How to clean and take care of helmets

Shark's take on the topic, 1 Apr 2004:
When I receive a new helmet, mask, flight suit, anti g and other dresses, too, I prefer to clean each item before they are stored in my house, firstly for a dirt and dust reasons, secondly to lend a "new life" with shiny attractiveness.
This is my personal method for cleaning, restoring and preserving flight helmet and masks.

  1. I prepare every tool I’ll need (screwdrivers, tweezers, pliers (rounded and squared), a squared piece of styrofoam as a work base, stickers remover, synthetic oil for screws, etc)
  2. I inspect the helmet closely (taking some pictures of it), making notes of some essential points (screws, front-rear earcups, how screws are positioned on the shell (head or nut outside or inside), etc)
  3. I start the job by stripping down carefully each piece of the helmet.
  4. I clean the lenses and visor houses with dishwashing agent and lukewarm water. When dry I treat with spray polish for cars. If there are any scratches I use a polish cream/paste called "IOSSO" from IOSSO Products. I also use this product for model kits canopies and motorcycle clear visors. It really works (do not expect miracles if you have canyons instead of scratches...). This paste is soft with materials but is a good method for scratch removal.
  5. The outer shell is cleaned with a motorcycle cleaning spray. After the shell is dry I use the a/m polish cream/paste for scratches. A final coat of spray polish for cars is applied. Edgerolls are treated with silicone spray for rubber in order to have a soft rubber.
  6. Styrene liner is cleaned with the same motorcycle spray (is made for exteriors and interiors since it is also for sanitized porpouses) using an old tooth-brush. If there are some spots of old glue I use sticker/label remover (it is from Talken). If you have very dirty styrene liners…well. the best choice after a normal cleaning is to paint it white ACRYLIC (repeat ACRYLIC as in WATER BASED) MATT paint. After the paint is dry just add the pads. Leather pads is treated with shoe polish.
  7. I normally clean chin and nape straps with dress soap. Chromed parts (screws and Hardman receivers/bayos) are polished with IOSSO paste and spray polish.
  8. After all screws are cleaned I usually add some sintetic oil drops in order to have not problems with them…
  9. Masks are cleaned and treated with silicone rubber spray.

If the helmet is in very bad conditions and you’ll need filler and repaint it, please refer to the other "tools and tips" article present in this web site.
Enjoy it!
Maurizio 'Shark' Bressan

Message 1388:
Okay everyone, here's the question(s) of the day. I am planning an appendix on the care and restoration of flight helmets and oxygen masks. I am looking for cleaning tips, restoration/rebuild tips and I really would like to produce a consensus of what we as collectors attach value to. The following is a "starter" list and I want this to go where it will go.
1- cleaning an older helmet shell. How and with what?
2- Decals.... cleaning,  replacing.
3- cleaing cloth/webbing. Restoring? Any preservation needed.
4- Leather?  Cleaning, Restoring. I have heard that Vasoline is still one of the best things to use on leather. There are a bunch of leather cleaners and restorers but frankly, I haven't had much luck with them.
5- Can anything be done with a sizing pads once the leather as detached? I recommend that collectors use styrofoam heads to keep pads from falling out or store the helmt upsaide down in a box.
6- Rubber? I know Rich had some ideas that I think are right on. Anybody else.
I am going to try and use the newer TOs to list the products the US Military
recommends for care and cleaning and repair. A number of  these are
commercially available.

This gets a little tricky. What do you think is okay when restoring a helmet? As I see it, there can be 2-3 schools of thought on this and I am interested in what everyone thinks. There is no right or wrong answer here but maybe a guideline is in order.  Do you apply the same set of standards when buying an item as when you sell it?
1- Painting
2- Applying decals or decorations not on the original?
3- Fabricating parts such as pads etc?
4- Using reproduction decals.
If you would rather apply offline, please feel free to do so. I will incorporate as much of this into a working draft and let everyone see it. Cheers, Steve N

Message 1392:
> 1- cleaning an older helmet shell. How and with what?
I would start with Zymol Cleanse, and if that didn't do it, proceed to 3M Imperial Hand Glaze. Wax afterwards with a non-cleaning wax, such as One Grand Blitz Wax, or if only the best will do, Zymol Creme. The goal is to try to avoid products with strong solvents or abrasives. Most OTC car products have both in spades.
> 4- Leather? Cleaning, Restoring. I have heard that Vasoline is still one of the best things to use on leather.
I would personally never use a petroleum-base product on leather. The Zymol Treat is superior to Hide Food and the others. It is the ONLY thing I would get near a vintage A-2. Smells good, too. I have used it succesfully on P slings UNLESS it has been immersed in water. There is no hope for the cardboard that results from that. Rich

Message 1393:
> 1- cleaning an older helmet shell. How and with what?
This is quoted from the Danish Air Force T.O. on the HGU-2A/P-D helmet:
Spot repair of the paint is done by using 1 part clear hardener to 2 parts white epoxy enamel paint. If the entire helmet shell needs repainting old paint is sanded away and the shell is painted with one layer of primer and two layers top coat mixed in the same proportions as described above.
Helmet and rubber edge is cleaned with kerosene ether. If the painted surface of the helmet shell does not become fully clean, use Slipol. Afterwards remove any Slipol residue with kerosene ether. The helmet shell is waxed using Jove-Aerowax
Cheers, Bluelight 14