The Harness Shop

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bloree

The Harness Shop

#1 Post by bloree » Wed May 16, 2007 3:18 pm

Hello:
I am new to the forum. I do not make boots or shoes but I do work with leather as a restorer of Imperial German pickelhauben (spiked helmets)which were worn by the German army between 1842 and 1918. If you ever watched Hogans' Heroes... Colonel Klink had a spiked helmet on his desk which was shown in the opening credits. These were one of the most popular souveniers brought back from WW1. They have always been an easily recognized symbol of the German Army.
The pickelhaube is essentially a leather shell (skull) with front and rear visors stitched on. The outside of these pieces was coated with a water proofing substance which was sprayed on and polished to look like patent leather. I am told that this water proofing was called ashphaltum or at least had this as an ingredient. I am looking for any information on ashphaltum or the water proofing that was sprayed on these helmets. I believe that this substance was used also to water proof harness leather during the 19th century. Regards, Brian

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Re: The Harness Shop

#2 Post by dw » Wed May 16, 2007 7:48 pm

Brian,

I am neither a harnesss maker nor a helmet maker, but regardless...welcome to The Crispin Colloquy.

My grand dad had one of those spiked helmets--the spike was removable if I remember correctly, It also had a tin(?) Imperial eagle on the front. I think that was the family crest of the Hapsburgs but I'm not sure.

Anyway good luck on your quest...



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Re: The Harness Shop

#3 Post by dw » Wed May 16, 2007 7:50 pm

Oops...Sorry about the mixed post.

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Re: The Harness Shop

#4 Post by paul » Thu May 17, 2007 8:22 am

Brian,

Welcome to our forum. We have other non-shoemaker members with us. We don't have too many who post, but I know the intetest is there.

I don't do helmets either, but about 7 years ago I was very close to doing a leather fireman's helmet. I think it was done in 5 pieces. the top was in quarters and a brim was stitched around. It was all formed over a wood block shaped for the purpose.

There can be a market for that kind of thing can't there?

I was thinking Jesse Lee's brush on wax might hold a clue for your purposes.

I hope you'll post pictures. It's not too difficult and the Help instructions are pretty clear. Ask for help if you need it.

Again, welcome!

PK

bloree

Re: The Harness Shop

#5 Post by bloree » Sat May 19, 2007 6:03 pm

Thanks for the welcome everyone. The helmet that your grandfather had was probably a model 1915 if the spike twisted off and the fittings looked like "tin". These M15s as they are called had grey (painted) metal spikes and helmet plates. The Eagle plate would indicate that it was from a Prussian regiment. Before 1915 the fittings on all of these helmets were brass or German silver. However, by 1915 the Germans were running short of brass and the grey steel fittings were more camoflage friendly. The M15 spike was made to twist off so that it reduced the soldiers profile in the trenches. They were removed when in the front lines. The well known German steel helmet replaced the leather pickelhaube in 1917. These helmets are widely collected today by militaria buffs from all over the world.
The leather firemans helmet would be similar but much sturdier than the spiked helmet. The skull on these is either one piece of molded leather or is stitched up the back.
One other thing that I am after is black and natural coloured linen thread of a suitable thickness for hand stitching these helmets. All my restitching has to be done by hand as machine needles would break on this 90yr+ old leather and the machine itself would shatter the original finish on the outside. I have talked to another restorer, and he uses 30 weight thread. So this is what I am looking for. If anyone has a source, I would very much appreciate a web address. I have been using black cotton thread of a suitable thickness but I am running out. I use glovers needles when stitching and of course run my thread through a cake of beeswax before and during stitching. Lots of fun....my finger tips are scarred from needle prics! Can I post pics here in this part of the forum? Best to all, Brian

(Message edited by bloree on May 19, 2007)

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Re: The Harness Shop

#6 Post by amuckart » Sat May 19, 2007 6:25 pm

Hi Brian,

Try this place: http://www.vaxbolin.se/eng/index.html

Their thread isn't listed on their website but a freind bulk-ordered various weights from them a while ago for my group to use in medieval leathergoods and shoes. They made a bit of a mistake with the order and sent kilo spools instead of 250g spools but it's not bad thread and I won't need to order more for a while Image

You could also try http://www.rebell.be/products.html

I've never ordered from them, but they do dry-spun, which Vaxbolin don't, they only do wet-spun. Dry spun, I think, takes up wax a little better than wet spun.

