Natural Imperfections - Brim Seam

Natural Imperfections - Brim Seam


One of the most troublesome areas of a leather fire helmet in the restoration process is the contact seem between the dome and the topside of the brim. When people see this segment on their helmet, it often causes some eyebrows to raise, but you’ve got nothing to worry about.

There’s a large misconception about the structural integrity of the helmet due to the common appearance of that seam. At first glance you might think “Is my brim falling off the dome?” Or “Does this need to be repaired?”. To keep this short and simple, no, you do not need to be concerned with this contact seam 99% of the time.

The other 1% might come into play if your brim has some serious damage. If the seam is widened all around the base of the dome and the stitching is damaged, that’s a different matter to handle. Since your fire helmet is made of leather, it will naturally flex over time due to its exposure to the elements - That’s just the science.


As leather flexes, so too does the space between the dome and the brim. This is what mostly grabs a lot of peoples attention. A brand new helmet from the factory or a refurb from the shop will usually have this seam filled in with a sort of contact cement or vinyl adhesive caulk. Once the helmet is painted, you really can’t imagine seeing a seam at that point either, so naturally, it would take just about anyone by surprise.

Now, if an open contact seam is present on a helmet as it is for most, it may not always be able/necessary to be filled in. Some seams are just far too shallow or thin for the filler to cover up properly and hold over time. Other helmets like the Phenix TL-2 is significantly more flexible than a Cairns leather helmet and the contact seam there is easier to flex over time as mentioned previously.

As we work on leather helmets in the shop, we do our best to make sure we properly fill in any significant contact seams as we come across them. Flat coat paint jobs make these stand out the most, so balancing the decision to fill in a contact seam is something that is handled on a case-by-case basis. A small but relevant detail to consider in the restoration process.