Sunday, August 19, 2012

Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet (pt.5)

OK, so we'll agree that "soon" is a relative term. Anyway, let's get on with it.

In part 4 we had just finished painting the brass finish on the completed helmet, and most of the steampunk bits, including the air tanks, were finished and ready to be installed.

Let's begin by fixing the chest centerpiece to the chest plate of the helmet. We begin by taking the back side of a small led tap lite and fixing it to the chest plate in just the right spot. The batteries have already been inserted and the battery holder has been painted white for maximum reflectivity. Since this piece (and the cover over it) will have to be removed in order to change the batteries, it was fixed using hot glue. This should provide an adequate bond for use while remaining removable and should not damage the finish of the chest plate.

So here is a look at the finally assembled chest centerpiece, complete with brass knob and rotating color plates. This knob was chosen partly because of the fact that it fits perfectly and when pressed, will depress the switch turning the light mechanism on and off. The knob is real brass, but in order to make it match the color of the fake brass of the helmet, I had to paint it. Ironic.

And here it is with the room lights off, and the center piece lit up.

 The tubing coming out the sides is plastic tubing used for lawn sprinkler systems, which has been painted with copper spray paint. Bent coat hanger was inserted into the tubing (prior to painting) to make it keep its shape. The end ferrules are hex nuts. They fit the tubing perfectly and obfuscate the connection point. And they look steampunk-y!

Here you can see the two "copper" tubes terminating into one of those black "cylinders of indeterminate nature" I created earlier. The tube has little nipples of wooden dowel coming out the end, which the tubing fits over perfectly to make a good solid connection. The tube itself is secured to the chest plate by real copper plumbing hangers (straps) and fixed with epoxy. Note the two finished air vents with their wire grills are now also in place.

These copper straps were also used to secure the ribbed plastic tubing (black, dry brushed with copper acrylic paint) that leads from the black cylinder around to the back of the helmet where it will connect up with the tank apparatus. I used some more of those cast resin screw heads that I made for the portholes to make it look like the copper brackets are screwed down.

We're almost finished now. Around on the other side you can see some more of that black ribbed tubing that fits perfectly into a female pvc plumbing connector that was screwed into the side of the helmet dome, and runs around the right side of the helmet, to the back, and meets up with the tank apparatus. This is also held down with copper plumbing hangers which are epoxied in place.

You can also see that the two side "headlights" have been added to the chest plate. These are stock led tap lights that cost about a dollar each. The only thing I did to them was repaint the plastic encasements.

Also, you can see that one of the large corrugated tubes I painted earlier has been fitted to the tank apparatus and now connects to the back of the helmet dome.

 Here is a better look at how those tubes connect. Getting them to connect to the tank tops took a little creative giggery-pokery. The tube is quite flimsy at that end and fit very sloppy over the bottle necks. Also, the "L" bracket that secures the bottles to the back plate are in the way. So, I slit the plastic tube along the back to accommodate the "L" bracket. I wrapped the bottle necks in masking tape to bulk them out to the diameter I needed to fit the tubing.  And I tapped the tubing in place over the bottle necks and painted over the tape. You can barely tell, even up close.

The red turn wheels are real valve handles for a garden hose stopcock. They are solid metal, so are actually one of the heaviest parts of the helmet! I had to create little risers to mount them on. The risers are made from chipboard, glued into a box shape that is cut to fit to the base of the tubing. The screw at the center of the red valve handle is a long wood screw that pierces all the way through the chipboard box, wrapped masking tape around the bottle neck and into the plastic bottleneck itself, securing the heavy metal handle firmly, and allowing it to spin when turned.

I know you're dying to see what the headlights and centerpiece look like when lit up (I know I am), so here's a quick peak. Eat you're heart out Iron Man!

And now a closer look at the completed rear side of the helmet (where most of the action is).

And finally, the completed front side....

This has probably been one of the most complex builds I have done to date, and the results were well worth the effort. I am very proud of this piece. Many of the techniques I used on it were experimental, so obviously a second attempt at something like this would probably show some improvements, but over all I couldn't be happier with it.

Here are a few less than glamorous shots of me in the bathroom mirror.

 Here are a few shots of it sitting on display in my shop (where it currently resides).

And lastly, a couple of shots of the helmet in action for its intended purpose, as a LARP prop at Origins.

Tune in next time and I'll show you the rest of the costume, that I finished for that year's Halloween costume.

See Also:
Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet (pt.1) WIP
Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet (pt.2)
Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet (pt.3)
Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet (pt.4)
Steampunk Diving (Space) Helmet Full Costume


  1. Very awesome work! I dig all the final details you put in it.

  2. Wow... I expect the final of your Helmet and I'm not disapoinred by result... Beau et décoratif. Sorry I'm french

  3. Thank for informations, I am extremely impressed you write style