I find your interest in rebuilding old saddles interesting, so I got to ask a dumb question. Have you ever bought a old saddle just for useable parts on it? And while I'm asking questions, have ever heard of a brand of saddle called Red Ranger? When I got back into horses 28 years ago, the first saddle I bought was a Red Ranger saddle. I used it until the tree on it broke, & then traded it to a tack dealer for parts. I think he allowed me $15.00 for it on the purchase of another saddle. PD
The first time I ever saw a Red Ranger saddle it was in 1970 when a stable in the area was bought up by some people who were gung-ho about having a rental stable. The stable had catered to the English crowd, but this guy wanted to go western. A friend of his who "knew all about horses and stables" went out and bought a slew of Red Rangers and other items he might need. I sometimes see a Red Ranger offered for sale at an auction. Now the maker's mark is made up of two capital R's back-to-back. People just call it a Double R.
I was going to say I can't remember ever buying a saddle for parts, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea. Then I remembered buying a saddle that had leather all dried up and turned black. It has a good Ralide tree, so I bid $2.00 at an auction and got it. It's lying out in the barn at the old place.