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M1917 Gas mask - Crispy, How to Restore?


1918militaria

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1918militaria

Can anyone offer any advice for getting a Crispy US WW1 gas mask to open up for display on a mannequin without damaging it? Is it possible or best left alone?

 

Mike

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I used regular Armor All. Sprayed a little and slowly worked it in with my fingers and it finally opened up and stayed pliable.

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My opinion on WW1 gas masks is that they should be left alone. They weren't meant to survive for nearly 100 years and most were kept in attics for decades where they became very stiff and fragile. You can still find pliable masks, so if you really want one for a display, I'd avoid messing with one that could break into pieces if you're not careful and find one that is still mostly pliable and work with that one.

 

Jeff Shrader might be a good one to ask about these, having seen hundreds of them...

 

Dave

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They weren't meant to survive for nearly 100 years and most were kept in attics for decades where they became very stiff and fragile.

 

Dave

 

Right you are! I had a pristine WWI mask, no cracking at all and the rubber exhaust flapper was nice and rubbery just like a bicycle inner tube. THEN, so dumb@$$ (me), stored it "safely" in the attic for 20+ years. The mask now sounds like an empty potato chip bag and that rubber flapper is not only as hard as a rock, it also broke in half. :crying: Lesson learned. :crying:

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mach1derful

It's one of those things that didn't survive attic storage. Yes you can find them pliable and soft. About 1-10 or so are still somewhat pliable. You'll have to find one with the flutter valve and clear lenses too if you want a top notch one for display. I built my current mask all out of parts of about 4 different masks. The flutter valve on mine is stiff, but the rest of the mask is soft and usable. I would leave it alone, although now I'm tempted to buy a crispy potato chip bag mask off ebay for a few bucks and try this armorall idea.... :think:

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maybe you could try stuffing it with newspapers until it gradually opens up enough that you could display it on a mannequin? start off slowly and add more crumpled news papers so opens up or until it gradually conforms enough so it can be displayed on a display head.

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1918militaria

I am having problems finding a mask ann bag that is right for my display kit. Either the bag is missing something or the mask is crispy.

 

I am not yet allowed to post wated add in the sale section. All I got is Ebay and a few sites that so far are not selling anything I can use.

 

Mike

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mach1derful
I am having problems finding a mask ann bag that is right for my display kit. Either the bag is missing something or the mask is crispy.

 

I am not yet allowed to post wated add in the sale section. All I got is Ebay and a few sites that so far are not selling anything I can use.

 

Mike

 

Mike,

 

My advice is to build one out of parts. Figure out what size mask you need for display (modern size is a 3 or 4). Make yourself a checklist: Bag with strap, chest rope tie, unbrittle mask, clear eye pieces, flutter valve, hose, yellow or green filter cannister, cannister brace, instruction sheet (with repair tape and pins), dimming cloth tin...

 

The one I have for my display is built entirely with parts from 3 or 4 masks.

 

If the mask is ID'd or part of a grouping etc leave it alone for the preservation of history.

 

WWI gas masks are common. When they are listed on ebay, an unknowledgable seller will list the mask without any reference to the mask being pliable, if it is indeed so. Pictures are worth a thousand words too. Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...
mach1derful

A good example is this mask:

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...e=STRK:MEWAX:IT

 

The mask is crispy and the hose is flat, but if you look close the flutter valve is there, cannister, repair/log book, and the bag is in good shape.

 

It's a good price too considering most masks are missing that flutter valve!

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If you are not wanting to just leave it alone, or piece one together, here is what I did to get mine to become pliable.

Take some Armor All and put it in a cup. Take a Q-Tip and dip it into the liquid and instead of rubbing it, roll the Q-tip across the area you are working. Just use a small amount and work around and through creases and ridges. Once the entire thing has had a coating, go back and do it again. Once an area is wet again, give a gentle pull to see if it has relieved, if so, work more into the area opened up. If not, just keep working the area until it starts opening. If possible, work both sides of the mask. If you put some liquid on and it immediately soaks in, run another coat on both sides if possible. Don't force anything and it took me three days for mine to open up. It now is pliable enough that I could put it on. I hope that helps.

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  • 4 weeks later...

here is what I did to get mine to become pliable from flat dried and wrinkled .

I left it in warm water for a whole night and the cloth is now supple.

The inner coating came off in little black pieces.

I am surprised that the material did not tear around the mouthpiece or the lens it being so thin.

I covered the cloth with Petroleum jelly that darkened the Khaki color.

I glued back on the broken stiff mouthpiece and the nose pinch that came off in the process.

Now I can expose it on my Doughboy.

 

post-2109-1274447625.jpg post-2109-1274447637.jpg

 

Steven

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