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A wheelist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone soaked a Brooks in neatsfoot oil (as mentioned on a few sites - incl Sheldon's) and liked the outcome of their saddle?

I remember many Brooks from my youth ('60s) and many of them, the older ones anyway, were a matte finish. How they were treated I have no idea. This is what I'm wanting to achieve, both for the looks and to make my beloved Brooks less slippery. I want the matte finish but I'm scared that an oil-soaked saddle will stretch out of shape.

I've lovingly broken in and treated my Pro with a home-made mixture of a small amount of neatsfoot and a lot of lanolin cream. Lanolin is the natural oil rendered from sheeps' wool. My saddle went through a session of wet molding too, to speed up the break-in process. This was under quite controlled conditions - I'm a quarter century custom leather worker who wet-molds all the articles I make.

Most of my leatherworking techniques came about through experimentation but I just can't use my beloved Brooks for a "neatsfoot soak" experiment!

Here it is. It's modified with about a 3/8" trim job all round.
 

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Mike T. said:
Has anyone soaked a Brooks in neatsfoot oil (as mentioned on a few sites - incl Sheldon's) and liked the outcome of their saddle?

I remember many Brooks from my youth ('60s) and many of them, the older ones anyway, were a matte finish. How they were treated I have no idea. This is what I'm wanting to achieve, both for the looks and to make my beloved Brooks less slippery. I want the matte finish but I'm scared that an oil-soaked saddle will stretch out of shape.

I've lovingly broken in and treated my Pro with a home-made mixture of a small amount of neatsfoot and a lot of lanolin cream. Lanolin is the natural oil rendered from sheeps' wool. My saddle went through a session of wet molding too, to speed up the break-in process. This was under quite controlled conditions - I'm a quarter century custom leather worker who wet-molds all the articles I make.

Most of my leatherworking techniques came about through experimentation but I just can't use my beloved Brooks for a "neatsfoot soak" experiment!

Here it is. It's modified with about a 3/8" trim job all round.
That saddle looks pretty nice.

What is wet molding?

I may have inadvertantly wet molded mine when I got caught in the rain on a 40 miler this past weekend. It dried out pretty nicely and I applied the proofide to it again after it dried.

Well, you're the expert, but I wouldn't experiment with that saddle and for what it's worth I like the ability to slide into different positions on the Brooks.
 

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A wheelist
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
lookrider said:
What is wet molding?
Leather stretches when a force is applied to it - that's what breaks in all Brooks to the shape of our sit bones. Wet leather stretches more readily and soaking-wet leather stretches lots and quite easily. This is why we read warnings about riding wet Brooks. I won't post my method of wet molding here as it would be easy to stretch a Brooks too far and ruin it. If anyone wants my method, just pm me but I won't be responsible!

I may have inadvertantly wet molded mine when I got caught in the rain on a 40 miler this past weekend. It dried out pretty nicely and I applied the proofide to it again after it dried.
I guess it didn't get too wet and too much pressure wasn't exerted! :)

Well, you're the expert, but I wouldn't experiment with that saddle and for what it's worth I like the ability to slide into different positions on the Brooks.
Nope I won't be experimenting with oil-soaking this one or the other one that's in its early stages of break-in.
 

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Mike T. said:
Leather stretches when a force is applied to it - that's what breaks in all Brooks to the shape of our sit bones. Wet leather stretches more readily and soaking-wet leather stretches lots and quite easily. This is why we read warnings about riding wet Brooks. I won't post my method of wet molding here as it would be easy to stretch a Brooks too far and ruin it. If anyone wants my method, just pm me but I won't be responsible!.
Yeah, I was a little foolish. Usually I take a plastic bag, but the weather changed abruptly and I was already soaked and felt good so I kept going. The saddle really didn't get too wet from the bottom, but my chamois was soaking into the leather. I have to be careful because I liked the Pro right out of the box.


Mike T. said:
I guess it didn't get too wet and too much pressure wasn't exerted! :)
Nah, not too wet. I usually relax and just cruise after I'm done but I stood on the pedals for the last couple of miles because I thought I might overstretch the saddle.


Mike T. said:
Nope I won't be experimenting with oil-soaking this one or the other one that's in its early stages of break-in.
Yeah, probably best to be conservative.
 

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Your saddle looks pretty nice to me the way it is. Brooks recommends strongly against using neatsfoot oil, so that's the information I would need to know.
 

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Frog Whisperer
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In my opinion, neatsfoot oil will over soften the Brooks. I had a Masi someone gave me a few months back to TRY to soften for them, It was like a fricking brick. I tried everything, water, proofide, I finally poured neatfoot oil on the underside and warmed it. FINALLY it started to soften. They had apparently sealed the top of the saddle with a urethane or some such sealant.
I have been riding Brooks for over 40 years and would never use neatsfoot on one.

