TOOLS YOU WILL NEED - Ball-peen Hammer, Wire Cutters (Metal Nippers or Hoof Nippers), a hard surface on which to hammer, an Awl, Masking Tape, the Nameplate, Patience.
TOOLS WHICH WOULD MAKE IT EASIER - Rivet Set, Leather Punch, Hobbyist's Anvil, Vodka, Tonic, Lime, Someone else to pawn this off on.
Be sure to watch the video, shown below, on how to attach your nameplates, it will help with understanding these instructions.
The first thing to do is to remove the nameplate(s) and attaching hardware from the package - being careful not to lose anything. Next, match the plates with what they will be attached to: saddles, bridles, halters, etc. Now look at your attaching hardware. You should have some brass, or nickel (depending on the plate) escutcheon pins (those things that look like round-headed nails) and, if the plate is for anything other than a saddle, some copper burrs (those things that look like small washers). Take some time to familiarize yourself with these items. The pins should be SLIGHTLY larger than the holes they are to go through. If the pins slide through the holes easily and can wiggle around, you've got the wrong pins. We always try to give you the correct hardware, but sometimes we screw up. If you've got the wrong hardware, DO NOT CONTINUE (that means don't try to fudge it, it won't work), call us and we'll send you the correct hardware.
We use escutcheon pins and burrs because they are the correct hardware for attaching plates to equipment. Chicago screws, bolts, split rivets (the bend over the back type), and quick rivets (the hammer together type) were not designed for attaching nameplates to equestrian equipment and WILL NOT hold up to the stresses incurred by equestrian equipment! We have heard too many horror stories about those types of hardware failing and blinding horses, gashing horses or people, and just too frequently coming off. Have patience and try it our way, it doesn't take much longer to do it correctly and the nameplates will then stay safely and securely on your equipment. So, take a little of whatever you use to relax and dive in, it only looks difficult.
SADDLES - First we'll tell you which Escutcheon Pins go with which plates.
#100, 101, 102, 105, 107, 110, 112 & 113 Saddle Plates (very small holes) use the very skinny, 3/8" pins.
#201, 202, 205, 207, 210, 230, 232, 250, & 260 Saddle Plates (large holes) use the medium weight, 1/2" pins.
STEP ONE - Hold the nameplate up to where you want it to be (make certain it's straight) and mark where the holes will be with an awl. Put the plate aside.
STEP TWO - This will vary depending upon what type of tree your saddle has, most saddles use wooden trees. Use the awl and a hammer to start the holes into the back of the saddle and:
A) If the saddle has a wooden tree, the holes started with the awl will be enough.
B) If the saddle has a fiberglass tree, you will need a drill with a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the saddle pin. Drill the holes where you marked them to a depth of about 3/8".
C) If the saddle has a steel reinforced, or carbon fiber cantle, or the tree is one of those rubber ones, consider attaching the nameplate with velcro.
STEP THREE - Line up the plate with the holes and then hammer the pins through the saddle plate, into the saddle at a slight inward angle. Don't be upset if you bend one, everybody does.
STEP FOUR - Admire your work.
For the saddles: If the pins refuse to work, we can supply saddle screws, but they can have their own types of problems.
HALTERS, BRIDLES, MARTINGALES, GIRTHS, ETC. - This is the tougher one to do, but rest easy, it's not brain surgery. These use the heavy pins that are 3/4" long (or longer) and the copper burrs. If you have a Rivet Set, you WILL use the burrs that you are going to swear will not fit onto the pins. If you do not have a Rivet Set, the burrs you use should slide easily onto the pins.
STEP ONE - Place the plate where you want it to go and mark where the holes will be with the awl. Put the plate aside.
STEP TWO - If you have a Leather Punch, use the smallest punch and punch a hole through the leather. If you don't have a Leather Punch, or if you are attaching the plate to a nylon halter (yes, it can be done), use the awl and the hammer and make a hole STRAIGHT through the leather or nylon.
STEP THREE - Line up the plate with the holes and then hammer the pins through the plate and whatever you are attaching it to. The pins should have to be hammered through the plate, they should not slide through the holes. The tighter the pins are in the holes, the easier it is to attach the plate. Next, take a piece of masking tape and completely cover the plate and the pin heads.
STEP FOUR - Turn the leather (or nylon) over so that the pointed ends of the pins are sticking up. Now is when you need the hard surface (like a block of scrap hardwood) to hammer on, or the hobbyists anvil. If you don't have a Rivet Set, proceed to Step Five. If you have a Rivet Set, proceed to Step Six.