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Re: The Harness Shop

#7 Post by jesselee » Sat May 19, 2007 10:50 pm

Brian

I use barbours # 4 and #7 linen exclusively. It's off white, and if I need color I put some dye in a small bowl and run the cord through with a sponge brush. Food or fabric dye works too and the color stays after waxing by hand. Hope this helps.
Jesse

bloree

Re: The Harness Shop

#8 Post by bloree » Sun May 20, 2007 5:21 pm

Thanks again for the help everyone. I am a bit confused with the numbers used on these linen thread spools etc. I thought that the higher the number on the spool, then the more fine (smaller diameter) the thread. I read some comments on the forum which led me to believe that the standard thread used on say the soles of boots would be a Barbours #10. I wish the sellers of this stuff would put some close up pics on their sites so that I could see what I am buying. All these manufacturers just assume that everyone automatically knows what the number codes mean. The curse of being a newbie I guess. I just bought some vintage #35 black linen thread on ebay from the UK. Jesse, where do you buy your Barbours #4 and #7 from ?? I also do not need a huge quantity here. I would use only about 30 inches of thread per visor. It is mostly the visors that have to be stitched on these old beauties. The original thread was cotton and after almost 100yrs it has rotted out due to the weight of the helmet and dust mites. Most people just displayed these pieces resting on both visors. This put stress on the visor stitching and thus the problem we have 100 yrs later. Well, I am now off to stitch a visor on an officer helmet. Regards, Brian

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Re: The Harness Shop

#9 Post by jesselee » Sun May 20, 2007 5:45 pm

Brian

i bought my Barbours #4 and #7 from McPherson's leather in Seattle. That was years ago, I still have 2 spools of #7 and 2 of #4, left hand twist for a chainstitcher, I had a puritan. barbours is still made and the higher the number the more strands ie. #4 has 4 strands and #10 would have 10 strands. i don't go higher than #7 for soles and thats 8 to the inch.
Jesse

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Re: The Harness Shop

#10 Post by dw » Sun May 20, 2007 5:56 pm

Brian,

My grandfather's helmet had a grey tin looking eagle on it. You know I haven't seen that helmet for over fifty years so I don't remember much detail about it except that it was black, had the short stubby post on top (never saw the spike...I was just told it went on the post) and the tin crest.

As for thread...the #10 linen you are referring to is linen yarn. The #4 or #6 or #7 that Jesse is referring to is, I think, thread (correct me if I'm wrong Jesse)--comprised of 4 or 6 or 7 strands of something similar to #10 yarn.

It sounds to me as if a seven cord (same as Jesse"s #7) would work just about right for you.

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Re: The Harness Shop

#11 Post by jesselee » Sun May 20, 2007 6:30 pm

DW

The Barbours I am referring to is a dry linen that has to be hand waxed or put through an oil though on the machine. It comes in left and right hand twist which works equally for hand stitching. But ya can't use a left hand twist on a lockstitch machine or a right hand twist on a chainstitch machine. and #4 or #7 would work for the helmet restoration, more likely a #4 if memory serves me correct.
JesseLee

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Re: The Harness Shop

#12 Post by bloree » Tue May 22, 2007 1:01 pm

Hi Guys:
I think that clears it up very nicely regarding thread...much appreciated!! I now know what to look for. I think that I would prefer to wax things myself as I go along. I hand stitch so left and right twist do not effect me. I start at one end of the visor and stitch accross every other stitch hole then I go back again to fill in. I use about 30inches of thread for each visor. I also am aware of the 2 needle method of hand stitching, but I prefer going back and forth. There is not much room inside the bowl of a helmet. The smallest I have done was a size 53cm. The largest I have seen was a 60cm...one big mellon!
Tight, regarding your grandfathers' helmet, it would have been a Prussian M15 as I said and the spike top twisted on to that stubby post on the top of the helmet. It is very common for these M15's to be missing the spike. You might want to locate the helmet if possible because depending on condition it is worth approx $275US+.
Regarding pictures, can I post them here or do I have to go somewhere else on the site?? I have a Prussian M15 in my collection to show Tight. Regards, Brian

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Re: The Harness Shop

#13 Post by admin » Tue May 22, 2007 2:42 pm

Post your photos here by all means. Be sure to limit the size of the photo, however. I usually resample to 96dpi and 6"x4" approx.

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Re: The Harness Shop

#14 Post by paul » Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:44 pm

Hands. Image

Seems like it could deserve it's own topic.
Considering that just discussing the condition and care thereof, could be frightening to someone.

Sharing could be benificial if not consoling.

Complaints ought not to be belabord though, eh?

I couldn't find a better topic.
Is there another thread for a discussion on hands?
Is this a good spot?

Merrily,
Paul

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Re: The Harness Shop

#15 Post by luckyduck » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:52 pm

Hey Paul,

Do you mean sort of ways to keep your hands healthy and avoid the nasty's like carpel tunnel and whatnot?

If so, it would be a good thing to talk about and I can dig out some of my stuff from when I did return to work/job accomodation for people with injuries.

Paul

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Re: The Harness Shop

#16 Post by paul » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:25 am

Paul,

Thank you for accepting the invitation to engage the conversation.

Your input sounds valuable, and just what I was hoping for. I've got the hands and the fear for their future, but no input for making them last longer.

I have a bit of arthritus in my left thumb from an old hammer whack, and it sometimes causes me some limitations. Sometimes I worry for it.

I'm curious about others experiences along these lines, but I don't want to start a complaint session.

What have you got?

