broken tree

The work involved in a retree


This will be the first of a few blogs on putting a new tree in a saddle. In my opinion few saddles are worth the money to put a new tree in them. The misconception among most folks is that putting a tree in a saddle is something easy to do and is cheaper than getting a new saddle. Both of which are false.

For most saddles, a broken tree should be the end of the road. The thing to remember when contemplating the retree of any saddle is the age of the saddle. When we do a retree in the shop, ALL the original parts are used (except the horn and sometimes the binder) so the customer is getting back the same old saddle minus the broke tree part… And less money in their pocket.

This brings us to the price of the job. We charge a minimum of $1000 including the tree repair but not including any parts that have to be replaced, if any. The thing to consider here is what the saddle would be worth after the repairs. A custom saddle in good condition may have merit but a $600 saddle in poor condition probably not.

In these photos we have had the original tree completely restored and fiberglass covered making it as strong or stronger than when it was new. A new horn has been applied and we begin the retree by putting the gullet cover on and working on getting the original ground seat pieces back in place. This insures that the saddle sets as close to the same as it did before it was broken. Using the old pieces is sometimes difficult and we will sometimes have to install a completely new tin strainer and ground seat because they get destroyed taking them out. This adds cost to the job.

As you will see in the next few postings, putting a new tree in a saddle is anything but simple and very labor intensive. If a saddle is built correctly, it should be tough… Saddles, when built right, are not built to be taken apart.

Broken saddle tree?

So your tree is broke, what do you do with your saddle now? Personally I say throw it away. Most saddles out there are not worth replacing the tree in. You would never pay someone to replace the frame in your pickup after a wreck, saddles are the same.

Replacing the tree in a saddle is labor intensive and after its over you still have the same old saddle. The better option is to get a good used saddle that is in as good a shape and many times you can do this cheaper than replacing the tree.

If the saddle is something that seems impossible to replace then its worth using the broken tree as a model and getting a custom saddle built as close to it as possible. Most custom shops like us have the ability to reproduce even the most specialized trees. If that seems like too much of an investment then its not worth replacing the tree.

Most true custom saddles come with at least a ten year tree warranty if not a lifetime warranty like ours. In this case the saddle from the start is worth the trouble of tree replacement and should be of no cost to you.

When deciding what to do with that saddle with a broken tree, compare what is TRUELY worth to what it will cost to repair. Most of the time it isn’t worth the money… But it may make a great bar stool!