STEP FIVE - Place the plate face down on the anvil, or whatever hard surface you're working on. Take a small copper burr and slide it onto the escutcheon pin. Take a piece of masking tape and force it down over the pins to hold the burrs in place. Proceed to Step Seven.
STEP SIX - Place the plate face down on the anvil, or whatever hard surface you're working on. Take a small copper burr and place it over the end of the escutcheon pin (remember, it should not slide down onto the pin). Take the Rivet Set and place the hole in the end of the Rivet Set over the burr and the escutcheon pin. Now take the hammer and hit the other end of the Rivet Set until the burr is tight against the leather (or nylon). Repeat for the other pin.
STEP SEVEN - Take the Wire Cutters and clip off the excess pin, leaving about 1/16 of an inch of the pin above the burr.
STEP EIGHT - Use the round end of the Ball-peen Hammer and flatten out the remaining bit of the pin (this is called peening, and why it’s called a ball-peen hammer). It will spread out across the burr a bit. Be sure to flatten the edges with the hammer as they could be sharp. You can check this by CAREFULLY running your finger across the back. Keep hammering until the cut end of the pin is smooth. Repeat for the other pin.
STEP NINE - Remove the tape from the front (and back) of the plate.
STEP TEN - Admire your work.
If you run into a problem, give us a call and we'll talk you through it. Or, your local blacksmith or shoemaker should be able to show you how it's done. Once you get good at this, it only takes a couple of minutes per plate.
All of our brass and nickel nameplates are coated with a baked on clear lacquer. This is the same as the clear-coat on all modern cars. Like all lacquered metals, brass and nickel must be maintained to continue looking like new. Just like your car, the lacquer will discolor and corrode if you don't wash and wax it. Since brass is such a soft metal, it can start to deteriorate very quickly depending upon where you are, sometimes within forty-eight hours. Maintaining your nameplates, however, is relatively simple.
First and foremost, keep all corrosives off your nameplates. Corrosives include, but are not limited to: sweat, saliva, salt, insecticides (like fly spray), soap, dirt, and all the interesting chemicals you people insist on putting on your leather equipment. NEVER use an abrasive cleaner or polish on a lacquered metal surface. These include household cleaners like Comet and metal polishes like Brasso. Likewise, never use an abrasive pad, or steel wool to clean your nameplates (this should be obvious, but we've found that it needs to be said).
We're now going to tell you something that some people don't want you to know - there are only three things you need to maintain any type of leather: glycerine saddle soap, oil (like neat’s foot), and wax, or leather sealer (leather, shoe, or boot polish). That's all that you need, and all that should be used. Wood cleaners (like Murphy's Oil Soap), multi-purpose cleaners and solvents should never be used on leather.
Proper care of leather would be to clean it with saddle soap after each use, oil it once a week, and polish it several times each year. I'm sure we all do that, don't we? At the very least, we should clean our leather when it gets dirty and oil it a few times each year. Polishing leather seems to be reserved only for riding boots and fine harness these days.
No matter what you do, however, you can't leave any of these materials on your nameplates, other than the wax. They will corrode and discolor the lacquer. Just ask us, we can tell you what type of cleaner you've been using, or what has been left on the nameplates, by what color the lacquer has turned.
So, after you have cleaned and conditioned your leather, and wiped any residue off your plates, what do you do? You wipe off the plates with either dish soap or car wash, then you wax them. Use non-abrasive automotive wax, the same type you use on your car (or should be using on your car). It doesn't matter what brand you use, but the better wax you get, the better it works. You can also use a neutral leather polish (Kiwi makes a neutral shoe polish). Apply it every time you clean your leather, or at least four times every year. If you find that the wax is leaving a white residue in the engraved areas, switch to using black shoe or boot polish. That will leave a black residue in the already blackened areas.
What do you do for plates that aren't on leather, like stall plates? When they get dirty, wipe them off, right away, with a damp cloth and either dish soap or car wash, nothing else. Use the same non-abrasive automotive wax on them at least twice each year.
Most of all, keep your plates dry. Nothing will destroy a lacquered metal finish like any type of liquid left on the surface, including water.
When you receive your nameplates, they are not waxed. That should be one of the first things you do once your plates are installed. Just as with your car, if you live in an area where there is a high salt or pollution content to the air, you will have to clean and wax your plates more often.
For the plastic plates, when they get dirty, all you have to do is wipe them off with a damp cloth. Anything more could damage the finish.
A little time and effort will keep your nameplates looking new for a very long time.