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Remembered Today:

Restoring Brodie helmet


spconnolly007
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Dave, thanks for your suggestions. I should have the helmet back in a few weeks with a new rim, hopefully I will have decided by then. I am leaning towards bringing it back to how it was originally issued. I like your suggestion of restoring it as it was originally issued, Kind of like bringing it back to its original glory. Especially brush painting it. I can just imagine how they were painted in the factory. The painter probably had a stack of helmets to be painted and with the war effort they were rushed to paint a certain number a day. I'll take care around the stamping so that when it's painted the logo is visible. Couldn't see a stitch of it before it was stripped. With the 16 stamping, I'll do some more research for a suitable color for an early helmet. Given its history I think a brush paint with the khaki drab on the inside with a darker olive drab with cork finish outside and a Kelly liner would also be interesting.

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Given its history I think a brush paint with the khaki drab on the inside with a darker olive drab with cork finish outside and a Kelly liner would also be interesting.

Take a look at post # 135 for some exterior and interior colour variations, and am looking forward to seeing the restored helmet.

Regards,

LF

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LF, thanks, I have looked at that post. I tried to post a pic of the color that I have used on another WWI shell I repainted. It is nearly identical. I couldn't attach the image because it was too big. I also tried to attach a picture of the inside of the 28th helmet I have as my profile picture. Although it looks brown in the photo, it is actually a khaki olive drab color. No doubt darkened from age and handling. The original color can be seen by gently pulling back the liner and wool padding thus revealing the true color. I'll have to adjust my pixle size to reduce the photo size for posting purposes.

MN

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Ok, found a way around reducing the size. The picture of the outside of the shell is another WWI US shell I repainted. It was nothing but surface rust when I got it. No hint of any color. I painted it with FS 34087 Khaki drab. The exterior has a lightly sprinkled coat of sawdust. The other picture is of the 28th helmet inside under the wool pad.

MNpost-104016-0-16402700-1385089632_thumb.post-104016-0-03373400-1385089710_thumb.

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Looking back at the previous posts, the unrestored condition of the my Bury's helmet was very similar to the last two pictures in post 139. The green was almost identical. The finish was definitely brush painted. Not quite as rusty.

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You might find these two film clips of interest. The first just caught my eye and makes interesting viewing even though I see no official figures to verify the claim, although I imagine it may well be correct, The other relates to helmets being made for WW2. The second is particularly interesting in that there is a very brief scene of the helmet paint being rapidly 'dappled' by hand using a suitable brush for the purpose. This effect can only be achieved if the paint being applied is of a very thick consistency to start with. I had previously been under the impression that the anti-glare paint was made using added sand - it quite possibly was, but as this brief clip shows, in other parts, different approaches were used. There are various similar clips showing helmets being made; it might be good to compile a list here for reference. In some cases the helmet blanks are round, in others octagonal, and I'm sure I've seen WW1 footage where they were square. In one clip I've seen, you see soldiers being given their helmets for the first time and there is quite a nice contrast shown between the darker shades of their tunics and that of the helmets, which you can imagine were possible painted in the first offering of Apple Green and possible with a slight sheen to them?

David

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Thanks Dave. WW1 Brodie's certainly were covered in paint mixed with sand and bits of cork etc, but no doubt the coverage would have been sporadic and ultimately time consuming for anyone trying to do the job correctly? Although WW2, I wonder if your video clip shows the brush effect being performed as the paint is 'drying-off', rather than the use of thick paint, which again would be a slow and difficult process in applying? The men in the background do appear to be applying the paint quite easily.

Regards,

Sean.

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Hello all,

This is the helmet i am planning to restore and i have a couple of questions. I have read the thread but i am still unsure if i have a 'Raw Edge Brodie' or a later one with the rim rusted off.

It has no original paint apart from in the inside under the remains of the felt pad (i'll come back to that) it is stamped HS 412 and i wondered if 412 was a little high for an early helmet?

measurements

front to back 305mm

width 295mm

front rim 30mm

back rim 40mm

sides rims 50mm

height 110mm

split pin rivets on bales (they are stamped off center?) Its also non magnetic

As for the stamp in the inside of the Helmet I have a theory, if you watch the video David posted of the SA helmets being made the unpressed metal discs have a lot number painted on them, could this be the remains of a similar stamp? I understand they didn't always paint the inside of the helmets so would that explain why it has survived?

post-37650-0-09098200-1385237572_thumb.j

sorry probably more than a couple of questions but i would like to know what you think.

thanks Mark

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Even without reference to the measurements, you can tell it's a brodie by virtue of the width of the brim to the sides where the bales are fitted. Clearly its had a protective rim which has rusted off, but as to whether or not it started out in life without one, would be very hard to say one way or the other unless you take the three digit HS stamp to indicate a batch number. If these are batch numbers (and it is not universally thought they are), then clearly the lower the number, the earlier the batch, and by the time you get into three digits it's almost certain that the need for a protective rim had been identified and would more than likely have been fitted when first made. But this, of course, is just a possible theory.

