Discovery New Found Part? The Probable Source of the ESB Helmet Chin Straps

Ord Mantell

BFB Hero
I'm reposting this from my ESB build since I think it's important info which deserves its own thread. This will make it easier to find rather than being buried on page 12 of my other thread.

New Found Part?​

Research Project #3: The Probable Source of the ESB Helmet Chin Straps​

First, all credit for this find goes to @Jojofett95. His eagle eyes spotted what appears to be the correct straps in a trashed and unmarked motorbike helmet he bought off ebay. My involvement was simply to recognize it’s importance and then to identify the maker, research the most likely model, and lay out the following evidence.

Let’s take a stupid deep dive into helmet chin straps…


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For at least a decade, the British police riot helmet and the army mk.V anti-riot helmet have been identified as a likely source of the interior helmet chin straps and cup. I’m not even sure where this originated but it always made sense (perhaps with Bobamaker’s post here?). They have the correct chin cup and the army version additionally has the double D-ring. They seemed to be missing some details, namely the snap on the right strap, but I assumed as I think most people, that the snap must have been a modification made by the prop makers.
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Earlier this year, I noticed Jojofett95 posted pictures of his chin strap he got from a helmet on ebay. He didn’t give any details on the helmet, so I assumed he got lucky and scored an anti-riot helmet or some other similar helmet. I noticed the snap on his strap was spot on. I’d seen others make modifications to their straps to include the snap before, but his looked far superior to other efforts — too good, in fact. So I asked him what size snap he used, how he measured its placement, etc. I was assuming he had made an expert modification to match the ESB straps. He very kindly sent me more pictures to look at, but it made me more confused. The snap hardware looked vintage. It didn’t seem contemporary or done by a hobbyist. Same for his picture of the extra D-ring at the end of the middle strap that sits at the end of the chin cup.


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It all looked period authentic to me. When I asked him about the snap and third D-ring looking vintage, he explained that’s simply how the strap came from the helmet. That was the moment I finally understood he had chanced upon something important not identified before. I can let JojoFett95 tell his story of how he found the helmet, but I can say he got a fantastic deal.
When I asked him what helmet they came from, he explained the helmet was in such bad condition nothing of the interior besides the straps survived. He saw no maker label. Just a bunch of stickers on the outside of the helmet. He let me look at pictures of the helmet and I saw what he meant. There was no obvious maker’s mark. Or at least that’s what we thought. It did have an odd, curious sticker on the front with a British flag, but I was unsure if that was added by the previous owner or what it was. I went into overdrive looking at vintage helmets on google and it didn’t take long for me to realize the flag sticker on the front was in fact the logo of the maker. So then we knew….

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The Case for the Everoak​



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JoJoFett had happened upon a helmet made by Everoak, one of the leading makers of racing helmets from the earliest days of the UK helmet manufacturing boom following WWII. JojoFett’s find was a Grand Prix model, a top of the line racing helmet. We know it was a 1977 or later helmet because of the British Standard BS2495:77 sticker on the helmet, a safety standard set in 1977.

The straps on this helmet are a dead ringer for the complicated straps on the ESB interior. They have the double D-rings, the floating strap across the middle which holds the chin cup and has a D-ring attached at one end which hitches to the right strap via a loop closed with a button snap, while threading through the double D-rings on the left.

This is an Everoak Grand Prix of unspecified year (early to mid 1970’s):

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The chin cup in the pictures above was added to the ensemble from another source, and it’s rare to find an Everoak with one. However, we know the Everoaks did come with an option to add a chin cup because of this ad found by @boba87fett which shows the correct chin cup (“ventilated chin guard”) on an Everoak Clubmaster helmet illustration (though the helmet in the ad is from the 60’s not the 70’s).

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Below left is a 60’s Everoak Clubmaster with correct chin guard as in the ad above, but incorrect straps. The black Grand Prix, middle, has the correct straps and chin guard, but with the chin guard on an extra strap. On the far right is an early 70’s Grand Prix with correct straps but slightly different chin guard.

