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Restoring German WWII Helmet - Suggestions welcome!


stratasfan
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stratasfan

Hi, All! I just received this fabulous fixer-upper German helmet. I've been really wishing for a German helmet to redo as an FFI helmet, and now - here it is! 

 

However . . . I need some help from some who have restored/refinished helmets before. This is totally new to me! I'd like to remove the gold and put it back to as original a colour as I can. 

 

So, suggestions for what to use to take the gold off? And if I get the gold off . . .what will I find when I'm done? Will it be down to the base metal? 

 

Also, there is rust inside. It seems the Germans didn't use a liner, like the US. Does the leather part come out? Or can I do something for the rust without removing the leather bit? Or would it be better to remove it? 

 

Any thoughts or tips would be helpful! I am a total newbie at this kind of thing! :)

 

Thanks, Elizabeth

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/26/2021 at 11:01 AM, stratasfan said:

Hi, All! I just received this fabulous fixer-upper German helmet. I've been really wishing for a German helmet to redo as an FFI helmet, and now - here it is! 

 

However . . . I need some help from some who have restored/refinished helmets before. This is totally new to me! I'd like to remove the gold and put it back to as original a colour as I can. 

 

So, suggestions for what to use to take the gold off? And if I get the gold off . . .what will I find when I'm done? Will it be down to the base metal? 

 

Also, there is rust inside. It seems the Germans didn't use a liner, like the US. Does the leather part come out? Or can I do something for the rust without removing the leather bit? Or would it be better to remove it? 

 

Any thoughts or tips would be helpful! I am a total newbie at this kind of thing! :)

 

Thanks, Elizabeth

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Hey Elizabeth how’s this project going? 

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stratasfan

Well, I got two recommendations for removing the paint . . . Goof Off and Citrus Paint Remover. I have to decide on which to use, and get some. Might try doing this in the cellar, if I don't want to wait until Spring! :) I'm dying to try this! 

 

Need to figure out what to try on the rust, too. 

 

Have you ever done a German helmet? Actually, I've never done a helmet period! :) This is going to be so fun! I'm a bit nervous to start, but I can't really go wrong, since my goal is to repaint! -grin-

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Elizabeth,

 

One bit of advice before you start (since you ask).  Helmet collectors (I am not one BTW) are a somewhat picky lot.  So, one of the easiest ways to destroy the value of a helmet is to mess with the liner by taking it out or doing anything to it.  Even though it is a bit tatty, it is complete even though it is damaged.  I would suggest leaving it alone entirely as it won't be seen in your display anyway and helmet collectors seem to accept this rust and rot over treating the interior in any manner.

 

Just a word to the wise.  😉

 

 

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stratasfan

I was told that you can remove the liner bit, but that it isn't as good after. However, I do want to do something to stop the rust. I'm not one for leaving rust or tarnish. Just hastens the metal failing. Anyone know of a way to treat the rust without removing the lining? 

 

I also understand that if I use the Goof Off, it should remove the added paint, but the base finish should remain, as it was baked. 

 

P.S. I'm not a helmet collector, either! :) Just wanting an FFI helmet and his is a fun way to get one! -grin-

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stratasfan

Advise welcome, though! Just know that I'm not leaving the helmet as-is. I want to restore the base colour so I can paint FFI markings on it! And I really do want to treat the rust. :)

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I would leave the liner in the helmet,give it a rub with a good leather conditioner or museum wax. You should be able to find a rust converter or primer from an auto body shop. C.R.C makes a product. To use this the area has to be cleaned and degreased, so I wipe down the area with thinners and steel wool first, let dry then apply the converter with a paint brush. If you don’t to use a converter try cold blue from a gun store using the same technique. This won’t stop the rust but it will slow it down and darken it. A light coating  of wax should seal it up. Fine steel wool and thinners will remove any over spray from the gold as well but rub lightly until you are happy with the finish.

good luck

Tony

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In my foolish younger days (as opposed to my current foolish older days), I removed the liner from my lone German helmet. There are 3 split-pin clips holding it in. 2 came out fine, but I snapped the tab on the 3rd one. So if you do remove the liner, BE CAREFUL!  The helmet came with a hideous gray "restoration" paint job that just had to go. I carefully used a commercial paint remover and it took off the new ugly paint. There was some of the original paint under it that was in bad shape but the remover didn't seem to bother it.  Sorry but after 40 years I don't remember what I used. At that point I decided to leave it alone. It's still an ugly helmet, but at least it's more authentic than it was. Good luck with your project and please keep us posted. I suggest that you go carefully removing the gold paint. Try to save any original paint that may be left under there. If you ever get tired of the FFI scheme, you can always return it to its natural condition.

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  • 1 month later...
Mr.Jerry

acetone and q-tips works well for removing paint an should leave any original (baked on) paint behind.

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  • 4 months later...
stratasfan

Thanks for the additional comments! I'm thinking now that the weather is warm and before it becomes Winter, that I'm going to attempt to rid the helmet of the gold paint. :) I'll definitely post whatever turns up! :)

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If the original color is still under the gold paint and you can remove the upper layer, I would not put any markings on it. Plenty of original, completely stripped shells available to play with.

 

Ditto on not removing the liner! The dark color on the base of the broken liner fingers *might* indicate blood.

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stratasfan
1 hour ago, earlymb said:

If the original color is still under the gold paint and you can remove the upper layer, I would not put any markings on it. Plenty of original, completely stripped shells available to play with.

 

Ditto on not removing the liner! The dark color on the base of the broken liner fingers *might* indicate blood.

 

Actually, I'm hoping the base colour is there and won't be removed. All the FFI did was paint "FFI" and a Cross of Lorraine in white on top of captured German helmets. So, the base is just a German helmet. :) 

 

I don't think the dark stains are blood. This sat open-side-up filled with water obviously, and I think the leather is damaged from that. It almost feels burnt. But, Ithink it goes with the rust damage. I'm not really aiming to restore the liner part too much, especially after finding out they are not quite like US helmets. I will try and do something to stop and remove the rust, but I'm thinking to just leave the liner. I can put some leather stuff on it, as we have leather sofas, so I have stuff for leather! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
snake36bravo

Looking forward to seeing how this comes out. After seeing some of all the mentioned methods on other helmets before including one not mentioned, duct tape, it'll be interesting to see what's under that Golden Dome paint job. As mentioned the original paint was baked on and depending on how aggressive the treatment method or person it can be left largely intact in patient hands. 

 

Anyway someone looks at it, this helmet will be messed with. You have to get the dent out, your affecting the superficial paint and possibly whats underneath. Focus on the outside first is my best advice. Then consider your options on the inside.

 

Nice M-42 which is my favorite over the M35/40 series.

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Years ago I used to have a very good book about the liberation of Paris called Is Paris Burning? I seem to recall German FFI marked helmets in the picture section. You've got me wanting to find a copy and re-read it again. It's really scary how close Paris came to being destroyed.

 

Mikie

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snake36bravo
On 8/27/2021 at 6:45 AM, stratasfan said:

 

Actually, I'm hoping the base colour is there and won't be removed. All the FFI did was paint "FFI" and a Cross of Lorraine in white on top of captured German helmets. So, the base is just a German helmet. :) 

 

Yours is an interesting choice of repaint for sure. They painted them in multiple ways from existing photographs

ffi.jpg.d9984f4b7cb87df94e0b3ab070f6fc76.jpg

854965667_ffi2.jpg.9ba734540a7613376f376c5aeae50555.jpg

 

 

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