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Hauptmann

Italian helmet... can anyone give any info?

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Hi all. I know enough about Italian field gear/helmets, etc., to be just above dangerous. LOL! Recently obtained this one and would like to find out what I can about it... should it be restored at all? I'm mostly thinking just lots of cleaning, leather cleaning/preservation, etc., not a full blown strip down, repaint, etc. But again want to hear opinions, etc. Literally when it came it it had dirt and rust flakes falling off of it. Most came off in the original shipping box. I left it in the plastic bag it was in till a few minutes ago when I took it out, brushed it off (outside) as best and carefully as I could, then cleaned it with some Jungle Jake cleaner/degreaser and paper towels.

Seems to have the white leather liner which I've heard is early. Is this correct? A size 60 which is great as I prefer to collect the larger sizes. So far I can't see any markings inside the helmet itself but again haven't even attempted to clean in there yet.

What is the proper way to (carefully) remove the liner in order to deal with what that needs and to clean out the interior of the helmet?

Hoping some of you that know about these things will kick in and give me an education.

Many thanks!

God bless,

Dan

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Posted (edited)
On 21/08/2019 at 02:55, Hauptmann said:

 should it be restored at all? I'm mostly thinking just lots of cleaning, leather cleaning/preservation, etc., not a full blown strip down, repaint, etc.

Hello Dan,

please, PLEASE don't do such a thing! 🙄I never understood how this approach would count as "refurbishment". Would you refurbish the Monna Lisa by removing the paint from the canvas and redoing it identical? 😖

As for your questions, I think you found an Italian M33 probably used in the Spanish Civil War. These were usually painted over in darker green, as yours appears to be. Today, many are found in the US after a large stock was shipped to the States now some decades ago, and they are most often in very poor conditions. This one is actually quite right....

As for how to proceed, I would go for a light solution of oxalic acid and water (1/10 or even 1/15 to start with, then you can add depending on the result), passing it gently over the shell with a sponge in order to remove as much rust as possible and bring the remaining colour to the surface. Proceed this way until you're satisfied, in the end you can rinse it with some bicarbonate to be sure to remove all the oxalic acid, since it is a great rust remover, but in time it can confer a greenish patina to the metal, which you want to avoid.

If it weren't for the liner, you could have simply immersed the shell in a bucket of water and oxalic acid for an hour or two, but you can't because of the leather. You can't really take off the liner from a M33, especially in these conditions, you risk doing more damage than good. I don't know what you mean by "white leather liner", I've never seen such. What you have there is in my opinion the standard Italian brown leather liner, it's simply very dirty and aged, and therefore looks lighter. I suggest to clean it with simple water and than massage it a few times with a hand cream, trying to soften the leather as much as possible. It will also bring back some of the original tan.

If you do, show us the result afterwards! 😊

 

Best,

Drugo

 

Edited by Drugo

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Posted (edited)

Hi Drugo. Many thanks for getting with me on this. I totally agree... I do NOT want to do a full blown restoration ie: stripping, etc. I simply want to clean it as well as I can and preserve it. I also agree it's a fairly nice one. Yes, was one of the Spanish CW ones. Was hand picked for me and I'm extremely grateful to the seller.

However, on doing some reading my understanding is that oxalic acid is nothing to be fooled around with, can be extremely dangerous, etc. Not something I'd prefer to mess around with. Not even sure it's something I could easily come by.

Can you recommend something else that is safer to work with that would give basically the same results?

Also re: the leather, the seller thought it was white which he said was an early type so was going by that. As far as caring for that would saddle soap be good to use?

(NOTE: I just checked that out and am leaving this for the benefit of others... seems saddle soap is not good as they tend to use lye in making it and it's very alkaline... so not good. So I'll go with the hand cream after cleaning with water as you suggested.) :-)

Totally understand re: removing the liner. I looked inside as best I could and see that it appears there are metal tabs that are folded over, and I know that given the thin metal, age, etc., if bent they'd likely break off. So I won't even attempt that.

But again, the oxalic acid is something that unless it's the only alternative (if I could even obtain it) I'd prefer to stay away from and use something safer if at all possible.

I'll stay in a holding pattern for now. I'm in no rush on this as I'd rather take the time and do it right so it can be passed down for generations to come. Also I will take more pics as I proceed and be happy to keep posting them over time to show progress.

Again many thanks for your help! Looking forward to your next reply.

Edited by Hauptmann

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Hello Dan,

regarding the leather, as a friend of mine who is an artisan says, leather is a living thing that should be treated the same way you treat your own skin. So if you put a hand cream of any sort stay reassured that it won't do any harm, it will just be absorbed. 🙂 Then, if you're not satisfied you can still think of alternative solutions...

As for the oxalic acid, I don't know how it is regarded in the USA, I can speak for Italy and France, and here you can find it in its purest form in drugstores, DIY stores, cleaning products stores, etc. It's a white powder. Most helmet collectors use it freely to remove the worst rust from their helmets, I did use it in a couple of occasions as well. It is also used to whiten wood and clean hard surfaces. Of course, I wouldn't leave it around kids to play with, as I would not leave them with a box of powder detergent. Use a pair of latex gloves for extra precaution, but beyond that stating that it is "extremely dangerous", is, frankly speaking, nonsense. As far as you don't eat it by the spoon, sniff it in extreme doses, or anything else that I hope you would not do with any cleaning detergent, it's absolutely safe. Just FYI, you can check on Amazon the hundreds of people who used it for the most different purposes.

If you are still not comfortable, I would say just check some common degreasers in commerce, and go with one of those, though the result might be a little less effective. Check out the composition, many of them will contain oxalic acid or other similar acids.

Here's an Italian M33 that I found in Macedonia and cleaned conservatively with oxalic acid the way I described, just to avoid any further rust formation and remove major dirt:

Tre_quarti.jpg

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