Good methods to reshape leather helmet shells?

Paul B

New member
I have a pickelhaube that is misshapened. What techniques have you used to bring back into proper shape? I cannot begin resewing the brims of this helmet until the leather shell is somewhat correct.
 
I suggest that you go to the Restoration Section and take a look at the many posts there. I have provided detailed explanations and photos of many of my restoration projects which should help. Last, post some photos here so we can see what has to be done. Again, good to have you with us.
 
I suggest that you go to the Restoration Section and take a look at the many posts there. I have provided detailed explanations and photos of many of my restoration projects which should help. Last, post some photos here so we can see what has to be done. Again, good to have you with us.
Thank you. Here is the pickelhaube. It may have been on its side and crushed somewhat in a box. I want to open it up a bit. My strategy is to keep it on the hat block and leave it in the sun to warm up for a couple of hours.
 

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Welcome Paul, please do as Brian suggests and scan through as many of the Restoration posts as you can find relting to reshaping, you will find many and they are all highly informative. Please do NOT put your helmet to bake in the sun, that will only further dry it out from its present state and shrink the leather even more than it already has been. To reshape it you will first need to gently hydrate it to put some felxibility back into it and only then very slowly allow it to dry out on the head form in a normal (indoor) temperature/humidity. It should then retain that shape. Post the results here as you make progress and you will get further advice.
Good luck, Steve
 
Yes, as Steve says.....NO SUN !! Being black in colour, these things heat up very quickly and this heat further dries up the natural oils in the leather and melts the shellac coating on the exterior surfaces. Period photos show that all of these helmets had a shiny patent leather finish on them when new. However, with 100+ years of shrinking/drying out during the winter and then expanding with a humid summer this natural finish cracks, sometimes pops off or if you are lucky, just goes "dull".
The shell contracts in on itself, as in this case...then the front visor trim can split and break. Another typical result is that the rear spine is flattened where it goes over the shell and the soldered split brad holding it on pops off. The leather and it's shellac finish are totally "organic" and natural and react to climate conditions. The metal is not, all it can do is split, or break. The stitching thread is 100% cotton, so it rots or also breaks with the expansion/contraction of the leather. These are the common problems and the reasons for them. How to "hydrate" your helmet is described in the restoration section. If you have further questions, please ask. You have a nice M95 helmet marked to the 12th Infantry Regiment, any other markings?
 
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