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preservation of battlefield pickup relic condition helmet

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#1 ptogi

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:12 AM

I have a relic condition M1 helmet I recovered this past summer from a Pacific War battlefield. Regarding battlefield relics I am a firm believer of leaving them in "as is" condition and not cleaning or treating them with anything, but this helmet is deteriorating a little everyday as tiny flecks of rust fall off. I have the helmet displayed in a climate controlled environment in a cabinet on a glass shelf so I have been able to keep an eye on the overall deterioration since putting it in the cabinet. I would like to do what I can do to stabilize and slow the deterioration process of the helmet. Looking for tried and tested professional conservation techniques. Suggested products I should treat the helmet with? Ideally looking for a product that could be applied by spray can. Thank you in advance for any and all advice.

#2 awm

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 11:27 AM

Thanks for your post about the relic condition helmet!  I have the same philosophy on this as you do and have a helmet with decals that I have sealed in a bag and put away to try to keep it from deteriorating.  Approx. 25 years ago I came across a German helmet from a barn that still had a decal and some paint.  Flakes were coming off of that as well and before all was lost, I found a rust inhibitor type of liquid that was for auto body work and lightly dabbed it over the surface, enough to cover it so that no bare rust/metal or paint was left unprotected.  This did the trick and kept the item from falling apart, but it did give a slightly different color to the helmet and a slight gloss.  The decal looks fine and the helmet doesn't look bad.
I  would like to find a spray-on material that would preserve it without giving it an unnatural appearance.  I look forward to hearing from others about this too.


#3 Reforger

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 06:27 AM

Supposedly, if you have a very rusty relic, putting it in distilled water for a few weeks while changing the water regulary helps stop the rusting (extracts salt and minerals from the object that would cause further rust). It is definitely very important to keep the helmet in a dry atmosphere. If it has been dry for a while (I would say at least a few months) and loose rust has been removed, you can coat it with oil to preserve and seal it.

Ballistol is a very good oil for cleaning and preserving rusty metal, many relic collectors use it. It is a natural non-toxic product and can be purchased in liquid form or as a spray. It doesn't change the relics color, although it can give it a somewhat darker patina which may look better actually. If you spray it on the relic about every 6 months for the first couple of years, it should seal it and preserve it.

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