Davejb

Cleaning of original German helmet liners

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Davejb
Moderator

Many collectors will be adverse to touching or cleaning their helmet liners ,especially if they are dry or flaky or fear of altering the colour, but I have found a product that I use all the time, its called Sheratons Leather Balsam, it rehydrates, cleans and adds a protection to the leather without changing the colour, My reasoning is this, and I know there will be some that do not agree, If you have a decent looking helmet but a dry flaking liner , it will not be long before the deterioration takes over and the leather rots away, you are then left with a shell and part liner which drastically affects the value. During the normal wear of the helmet a persons natural oils from hair, sweat and skin helped to keep the liner pliable, seventy odd yrs later those oils have dried out and in some cases the leather will become dry and fragile, this product puts life back into the leather and if used properly will ensure that leather and helmet  remain together for years to come, personally I do not consider that this is a bad practise, it will also help frayed edges, surely as collectors our job is to preserve history of an item,whether it be cleaning a rusty relic, a gentle hoovering of a cloth cap to remove dust,grit etc, keeping leather belts clean and pliable, so why not the upkeep of a good looking helmet, without altering original colour or patina, a lot of collectors use Renaisance wax on the exterior of helmets, so why not help the leather liner to look good as well. I have used this product on all my helmets, and helmets of friends and also because I am asked many times to refit a liner or restitch liners that have come away or even put an original liner into a helmet, they have always been happy to see that this treatment has brought life to an otherwise sad looking liner.

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Lenny
Staff

It's actually Lord Sheraton's Leather Balsam if you don't mind.. ;) I use it also, sparingly but only on leather that needs it. It's the best I've ever found, and I've tried a lot. Seems to be well regarded on the web also. ;)

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Davejb
Moderator

Yes you are correct, forgive the fopar oh illustrious one, I ve been using it for years and yes its the best one out there, plus it smells nice, we all want our bits to smell nice dont we. I think my best result was a friend sent me a M42 with a liner that was thin, fragile, stitching torn, and someone had added some type of additive to the leather, it took me a while, but i managed to thoroughly clean the leather, re sow the areas required, replace the liner with the original pins and added the Balsam, it looked totally different to when it arrived, and my friend could not have been happier, he had been quoted about £50-70 for a so called professional to have a go with no guarantees as to the out come, I charged him £20 including postage, but in return he sent me an inert original pineapple grenade, with internal fuse pin and spoon, happy days

 

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Lenny
Staff

Result... ;)

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Davejb
Moderator

Sorry but I cant see how to reply to your request for a name for the bar, but heres one The Gun and Limbar

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Lenny
Staff

It's good, but I'm liking The Fu Bar. ;)

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Davejb
Moderator

I must admit that is a very apt name, shame some pubs dont use it

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Lenny
Staff

Apparently there is one in Stirling or so @BryanDavidson tells me. ;)

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Manu Della Valle

Go tell it to the A@@HOLE who used Johnson's Baby Oil on the liner of a out-of-the-wood.untouched WH M40 before selling it to me!I had noticed the somewhat "darker" liner and when I asked him if he had found it like that he replied "Oh no...I "rehydrated" the leather with Johnson Baby Oil to make it more attractive!"
Bl@@dy,royal,DUCKHEAD...I KNEW the helmet,I SAW IT and I WANTED YOU TO LEAVE IT ALONE!

Edited by Manu Della Valle

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Lenny
Staff

>:(

1 hour ago, Manu Della Valle said:

Go tell it the A@@HOLE who used Johnson's Baby Oil on the liner of a out-of-the-wood.untouched WH M40 before selling it to me!I had noticed the somewhat "darker" liner and when I asked him if he had found it like that he replied "Oh no...I "rehydrated" the leather with Johnson Baby Oil to make it more attractive!"
Bl@@dy,royal,DUCKHEAD...I KNEW the helmet,I SAW IT and I WANTED YOU TO LEAVE IT ALONE!

>:(

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Mav352
3 hours ago, Manu Della Valle said:

Go tell it to the A@@HOLE who used Johnson's Baby Oil on the liner of a out-of-the-wood.untouched WH M40 before selling it to me!I had noticed the somewhat "darker" liner and when I asked him if he had found it like that he replied "Oh no...I "rehydrated" the leather with Johnson Baby Oil to make it more attractive!"
Bl@@dy,royal,DUCKHEAD...I KNEW the helmet,I SAW IT and I WANTED YOU TO LEAVE IT ALONE!

Some people shouldn't be allowed on the same planet as militaria >:(

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Schwerpunkt

Except perhaps for ground found helmets I advise not to use any product on the leather of German helmets. 

