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M35 Helmet Restoration

Article about: Hi, it looks really good, congrats on a job well done. Best regards Nuno

  1. #1
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    Default M35 Helmet Restoration

    Hi All,
    About 2 years ago when I first started collecting, I ran out to a gun show and went crazy on purchasing some helmets. My goal was to have one example of each of the axis and allies. I was on a fixed income and rather than saving up and shopping around, I picked up this M35 with post-war repaint and decals (biker helmet anyone?).

    In any case, I was looking at a restoration earlier on the board and it got me to thinking; why not try to restore my helmet to its original condition?

    I'm fairly certain that spray paint was used as there are no brush strokes and the paint does not seem to be caked on. There are some scratch marks I've circled in yellow below which show the original field green.

    Now my concerns; with regards to method of removing the paint, there are all sorts on this board, but Acetone seems to be the general consensus. Is the method I should use? I've also heard boiling the shell, and paint thinner as other alternatives. What would work best on a thin layer of spray paint?

    Finally, what is the best method to remove the fake decals? I have no idea if there are real ones lying below and obviously want to avoid damaging them. It looks like the paint job was done first, and then the decals were applied. Should I try steaming them off? Should I use a razor blade and delicately peel them off?

    The liner is in half decent shape and I am 99% sure is all original. The chin strap has seen better days, but this can be replaced. Overall, I think once completed, it's gonna look much better as it will be all original.

    In any case, I'm excited to get started but would like feedback from the experts so I don't ruin the lid. I know patience is key with restoration; lucky for me, I'm anal-retentive so that shouldn’t be a problem!
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  3. #2

    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    Norwegian Post-War reissue, i'm not sure about how you are gonna restore it though
    Best Regards

    Vegard T.
    -------------------------------
    Looking for militaria from 38. Batterie, Heeres Küsten Artillerie Regiment 977, also from 31, 32 and 36. Batterie.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    Thanks for the information, Vegar. If I'm correct, there is some good and bad with this.

    The good is the shell is an original M35 and possibly the liner is as well; the liner was just been repainted red by the Norwegian's. Also, there could still be a decal or two underneath as they just painted right over them. I assume however the chin-strap is a reissue, which I'm fine with since I planned on replacing it anyway.

    The bad i assume is it was painted a lot early than what I initially thought, so the paint may be a little harder to get off. Did they bake the helemets after the repaint? I would assume not (or at least I hope).

  5. #4

    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    yuengling325, at least you have a genuine German helmet and liner, albeit reworked, sympathetically by the Norwegians, i say sympathetically because they simply resprayed them, put on a 'lion/crown' decal, and re-dyed the liner and replaced the chinstrap, no extra holes or brackets.......I would imagine it would be an easy job to return to the German again. I remember these when they first came on to the market in tha early 70's, i bought two..at £5.00 (about $8.00)each !....i used one for cammo cover display and the other was repainted and used for re-enacting. I have read that the red dye can be removed, i just cant remember where !....im sure the guys here will give you good advice re/stripping and repainting, if thats the way you want to go, good luck.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    Thanks, Oradour....It's nice to know I at least have mostly original parts....but now have some work on my hands!

    I wish I could have said I only paid $8.00 for this lid, or even $50. Unfortunately, like I said in my previous post I rushed into purchasing and definitely overpaid.

    Oh well, lesson learned on my part! I have to say though this exercise is really helping me to understand what to lookout for. Now I'm looking at helmets on the forum and have a much clearer understanding of what people are talking about!

    I want to hit the ground running with this restoration and hopefully someone has had similar helmet they've restored and can tell me if this is a piece of cake, or if I have a nightmare ahead of me....

  7. #6
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    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    So after some additional research, I decided to test a small area using acetone. The paint came off so easy, I decided to continue on!

    Below are photos in stages. Now I'm left with the area where the decals are located. Any suggestions on how to remove the fake decals without damaging any potential (fingers crossed, but unlikely because of my luck) decals underneath?

    Thanks in advance for your help!!
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  8. #7

    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    I was going to say 'use acetone' but I see you've been there........!
    Spray paint comes off quickly using this stuff. It is supposed to be good
    for removing the red dye on yhe liner too, but i've never tried this.

    Try using adhesive tape on the decals first. Rub down then quickly peel off.
    I think there is a coating of clear coat over the decals, as I see a decal
    shape about 3/16ths or so wider than outside the actual decal edge.
    Modern water transfer decals don't hold as well as the originals.
    If tape doesn't work, go back to the acetone.
    I don't think you will find anything underneath,
    but you just never know !

    ( My first Norwegian helmet was $25. I was young, and didn't
    know better. I made it look just like yours before you stripped it,
    except it was a M42 ! ? ! )


    Keep us posted !
    Regards,


    Steve.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    Thanks, Steve! Yeah, the acetone was very effective!

    Below is the almost finished product. Still some touchups that need to be done and I have to work on removing the strip of tape on the rear of the helmet (as shown in earlier pictures) as it is not coming off that easy.

    I tried the tape method you suggested on the decals but with no success. There doesn't appear to be any decals hiding underneath , but I'm ok with that as I'd rather have an original finish helmet in my collection...

    I'm all hopped up an nail polish remover so I think I'll save working on the decals and possibly the liner for tomorrow.....

    Thanks again for everyones input!
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  10. #9

    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    'All hopped up' - I like that ! It is pretty strong stuff !

    The helmet looks way better !
    Are you still going to remove the decals ?
    Regards,


    Steve.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: M35 Helmet Restoration

    Ha! Yeah, I was smart enough to work with the stuff outside, but should have probably worn a dust mask.....And the fact that I threw back a few Killians during the process probably didn't help the situation!

    I'm not sure now....I keep lookint at it and can't make a decision. If I'm not mistaken, SS M35's were also colored in apple/field green...So for my display (no intentions of ever selling as this is my first lid), this configuration would work...Then again, do I just want it to be all original?

    I'll probably sleep on it then laziness will kick in and the decals will stay....That's usually how I work!

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