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    Care and Preservation:  Rules for Care

Care and Preservation

Occasionally collectors acquire helmets that are valuable but have come directly out of poor storage conditions or show extensive amounts of rust and deterioration.  In such cases it seems acceptable to consider something that might make the helmet more presentable while at a minimum prevent any further damage to what has already been done.

For example, an original veteran acquired M1935 helmet that has active surface rust, a rotting and dried out liner, and cobwebs and insect infestation under the liner band is worth cleaning to some degree to stabilize its overall state and to prevent further deterioration.  However, that is not to say that this helmet should have paint or decals touched up or replaced, liner bands or split rivets changed out, or anything else done to it that will significantly alter it from its original 'as found' condition.  

Replacing or adding chinstraps seems to be a common practice and does not detract from a helmet's value as long as the chinstrap itself is original and from the period without postwar alteration of any kind.  Replacing liner bands and split rivets is a little more controversial and many collectors consider this an unacceptable practice.  In this particular case, it is appropriate to remove active insect infestation and clean off surface dirt to prevent contamination or damage to other helmets.  In addition, minor treatment of surface rust can be accomplished without damaging the paint surface.

Some general rules for preservation:

  • If in doubt about how to clean a helmet then do nothing to it and leave the helmet as found.  Never attempt anything that you are uncertain of.  Most attempts at cleaning or restoring original helmets fail and only cause more damage.  Proceed with restoration attempts only if you are certain you know what you are doing.

  • Always store your helmets in a neutral climate without extremes in moisture or heat levels.  Helmets stored in basements or damp areas will rust quickly.  Rust is permanent and it destroys the historical and monetary value of your helmet.  Never store a helmet in a hot dry, or hot humid environment.  Heat causes leather to dry out and most leather can not be restored back to its original condition once the natural oils have been dried out. Generally speaking the helmet should be stored in a climate controlled environment that has 50% humidity at a temperature of 70˚F.

  • Never attempt to do "preventive care" to a helmet that needs no treatment.  Attempting to add a preventive treatment of some kind will only cause damage to a helmet that is already in good condition.

  • As noted earlier, any preventive treatment will bring the helmet under suspicion by at least half the knowledgeable collectors in this field.  Be certain you know what you are doing.

    Preservation Main Topics

Care & Preservation Main

Rules for Care

Rusty Surfaces

Dry & Cracking Decals

Leather Care

Leather Balms

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