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Restoring Brodie helmet


spconnolly007
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Just purchased these two items, Lee Enfield and Brodie. The Brodie unfortunately has been hand painted due to spending some time at a local military museum on show, and the strap clips are broken. Any suggestions as to the best way of trying to restore to a more original condition? Have access to sand and bead blaster if an option to get back to base metal, but do not want to rush into anything without some expert advice. Also, where can I purchase replacement clips as Ive noticed they are only held in place by a split pin type fitting. Some lining remains inside but Im not too bothered as I intend to wall mount it, but would like to find a strap as well. Many thanks for any help. post-79848-0-54218000-1321380246.jpg

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Just purchased these two items, Lee Enfield and Brodie. The Brodie unfortunately has been hand painted due to spending some time at a local military museum on show, and the strap clips are broken. Any suggestions as to the best way of trying to restore to a more original condition? Have access to sand and bead blaster if an option to get back to base metal, but do not want to rush into anything without some expert advice. Also, where can I purchase replacement clips as Ive noticed they are only held in place by a split pin type fitting. Some lining remains inside but Im not too bothered as I intend to wall mount it, but would like to find a strap as well. Many thanks for any help. post-79848-0-54218000-1321380246.jpg

The first thing with the helmet is to determine if you actually have a 'true to period' brodie of a later version helmet. A better photo of the underside would be helpful, but from what can be seen in the photo I would suspect you have the later version (WW2 type) which has certain differences. The strap bales on the originals are little more than a strip of bent tin very easily reproduced if you can't find any originals, and suitable split rivets are easy to source. To be right, you almost certainly will want a suitable liner putting in it; again easy enough to get, just a bit fiddly to fit. Paint finish is open to a wide debate dependent on what impression you want to create with the helmet. Anything from very early shiny Apple Green to anti reflective textured khaki drab etc. Hope this helps for a starter.

Dave

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Thanks for the speedy reply dave, have supplied another(hopefully better)photopost-79848-0-60295400-1321382518.jpg

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I once had a genuine ww1 helmet shell that had been painted black (police/warden) I don't remember, anyhow I decided to return it to military appearance and I used a mild paint stripper. To my great pleasure the complete original finish (mustard khaki) was underneath and was not effected by the stripper. Sand blasting will take everything off bsck to bare metal. Give it some thought.

khaki

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Thanks khaki, I had considered paint stripper, but had not realised there was a chance the original paint would stay on. Only considered bead blast as it is less damaging than sand blasting, but would give me a clean base to work from, but will definately try paint stripper and keep fingers crossed. Would prefer it looked aged when finished, but whats on it now looks like a child did it with a 3" brush!!

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I would agree with Khaki in as far as i would be as gentle as pos with regards stripping paint sand blasting does the job a bit too thorough.Try stripping back with the more gentle solvents first and you could at least get some original finish to give you a colour to aim at in the finished item.john

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Agree with all the above, and from the other photo I have no doubts you've got yourself a genuine early brodie. From this photo it looks as if its got no rim protector? If you do remove the paint it would be interesting to see what stamped information there is on the underside of the rim. I would have thought you'll want a repro liner, so if it were mine I would have a go at removing the liner retaining rivet (it can be done without drilling it out if you are very lucky) and then have a go at removing some of the paint from the underside, you may just find stenciled info under the liner pad when it comes out - I did on the last one I worked on. If you can lift the top layer of paint to reveal the original then you'll be doing the shell a great service.

Dave

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Just purchased these two items, Lee Enfield and Brodie. The Brodie unfortunately has been hand painted due to spending some time at a local military museum on show, and the strap clips are broken. Any suggestions as to the best way of trying to restore to a more original condition? Have access to sand and bead blaster if an option to get back to base metal, but do not want to rush into anything without some expert advice. Also, where can I purchase replacement clips as Ive noticed they are only held in place by a split pin type fitting. Some lining remains inside but Im not too bothered as I intend to wall mount it, but would like to find a strap as well. Many thanks for any help. post-79848-0-54218000-1321380246.jpg

Be very careful about disturbing the remains of the liner as the circular pad next to the shell is made of asbestos !!

