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Painting the leather

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  • Painting the leather

    I was thinking about painting my New Yorker. It is natural now and I was going to paint it white. If anyone has ever painted theirs please let me know how it holds up, if it is easy to get off if you need to, and what kind of paint you used. Thanks alot. Stay safe

  • #2
    I've painted two, one red one yellow. Both have held up really good under some pretty intense heat at fires. P&R Products in PA sells paint for the helmet,web page


    • #3
      Funny you ask this question, as I am in charge of helmet repair for our station, and have just finished stripping and painting two sam houstons. The paint we got was shipped directly from cairns and we took it to a local paint shop and had it put into spray cans. A few coats of this works great and actually seems to hold up BETTER than the factory paint job. I wasnt around when the paint was ordered, so I imagine it probably cost a fortune, to my knowledge, any quality enamel paint will work just fine.


      • #4
        The paint that The Fire Store sells is a sign paint; I used it once and didn't have very good results.

        I belive the paint that Cairns uses and recommends is made by Sherwin-Williams. It is good paint, but a bit on the pricy side.

        I resurfaced my leather a couple of years ago and used plain old Rust-Oleum over a good coat of Rust-Oleum primer. It was easy to apply, inexpensive and has held up very well.

        In regards to the Cairns factory finishes, several years ago they had a problem with their finishing process and turned out helmets with bad coats of paint. The paint did not hold up well under normal conditions, and totally blistered under any heat. Cairns corrected the problem, and I believe made arrangements to refinish the bad helmets.

        Good luck on painting your leather...it is well worth your time and effort!


        • #5
          I just got a Sam Houston in the Spring time and so did a buddy of mine. The paint started chipping after the first few fires it was in, same thing with my friends helmet. I love the helmet but I'm pretty upset with the paint. Does anyone know why this paint is chipping and peeling the way it is? Does anyone know how to contact Cairns about refinishing the helmets? I wrote them a letter but never recieved a reply. What kind of paint from Sherwin Williams is supposed to work?
          Thanks !!


          • #6
            Repainted mine over Thanksgiving weekend. Hasn't seen any heat yet on the new paint though...

            Here's what I used/did:
            -- Used a caustic paint stripper called "Peel Away." Reading the label, it said gloves were optional but recommended since some people are irritated by it. I figured if it's mild enough gloves aren't *required* it would be fine on leather.
            -- Let the stripper sit 1.5 hours. In hindsight, 2 hours would've probably gotten a couple small spots that were left.
            -- Removed the stripper (gooey job!) with a plastic putty knife and rags.
            -- Rinsed
            -- Neutralized (they sell a acetic acid neutralizer...or you can use white vinegar)
            -- Rinsed
            -- Decided to pressure wash
            -- Allowed to dry all day
            -- Primed with Rustoleum Professional red-brown primer
            -- Two coats of Rustoleum Professional Hi-gloss Enamel
            I didn't have a heated garage, and no basement on my house so I did it in the kitchen, which kept me from going crazy using a lot of light coats from a distance. Would've been easier in warm weather outside...or at the station!
            Turned helmet over. I hadn't stripped the bottom, since that was in pretty good shape. Sanded the paint a bit with a very fine sand paper, and rinsed. Allowed to dry a couple hours.
            Sprayed with one coat of black enamel.
            Waited till Wednesday to let the paint cure well, picked up some new Reflexite stickers (I hate Scotchlite on helmets!) at a local fire store.

            Also found a used set of Bourkes in the storeroom at the firehouse in very good shape -- my old ones were completely unusable (fyi, I also carry a pair of safety glasses and use the Bourkes as backup when their not available or fogging severely)

            And the helmet is back in service waiting for action. Looks a lot better...it had really been showing it's age of 10 years before it was repainted!

            Now one concern/question I have is I don't know if they treat the natural leather helmets with anything that would interefere with paint binding properly.
            IACOJ Canine Officer


            • #7
              I don't own a New Yorker....YET But I've heard of other guys using engine block paint on theirs. It can withstand the heat apparently. As for the process, can't help you there.

              Never Forget 9-11-2001

              Stay safe out there!

              IACOJ Member


              • #8
                As far as stripping goes....I've had a lot of luck with CitriStrip...you can get it at Home Depot, Lowes, etc... It's not a non-caustic stripper, and actually has a decent smell to it. It works. The Fire Store paint didn't work well for me...the results were horrible....it's a brush on paint, and I had to use the stripper to get it back off. Regular Rustoleum primer and paint worked well for me......if you're interested in the Cairns Spec....you can contact them and they'll either mail or fax you the refinishing spec for a leather lid.

                Good Luck and Be Safe.


                • #9
                  Beleive it or not...I think if you call cairns they will tell you they use Sherwin Williams enamel paint to paint it.

                  I had mine repainted... Make sure it is clean and put some sort of primer on it. I know that Cairns Dips them and then bakes them to sure the paint.
                  09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
                  IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
                  "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
                  BMI Investigator
                  The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                  • #10
                    From experience, Try KRYLON barbecue paint for black helmets and KRYLON propane tank paint for the white ones. The high heat resistance of this paint is remarkable.
                    "Never trust a smiling dog"
                    Delaware F.O.O.L. FTM-PTB-EGH


                    • #11
                      Cairns will fax you a sheet on refinishing your leather lid......Beware of the prices for the recommended Sherwin Williams paints & primers. They only come in 1 gallon cans. The primer alone was $40 +...........I used the sign paint sold by firestore.com for the paint($16).

                      I did the following

                      Stripped the helmet with non-toxic citrus based stripped & neutralized with vinegar when done. Repaired cracks with epoxy (firestore.com) & sanded. Prepped helmet with Sherwin Williams Chem-Lustral primer ($40 & had to special order) then used the sign painter's paint to finish the job.

                      On a side note, all painting was done with a professional detail paint gun & I used less than 2 oz. of primer & 3 oz. of paint. It looks just as it did from the factory. Friends of mine repainted their helmets with brushes & had good results. The sign paint is very resistant to brush marks.....

                      Good luck with your lid..........


                      • #12
                        Does anyone know what temperature to bake the helmet and how long to bake?


                        • #13
                          Forget those idiots who tell you to put a stripper or paint remover on your helmet.

                          After speaking with Cairns a few years ago asking their recommendation to paint or repaint a helmet, Here's what you do:

                          Use 120 grit sandpaper to remove the paint and rough up the surface so that the paint will stick.
                          Wipe of excess dust with damp rag then allow to air dry.
                          Use Sherwin-Williams Acrylic Spraypaint (that's what Cairns uses) in which ever color you like.
                          Apply two coats, with a light sanding in between.

                          Wouldn't you want to do what Cairns recommends anyway?

                          I've repainted mine a few years ago, and buddies of mine ask me now and then to do theirs. I've never had a problem.

                          Good luck!


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