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My first helmet - restoration tips?


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Hi Guys,

 

Well I'm pretty excited - I bought my first flight helmet this week. It's really nothing special, just an early 80s SPH4 helmet. With that being said, I'm still pretty happy to add it to my collection as my first helmet. I think the price was okay.

 

I don't have it in my possession yet but from the pictures, the interior looks to be complete. It does need new paint and also the boom mic, mic attachment, and all the comm wires. My first question is on the paint. I want to paint it to look like an original o.d. finished helmet. Once I take the helmet apart for cleaning and prep, (I did find a .pdf copy of the TM for the SPH4 online that will help!) what would you guys recommend? Enamels, auto body lacquers? Something else? What about this o.d. spray can from Grainger that I saw in another thread here:

 

http://www.grainger.com/product/ABILITY-ONE-Spray-Paint-5MN05?nls_onOff=NLSSOLROFF&searchQuery=5mn05

 

And finally, is it hard to find the boom mic and other needed comm parts? I have been searching eBay and the web this week but haven't really turned up too much. I contacted Omaha Surplus in Ft. Worth earlier today and they are checking to see what they may have for me. So fingers crossed there.

 

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can share with me gents.

 

-Derek

 

 

 

 

 

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We inspected and repaired helmets for flight crews, and when the TPL (Thermo-Plastic Liners) came into use, we stripped out the old webbing straps and redid the interiors. As far as paint, we had spray cans of lusterless OD (I think). The hardest part was masking off the rubber edge on the shell. I built a new helmet from parts while I was there and turned it in when I got out. "My" helmet came home with me.

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Hi Guys,

 

Well my "new" helmet showed up in today's mail. Here are some photos. Sorry, I'm a Photobucket guy so not sure how to post more than one photo here with the 251K limit...

 

As you can see, at some point, someone painted it gray and wrote the "For Ground Use Only" on the visor and back. The interior looks pretty complete. All the screws seem to be in place. For the bad, you can see that all the comm wiring and boom mic are gone...

 

 

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I am tempted to see if some acetone will remove the gray paint and let the original O.D. come through! It need some sanding and body work anyway. The metal parts have some verdigris to remove, but the rest of the interior is very nice looking. The leather pad at the crown has some minor cracking to it.

 

So what do you guys think? Once I get the comm gear and a new coat of paint, it will make a nice display helmet I hope.

 

-Derek

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It probably has a crack in the shell somewhere (primary reason to DX a helmet or convert it to ground use) that may have been repaired. I don't think you can hurt it by trying to get the OD paint to show through. A boom mike and wiring shouldn't be too hard to find.

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Well I have the helmet all taken apart now. I hope I'll be able to put it back together the right way :)

 

I took lots of photos and also made notes. I had taken photos of the front, back, and sides before I took the helmet apart. I made my notes on the photos and labeled the screws and parts and put them all in their own plastic sandwich bags.

 

Here is a photo with the visor off. The inside of the visor was still O.D. green and had a nice 1986 date stamp on it.

 

 

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And the last one for now. Here's a shot of my parts and photos, all labeled for reassembly...

 

Today I'm going to remove the old reflective tape, and sand down the helmet a bit. Then I'll bondo the worst of the gouges and scratches.

 

Thanks for looking, more later.

 

-Derek

 

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If the styrene liner is loose in the shell, you should have no issues removing it. Doing so will make it easier to inspect the inside of the crown for cracks, etc. Basically, if you lift upwards slightly on the neck end, the liner will slide back towards the back of the shell and rotate out. IIRC, the fittings that hold the upper visor cover screws in are hidden under the styrene -- making them a pain to put back in. The fittings like to rotate so the screws don't fully tighten,

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Thanks Matt and FtrPlt. I will have to take a closer look at the liner tomorrow. I am pretty sure that it is Styrofoam and not styrene. It was a little tricky getting the screws out but not bad. I worry more about getting them all back in the correct places!!

 

Here is day one of bondo, sand, repeat on the shell. The visor on the other hand was in pretty good shape. I gave it a light sanding and then a primer coat. I only saw one small area that needed some bondo. Maybe tomorrow I can spray it O.D. Green. I am dying to see how the paint looks.

 

 

 

 

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By the end of today, I think I almost have the shell smoothed out. I just have a few areas to clean up at the rear and top of the shell. I also spent a good part of the time scraping off the old reflective tape adhesive. That was fun :)

 

More later, thanks for looking.

 

-Derek

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Derek,

The helmet is coming along nicely. Take your time with the painting. Make sure all is smooth and dry, etc. Masking the black edge bead will be tedious but worth the effort. Depending on what you're using for paint, consider priming first and using matte finish clear coat over the OD.

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Hi Guys,

 

A little bit of an update today. You were right FtrPlt, the polystryene liner came right out which is a good thing. :)

 

I prepped the shell for its first primer coat which will happen tomorrow I hope. I masked off the edge roll with blue painters tape. I'll mask off more of the interior to keep it paint free.

 

 

 

 

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I did wet sand the paint the visor prior to prepping the shell. I am pretty happy with the color of the O.D. spray paint I used. I tried to get a photo in the best light, I think it's a bit lighter than it really looks in person...

 

-Derek

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