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There are many models of Everoaks. Most models prior to 1970 (and also sometime after 1980) have a different style strap rings, either squared, or a funky wavy square design that goes all the way back to the early 1950’s models, none of them are D-rings. At some point between 1962 and 1968 they switched from leather chin straps to terylene (dacron) straps with leather guards. They did not begin using modern D-rings on the straps until either 1969 or 1970 and stayed that style until the 80's. Fortunately, ESB style straps were present in several models through the 1970’s.

Unfortunately, these helmets are rarely dated prior to the mid-80’s making it difficult to date them. Usually the only clue for the date is the shell style, suspension, strap material, and the British Safety Standard designations. The top BSI standard for race helmets used from 1977 to 1984 was ‘BS2495:1977'. Occasionally helmets might also have Snell certification which gives a year for the Snell safety standard the helmet qualified for. (Info on the history of the Snell Memorial Foundation and its safety testing).

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What the Snell certification tags look like: Left, a 1968-69 Grand Prix. Middle, a 1970-1974 Grand Prix. Right 1975-1979 sticker in a Bell:

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The certifications for non-racing helmet models are different. They simply have the BS:2001 standard and are therefore very tough to date with any precision, as that generic standard covered several decades. This will matter later at the end, where it turns out a non-racing model is the one we’ve been looking for.

Like the other major helmet makers Everoak also made other types of helmets, including equestrian, jockey, scooter, safety and even jet pilot helmets. Some of these could potentially be a source of correct straps, although I haven’t seen any yet. The other big UK helmet makers of the era were Kangol, Cromwell, and Stadium. None have the ESB style chin straps.

This 70’s helmet by Centurion, below, shows a strap with snap, but nothing else matches up. For one, the cut on the end of the strap is angled. The ESB strap is a straight cut.

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There is another brand, Aviakit (short for “Aviation kit”), owned by the legendary high-end motor clothier company Lewis Leathers which rebranded Everoak helmets as a value-added reseller under their own label known as the Super Jet. These helmets are even harder to find than Everoaks, probably because they were at the top end of the price range and out of reach of most buyers.

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Ord Mantell

BFB Hero

But What about the Riot Helmets?​

Perhaps there never has been a prior claim the straps came from any specific source. But I think it might have been implied at least the straps in the riot helmets were probably the source because they were a likely source for the chin cup. As I noted already, it seems the assumption has been the ESB chin straps were modified motorcycle or riot helmet straps because there was likely no helmet that had the exact strap arrangement ‘straight off the shelf.’ I think we can finally put that notion to bed. There was such a helmet with the same straps at the correct time period — the Everoak. But for comparison, let’s review the riot helmets and their chin straps to make the case they are a less favorable choice for the straps than the Everoak.

There are two riot helmets types cited over the years as probable sources for the chin strap system based on the presence of the correct chin cup: the British army anti-riot helmet and the police riot helmet. The British Army mk.V anti-riot helmet was made by Cromwell, and their straps never had a snap attachment. (interesting discussion of this helmet here).


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Pictured above are two different examples of a 1974 Cromwell anti-riot helmet. The design basically remained the same into the 1980’s. They have the correct chin cup, but the double D-ring is on the right side and there is no snap, nor a floating middle strap.
These are straps taken out of a 1981 Cromwell anti-riot helmet (credit droidbait on TDH):

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Again, no snap attachment, or middle strap with extra D-ring. Is there enough material to fashion such an arrangement? Maybe there is. Has anyone done this successfully? Please let us know if you have.
However, I did come across a picture of a British Army anti-riot helmet that did have a snap attachment, and it was on the right side, just like ESB:

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This version remained a bit of a mystery to me until I ran across a reference to the earliest mk.V anti-riot helmets being called the anti-riot “Stadium” helmet as opposed to “Cromwell” helmet. Which led finally to this source where you can read all about the Stadium version. It was the first version of the mk.V, being an interim helmet from the mk.IV where they basically took Stadium motorcycle helmets straight off the shelf, painted them green and slapped visors on them.

