Helm rework

This is a project I've been putting off for quite a while since it's very time consuming, isn't particularly creative, it distracts me from stuff I'd rather be doing, and is essentially invisible to everyone but me. Well, after this entry other folks can see it to, but you might not care. The project is reworking my helm. The major reasons are:
1. The old liner is a stinky, dirty health hazard that smells bad.
2. The helm's too darn long. I don't have the mobility in my neck that I'd like to have, which means some things are even harder to see than they'd otherwise be with a small occular, and it's been harder for me to take some of the edge off of shots. It also leads to some balance issues since my head has been sort of locked into being straight up.
3. The helm is too darn heavy. Weight is good for absorbing blows to the head, and I value every last brain cell I have. However, at 17.5lbs including the avantail, mine is one of the heaviest helms out there.
So after consulting with several pictures, including the good St. George here I concluded my avantail (the mail drape around the neck) was longer than it needed to be. It covered well past my nipples. George's doesn't. Trimming a few inches off the hem made the line more consistent with what I'm shooting for, and saved me about two pounds. The avantail doesn't do a whole lot to protect my noggin, though it does add some drag to any movement of the helm. The avantail still reaches the points of my shoulders and gives an ample drape to protect my neck. There's a sneaky extra bonus since now I might have enough mail left over to make the standard (mail gorget) I've been wanting to do.
I trimmed about an inch off the bottom edge of the helm. The whole deal is 12 gauge and it's a tough alloy so my shears can't just trim it off. To complicate matters a bit, there are both holes for the vervelles (sort of like a cotter pin which holds the leather strip attached to the avantail on) and the linen liner I use along the edge. You can see those in this shot of one of the two edge pieces I removed.
I ground the edge thin, then cut through the remaining tail of the helm with my shears and ground and sanded until it was smooth. Voila! Shorter, lighter helm which lets me move my head more. Note the liner and the vervelle holes in the piece I removed which now have to be replicated on the helm.
While I was hacking so brutally, I reshaped the skull a bit. The pattern used in this helm gave the top a bit of a pyramidal effect since it's a four panel cap. Where the side pieces are welded together there was a distinct and overly sharp inflection point which I planished out on both sides using a heavy hammer and my dog leg ball stake. I'm not sure if anyone else ever noticed that about my helm, but it bothered me for years. I wish I'd tackled it earlier, particularly since it took all of about 5 minutes to fix. (Well, once the avantail and liner were removed.)
The old liner didn't look too bad on the helm side, but the bit that rubbed against my greasy head while I was fighting for many years got pretty gross. I'm quietly happy that it looks so much like the few liners that have survived from the Middle Ages. Go me and my authentic grime.
You can see the slit I cut for the chin strap to go through, and the helm side of the liner while it's folded in half.

I have to take a minute to rave about authentic materials. Linen rocks like crazy. It's woven from the fibers of the flax plant which work with the outer casing of the stem to draw water up from the ground into the leaves. Consequently it wicks sweat away from you like magic. It makes the helm a million times more comfortable than blue foam ever could, and despite being a sweaty, sweaty man, I don't get sweat in my eyes. I stuffed mine with balls of flax fiber because my man-at-arms has some horse hair allergies we were trying avoid at the time and I wanted to be completely sure this material worked before he got hurt with it. Horse hair was probably a more common stuffing.

The top image is the new liner with the channels marked to be stitched. Below that is the old nasty one. The face openings are on the left and right edges.

The liner stuffed with about a pound of flax fiber (it needs a little more) and stitched into place:

You can see the black waxed linen I used to stitch it to the helm at the apex of the face opening. This shot was taken after a practice in the helm, and it needs a bit more stuffing particularly in the sides of the face. I drilled the lining holes less frequently along the edge than in my previous version. Every inch and a half is plenty, and honestly even with a great drill bit the procedure takes a while. I didn't want things to take forever, and didn't have the right kind of drill bit to hand to do the vervelle holes, so I used this great muckin' Whitney punch for those:

With the skull being shorter I had to move the strap that keeps the face plate closed up. I used steel nails as rivets here to replace the cutlers rivets I was using back when I put this together so many years ago.
The final product, about four pounds lighter than before, and looking spiffy:

So the full list of what I did:
Removed the old avantail and liner.
Shortened the lower edge of the helm by about an inch.
Reshaped the skull.
Punched new holes for the aventail.
Drilled new holes for the liner.
Polished the helm.
Trimmed 3 inches off the helm of the avantail.
Cleaned and rewaxed the avantail leather and the chin strap.
Polished the vervelles.
Cut out, stitched, sewed channels in and stuffed the liner with flax fibers.
Installed the new liner and the avantail.


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