all the photos resized and all that fiddly stuff isn't worth the trouble. Nobody takes 3mp photos anymore. Have you thought about an extension that automatically resizes uploaded photos? 1.46mb is waaaay small nowadays.

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Saddles are waaaay out of my realm, but I can appreciate the skills required.  Your work is amazing to me.  Attention to detail and  the creation of a custom tool is inspiring.  Thanks for sharing!

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I have a friend who has 3 saddles in that bad a shape, . . . she wants me to "fix" em for her.

Just not sure I'm up to that, . . . but I did enjoy seeing what you did.

May God bless,

Dwight

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I guess some might calls these "repairs", but I'd call this a major re-build!  Nice looking product.  I di one about 15 years ago.  The leather was so hard it took well over a year before I could get it in condition to accept a needle.  Since then I've undertaken a few, but only those that have some intrinsic worth -- nothing without Makers Mark and/or provenance.  Just too much work for an ornament - unless, of course, the payout is there, which it normally isn't.

I just finished a side saddle that was built in about 1900 on the Goodnight pattern.  The lady it was built for was from an old ranching family in California with a very rich history. 

What are your, Dwight?

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I'm not sure there are names or makers marks on them that anyone could find or decipher, . . . they are "really" bad.

Leather is hard and dry on all three, . . . fourth is a nylon skirted suede seat, . . . that could probably be on a horse in a couple of weeks, . . . 

All the others were taken off the horse and just put, . . . and the folks did not care where it was "put" so to speak.

One is a kind of show saddle, . . . lots of silver spots on it, . . . if any of them get any kind of treatment from me, . . . it is a likely candidate.  Gotta get the neatsfoot oil on them first & see if I can loosen em up a bit.

I've personally got an old Jumbo, . . . love that old saddle, . . . started to re-do it years ago, . . . decided it would ruin the history, . . . so I'm sending it to a friend in Arizona who promised to use it on roundups.  

May God bless,

Dwight

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If I may suggest:  If I were doing this, I'd leave the neatsfoot along for a bit and give everything a thorough cleaning ( I use liquid glycerine saddle soap, and I use enough to make you believe it's free), and remove everything that can be safely removed.  Then I'd apply Skidmore's conditioner to begin the softening process, not expecting much in the way of visible results in a hurry.  Some stitching will doubtless have to be replaced, and to do this, you need for the leather to be soft enough so that the needle doesn't granulate the leather.  Clean out all the affected stitch holes.  Let me know when you get to this stage.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, SaddleBags said:

If I may suggest:  If I were doing this, I'd leave the neatsfoot along for a bit and give everything a thorough cleaning ( I use liquid glycerine saddle soap, and I use enough to make you believe it's free), and remove everything that can be safely removed.  Then I'd apply Skidmore's conditioner to begin the softening process, not expecting much in the way of visible results in a hurry.  Some stitching will doubtless have to be replaced, and to do this, you need for the leather to be soft enough so that the needle doesn't granulate the leather.  Clean out all the affected stitch holes.  Let me know when you get to this stage.

 

 

Thank you, . . . I'm going down to see them later this weekend, . . . may just try that this time.

May God bless,

Dwight

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Hey Dwight, I've cleaned up a bunch of old saddles and I have a system that works pretty well. It may shock some of the "light coat of conditioner over the course of several months" types, but it has worked very well for me on saddles that were over 80 years old as well as newer ones that were neglected. Here's what I do;

1) Remove the fenders and stirrup leathers. Also the cinches, latigos , breast collars, etc.

2) Remove the back jockeys and the skirts. I just cut the old strings as they'll be replaced anyway. I also toss any old nails/screws as they will also be replaced. I'll also separate the skirts if they are laced.

3) Fill a large bucket with water. I use empty sweet lick tubs, anything around 2' in diameter or bigger would be good. 

4) Dump half a bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap in the bucket. You can get it in the laundry isle at most any store. 

5) Dunk the jockeys, fenders, back cinch, basically everything except the seat/tree and the skirts. If you have to replace the sheepskin remove it from the skirts and dunk them too. Let the pieces get good and wet and start washing them. You can use a rag or on roughout you can use a bristle brush. 

6) Once a piece is clean give it a thorough rub down with straight Murphy's soap. I pour it into my hand and just rub it in, front and back and put on heavy then hang the piece to dry in the shape it should roughly be in when it goes back together. I usually hang stirrup leather/fenders over a fence panel and lay out the skirts on a table. 

7) I don't dunk the tree but I do sit by the bucket and thoroughly wet the seat leather where you can to it (front jockey area, etc). Once clean lather on the Murphy's. Then put it aside to dry out. 

8) Once it's getting towards dry but not all the way dry I'll hit it pretty heavily with NF oil. 

9) Let it sit 24 hours and you can begin to repair what you have seen that needs done. 

10) Before it goes back together I'll rub everything down very well with Aussie Wax then sit it in the sun to let the Aussie wax work into the leather. Then I'll give it a good rub down with liquid glycerin saddle soap.

11) From there it's just a matter of putting it all back together. 

Good luck however you decide to proceed!

Josh

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Thanks, Josh, . . . I like that system, . . . especially  since I'm already familiar with and use Murphy's.

Since there are several, . . . worst that can happen is we trash one of them,  . . . and doing em one at a time might be the ticket.

May God bless,

Dwight

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Murphy's is good stuff :). Here is a link to an old thread where you can see the before and after pics of an old Hamley I cleaned up with a process as described above.

All the best!

Josh

 

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Thanks, guys for the nice comments. I enjoyed rebuilding that saddle. I have an old McClellan, a pony saddle, and three old high-back saddles in dire need of work as well. I'll post about those as I get them done.

Dwight and Josh, you might want to start your own thread, so people can search and comment.

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