They do have the snap on the right side along with correct chin cup:
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However it’s already obvious… beside the dude looking real creepy, the D-ring is the old square wavy type, and is wrong. Additionally, there is no double D-ring on the other side:

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After a lot of looking, I’ve not come across the ESB style straps in any Stadium branded helmet.


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Okay, but the British police riot helmet is still good, right?
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No. It's even worse for the British police riot helmet. There’s no evidence the correct straps are in those helmets at all. Not even close. All the ones I’ve seen with correct chin cups typically don’t have enough D-rings or have plastic buckles. Also the material the straps are made of is a softer type with a completely different weave than the ESB straps.


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In Bobamaker’s original post in 2009 about the police riot helmet straps he demonstrates clearly how there is velcro on the outboard side of the strap so the strap can be secured by looping back onto itself:


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Illustrated here in his reproduction version:
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That's not how the ESB helmet chin strap worked. By comparison, this is how the ESB straps worked:
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It seems to me we can safely conclude the riot helmets are only good for the chin cup, and there are better options out there for sourcing original chin cups than these relatively rare helmets. So long, riot helmets. You had your moment in the spotlight, but the party's over.


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Ord Mantell

BFB Hero

Alright already, I get it… can you just tell me what helmet to get, then? Gawl.


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Over the decades Everoak made many models, however by 1978 there were only a few: the Grand Prix, the Maxmaster, the Clubmaster, and the Standard Everoak. All would’ve been available at any large motorcycle dealer in the UK. My research finally pointed me to a late 70’s Standard Everoak as the best source of the ESB straps among these models. The reason? The style of the D-rings:

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Above left are the ESB double D-rings. On the right are Everoaks. The manufacture does not seem to be the same. The ESB rings are thinner, more rounded and wider than the Everoak. The ESB ring dimensions look like a 7/8" to 1” wide ring with about 2.5-3mm gauge thickness, but the Everoak rings are clearly stouter by comparison at 3/4” wide and 4x3.5mm thickness. Because they are thicker on one axis, they appear flatter, not as rounded, and also have hard corners at the ends with seams along the sides, indicating they are probably cast metal. Every Grand Prix model from the 70’s I’ve seen has this same stout D-ring style, not at all like the thin ESB D-rings.

As a point of interest, the D-rings on the British Army anti-riot helmet also do not seem to match the ESB helmet rings either. They look much more like the Everoak cast metal rings (or at least this specimen from ‘81):
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For quite some time this had me stumped. Everything added up except for this one detail. I began to consider more seriously the straps were scratch-built. But I also predicted that an Everoak model with correct rings might still show up somewhere.

And finally it did. After months of combing through tons of helmets, I finally found what I think was the source of the ESB chin straps. It turned out to be a Standard Everoak model.

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As I pointed out before, dating non-racing Everoak helmets is nearly impossible beyond a particular decade. We know it’s from the 70’s for sure because of the strap material. Prior to the 70’s the chin straps were all leather on this model. And because the D-rings match the ESB, it’s likely from the late 70’s. I emphasize: I had seen Standards before but they all had the same incorrect D-rings as the Grand Prix, even those with correct dacron straps. This is the first one I’d seen with D-rings that match the ESB D-rings. It’s safe to assume these are perhaps a rare variant of an already rare helmet. Which brings me to the most unfortunate thing about this helmet: there are no special markings or product designations of any kind that distinguish this variant from the helmets of the same model which have the wrong D-rings.