Thanks again,
Paul

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Re: The Harness Shop

#17 Post by dw » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:53 am

Well, I don't know why this conversation got started in The Harness shop but I guess it's not really out of place here, either.

When I was just getting into this business I used to punch sandbags that I had hung from a cement wall. Did that every day, sometimes with full weight and force behind it. I'm sure such foolishness contributed to the aches and pains that I have experienced in my shoulders and hands on occasion but through the years I have found that these things tend to come and go. Hot water and massage helps a lot. As does a conservative and limited regimen of steroids in really severe cases.

As for preserving your hands, well, I don't know what to tell you...Jergens and white gloves? Image

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Re: The Harness Shop

#18 Post by chuck_deats » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:04 am

Paul, No answer for the arthritis. Don't think anyone has a good answer. "Corona"(Horse salve, not the drinking kind) works well for split dry hands. Also seems to help the arthritis, but maybe it's just the rubbing. Found "Corona" works better than "Bag Balm". Both should be available at the feed store or tack shop.

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Re: The Harness Shop

#19 Post by dearbone » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:50 pm

Paul,

I don't know much about arthritis and you also mentioned a hammer whack on the thumb, it reminded me of fall i had running down an elevated fright train hill covered in small rocks(gravel)i used the palm of my hands to protect my back,my hands bruised and few small cuts,being a fast-healing the surface wounds of my hand healed fast,but for few months later there was this pain i felt inside of my thumb,it was a sharp pain and it was on my good hand,luckily i have a lady friend who is an acupuncturist,i don't even like looking at a needle going into flesh,but she said there might be bad blood inside your thump that didn't came out,because it is in deep,she carries her needle kit in her purse and i agreed to have her stick few very fine needles on my thumb to draw out the bad blood that was inside my thumb, the pain was gone soon after, the treatment is cheap if you think it might be some thing similar.
ps, "correcting common hand problems" sounds to be a fitting name for this thread.

Nasser

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Re: The Harness Shop

#20 Post by hidesmith » Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:59 pm

For cracked, dried hands, I've put some form of treatment on thick at bed time, then put on rubber gloves to sleep in. I've done this with my feet, also, with plastic bags and socks. As far as the "treatment" goes, I've used vaseline, bag balm, lanolin, and several different forms of hand cream. It has always worked for me, no matter what "treatment" I use. Remember, though, apply it LIBERALLY.


Bruce

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Re: The Harness Shop

#21 Post by sorrell » Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:24 am

Paul,
I try to get regular massages. I know it's expensive but I'm convinced the massage habit is the reason I'm as healthy as I am.

I also started taking a weekly yoga class about a year and a half ago. I probably only make it to the weekly class about three times a month, but I try to do a few stretches most mornings also. The very first time I went to a yoga class my hands tingled the whole hour like they'd been asleep. That told me that my circulation hadn't been good and I hadn't even realized it.

Lisa

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Re: The Harness Shop

#22 Post by donrwalker » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:24 am

Paul
I have arthritis in my hands also. Without my daily dose of anti-inflamatories the pain becomes debilitating. Mine comes from hard use over the years and things that I did when I was young and dumb. I don't worry about it much, there's not much I can do at this point except "cowboy-up" and wear it as a badge of honor that I have made it this far. As they say, "if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of my body.

Don

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Re: The Harness Shop

#23 Post by fred_coencped » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:41 pm

Paul,
MSMA is a liquid,available at Veterinary suppliers.I heard from a weight lifter the other day from St.Thomas.He swears by it!MSM is some other form for pets .

I have had a sore thumb joint I and open the joints and massage with a chinese medicine called Dit Da Jow it is great for soft tissue injuries,penetrates deep and moves bad blood out .We use it in kung fu.It makes bruises disappear.

I recently went to my dermatologist for a leg rash and he discouraged the use of lanolin based products and told me to get a product called Curel,it is good for dry skin.And it isn`t very greasey.It is in the drug stores.It is really good for dry hands too.You know I am in the high desert and it has been very dry here this winter.

Nassers comment on common hand problems seems to go hand and foot.
.
That MSMA sounded pretty promising from my source but I have no experience with it.

I keep a tennis ball next to my drivers seat to exercise my thumbs and to strengthen and that helps too.

Ok ,Fred

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Re: The Harness Shop

#24 Post by romango » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:50 pm

I didn't know where to put this post. Here is a video on how leather fireman's hats are made. It has much in common with shoemaking.

Very interesting!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btv8Kpg24pw

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Re: The Harness Shop

#25 Post by lancepryor » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:01 am

Here is an interesting article in the NYTimes about a women's handbag designer and the 'new' technique used to produce the bags -- stretching mulled veg tan leather around a mold and letting it dry, yielding a firm finished product. Gosh, what an innovation :sigh:

In any event, there is a series of pictures that shows how it's done. Given the prices for the finished bags ($1500 +), maybe somebody out there will try a similar technique.

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014 ... ottom-well

Lance

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