Water will dry.... try getting the neatsfoot back out of the leather!
 

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A wheelist
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Touch0Gray said:
In my opinion, neatsfoot oil will over soften the Brooks. I had a Masi someone gave me a few months back to TRY to soften for them, It was like a fricking brick. I tried everything, water, proofide, I finally poured neatfoot oil on the underside and warmed it. FINALLY it started to soften. They had apparently sealed the top of the saddle with a urethane or some such sealant.
I have been riding Brooks for over 40 years and would never use neatsfoot on one.
Water will dry.... try getting the neatsfoot back out of the leather!
Yep, as a quarter-century leatherworker who has soaked many leather projects in neatsfoot I'm aware of the softening and permanence of the action but what I'm looking for, and still haven't found, is someone who has actually done it to a Brooks and who can relate their findings. I've read of it being suggested as a treatment (even Sheldon has it on his page). Mega-miler Lon Haldeman is reported as soaking his Brooks in 10w-30 motor oil but only getting 300,000 miles out of them afterwards.
 

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Frog Whisperer
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Actually Mike I did soak my first Brooks in neatsfoot oil back in the mid '60s. It softened it alright...It also was shot after 3 years, stretched to the max.
The Masi will most likely follow suite (but I gave it back to the owner)
 

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I did a brief neatsfoot oil treatment to a new brooks b-17. I didn't use enoght oil to call it a soak. I poured a small amount of neatsfoot oil into the bottom of the saddle, rubbed the oil over all th bottom surfaces, then blotted up all of the excess oil. At this point, the top surface of the saddle had not changed, but over several days the top surface became darker in the center as the oil wicked thorugh the saddle, so for a few days the top was dark and the sides were light. After several days more, the saddle was an even dark brown and noticibley softened. I haven't ridden much on it, but it is very comfortable. I'll try to find some pics of an untreated and a treated saddle.
 

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corning my own beef
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I agree with TOC -- neatsfoot will not only OVER-soften the saddle, but will result in some major discoloration (darkening) also.
 

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J24
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I have Swallow (new gift) that I'm trying to break in, any suggestions beyond proof hide and just riding. I prefer a much flatter saddle front to back unlike the OPs pictured and being concerned about sagging haven't put much proof hide on it.
 

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Proofide will help preserve the leather and protect it. Riding it is the best way to break it in. Don't be worried about sagging due to proofide ... you are supposed to coat it on thick, let it dry, then buff it out.

My swift felt good from day one, although I can see some indentation my heavy ass is putting into it. I assume it's getting more comfy, but I don't really notice the saddle at all.
 

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J24
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Thanks for the reply, have about 150 miles on it and so far it's good, expensive saddle though and glad its a gift.

Only problem was the too short rails and having to find/buy a seat post with more than 25mm set back, there aren't many available aluminum or carbon
 

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J24 said:
Thanks for the reply, have about 150 miles on it and so far it's good, expensive saddle though and glad its a gift.

Only problem was the too short rails and having to find/buy a seat post with more than 25mm set back, there aren't many available aluminum or carbon
I have about 2600 miles on mine since the beginning of the year. Don't worry about rushing to break it in. It will break in fairly quickly and you don't want to overdo it with the proofide. I got the little tin and I've only used about a third of it. It seems more like a surface protectant to keep the saddle from drying out than anything else. With the hot weather coming on, your sweat will mold it as the op said. Then apply the proofide to keep it shiny and supple. The place where the leg cut outs are needs the most proofide.

They say the Pro has the thickest leather and mine has molded so I'm sure the others will too. I'm 175 lbs btw.
 

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J24
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lookrider said:
I have about 2600 miles on mine since the beginning of the year. Don't worry about rushing to break it in. It will break in fairly quickly and you don't want to overdo it with the proofide. I got the little tin and I've only used about a third of it. It seems more like a surface protectant to keep the saddle from drying out than anything else. With the hot weather coming on, your sweat will mold it as the op said. Then apply the proofide to keep it shiny and supple. The place where the leg cut outs are needs the most proofide.

They say the Pro has the thickest leather and mine has molded so I'm sure the others will too. I'm 175 lbs btw.
Its sure stiff but not uncomfortable though my average distance right now is 20-25 miles. I'll take your advice on not overdoing the proofhyde. For comparison I estimate the leather on the Swallow is 1/4" thick I'm at 185lbs so the weight may speed up the breakin.
 

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noble dirtbag
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I used neatsfoot oil on my Brooks Professional and it did soften up and it did darken it. It did not get too soft or fall apart. That was 10 years ago and it's still going strong.
 
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