David

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Thanks David,

I wasn't sure about the dark rust parts round the edge, I couldn't work out if it was an old rim or where the helmet had been in contact with the floor/surface it's been sat on the last 97+ years. In regards to restoring it, I think the best thing is to restore it with the second pattern liner and khaki drab paint as it looks like it would have been in that condition at one stage of its life.

Thanks for your help

Mark

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The sanding of helmets must have been fairly common by late 1917.

The Deputy Director of Ordnance Services from the 5th Australian Division visited the Large Ordnance Depot at Calais in November 1917 and recorded how recovered helmets were refurbished. He wrote that;

'The process of renovating the steel helmets was very interesting, (a) lining removed, ( B) put in disinfecting mixture, © dried and painted, (d) sanded, (e) hung up for drying, (f) new cover riveted on.'

Up to that time, in a three month period, 94,990 helmets had been renovated, costing 16,000 pounds, with the value of those helmets as 94,000 pounds.

Also, an example that helmets were painted with sand by units in the field. At La Kreule, whilst out of the line, the 11th Australian Battalion promulgated this in Battalion Routine Orders, in July, 1918;

'STEEL HELMETS . Coy. Cmdrs. Will render a certificate by 5 p.m. tomorrow that all Steel Helmets have been painted, sanded, and repainted over the sand.'

Chris Henschke

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I think the quotations provided by Chris are very valuable to anyone restoring a brodie because both of them confirm what has only been speculated about in previous threads - that brodies were in fact recycled. Common sense dictates they will have been, but I think this is the first time I have see a contemporary source to the fact. The quotes also enable the restorer to be somewhat more at ease about how to go about the process in that one can imagine the various standards achieved when a body of men are asked to paint and sand their own helmets! Some with sand heaped all over them, others quite spartan, paint in all directions etc etc. I think you'll get my drift. Thanks for the input Chris.

David

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The description of the process used by Ordnance at Calais implies that the copper rivet was left unpainted on renovated helmets.

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Agreed.

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The description of the process used by Ordnance at Calais implies that the copper rivet was left unpainted on renovated helmets.

Curious, does it say why?

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Andrew. I have always believed that the shells will have been painted, and then the liner fitted and riveted in. Due to the time and cost incurred, there would be very little justification in painting over the rivet to conceal it.

David

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Chris, like David has pointed out your info is really helpful. I think a key point when restoring a brodie is not to spend too much time on sanding and painting just slap it on!

As for the rivet, copper is very shiny. Granted i haven't put one in a helmet but I can imagine its still pretty shiny when hammered in? would the liner be refitted after the first coat of paint/sanding then painted over with the second coat? on the other hand still a lot of mucking about...

Mark

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I personally think the shell would be paint-finished and the liner inserted. The copper rivet, or what little is left on show, is beginning to tarnish from the minute it leaves the factory and the helmet is expected to get wet and filthy within days of issue, so I doubt the shine of the flattened rivet would figure very high in the scale of concerns at the time?

David

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I think the quotations provided by Chris are very valuable to anyone restoring a brodie because both of them confirm what has only been speculated about in previous threads - that brodies were in fact recycled.

David

David,

An excellent point to make.

LF

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Yes thinking about it your right David, what's the point of painting something that will just turn black after a few days anyway!

Mark

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Andrew. I have always believed that the shells will have been painted, and then the liner fitted and riveted in. Due to the time and cost incurred, there would be very little justification in painting over the rivet to conceal it.

I was thinking more in the line of just the exterior of the helmets being renovated, but see now that Chris' context specifically mentions new liners being added AFTER repainting, in which case not bothering to do the rivet makes sense.

Yes thinking about it your right David, what's the point of painting something that will just turn black after a few days anyway!

Mark, I have an original Brodie shell with a repro liner fitted back in 2005 - it's been out in all sorts of weather and filth in that time, and the hammered top of the rivet still looks fairly fresh even today (albeit no longer in a very shiney way, but definitely not black).

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Mark, I have an original Brodie shell with a repro liner fitted back in 2005 - it's been out in all sorts of weather and filth in that time, and the hammered top of the rivet still looks fairly fresh even today (albeit no longer in a very shiney way, but definitely not black).

that's really interesting Andrew, have you ever considered it an issue or maybe more telling, has anyone ever noticed it? if not it would suggest it wouldn't have been an problem during the war.

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I agree with Andrew, the copper will tarnish, but not turn black as such, nevertheless, in the environment of the front line, where of necessity, the men have to keep their heads down, such issues of a shiny copper rivet would not cause significant concern, in much the same way tunic buttons & brass-ware were no longer expected to be polished up. Within minutes of re entering a front line, the helmet would be getting soiled by being handled and having debris falling on it from on high etc etc.

David

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I have been wondering why so much effort was made to refurb these helmets (Chris post 211) rather than just paint over them with what was by then considered a more camouflaged coating, and then put them back in circulation. I had not considered the obvious health issues with re-use; mud, blood and head lice in the liners. Makes sense now :thumbsup:

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After a major engagement, there must have been scores of them lying around all over the place, as you say, absolutely rank and yet the shell would remain re-serviceable.

David

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