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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Restoring Brodie helmet


spconnolly007
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Andy, you have to remember that there were several press shops making these and the pressure on them to stamp out as many as possible would have been enourmous, hence why examples like mine have LS and MS on them. It would seem that contractors were sub-contracting to keep up with demand! Without getting too technical, there is a fine line between 'buckleing' and 'splitting' a panel when it is drawn out in this way. The press tools would get very hot with the friction of drawing out these helmets which could cause the metal to split (i.e scrap brodie) but if pressure is taken off the upper die of the press tool then a little extra material flows into the lower die causing the ripple. The reason the Brodie was such a great design is because it is the easiest shape in the world to produce with a press tool. I used worn tools as an example so that I did not have to start a long winded debate on Great War press tool manufacture, but there is always one (you) that has to know :w00t::thumbsup: hope this makes a bit more sense? Regards Sean. By the way, you may not be able to PM yet as you need a certain amount of posts to do so, which may be 10, so try it today.

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I must admit to being somewhat confused about stretch marking. For years this effect has been associated with the very earliest Brodies and I believe it was generally thought this was down to the fact that they were rattled out as fast as possible and then as time went by the process and the press tools were improved to the point that the finished product similarly improved. Here's my HS 28.

Dave

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This is the point I was trying to raise. I can see the logic in worn dies producing similar creasing, but such marks are much less evident in helmets that were produced much later. If you look at second world war brodies, you almost never see them, even late war helmets like the ones produced by American companies show much less creasing.

I may be wrong, but I have also always associated such pronounced creasing with early helmets. I can see the point that Sean is raising, with worn dies causing such marks, but to me it seems logical that the earlier helmets would have been produced rapidly, possibly on badly made and ill fitting dies, or on dies made from poor quality material. As the production rate increased and was perfected. these marks became less obvious. The evidence in the helmets themselves seems to suggest this. If worn tooling was the cause of these creases, surely they would be more obvious on later helmets as the dies wore out through over usage?

I fully understand what Sean is saying and I agree that this probably accounts for the creases sometimes found in later helmets, but most if not all the early production helmets show these imperfections. To me it seems more likely they were formed on poorly fitting dies?

Don`t get me wrong Sean I see the point you are making, as a marine engineer I have a grasp of the process involved, though I have never actually pressed anything more than a flower. I just dont see the logic working when applied to the evidence we have left.

I really must sort these pictures out and pm you about these bales and rivets. I`m afraid I live a strange life and get easily distracted from current tasks!! There is no malicious intent here I`m sure you will all realise this as time goes on..basically I`m just hopless :wacko:

Best

Andy

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I`m afraid I live a strange life and get easily distracted from current tasks!! There is no malicious intent here I`m sure you will all realise this as time goes on..basically I`m just hopless :wacko:

Best

Andy

Dont worry Andy, we can see from your profile, you look a bit 'ruff'.... :w00t:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Picture of my raw edge with the orange coloured splotches. It has an early pattern six tongue liner and is named to an RAMC officer serving with the 36th Div in 1916.

TT

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  • 4 months later...

I thought I would add to this topic, since I just picked this one up yesterday in a yard sale. It definitely has a black base paint with the rough coating worn off. It has perfect bales. Thinking of restoring it. Any ideas about this one.

Tom-- in the colonies (Canada)

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A very nice looking early Brodie. The felt pad with copper rivet looks to be original and will have had a corresponding pad on top of it holding the rubber ring in place - the felt has clearly given way over the years which is why this is now missing. You can see from the width of the brim to the sides and the difference in the front and back brim widths. It has no brim protector stip, but that does not mean it was made a 'raw-edge' originally. Any stamp marks under the brim?

Dave

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Hi Dave

I have being following this thread and find it very enjoyable and informative. Thanks for your reply. It appears to have markings under the rim but with the thickness of the paint and coating, sadly I cannot read them. I will give it another try with my loupe and perhaps try a photo.

I read earlier, the base paint colour of black being in question. Any more thoughts on this?

Tom

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Tom. What you describe as black base paint - are you sure that what you are looking at is just the bare metal of the shell now well discoloured after all it’s been through? Going on what can be seen in the photo it looks like the bare metal to me with the residue of the original textured paint left still in places? I personally do not believe they were primed in black before being given a top coat of khaki drab or whatever -especially the very early one's - I doubt they had time to spare to do it? It's my own belief that many helmets which survived the war and were salvaged were widely reused during the inter war period and during WW2 but chiefly amongst the civil & emergency services, which is where you often find police 'tin hats' painted black but with earlier brodie characteristics. If you do choose to restore the shell completely it would do no harm to take a wire brush to the underside of the rim to help make the stamping more legible.

Dave

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Tom, as Dave said, looks like a nice early original to me. Photos can be deceiving, but the rim looks right dimensionally for an early raw edge (in my opinion anyway). Think long and hard before you start messing about with it though, as you will be messing around with a bit of history. I considered mine a no-brainer as far as restoration, but yours is in a much better original condition. I would agree with Dave as far as the colour is concerned, it looks more like the original steel has blackened over time. Also, be mindful of Paddy60th's comment earlier regarding the leftover liner, possibly asbestos!! Personally, I'd fit a repro liner and leave the helmet as is, but no doubt others will disagree.

Regards,

Sean.

