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Chief style seat - restore or abandon?

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Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
Started at 07:48am on the 9th November, 2018 by Clement
Clement Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
My Bullet has a Chief style seat (see Hitchcock's 2018/19 Royal Enfield Bullet catalogue page 114) It has a pressed steel base with cowhide strung across the top. The leather is folded over the edge of the base and fixed (underneath) with what appears to be some sort of flattish rivet - sorry, I am not an upholsterer. The steel base has rust as have the rivets. I can easily get the rust off the outside but suspects that there is more under the leather and not accessible unless I drill these "rivets" out, remove the leather, then prime and paint the steel and string and attach the hide back one way or another. Has somebody done this before and is it worthwhile trying or does it amount to refurnishing deck chairs on the Titanic? Many thanks. Clement
Posted: 07:48am 9th November, 2018
Mark M Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
Clement, that is not a cheap seat! I'd try and repair it, you have nothing to lose. I've recovered plenty of saddles of all makes over the years with no real problems. If you take your time during the dismantling process you'll see how the cover was attached in the first place and will be able to replicate it when you re-fit. The leather will have shaped itself by now so should fit back nicely. Chances are it's only a repaint needed but still worth doing as rust wreaks havoc inside a seat and you can't see it until too late! Measure the rivets and buy replacements at your local DIY place although you'll probably need something with a larger head to spread the load, you'll find these on Ebay or get some small washers which is what I do.

REgards, Mark
Posted: 03:39pm 9th November, 2018
stinkwheel Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
As above, It's a £180 saddle so worth having a crack at. Covers are usually held on with pop-rivets, which seems to be the case here, with a washer under them. That'll be fun. 30 to drill out, using an electric drill, often defined as a device for spinning pop-rivets at 5,000 rpm. I've also used short self-tapping screws in the past too.

You could also take the opportunity to add some more/better padding while you're in there. You can get pieces of gel padding pretty inexpensively on the internet and recess it into the seat foam for extra comfort. I've put a piece of it between the cover and springs on my lycett style seat and it's really made a difference.
Posted: 03:53pm 9th November, 2018
Clement Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
Thank you for your replies. This is how I got on: I drilled the (indeed) 30 rivets out; best way seems to be to drill a shallow pilot hole with small drill bit (2 mm) exactly in the centre of the rivet head; then follow up with a bigger bit (5mm) just deep enough to grind the connection between the rivet "shaft" and head away - extreme care should be taken not to poke the drill bit through the top of the saddle (yes, happened, but only once) Penalty for not drilling in exact centre is having to drill out the rivet head slowly with much bigger drill bit. The leather covering the top of the saddle was unfortunately quite thin, unlike the thick leather sides which wrap around the saddle base and were stitched onto the top part. The leather was glued onto foam and all came away in one piece from the metal base. Plenty of surface rust so exercise was not in vain. Grinded rust off with a scotch-brite pad and metal primed with coating of CRC black zinc over the top. Got 30 M5 panslot little bolts after enlarging the holes with tap and die to screw this bolt in from the top. It was quite easy (as indicated by you) to pull the leather back around the base and over the ends of the small bolts - but it seemed that the metal was too thin to hold bolt in place: after pulling the leather back over the top and onto the (now enlarged) bigger holes in the leather straps onto the bolt ends I tried to tighten the nuts but in most cases the bolt started to turn around and could not be hold steady being covered by the leather top. Resolved this by pushing cut-off parts of a 3/8" plastic wall plug over the tops of the bolts and painting all plug ends black - not very elegant and there must be other ways. Otherwise happy to have started this exercise due to hidden rust present. Clement
Posted: 06:20pm 24th November, 2018
Mark M Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
Thanks for coming back, glad you got a result. I have found when drilling out rivets that if you use a much larger drill the tip of the bit takes out the centre of the rivet which then parts from the shank with no risk of punching through. You can then separate the material and push out the remains of the rivet once the cover and foam is off.

REgards, Mark
Posted: 10:49pm 24th November, 2018
Alan R Subject: Chief style seat - restore or abandon?
Hi Guys-----I'd second that one MarkM....Typically a drill about 50% bigger than the rivet hole diameter does the trick and will still fit into a power drill chuck...With the head gone the remaining expanded shank ( if it's a "Pop" rivet ) can be gently punched out with a hammer and parallel punch...The same technique applies similarly to seized nuts and bolts, pozi. drive screws etc.....
Posted: 11:34pm 25th November, 2018

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