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Painting Natural Leather N5A

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  • Painting Natural Leather N5A

    Hey guys. I have a natural leather N5A. I like the look but I'd prefer to have a black helmet. I've been told that if I paint it it will ruin it because of the clear coat that is applied at the factory. Is that true? Could I sand it and then paint it? Thanks. By the way, I did I search and couldn't find any information on this.

  • #2
    Originally posted by FF_Johnston View Post
    Hey guys. I have a natural leather N5A.
    What helmet did your department issue you?

    Any modification you make to a helmet is likely to void it's certification for use as PPE. Of course, if you bought it as a wall hanger you can do whatever you want with it. Just don't modify it out of manufacturer's recommendations and expect to wear it to a fire.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
    sigpic
    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    • #3
      http://www.msafire.com/cairns_repainting.html

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      • #4
        Originally posted by FF_Johnston View Post
        Hey guys. I have a natural leather N5A. I like the look but I'd prefer to have a black helmet. I've been told that if I paint it it will ruin it because of the clear coat that is applied at the factory. Is that true? Could I sand it and then paint it? Thanks. By the way, I did I search and couldn't find any information on this.
        Do not paint the helmet until you strip the clear coat off the helmet.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BKDRAFT;
          Do not paint the helmet until you strip the clear coat off the helmet.
          It has been my experience that using any kind of paint stripper, even the natural citrus stuff, wreaks absolute havoc on leather helmets. The brim will crack within 1 year, especially if repeatedly exposed to high temps. The leather soaks the stripper up, it is impossible to completely remove, and the leather just dries out.

          My process that I have had consistent good luck with is sanding or scuffing, self etching primer, 2-3 coats of hi-temp paint, and a couple of coats of enamel of appliance epoxy paint to top it off.
          RK
          cell #901-494-9437

          Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

          "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


          Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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          • #6
            So basically as long as I sand the clear coat off I can paint it just like a leather that came painted from the factory? That's pretty much what I figured, just wanted to make sure.

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            • #7
              Take a look in helmet picture thread, if you like to see photos of helemets that were refinished and how to do it. It's not hard at all.
              Stay Safe
              Bull


              “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
              - Capt. Marc Cox CFD

              Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
              -WINSTON CHURCHILL

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              • #8
                Originally posted by FF_Johnston View Post
                Hey guys. I have a natural leather N5A. I like the look but I'd prefer to have a black helmet. I've been told that if I paint it it will ruin it because of the clear coat that is applied at the factory. Is that true? Could I sand it and then paint it? Thanks. By the way, I did I search and couldn't find any information on this.

                Just buy a black helmet and keep the other one at home.
                Stay Safe and Well Out There....

                Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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                • #9
                  http://www.customlidpaint.com/

                  Send it here, it looks like he does good work.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
                    Just buy a black helmet and keep the other one at home.
                    If they weren't so damn expensive that's exactly what I'd do. I actually bought this one to replace an older N5A that I retired. I'd heard bad things about cairns paintjobs from the factory so I figured I'd just buy a natural one and paint it myself. Obviously I should of done a little bit more research beforehand.

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                    • #11
                      It is your helmet and their are various methods. Whichever you decide be sure to remove the clear coat. Use a leather colored primer after the clear coat is removed. Then use an enamel of your choice to brush on several coats of black paint.

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                      • #12
                        Cairns soaks their leather helmets in boiled linseed oil before painting. The citrus stripper works but you have to make sure you dont use too much or leave it on too long. I would recommend applying it and leaving it for 30 minutes then with a plastic scraper taking the clear coat off. If there is still a significant amount of clear coat on the helmet reapply then repeat the removal process. Wash and rinse the helmet with soap and water and let it dry. Once dry put two coats of linseed oil on the helmet, I used a foam brush for this step. Then once the linseed oil absorbs mix 1:2 paint to linseed oil and brush on one coat, then 1:1 paint to linseed oil. (these coats will remain tacky) Let the helmet dry for 24 hours then 1-2 coats of straight oil based paint. Let the helmet dry and put it to work. I used the one shot sign paint from the firestore. I have in the past used grill paint and break caliper paint and found that they didnt stick to the leather well.
                        Shawn M. Cecula
                        Firefighter
                        IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
                          Just buy a black helmet and keep the other one at home.
                          Everyone has an extra $500 laying on the coffee table....
                          Career Fire Captain
                          Volunteer Chief Officer


                          Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
                            Everyone has an extra $500 laying on the coffee table....


                            I suppose. He never did say why he bought it natural in the first place. I guess his dept didn't really care about the color. ummm?


                            You need 500?
                            Stay Safe and Well Out There....

                            Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
                              You need 500?
                              Next time you're at the RFDCU, make a quick withdrawal for me.
                              Career Fire Captain
                              Volunteer Chief Officer


                              Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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