The width of the rings is 7/8” with a thickness of 2.8mm, matching my estimate of the ESB D-rings.
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comparing the late 70's Standard D-rings to the ESB D-rings:
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And then I noticed something very interesting — what looks like the leather guard strap for the Standard Everoak can be found in this pic of the PP3 interior:
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The PP3 leather guard strap (below left) has a fabric backing that appears to match the Standard Everoak fabric on the back of its leather guard straps (right):
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Unfortunately blurry pictures don't give us a smoking gun, but it seems compelling that we can potentially place the Standard Everoak leather guard strap inside the PP3 helmet. Taken along with the dacron chin straps and D-rings also being identical, we have a decent case they used the Standard for the PP3 chin straps, which also makes it the most likely candidate for the ESB chin straps since both helmets shared nearly identical interior setups.

But it’s clear the leather guards used in the ESB helmet are not the same as the PP3 guards. They aren’t as wide and have no fabric backing on them. Fortunately, now that I own a Standard Everoak, I can see where the left side leather guard might have came from. Unlike in the PP3 where they could have come from the ear flaps, at least one of the ESB guards possibly came from the leather flap that wraps around the back of the neck.

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I think this is where they extracted it from... possibly something like this:
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The helmet size will determine if you have enough clearance for the length to be correct. I think the right side was done the same way but just messier and with straight cuts on the ends. I’ll go into further detail on that when I post how I installed these straps in the helmet. It's possible the leather guards came from somewhere else. I’m just satisfied for now I at least have a plausible answer for the ESB leather guards coming from the same helmet as the chin straps.

There’s still a chance the other models also had versions with the correct D-rings, but I’m doubtful, because I suspect thinner rings would not be up to racing safety code. The Standard is the only 70’s Everoak model not rated for racing, so it might be the only model that’ll have these matching rings, which I’m guessing were a cost cutting move.

But here are the other models anyway, as a guide. These other 70’s models have the correct straps but with the thicker cast metal D-rings (note: these models changed over time so they don't always have the correct straps):

Grand Prix: Everoak’s top end open face racing helmet
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Maxmaster: a pretty rare full face helmet. Note: not all versions of this helmet have the right straps. Check straps before buying.
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Casquette: this may be a later version of the Maxmaster
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Early to mid 70’s Standard Everoak: These earlier 70’s versions have the same dacron chin straps and cast D-rings as the Everoak racing helmets. They also come more commonly in white.
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Aviakit Super Jet: identical to the Everoak Grand Prix. According to the Lewis Leathers website, the Super Jet line ended in 1973, so this model is not what the “Chapter 2” production office purchased, but the straps from the 1970’s model are still a match.
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Models with straps that are close:

Grand Prix and Racemasters mid to late 1960’s: have the correct dacron strap arrangement but have rectangular rings not D-rings. Also the dacron material has a slightly larger weave than later models. However, they could work as a respectable stand-in.
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There is at least one caveat to add here. The Everoak Clubmaster model can and do have the exact same leather band installed in the interior as the Standard Everoak. The difference is I've never seen a Clubmaster with D-rings.

Conclusion​

The chin strap system in the ESB helmet is unique. Of all the helmet manufacturers of the time, Everoak helmets seem to be the only one to have a similar strap system.

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With the possible presence of the Standard Everoak leather strap inside the PP3 helmet, and the overwhelming similarity of the chin strap systems, from materials used, to it’s unique double attachment methods on both left and right, we have pretty good evidence they used Everoak helmets for the chin strap systems for both the PP3 and ESB sister helmets, specifically the Standard Everoak model from the late 1970’s. It was a straight-off-the shelf solution that probably saved them a bit of time and money.

Thanks again to JoJoFett for sharing his helmet purchase details with me which led me down this crazy rabbit hole.

See how I installed these straps in my helmet here:


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further resources:


Everoak

Everitt W Vero & Co Ltd - Camberwell Borough Council


A bit of family history, if my Dad had died I don’t think Everoak would have happened. When you look back to 1945 all these POW’s had already survived the horror of being shot down , when they got home … Continue reading →

www.camberwellboroughcouncil.co.uk
 
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