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Sean and Dave

Thankyou for your response. The more I look at it, I believe you are right about being the metal surface rather than black paint. I had wiped the surface with light sewing machine oil, my thinking was to check any surface rust. Whether this was the right thing to do, I don't know, but that must be why the black appears as it is. I am going to try to brush the underside carefully to find a maker and have decided to leave the outside as is, which will be historically correct, and perhaps install a repro., liner. The reason to leave it is that I have found out that the owner of the helmet was aPte Harry McGhee service number 213550, who enlisted in the 99th Battalion, at Windsor, Ontario. and then served in the 19th CEF Battalion, until wounded 4 times and being awarded the MM in an action 9-9-18.

I purchased this helmet at a yard sale from McGhee's Grandson who is now in his 70's. He fears his family will not be interested in any of items. He allowed me to take photos with my cell phone, of the other artifacts including medals, ID disc, a small round tin with a bullet hole and an Enfield oil bottle also with bullet damage, which were in Harry McGhee's pockets when wounded 4 times. Also an armband he wore during the Royal visit to England 1939. I have photos below. I don't mean to side track from the original post but thought this would be of interest because of it's relation to the helmet.

For now, can you recommend what I should do with the surface to protect it, oil, wax or just wash it and leave it alone. My concern is reventing corrosion.

Tom

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Small round tin looks like a shaving stick tin, I have a colgate one

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Tom,

Now the helmets provenance is known I would strongly recommend you leave the helmet exactly as is, out of respect for the man it was once issue to. If you would like to fully restore one, I feel sure you will find another without too much difficulty and the chances of another having such a known history with it would be somewhat unlikely. Wiping it with oil will have done it no harm. It will soak in and dry in time. If the helmet is kept in a dry environment the likelihood of any significant deterioration is very unlikely. I'm not too sure what the original padding is made of. If it is left in peace and the fibres not agitated I would think the risk of it doing any harm is minimal.

Dave

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Small round tin looks like a shaving stick tin, I have a colgate one

It is indeed marked as such on the lid
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Tom,

Now the helmets provenance is known I would strongly recommend you leave the helmet exactly as is, out of respect for the man it was once issue to. If you would like to fully restore one, I feel sure you will find another without too much difficulty and the chances of another having such a known history with it would be somewhat unlikely. Wiping it with oil will have done it no harm. It will soak in and dry in time. If the helmet is kept in a dry environment the likelihood of any significant deterioration is very unlikely. I'm not too sure what the original padding is made of. If it is left in peace and the fibres not agitated I would think the risk of it doing any harm is minimal.

Dave

Hi Dave I think you are right. I shall leave it as is, just as a shell, for display. It is a shame the family has little interest in such things. This is why history is forgotten.

Thankyou so much Tom Tweney

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Tom, fully agree, definately leave as is with its provenance. You could always pick up a chin strap for it if you want to complete the look for display purposes?

Sean.

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Agree with others, best left as it is and good to have one with a known owner.

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Leave it alone, why have repro parts unless you want to wear and why would you want to do that. As a relic approaching 100 years old your job as custodian is to treasure and ensure no further deterioration. In a dry room, periodically dusted, maybe a light oil every now and then, and thats all. Here in the UK I have quite a few helmets, some with liners and some without (simply shells) but I never mess with them at all. In my part of the world humid and damp conditions are prevelant yet as stored as mentioned no problems at all.

Would be nice if you could aquire the other relics to keep the group together.

TT

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Thank you all for the excellent advice and I will indeed, leave it alone. As for a maker mark, without wire brushing the rim, the only letter

that I can make out is possibly a Z , if that gives a hint as to maker.

Tom

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Thank you all for the excellent advice and I will indeed, leave it alone. As for a maker mark, without wire brushing the rim, the only letter

that I can make out is possibly a Z , if that gives a hint as to maker.

Tom

Unless I'm mistaken, 'Z' Brodies were American made.

-Daniel

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Unless I'm mistaken, 'Z' Brodies were American made.

-Daniel

Quite right Daniel. I believe the US made (1917) helmets could also bear an X or a Y staming.

Dave

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This warrants further investigation. I shall try to carefully wire brush the area to see if I can find other markings. I am basing my possible Z finding. on a slanted line / , the only thing that is legible.

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This warrants further investigation. I shall try to carefully wire brush the area to see if I can find other markings. I am basing my possible Z finding. on a slanted line / , the only thing that is legible.

Some British-made helmets have a slanted line between the letter code and the number, such as D/04.

Quite right Daniel. I believe the US made (1917) helmets could also bear an X or a Y staming.

Dave

There are a quite a few different letters that appear on US-made helmets. I have seen K,L,N,O,T,U,W,X,Y and Z.

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Thanks for this. I don't know too much about the American helmet history and it would be good if anyone with knowledge could share it here in more detail. For instance, in the UK, FS & HS etc refer to specific identified makers, presumably the X,Y,Z etc does a similar thing, but does anyone know who or what was Z for example? It would also be good to see if anyone can either post photos of US stamp marks and possibly add to the list already put forward by aef1917.

Dave

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The study of the m1917 helmet is not nearly as advanced as that of its WWII counterpart. The standard helmet collectors' references all trace the majority of their information back to two sources, which even together do not present the complete picture. Going by the references, there were 7 manufacturers of helmet shells and 10 manufacturers of liners. My research over the last couple of years has led to the conclusion that there were closer to 20 of each.

As far as I can tell, no one knows for sure how to decode the stampings. Based on close study of as many helmets as I can find, I think that the first letter indicates the steel manufacturer, and the second letter indicates the company that stamped the shell. The number is the steel lot, and as one would suspect, higher numbers indicate later dates of manufacture.

There are anomalies, of course. The K,L,N,O,T, W and X shells I have examined do not have a steel lot number. These might be early examples made before the process was standardized, but that's just speculation at this point.

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