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Many thanks again guy's for your response. Will do as you suggest Dave and work from the inside first and see what I can reveal, any suggestions on how to remove the centre rivet as it is only holding a small piece of the original leather strapping, I presume this needs to be removed to fit a new liner? Thanks for the heads up on the asbestos, I did wonder what the material was, better not let my son wear it for the time being. Will keep you informed as to progress, and hopefully will post some nice completed photos.P.S. I found a site yesterday selling liners, chin straps etc, but there was no mention of what I presume should be metal fixings for strap to fix to(the ones with the split pin type fixing to helmet)or have I got that wrong?

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Take a look on this site for a replacement liner, I have one of them and they are very hard to fault:

http://www.militaryhistoryworkshop.co.uk/shop/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=331

The liner 'kit' will come with a copper rivet only as its expected the shell you have will have the two Bale's as they are known. These are the folded metal keepers for the chin strap and are held onto the shell via spit rivets. If you can't source originals, then they can be very simply made with nothing more than some suitably bent coat hanger wire and a strip of suitably cut and folded tin - I've done it already and when fitted & painted up you'd never know.

The norm is to drill the original rivet from the top of the shell, so that it drops away. In the last one I worked on, the original rivet had been hammered in such a way there was quite a bit of the rivet sticking up from the top of the shell. I found that with long handled grips I was able to work around the rivet and compress it so much that it eventually slipped out of its own accord and I could then reuse it again - bit of a fiddly job, but it could be done.

Here is part 1 of a 2 part YouTube clip on how to reline a helmet, done by the Prairie Flower Company in the US.

You may well find their site interesting:

http://www.pflco.com/helmets.html

Dave

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Great stuff, thanks dave, watching the video I can see what you mean about making the Bales. Im a toolmaker by trade so theres no problem with any parts to be made, I just needed to see them properly to understand what you meant. Ive just finished making some replacement parts for a spare mills bomb I have(new clip etc). Your link was to the site I was looking at yesterday for liner, so im on the right track, many thanks for your help, regards Sean

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Here's a close up of an original brodie I have. For info the bale as you see it measures 3/4" x 7/8" wide. I have another restored brodie, where the bales are slightly larger all round, so something in that size range is perfectly acceptable.

Dave

post-23614-0-56542000-1321473465.jpg

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Hi Dave, you must of read my mind, after writing my last post, I was cursing myself for not asking for sizes, thanks again. Feel free to post on here or PM me more photos of your brodies, would be interested in seeing what im aiming for.

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I am fortunate to have 2 WW1 " Brodie " steel helmets in my Collection, both of which are in exceptional all original mint condition, so they may be assistance to you with your restoration project.

Both my helmets are the officially named " Helmet, Steel, Mk.1 " being the 1917 version with the welded double rim, and the improved liner.

The 1917 liner had the modification of a rubber " Doughnut " ring placed in the dome of the helmet for additional head protection.

The rubber ring is overlaid with a felt pad, which is secured to the helmet dome with a rivet. This rivet also secures a leather strap which runs to each side of the helmet, and passes through the chin strap loop. The chin strap loop fitting, a small metal plate, is secured to the helmet rim by a single split pin ( the American helmets used a rivet instead of a split pin ).

The pigskin leather chin strap is is secured at each end by a split pin.

The actual liner is black Oil Cloth sewn onto a canvas ring which is reinforced around the edges with leather and canvas, and has small pockets containing a composite material designed to give the wearer's head a buffer between the steel helmet and the head liner.

A drawstring runs around the base of the liner and through a netting around the edge of the liner, and is used to adjust the fitting of the liner to the wearer's head.

The black Oil Cloth liner is stamped on the inside in red ink with the " Brodie stamp - registration No - Patent No ".

Also present inside the dome of the helmet and secured by the dome rivet, is paper tag giving fitting instructions.

The leather dome strap, is clearly impressed stamped with the helmet size.

The helmet rim has the impressed Maker's Code Mark, one helmet is made by Vickers, Sheffield, and the other by Hadfields of Sheffield.

I shall be happy to provide any measurements you may need.

With regard to the paint finish, one helmet has the finish where the matte paint has been mixed with sand, sawdust or crushed cork to give a non-reflective finish for added camo protection, particularly against snipers. The other helmet has a less rough matte paint finish.

If your helmet has that special sand, sawdust, crushed cork finish applied, it would be extremely important not to remove that finish.

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Fine looking helmets LF.

