New collectors often ask
whether or not rust can be stopped or prevented. In many cases,
this is after having already purchased a "ground dug" helmet from Europe. These helmets are the typical rusty hulks
that have little or no real collector value other than the curiosity
they provoke regarding their origins. It is important to note
that helmets with extensive rust are impossible to remedy. Any
attempt at removing the rust will permanently destroy the surface of
the helmet. Once a helmet becomes rusty it will remain rusty.
The rust will continue to advance, but can be modestly slowed in some
ways. It has been shown that a light treatment of furniture
spray wax can be effective in stopping rust and causes no harm to the
paint over time. This treatment is best accomplished by spraying a
tiny amount of furniture wax onto a clean soft rag. The wax is then
applied in a gentle fashion by dabbing the rag over the surface of the
helmet evenly. Never scrub the surface of the paint with the rag as
this will cause damage to the helmet. There are many varieties
of furniture wax polishes that can be used, but it is best to use one
that is packaged in as a mild spray formula without any cleaning
agents, chemicals, or abrasives in the mixture. These spray finishes
are composed mainly of a silicone based wax that does not damage wood
or painted finishes. The amount that is applied to the helmet is very
little and over time the finish will actually 'evaporate' in which
case another application might be necessary (once every two years for
example). This method works best on smooth painted helmets and
semi-rough finishes. The thin layer of wax stops oxygen and damp
moisture from attacking the already exposed and rusted metal. This
will aid in halting any further spread of rust or related rust patina.
No wax or preservatives should be applied to any paint finish where no
rust is present!
Rules for rust
Never clean a helmet using an abrasive
cleaning agent or chemical formula.
Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or
abrasive cleaning materials or brushes to remove surface rust.
Never use automotive or industrial grade
waxes on the helmet.
Never use gun, automotive, or machine
oils on the helmet's paint surface.
Never spray the entire surface of a
helmet with shellac or varnish to "preserve" the paint finish.
Never coat the entire helmet with
Vaseline or clear petroleum jelly to prevent rust.
Never attempt to clean off paint
splotches, specks or other paint marks on the helmet using paint
thinner or paint removers.
If a helmet is already in fine condition
then leave it as it was found. There is no need to apply preventive
treatments to a helmet that is already in reasonable condition.
Always store your helmets in a neutral
temperature range without exposure to prolonged damp or hot