Restoration of the German M35 helmet
Below is shown a process of restoration of the German M35 helmet, once belonging to a Wehrmacht soldier. Restoration was done by user Leschiy (Smobattle forum). Leschiy got down to work and decided to document the whole process for himself, for a friend and for those who are interested.
We ourselves were going to photograph the process of restoration of German helmets in order to see the result before and after, because when the relic has already been restored, it’s hard to remember later the condition in which the relic of the World War II came into your hands in your collection.
Preparing the helmet for restoration
First you need to disassemble the Wehrmacht helmet into its components – a helmet, a comforter (2 hoops – internal and external), clasps – external (3 pcs.), Internal (about 10). Note! This helmet was repainted twice during the WW2 by a Wehrmacht soldier from light green to dark green, that is, the M35 helmet was later repainted to match the M40 helmet. We have not seen this before, it is necessary to clarify where this helmet was found …
Restoration of the M35 helmet with acid
Much time has passed since the end of the World War II, so a lot of rust has formed on the relics. It was decided to clean it off in a vinegar solution. The helmet was put in it.
The photo below shows the result after a little over a week. The restorer came to the garage and was horrified – the helmet froze in the solution! (The garage was not heated, and the frosts in the yard were severe). So we had to heat the stove, put a tank with helmets closer and warm it up. After I removed the helmet from the ice captivity, I cleaned what I managed to clean with a metal brush, after which the M35 helmet returned back to the solution. The cleaning process takes a long time, especially at subzero temperatures. We’ll have to wait a long time until this helmet takes a place in the author’s collection.
Why vinegar solution and not electricity?
- You can put a relic in vinegar and forget it for a week, and if you use electricity you will need to constantly monitor it.
- You need to look after the find, because it can “eat” more metal than is necessary and the helmet will no longer be included in your collection.
- There is no certainty that the electric current penetrates into the micro roughnesses, it still seems that the electric current flows faster where it is easier. That is, if the layer of rust is thicker, then the process slows down there, and naturally, where the layer of rust is thinner, the process will be faster and the destruction of the helmet may follow.
One week later
The same helmet. Why the vinegar cleaning method is good? Because the helmet looks good after one week in it, but after two weeks in the solution, the relic of the WW2 turns into one continuous hole. But on the other hand, you can be sure that loose rust will not come out later through putty, primer and paint. From my own experience, I was convinced that a poorly cleaned helmet in a year can swell with rust from the inside and the restoration process begins anew …
The helmet was took out, brushed and layid back to the solution tank. And so it was done many times, until there was bare metal.
Next, the cracks were cleaned and on each side of the cracks 5-10 mm each was treated with soldering acid. Then the inner and outer parts of the helmet were welded, respecting the geometry of the M35 helmet. The helmet will soon regain its shape as it was during the World War II.
Complete helmet restoration process
After cleaning in acid, restoration of the lost drum and the sealing of small holes on the top of the helmet began. On different forums we saw how the lost roller is restored, basically this process looks like this:
– a strip is cut from a 0.8-1 mm metal sheet and soldered instead of a roller.
The restorer tried it, but did not like it because of the complexity of the process, and it was decided to act differently. A wire of the required thickness was taken and soldered in several layers to the right place. The result is in the photo.
After sealing the holes, the helmet was stripped of the excess layer and again went to the tank with vinegar in order to remove the solder acid residues from the metal, as it is then released at the soldering site. After about a day, the helmet was dried and treated with a rust converter. The use of the converter eliminates the newly appeared rust during the soldering process and, especially after the vinegar solution, the rust appears right before your eyes.
The helmet, after processing with the converter, acquired a coating that protects against rust. A layer of putty can be applied to this plaque, but of course, first you need to clean it with sandpaper and degrease the relic.
We give the helmet the correct shape
The first layers of putty. Small defects are removed.
Grinding was carried out manually, the drill and nozzles were not used because if you will slightly push, or hook the edge with a drill (if inside), then you will have to put putty on this place again, otherwise the process is slower, but more confident, and all the roughnesses and drops are felt better with your fingers … Again – you can’t crawl with a nozzle everywhere.
Installing missing items
Installation of ventilation pads (grommet)
Priming and painting the helmet
A red primer was purchased, since there is an opinion (justified, since such helmets have come across earlier) that the M35 were primed before painting and the primer was red-brown. Acrylic primer.
In some places, after processing with sandpaper, places appeared where the soil was wiped off to putty, then there was a secondary priming of these places, again grinding, but I see no reason to expose the photo.
The helmet is more or less dry after painting. We pasted the decals, now after a few days we will need to apply a colorless varnish.
No matter how I tried to change the lighting, focus, I took a photo with and without a flash, the color of the paint in the photo turns out lighter than it actually is, and without the flash, as I said, the green color seems greener.
Thanks to everyone who read this article on the restoration of the relic of the World War II – the German helmet M35. Now it has taken its rightful place in the author’s collection.