The picture I posted shows the underside of the rim and to some extent the inside of the dome. Its quite an early one, stamped HS 28 although it does have a donut ring installed.

What does baffle me is the way the entire helmet - inside and out is completely devoid of any trace of paint. I can imagine the exterior has worn or rusted away, but for the interior to have not a trace seems very odd to me. Does anyone have any evidence that in the haste to get them out they wrre supplied without any paint applied?

Dave

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Dave,

Many thanks for the reply.

Your HS Maker's Code is for Hadfields of Sheffield.

Having the " Doughnut " ring installed, dates your helmet from 1917, and the lack of any paint having been applied may indicate that it was surplus stock left over after the war, and was never completely finished off or issued.

The shell is in good shape, and will look great when painted, and a replacement liner installed.

Regards,

Leo

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Thanks for your help Leo and posting photos of what look like two very nice examples. The sandtex type of finish is definately visible under whatever mine has been painted with, but more so to the front than back, is that normal? To be honest it gave me the impression that someone had just painted over the dust or grit that was on the helmet from being left in a shed, glad I haven't started stripping it yet! Glad I started this thred as there is obviously a wealth of knowledge out there, but the more answers I get the less I want to touch it for fear of ruining it, but it cant stay as it is, so I may take the plunge this evening and apply some thinners to the inside and see what happens. Fingers crossed.

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The WW1 painted finish containing the sand, sawdust and crushed cork, does actually look like it had been painted over without removing all the debris first, so your's probably does have the original rough finish, in which case I would just paint over it without removing the original " rough textured finish ".

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I have gently applied some compound used for car paint and have revealed what looks like another darker shade of green underneath. Hope the photo shows what I mean although I am partially colour blind so it could be brown for all I know!!! Does this resemble the apple green of early Brodie's?

post-79848-0-99638100-1321559807.jpg

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I have gently applied some compound used for car paint and have revealed what looks like another darker shade of green underneath. Hope the photo shows what I mean although I am partially colour blind so it could be brown for all I know!!! Does this resemble the apple green of early Brodie's?

Gets better by the minute. If you can bring that colour up over the rest of the helmet I think you'll do it a service. Looks a little too 'green' for Apple green, but its hard to tell at the moment. As I thought from your earlier posting, the shell has no rim protector, but is it an early Raw Edge? The protector could so easily have been removed in the past which may explain why it was repainted. I should gently keep going as you are and see how the whole shapes up.

Dave

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I have included this picture for Leo in regards to the original rough finish. Im not convinced that this is original as the samples ive seen seem to be much more pronounced as far as the sand/sawdust effect goes and this is the only area on the whole shell that has this. The rest of the shell is quite flat apart from the rough paint finish. I have managed to remove the bales(or what was left of them)but I will re-make them as well as new rivets as one tab snapped off both whilst trying to prise open.

post-79848-0-50176100-1321560713.jpg

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Hi Dave, how can you tell if it is or not? I keep looking around the inside edge but can not seem to find the slightest trace of a stamp, but as you can probably see the last coat of paint went on pretty thick so it may reveal itself in time!

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Hi Dave, how can you tell if it is or not? I keep looking around the inside edge but can not seem to find the slightest trace of a stamp, but as you can probably see the last coat of paint went on pretty thick so it may reveal itself in time!

Sean

There's every possibility there is no stamped information under the rim - not every helmet is stamped, although I'm not sure why. If there is anything, in my experience it tends to be under the front end, although I appreciate you may well not be able to tell the front from the back. From the picture you've just posted, I too believe the texture you can see is material which has been added to the last coat of paint, and I suspect the original will have been a smooth finish - another good sign for an early shell rather than late. I personally would very tentatively try some paint stripper on the inside. It will almost certainly lift off the newer top coat quite swiftly, but I suspect will struggle against the original, which is good because as soon as the newer stuff comes away, you can wipe the stripper off with a damp cloth etc (wear gloves)!

Dave

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Hi Dave, am I correct in assuming that the front peak is slightly shorter in lenght than the back? This seems to be the case on mine although that could be due to the edge rusting away over time I suppose. Will definately try paint stripper next but as you suggest will not leave on too long. The original coat underneath does appear to be quite tough thankfully, would this of been baked on or just sprayed and left to dry

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