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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Sympathetic Rimless Brodie Helmet Restoration


cooper

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I have recently acquired the helmet as per the attached images. I was after one for ages and this came along and I managed to get it (thanks Ben).

It's a Hadfields and I think it dates to around August 1916. It is stamped HS 241 and has a 2nd pattern liner I think. The shell is not magnetic.

as you can see, it was in terrible condition, it had remains of a much later camo net attached, I assume from a child playing with it. The liner was very dry, the shell was rusty.

I have fed the liner and cleaned it as best I can. I have removed the rust on the shell very carefully. Unfortunately there is not too much paint and what is left is smooth, however upon cleaning, i found the rim on the top had been written on. This originally went around the entire rim but now only a couple of words are visible 'c/sgt stewart'. I am waiting for a uv light to arrive to see if I can make out any more information. Very pleased with this. I think I can trace him as there were not many 'stewarts' who were c/sgt's.

One cleaned I used clear shoe polish to protect and seal it. Pleased with the job.

thought I would share it with you. If any of the helmet details are incorrect, then please let me know.

Image of exterior prior to restoration.

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post-586-0-02418600-1394405910_thumb.jpg

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Image of the finished interior

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You can see some naming on the brim.

I would not want to refurbish this any further as I feel that the rust/patination simply adds to the charm and is part of the helmets history.

kind regards,

Cooper

post-586-0-68529000-1394406144_thumb.jpg

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Wonderful job - the helmet looks really good now (and a thousand times better than the "before" shot).

How did you clean the rust and leather?

Please do let us know where you get to with your research on the prior owner...

Cheers, J

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Thanks J and Khaki, much appreciated.

I have years of practice working with rust and dry leather etc.I tend to acquire items like this as I find it more interesting than a mint condition example, I feel they they tend to give me more of a story, Also the items are a damn site cheaper!

The Exterior - The first thing I did was to wipe away as much rust and dirt as I could using a wet sponge. I repeated the process before using the nylon scrubber on the back of the sponge to do the same. Once I had cleaned as much as I could, I then used a wet brillo pad to remove stubborn areas of rust. I used small circular motions to do this. I find this process is much better as it will be hard to control any chemical processes with rust removal. I did not want to go back to the bare metal, I wanted to leave the age, patination and any visible paintworkm, you are in control, hence the softly softly approach. Once cleaned I used a clear shoe polish to seal and preseve the shell. I repeated this process also. Again for metal I have used many different products, but always the best products are those which are under your nose!
The interior. I repeated the same process as above with the metal brim and as far under the liner as I could reach. I even put water in the bowl of the helmet to remove any loose particles or dirt. I made sure it didnt touch the liner.
Problem - the asbesto pad behind the felt. In one section it was exposed and badly deteriorated. It was leaving pieces, whenever the helmet was sat on a surface. Not ideal. I decided to remove this part altogether. The felt had been damaged previously, so I wet the asbesto (to stop the spores from spreading), this also helped to make the asbesto supple and easy to remove. Once this was removed I cleaned the area in question and put a thick layer of leather dubbing along the exposed edge running parrallel to the edge of the felt. This will help to seal the problem. I used a mask during this process and discarded sensibly any items used for this cleaning process.
The liner - I used a sponge again to take away as much dirt as I could, I repeated this process.both on the inside and outside of the liner. Once dry I bought some leather feed cream (for antique leather furniture) and applied 3 or 4 coats, being very careful when rubbing it in. lastly I used leather dubbing (purchased from the supermarket) to coat the liner and help to seal in the cream. Although not perfect, the liner is now again malleable and no longer at risk of cracking. I repeated the same process with the chinstrap, however this has snapped but I will connect together by looping copper wire or similiar to replicate a field repair. I do not want to use any repro items for the helmet.
It took approximately 7-8 hours worth of work in total. I was lucky as the metal, although rusty, was generally not pitted.

I am very pleased with the results, and to find the name, thats the icing on the cake!

The helmet was originally purchased at a car boot sale and was acquired from a house clearance originally in Dewsbury. Apparently it was from a local family. It wasnt too far away from where I live (approx 20 miles). I have a done search and found the majority of C/Sgts with the name of 'Stewart' served in scottish regiments, however, there are 2 from the Manchester Regiment, 1 or 2 from the Yorkshire Regiment (1 whose MIC is not on ancestry but is available online at the NA) and 1 or 2 from Liverpool. I have started cross referencing these men with men who had died fairly locally to where the helmet came from, to see if there are any links. Also I have just recieved a UV light to see if I can pick out any other info written on the rim. Towards the rear.

I hope my methods etc, might be of use. Please bear in mind I would not recommend using water in the more liberal way I did with this helmet. This is what I feel was needed to restore to the condition I achieved.

Kind regards,

Cooper

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Thanks for the update, thats a relief about the asbesto. The particular part which of the material which was exposed was literally falling to pieces, whenever I put the helmet on a surface and lifted it again, there were small pieces of this liner part remaining, it was in fact black. I think it had been contaminated with something, It was strange though as the felt section had a clear line where it been cut using something hot. Also some remains of something else still adhere to the helmet as can be seen on the underside. Almost like something had melted onto the helmet.

One more picture in better light and clarity

post-586-0-43726500-1394488049_thumb.jpg

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Very impressive. Thanks for the pix.

Jonathan

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  • 3 weeks later...

Superb, thanks for posting :thumbsup:

Regards,

Sean.

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Excellent job done!

David

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