The Holy Grail

Pokie Parmidge December 2002

(or something like it)

Since I was a kid in the 60's I've always had a leaning towards the Outlaw Biker. I always dreamed of the adventures of the characters of "Easy Rider" or "CC and Company" but always fell a little short. Spent most of my life working and saving, saving and working but never being able to afford my dream. Well, I've finally been able to obtain a little piece of my dream. I am now the proud owner of a chrome "Kraut Helmet"!

"Big deal," you may say. Well, when I saw that chrome Kraut Helmet on the biker in Woodstock, I was smitten. Since that time I have tried to find a Kraut Helmet to have it chromed. There were times I have come close but never could quite afford it. Recently I was taking a walk down memory lane when I came across an ad for Spanish army helmets for thirty bucks a piece. They looked (to my unknowledgeable eyes) just like a proper Kraut Helmet at a price even I could afford. Being the skeptic I am, I ordered two just to see what they were like.

The Holy Grail

(a real chromed Kraut Helmet)

While waiting for the helmets to arrive, I discovered a friend of mine in Denver had one. Greg's helmet, being a relic of the sixties, was already chromed. A biker friend had given it to him years ago after (judging by the finish) it had seen some hard use. Greg is very loyal to his friends and never uses the word "friend" loosely, so when I asked if he would be interested in selling me the helmet, it shouldn't have surprised me when he got offended. Insted, Greg offered to loan it to me to use as a prop or an example to find what I was looking for. Armed with Greg's helmet, the search moved ahead.

After a couple of weeks, the two helmets I ordered came. I was amazed at how close they were to the real thing. To say they were the same would be reckless but they are real close. In photographs (or about ten feet away in person) it's almost impossible to tell them apart. When up close and personal, only the details give them away.

Both of the purchased helmets had surface rust, lousy paint and a worthless liner/ strap. I drilled out the rivets for the liners and removed them. I then drilled out the rivets in the vent holes (as they were almost falling out anyway), bead-blasted the paint off (with a very fine glass bead) then repaired the fronts where some spot welding had taken place. It was at this point I felt only one of the helmets was worth chroming. When cleaned of paint, the metal of one helmet was nice and smooth while the second helmet had a kind of wormy surface.

Bare Spanish helmet

(after bead blasting)

In the seventies I used to do some custom work from time to time, almost always something needed to be chromed. In the area where I lived there must have been three or four shops that just did plating, so I figured there would be a shop here in town. Boy was I wrong, seems that with all the tightening of EPA regulations, all those shops closed up. Now another search was afoot, where can I have chrome work done?

What do you do when looking for something? You surf the web! As luck would have it, I found a plating shop in Grand Junction, Plating Specialties. After visiting their web site and downloading their job slip, I gave them a call. The next day I shipped one of the helmets as well as some other small bits to see how much it all would cost. To say I was amazed when they called would be puting it lightly, I expected to have to call time and again to find out wheather they even got the parts never mind getting an estimate. Getting back to their call, not only did they call to tell me the parts arrived, but also had an estimate prepared! The job got started (put in the queue anyway) once they had my credit card number.

Three weeks later, the helmet (along with the other bits I had sent) were back in my hands. At the price they quoted as well as in a timely manner--hard to believe but true. The cherry on top was the fact that the parts came back looking just the way I had hoped and expected. Now all I have to do is make a liner and strap to suit my head. "What am I going to use the helmet for" you ask? The only answer I can give is "What ever I want to!"

My own Holy Grail

(the finished Spanish helmet)

See, from the photos it's hard to tell the difference, isn't it?

 

Copyright 2009 Pokie Parmidge

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