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Visor Installation Tutorial

Jennifer Belgin

I've been asked dozens of times to post some sort of tutorial on visor installs and finally have a moment to get one done in between the "HOLY CRAP THE FORCE AWAKENS IS OUT IN 17 DAYS AND EVERYONE WANTS THEIR COSTUME NOW!" rush. There are numerous ways to trim and install visors but this is my preferred method.

  It all starts with your given helmet. Now, I know some people that install the visor at the beginning of their build and then mask it off to protect it from paint, but to me it seems like an awful lot of work for something that is still likely to get dinged along the way. I prefer to do all my paint and finish work, then install the visor. This is a Head Shot Props Generi-Fett Left that I modified to have a right side rangefinder.

The next step is to create a template for your visor. It's a bit neater if you draw it with paper on the outside of the bucket, but more difficult to trace the outline. I generally opt for the interior version because it gives me a more accurate assessment of the shape and I can always clean up the lines later.
So here's the tracing after I've done a bit of touch up to the linework. I keep templates for all of my bucket visors to save me time with future installs.

 

There are a lot of great visors on the market. T-Visor makes beautiful laser cut pieces for a variety of bucket shapes. However, since buckets are hand cast, each one is slightly different and it makes fitting thick and rigid acrylic pieces a bit of a challenge. It takes a rotary tool and substantial heat to alter the shape of them.

This is why I'm a huge fan of using the grinding shield replacement visors. They look fantastic in helmets and are half the thickness of the acrylic versions making them easy to cut and bend. They are also about 1/2 the price and come in black, green, and clear. The Hobart and Forni variety are often an "add on" item on Amazon for about $6, so whenever I place another order I throw a couple into my cart and get them shipped for free.

Once you have your template you can cut it out, lay it on top of your visor and trim away.

I always give myself 1/4" to 1/2" of wiggle room when I cut. It's far easier to trim these down than it is to make them larger.

Once I have the visor cut, but before I remove the protective film, I like to test fit the visor into the space to make any last minute adjustments. It's much harder to trim when you've already got it partially in place!
In this particular case, I noticed that it was a bit too wide and was catching on the cheek, which caused the visor to warp a bit. This is another reason I keep the protective film on until the last minute. I keep a Sharpie handy and can mark my edits directly onto the visor knowing that it'll peel off when I'm done.
It's go time! I peel off both layers of film and try to hold the visor material by the sides to minimize fingerprints. I'll tell you that I find it nearly impossible to keep these free of smudges or dust as I work on them, so don't feel too bad about it. You can always use a lens cleaner to tidy it up later.

My adhesive of choice is Hi-Temp hot glue. I've used single epoxies, super glue, and dual blend epoxies but the hot glue beats them hands down (in my opinion) for several reasons:

It's cheap

It's minimally messy

It's easy to peel off both the helmet and visor if you make a mistake

It dries quickly

However, and this is a very BIG however, this stuff is like molten lava when it's fresh out of the gun. I'm talking 3rd degree burn hot. You can absolutely go with a low melt gun if you are concerned about that. I'd also recommend that you wear leather gloves. This is one of the few  areas in which I don't practice what I preach because I find it difficult to feel the visor and get it just right when I'm wearing them, but I have installed over 100 visors at this point. I highly recommend you wear some sort of hand protection if you use the Hi-Temp model.

It takes about 2.5 of the short glue sticks or one of the long versions to finish a bucket.

I generally start on one side of the visor and do a small portion, then move to the other side and do another small portion. At least when it comes to initially setting the visor it's important that you TAKE YOUR TIME!

Once you feel that you have the lower portion secured, turn the bucket around and look at it to make sure the visor is aligned correctly. Early on in my build career I slapped in a visor, secured the whole thing, then realized the entire front was off kilter. It was a waste of a few glue sticks and a half hour of work.

Once you are happy with the alignment it's just a matter of sealing the remainder of the visor in place. I do smallish sections and hold the visor down with a finger while the glue sets. It's extremely tedious and you need to be careful not to jam a finger into the molten liquid, but it's worth the minimal gaps and cleanup. I usually have something up on Netflix while I work in the shop, so I'll catch up on X-Files or get into some new web series while I literally wait for glue to dry.

You'll note that visibility from the interior of the helmet is great. It's akin to wearing dark sunglasses. However, once the helmet is on it's difficult for people to see into it.

Oops'! are inevitable on occasion. Again, these are hand-cast and not perfectly smooth in the interior so you can get a bit of seepage if you aren't being uber detail oriented.

In this case you want to wait until the glue is completely cold before you do anything. It will solidify once it's cold and make it much easier to clean up.

I keep a sharp Xacto knife and tweezers or pliers around for such occasions. Just take your time to gently trim it off. If you need to, you can go back in and put more glue into the interior to seal the gap.

If you have one of those helmets that are really uneven in the interior, you can actually use the glue to fill the gap. It takes paint pretty well, so just lightly touch it up with the same color you used in your bucket.

If you happen to live in a hotter climate, I'd strongly suggest that you not leave your bucket in a vehicle without air conditioning. I've never heard of the hot glue melting off, but it can loosen up. More often than not, the helmet itself starts to warp.

At this point congratulate yourself on being done!

If you come across any tips or tricks along the way please share them! I'm by no means an expert and love to pass on what other people have discovered as they do their own pieces.

 


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