- The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Care and Preservation:  Leather Balms

Leather Conditioners

In an effort to prevent dry rot, many collectors have considered or have used leather balms or preservative' that reportedly restore the natural oils in the leather.  Unfortunately, these agents have been shown to accelerate deterioration rather than decrease it!  While many substances are sold for this purpose, the only two that have ever been found to be moderately helpful without causing further damage include Pecard's Antique Leather Restorer® and also Lanolin®. Pecard's® is considered the best and is also recommended as the only treatment acceptable for long term leather preservation.  However as mentioned earlier, the prevailing attitude among most collectors is to apply NOTHING to the leather in order to maintain the helmet's overall condition and value.

Never use the following on leather parts or liners:

  • Neats-Foot® brand oils, balms, salves, creams, or conditioners

  • Lexol® brand leather oils, creams or conditioners

  • Water and basic soap solutions

  • Saddle-Soap® applied in any fashion whether it be bar or cream

  • Any type of commercial leather shoe or handbag "restorers" or "cleaners"

  • Gun, machine, or motor oils of any kind

Use of any of the commercially sold leather restorers other than Pecard's® or basic Lanolin® will result in permanent damage to the leather fittings in the helmet.  Although the products mentioned above advertise that they will not damage old leather, tests of these substances on old leather shows that they accelerate deterioration by introducing oils that cause dry rot or wet rot in the cellular structures of the old leather.  Remember!  If in doubt about how to restore old leather, simply leave the helmet as it was found and apply no treatment whatsoever!

Application of Pecard's® or Lanolin®:

The technique used in applying either Pecard's® or Lanolin® to old leather also effects the overall results.  In almost every case, the leather will turn slightly darker than it was before treatment.  Leather that has reached the full stage of dry rot can not be restored and no treatments will prove effective with either of these dressings.

Procedure for application of Pecard's® or Lanolin® dressing:

Apply the dressing with a pad of cheesecloth or soft white cotton cloth using a patting motion.  In some cases applying directly by hand (using the fingers) is more effective than using a cloth.  Brushes or sponges do not serve as good applicators as one has little control over the amount of dressing being applied. In patting on the dressing, take great care to avoid applying the dressing to any paper parts or cloth components of the liner.  With leather liners it is best to apply the dressing to only one side of the leather, and this being the side that faces outward as you look into the helmet shell.  Care should be taken to apply several thin coats over small areas one step at a time.  Avoid one large or heavy coat of dressing applied all at the same time. Excessive dressing may bleed through the leather onto the helmet shell or interior parts of the liner band.  A piece of waxed paper inserted into the helmet shell prior to treatment will reduce this possibility. Using a soft clean cotton rag, remove any excess dressing from the leather.  The treated leather should be allowed to absorb the dressing for a period of 12 to 24 hours before it is returned to storage.  In most cases the leather will absorb the dressing and will once again have a dry surface after this time.  The treatment can be repeated every two to five years, depending upon storage conditions; when the leather begins to feel dried out and somewhat brittle, another treatment is necessary.

Rules for treatment of leather:

  • Never apply any leather restoring agents other than Pecard's Antique Leather Restorer® or Lanolin® (only one dressing is needed, not both)

  • Never apply any leather restoring agents to leather that is already soft, supple, and in good condition.  No treatment is necessary and the leather should be left as found.

  • If in doubt, apply no dressing and leave the helmet as found

    Preservation Main Topics

Care & Preservation Main

Rules for Care

Rusty Surfaces

Dry & Cracking Decals

Leather Care

Leather Balms

    Quick Helps


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  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

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