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Thread: Leather Helmet ??

  1. #1
    Forum Member
    FireInTheShire's Avatar
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    Default Leather Helmet ??

    Ok so I did search, however couldn't find exactly what I needed to know....
    I am looking to repaint a leather helmet I got from a guy at my station but before I do this i need to know:
    A = How do you remove the rivets holding the brass onto the helmet (crown cover and shield holder)
    B = (Dumb Question) The new brass comes with screws and not rivets right......?
    C = How do you replace the chinstrap?

    I would just send it out to be restored but the multiple places I've emailed haven't gotten back to me. So I figured I'd come here ask a few questions, do some extensive research, and do it myself. So If you have any other tips or words of advice for me then please post em up. Thanks

  2. #2
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    1. Like all rivets, they must be drilled out.

    2. Leave the crown cover on and either tape it or paint it.

    3. The heavier replacement eagles (like from Liberty Artwork) do come with Allen screws that just get tight against the leather. Expect to have to put a grinder on brim of the front arch to get it to fit right. To replace the same insert, I would use rivets.

    4. Absolutely do not use stripper, not even the "safe" citrus type strippers. They will absorb into the leather and within a year or two with any amount of moderate to extreme heat will dry out and crack the brim.

    Scuff it up, re-prime it, I like the self etching kind. Put on a couple of layers of high heat paint which will dry flat. If you want a gloss finish, top it with a coat or two if gloss paint. Home Depot carries an epoxy appliance paint that is very glossy, but also has a hard finish that will help with chips and scratches. The "super gloss" will fade with a lil smoke.

    Good luck.
    FireInTheShire likes this.
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  3. #3
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    I would leave the crown cover on however, A: its damaged and B: the current shield holder is riveted under the crown cover

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    I do fair number of helmets for guys at work. I drill all rivets and replace them with home-made hardware. The hardware is similar to what Paul Conway helmets use to hold their eagles on: threaded rod with brass cap nuts on each end. I use red thread lock on one of the nuts to make it permanent. The other is just tightened as far as I can without stripping the brass threads. I do this for eagles, crown pieces, and D-rings. I often replace the factory Cairns eagle screws with this hardware, too, since the factory phillips heads are easy to strip without the perfect screwdriver.

    Be careful drilling the rivets on the crown piece. The chuck may end up rubbing against the ribs of the helmet. I find that using a small bit to make a pilot hole makes using a larger bit easier. Eventually, though, the rivet ends up spinning and have to be cut and/or pulled out with a pair of side cutters and needle-nosed pliers.

    The original chinstraps and the replacement ones are not the same. And honestly, I've removed a replacement and I've got no idea how to put it back on properly. Cairns' instructions are terrible.

    I'll also echo the caution about paint stripper. It does dry the leather pretty badly. Any cracks will get bigger, and cracks will appear that you couldn't see before. I use Citristrip occasionally, but usually on very difficult helmets that are already in really rough shape. These helmets can't be sanded properly because of heavy paint layering and cracking. They can't be media blasted because even walnut shells erode the leather between the cracks faster than the leather under the paint. Stripping the helmet and filling the cracks works, but it takes a long time. I use JB Weld to fill cracks, large and small. I've used it to fill gaping cracks and holes. If not done right on large areas, the JB can crack, too.

    I use grey spray can primer, but I'm thinking of buying a can of Kem Lustral primer. I use Kem Lustral Wrought Iron Flat for black helmets, and 1Shot Fire Red for red helmets. I primarily spray with a HVLP sprayer, and I thin with VM&P naptha and Flood Penetrol.
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