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Gas mask preservation question.


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#1 bheskett

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 01:23 PM

I have a bunch of gas masks with rubber face shields.  What can I put on them to keep them soft and pliable yet not make them greasy and nasty?

 

Thanks

Bob



#2 atb

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 02:01 PM

Pretty much nothing. Gas masks are some of the most difficult preservation problems.



#3 Simon Lerenfort

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:00 AM

Don't store them in a warm room, they will preserve better in cooler conditions. Try to avoid placing them under hot lights or to any heat source, or any storage or display enclosure that heats objects. Ideally, rubber and plastic objects should be stored in cold, dark, dry, and oxygen-free conditions. But if the rubber is already hardened then its too late.


#4 Rakkasan187

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 05:25 AM

Bob,

 

Try contacting the Director and Curator at the US Army Chemical Corps Museum at Fort Leonard Wood, MO..

 

Kip Lindberg Director  (573) 569-4221

Cynthia Riley Curator  (573) 569-0240

 

They may be able to assist you as well..

 

Leigh



#5 bheskett

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 08:50 AM

Thanks very much everyone.



#6 oldabewla

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 04:22 PM

For any vintage military items sun light, heat, moisture and oxygen are the destroyers of them.

The rubber part of your gas mask is always letting off chemicals from when it was manufacture new to slow this down or stop chemical escape and dry out of the rubber to preserve it and keep it in great shape is?
When my gasmasks are not on display, I store mine in a plastic bag and remove the most of I can oxygen from the plastic bag and store it in the canvas carry bag to keep the chemical from escaping out and keep out of the light.

This is like marinate it'self in it's original chemicals from manufacturing this sounds funny but it helps.

#7 Bluehawk

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 07:31 PM

There is a possibility that microcrystalline wax might be an effective preservative...

 

https://restorationp...enaissance-wax/



#8 bheskett

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 08:54 AM

I checked with the Chemical Corps Museum and they said that there is not much that can be done.  I keep them all in a footlocker out of the light and I like the zip lock bag idea and let them marinate in their own gasses.  

 

Thanks Bob



#9 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 05:24 PM

When my gasmasks are not on display, I store mine in a plastic bag and remove the most of I can oxygen from the plastic bag and store it in the canvas carry bag to keep the chemical from escaping out and keep out of the light.

This is like marinate it'self in it's original chemicals from manufacturing this sounds funny but it helps.

 

Do NOT use plastic bags, they are petroleum products and petroleum and natural rubber do not mix. I know collectors who've had gas masks melt on them due to storage on, in, or near thin sheet plastic bags that let off fumes over time and caused damage. Same goes for storing masks on styrofoam heads, it's just a bad idea. Using any products which contain natural oils, acids, or distllates of petroleum will also effect rubber.

 

The Army Chemical Corps Museum, Fort Leonard Wood is not particularly good at preserving their masks and many specimens of one-of-a-kind experimental designs and prototypes in their collection are in a state of total disrepair because of the dubious methods they likely undertake. The one of the best things for gas masks other than keeping out of sunlight, keeping the rubber clean, in a stable temperature/low humidity, away from ozone sources, etc is to use food-grade, water-based silicone.

The thing with silicone is that it is completely inert to rubber, as it contains no natural oils, acids, or petrolium. Once the rubber is treated with it, it forms an invisible barrier that prevents sulfur or other curing agents from evaporating from the rubber and furthering dry rot and petrification, and it also resists dirt, blooming (waxy buildup of dirt/dust/talcum powder mixing with sulfur evaporating from the rubber), and to some degree, humidity and temperature changes. I have been using it for many years and have not experienced any of the horror stories that methods such as armor-all, mineral oil, plastic bags, etc have caused. But it absolutely must be water-based and food-grade to assure no damage to rubber. I use trident-brand silicone spray since it is engineered for rubber scuba and diving equipment that will be exposed to harsh, sunny, and corrosive environments.

 

As for storage and display, I pack all of my masks with ink-free, plain brown or white packing paper. If you are unsure if the paper is acid free and think acid paper may be a threat to the rubber, cotton wadding may be used instead. I normally discourage display heads as they stretch out head harnesses and flex the mask to an unnatural position. Hoses should also be stored so that they are mostly if not completely slack, with no chance of forming cracks or collapsing due to tight bends. If possible to do so safely, remove any hoses/canisters you can if you know how to do so without damaging the rubber (I do not recommend doing this if you don't know what you're doing or know how the masks were constructed/assembled). I hope this helps.
 

display.jpg


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 19 January 2019 - 05:28 PM.


