Here's a issue I've long pondered. Is it right to renovate or refurbish a vintage helmet? For many years I would do no more than clean up a helmet. I felt that to renovate it close to it's original condition would, somehow, degrade it.

I got to discussing this issue with other collectors and got differing opinions. Quite a few thought as I did, that they should be left "as found" but there seemed to be just as many who felt that, as long as it was in keeping with its origins, then it was OK to do repairs, repaint, even replace if need be.

I got talking about this to some vintage vehicle preservationists and they pointed out that they had no problems with repairing, repainting and replacing parts on their vintage vehicles. They considered that their role was to preserve these machines for present and future generations and that keeping them in as close to original condition was the goal to strive for.

That gave me a new insight into my hobby and so now I no longer anguish over fixing up a helmet to look "factory fresh". In fact it has opened up a whole new aspect to my collecting and am I now revisiting my entire collection and, where appropriate, researching what I need to restore some of the tattyer ones.

I'm really getting into decals, British helmets (my speciality) have long used water-slide decal badges. Since they gave up those lovely old brass helmets it's been decals and not shields or badge plates (until the adoption of the Gallet F1 helmet).

So now I'm working on becoming an expert on British Fire Helmet Decals and it's fascinating! How to tell reproductions from the originals, what style was used when, stuff like that. It has another advantage, once you get to know some of this stuff you discover that there are a lot of helmets out there that are "mongrels", made up from bits and pieces to look OK but with no reference to reality. I've even found a few in my collection, vintage helmets with a current badge, helmets badges up for a Brigade that never used that type of helmet. Love it, it's like being a detective.

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