First of all what would it accomplish ? Prolong its life ? If I look at all the helmets that were treated in the seventies with all kinds of leather products they have not in any way come out better than untreated examples. Still today helmets pop out of the woodwork with mint , soft leather. Those helmets from the seventies would have been in exact the same condition today as they were back then. How do those treated liners look today ? They stink , they are often dark in color to black , greasy and to top it it just was not necessary. The rate of regression is so slow that it is not even noticeable in 70 years if you keep the helmet in your hobby room in a decent environment. And look at WW1 helmets you can also still find them with leather in good condition and they are over a 100 years old. No matter the condition it is in I would not use any form of treatment.

Here are two extremes. Worn helmet , worn leather , mint , unissued Luftschutz helmet as if it is 1939. Both will outlive me.

As a side note , helmets with treated liners are considered less desirable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Schwerpunkt

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Davejb
Moderator

Obviously you dont use anything on the type of examples you are showing, my concern has always been those liners that are flaking, fragile and ones you know will not last the year out, plus those that are in such a condition that a good looking exterior and interior paintwork of a helmet will lose its value if the liner flakes away to nothing and just leaves the shell. You know as well as I that helmets come in all sorts of conditions and invariably its the liners that  will deteriorate because of the conditions they were stored in. Its a fact that leather will rot either because of completely drying out, leading to cracking and possible breaking, continual exposure to dampness or insect, mice etc. The Lord Sheratons balsam has been specifically designed to help prevent drying out of leather, even old dry leather, frail leather etc, I would not use it on leather which I consider does,nt need it. As collectors I also feel that it is part of collecting to preserve the history of a piece. If you are lucky enough to collect a truly good helmet with good liner, thats great but to find one that is good only on the metal and the leather is letting it down to such a degree that only a shell will be left in the near future, I think its prudent to preserve the originality of the helmet ,that includes the liner. And when I mean preserve I mean a sensible preservation, one that does,nt appear to have been over done, but one that will enhance the look of the helmet and continue to do so for many more years> As I mentioned originally ,I know there are those collectors who will not agree with this and thats fine, thats their perogative, everyone is different and I would never argue the point regarding this< To date every helmet collector that I have helped in this way has been impressed and thankful in the way i have dealt with their bits of history, but thats not to say everyone would agree

 

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Schwerpunkt

Hello Dave , therefore I think it is important to show the nuances. When yes and when no. It is not clear from this topic and it could give people the wrong idea that it is always a good idea to grease up or protect any old leather.

Of all the helmets I have had not a single one I would have treated , even the dry ones. Taking such helmets out of their destructive environment (attics, cellars) is often enough to arrest and slow deterioration up to a point it won't be noticeable in a life time.

Of course such more fragile liners need to be handled with more care.

Can you share an example of one you treated and perhaps one that you would consider treating ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Davejb
Moderator

I would very much like to mate but me and computers dont mix very well, in fact I,m a technological moron when it comes to computers, All the helmets I,ve dealt with have been returned to their owners, but as I said before there are times to do and times to dont do, but I would like to clarify a point, if someone asks me to "fix" their helmet, I just dont go ahead unless I consider it needs work, If I think there is no need I will refuse politely and explain why and the reasons to leave well alone. Most times I am dealing with a helmet that has already been "treated" badly, either before they bought it or a botched job of their own doing. I would also like to mention that depending on the type of work needed, any  charge for doing this is very minimal, or no charge at all. I mainly do it as a hobby and have done so for nearly 50 years, There are people who restore uniforms, leather products,relic ordnance, etc, mine is helmets, There are two things that I will not touch, SS or FJ helmets. As you know from the past that FB on the other forum has his SS caps and uniforms occasionally repaired, ie stitched, and Ben VK has SS caps and other branches from all over sent to him for repair and his work is outstanding

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Schwerpunkt

Thanks for your reply Dave , a helmet truly in need of care is best left to someone that knows what they are doing. It seems that you surely know how to take care of them.

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Davejb
Moderator

Thanks Frank, I try to do my best when helping someone who,s prized possession has taken a beating, I think that minimal work on a helmet, provided you never change the overall appearance, can prolong its life, I have never added decals,to an original helmet, repainted, except those that are used for re-enactment and are invariably replicas, rarely added original liners except on the wishes of the owner, and even then try to convince them that originality is a key element in collecting, and if I have I always include my own mark somewhere on the liner only known to me , for obvious reasons

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Desert Rat

Very Sorry I am a year late....But superb text by you all especially Davejb....Thanks & commendations...Desert Rat

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