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  • care of leather helmets

    I was lucky enough to get a leather helmet from my wife for Christmas but I have not found a lot of information on care so that it will last. Any tips you can pass on will be appreciated.

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    Put The Wet Stuff on The Red Stuff

  • #2
    One little tip... always keep a good coat of paint on it. My leather, a Cairns N5A (white), has a few spots on it that are a little bare, and have become charred from heat. Surely that can't be a good thing... aslo, I've found that the paint that comes from the factory now isn't all that great, after the first good fire I wore mine into, the (yellow) paint scorched and began to fall off in large pieces. I then chipped and sanded it off and repainted it black, and then white after my promotion, and it holds up much better now. Used a really cheap can of white spray paint- it holds up to the heat, but still allows some of the smoke particles to "bake in" so you don't look like a rookie forever. And don't use that "hi-temp" engine paint... it looks like hell and doesn't adhere all that well... and welcome to the "Leather Forever" club.

    [This message has been edited by lumpy649 (edited 03-09-2001).]

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    • #3
      Like Lumpy said, keep a good coat of paint on it. I've also found that the factory paint is crap. Mine began to really flake and chip even before it' first good fire, just from regular day to day use.

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      • #4
        I had my first leather for about 15 years, and I just purchased a N6A. Paint is key, as has already been said. For black helmets I use high heat grill paint. Its never failed me yet. Other than that make sure it dries out well after you use it....That'll keep your earflaps and liner in good shape.

        They are built to last, and with very lttle maintenance they will.


        Dave

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        In Memory of those who have passed before us, may their loss not be in vain........

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        • #5
          Alex, stand-by to stand-by. I'll send you the care guidelines straight from Cairns.

          Russ...

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          • #6
            GT... how about sending those to me also? I'd appreciate it...

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            • #7
              I must agree with the paint and I also have used the high temp barbecue grill paint for the black helmets, it looks good and holds up better than anything iv'e seen yet. As for the high temp engine paint I have used it on my red helmet. It doesn't look as good at first but it holds up and looks fine after the first couple fires.

              I don't know if Cairns recommends it or not but another thing I found that works is after painting a helmet a number of times I completlt strip it and put Sno-Seal on it before repainting it. That helps condition the leather and keep it waterproof.

              "Leather Forever"

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              • #8
                I had my N5A painted black from the factory when they delivered it, but I know Cairns offers an unpainted option. Have any of you gone with the raw leather? How does it hold up? Are there any advantages over the painted helmets?
                Thanks.

                ------------------
                Be safe.

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                • #9
                  My first N5A was a natural leather. They look sharp and I really liked it. The only problem is once you start catching fire and burn the finish off you are down to the bare leather. If you could find out what they recommend to refinish them it wouldn't be bad. Mine started to crack so I just painted it.

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                  • #10
                    Talked to Dan with Cairns Customer Service. His biggest recommendation is to frequently touch up the chips. Wipe down the shell with damp rag to remove debris after fires. He stated Cairns sees more 'natural' shell problems and returns for service. Said the painted helmets were much more durable than the natural helmets...doesn't matter what color paint. The natural has a thin shellac on it from the factory. Also said all leather will chip and crack sooner or later. Care/abuse seen is the determining factor.

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                    • #11
                      Our Department has natural N6A's. After every decent fire, I just wash it off, and if it got scorched at all, I simply spray a layer of clear laquer (sp?) over it. I don't think Cairns would recommend that, but my leather's in great shape. Sure, it looks shiny, and some people don't like that look, but it sure helps the helmet to last longer.

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                      • #12
                        One thing just kep it clean, not spotless but the bolk of debris off it. It will save the finish or paint, there is a misconception that if your helmet looks like it has been tossed in an oil burner that you are experienced vetern firefighter, but THATS NOT the truth, if its all burnt and weathered you may not see and fatigue and it will eventually fail. With the cost of leathers I don't think that any one of us wants to shell out $400-$500 for a new one nor will a company pay for a new one if it is a result of neglect.

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