#10 Bodes

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 06:26 PM

Duke, does the same apply for masks made of neoprene?.....Bodes

#11 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 12:48 PM



Duke, does the same apply for masks made of neoprene?.....Bodes


Chloroprene (Neoprene) is very stable and tolerant of most conditions. It does have similar properties to NRL in that over time it releases curing agents when exposed to the elements, but it doesn't typically rot the same way. What it will do is harden, and I've only found one way to reverse hardening of neoprene, which is to boil it, preferably with a dash of methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) mixed in, but I've had mixed results with testing, the process with wintergreen oil attacks and dissolves adhesives, and may damage plastics as well (I've always disassembled test masks before boiling so I'm not sure of this). Not to mention the rejuvination causes the rubber to swell and expand causing the parts to loosely fit back together and the residual wintergreen oil evaporating off the rubber will stink up your entire house. I don't reccommend doing more than a silicone treatment and if absolutely necessary, a plain water boil to soften neoprene into a displayable state. It typically takes until the rubber is rock solid for it to begin cracking, though.

Pictured below: A 'Barn-Fresh' July 1944-Dated Navy Diaphragm Mk.IV Gas Mask (Neoprene) which I have restored to a flexible condition with methods decribed above.

ND.jpg



#12 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 01:02 PM

Also, in case anyone didn't believe me about the plastic bags causing masks to melt I mentioned earlier. Here we have a Japanese JSDF Type 1 Protective Mask (A copy of the U.S. M3-10A1-6) owned by a Polish collector I know, who was shocked to discover this gooey mess after he had left it stored (in a temperature-stable room, mind you) in a polystyrene box stuffed with plastic container as a face form after the course of a couple months. It's just not a good idea to bring natural rubber into contact with cheap plastic for storage.
 

Melted Type 1.jpg
Melted Type 1 (2).jpg


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 20 January 2019 - 01:05 PM.


#13 Bodes

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 03:38 PM

Duke, Thanks for the reply....It should also be noted, neoprene is subject to cold setting....This means it is subject to deformation, which can effectively limit the sealing properties of the mask....Bodes

#14 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 06:30 PM

It should also be noted, neoprene is subject to cold setting....This means it is subject to deformation, which can effectively limit the sealing properties of the mask....Bodes

 

I'm fairly certain that the cold-setting problem is only an issue in freezing or arctic temperatures, and not your average chilly day. Storing neoprene masks in a colder environment won't stiffen or deform them as long as the ambient air isn't cold enough to freeze water.



#15 Bodes

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 04:03 PM

 
I'm fairly certain that the cold-setting problem is only an issue in freezing or arctic temperatures, and not your average chilly day. Storing neoprene masks in a colder environment won't stiffen or deform them as long as the ambient air isn't cold enough to freeze water.


Since gas hasn't been used in any major US conflict since WW1, cold setting is likely a term used for any deformation that would affect the sealing of the mask...Likely wasn't noticed however until such masks were subjected to colder conditions as would've been found during the Battle of the Bulge or Korea....WW2 naval gas masks are often found with the neoprene turned hard and mishapened, and I doubt very many were subjected to arctic conditions....Bodes

#16 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 05:35 PM

WW2 naval gas masks are often found with the neoprene turned hard and mishapened, and I doubt very many were subjected to arctic conditions....Bodes

 

This is very true, does this also count for unissued examples? I have only been around specimens which have been either issued/used and/or improperly stored in barns, attics, basements, etc. Any permanent set that has occured outside the range of freezing temperatures may simply be due to curing agents evaporating from the neoprene itself from UV or ozone exposure over time, of which there is very little to do much to prevent other than using silicone to slow the process down and boiling the rubber to make it temporarily pliable to fit a faceform of some sort inside. Being a synthetic rubber, it is unlikely bringing the mask into contact with most plastics (except polystyrene) will harm it, but I don't want to say for sure, so I'm still trying to make my own observations on patterns of degredation based on the stored environment and treatments given.

Some collector friends of mine like to joke that neoprene has a mind of its own, due to how difficult it is to display masks with hoses made from it and how unpredictably it degrades.




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