How To: Attaching a face cage to a “Sink-Fit” Bern Watts Helmet.

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This is a contributed post by Ron Hayes. Thanks for the great info, Ron!

If you are like me, you may have worried about getting knocked in the grill by one of those over dramatic windmill slappers that we often see. There may be other times where you are less interested in finding out what a hockey ball tastes like. Thanks to Fixcraft providing a facemask that hooks up with the Bern Watts helmet, at an affordable price, I picked one of these bad boys up for far less than the “No Insurance” discount from the ER.

During Fixcraft’s Black Friday sale, I purchased the facemask without checking compatibility on my specific Watts helmet.  The result of my itchy trigger finger purchase was that the original hardware and installation video are set up to suit the “Hardhat” version of the Watts helmet. I have the “Sink-Fit” version. Perhaps you were excited about keeping your head the same shape it was in before you became addicted to polo and ordered a mask with out checking up?  Maybe you knew the helmets were a little different and pulled the trigger anyway? Good news for the “quick to order and ask questions later” and “hopeful” types, I am going to do my best to explain to you on how it can be done!

The difference in the Watts Hardhat and the Sink-Fit is not too distant in reference to the mask installation, aside from the Sink-Fit having an interchangeable liner for different weather conditions. I say interchangeable and not removable because you must have a liner installed for the helmet to fit correctly. This liner throws a wrench in the works of the old installation process. Odds are that if you have continued reading this far, you probably already know that.

In the original “Hard Hat” vid, you must remove the rivet that holds the neck straps to the helmet. When installing the “Sink-Fit” version you DO NOT remove the rivets and must drill slightly behind the rivet. The rivet on the “Sink-Fit” model doubles as a snap fastener to hold the interchangeable liner in place. Unless you are well experienced in snap fastener installation and have all the tools, I will suggest the method that I used.  I will further suggest that you watch the installation video that Fixcraft provides if you are not already experienced with installing the face mask.

You can watch the original vid here:

http://www.fixcraft.net/helmet-face-mask-assembly/

Overall installation can be done with only minor surgery and an additional cost of less than $3. I chose to use 3/8” 10mm (Wire) Clamps with ¼” holes and rubber insulation. These clips worked remarkably well. You can find these clamps at your local home improvement store in the electrical hardware section.

I will start with the original list of items needed, integrated with a list of new items at the end of the list. Following the list will be a step-by-step abridged version to complete the retrofitted helmet.

Items needed:

Bern Watts Helmet
Fixcraft Facemask and Hardware

Blue thread locker

Drill and ¼” Bit
2 Screwdrivers –Phillips and Flathead
Pliers
Marker
Masking tape

2 -3/8” 10mm (wire) Clamps

Dremel tool and wire wheel bit
Please refer to the Fixcraft video for a visual reference to overall installation walkthrough and read all of the steps to the updated directions below, before beginning the installation of the Facemask to the Watts Sink-Fit Helmet.
1. Mark and drill the hole in brim of the helmet. The first hole to be marked and drilled is in the brim. I eyed up the mask to the center point of the brim and used a marker to indicate the spot that I needed to drill. This first step is shown in the video. I found it to be helpful to slide the new larger clips over the corners of the mask. Doing this provided an easier way to eye up the center point of the brim.
2. Loosely screw the mask into brim. Use screwdrivers and the nut/bolt provided. This will act as a steady guide for future marking and drilling. Do not over tighten the nut/bolt as you will want to be able to move the mask.

 

3. Prepare the helmet for reference markings. Apply masking tape to the helmet around the places that you plan to make reference markings. Skip this important step if you like to dangerously eye things up or scribble all over your headgear.

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4. Mark the reference guides using the original hardware. Install original clips and line them up with the rivet head on the outside of the helmet. While lined up, use the marker to trace the outside of the cage. You will use these markings for reference when lining up the new longer clips.

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5. Position the new clips. After outlining the location of the mask on the helmet remove the old clips and fit the new larger clamps in place of them. Use a set of pliers to pinch the clamp tighter, if needed, to make a snug fit to the mask.

 

Bern36. Make reference dots for drilling. Line up the facemask with the previous reference markings, positioning the new clamp an estimated ½ inch behind the rivet with one hand. While doing this, with your other hand use the marker to make a reference dot for the holes to drill out. Keep in mind that you want the least amount of distance from the rivet but will need enough clearance from the rivet to install the nut/bolt without touching the rivet.

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7. Remove the mask and liner. This will make the future surgery just a bit easier. Make sure to remove the liner!
8. Drill out the helmet. Use the pre marked reference dots using the drill and the ¼” bit.

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9. Remove the foam around the newly drilled holes. Use a dremel tool with a wire wheel. Remove the least amount of foam while still being able to work with the nut and bolt.

It is possible to overdo it when removing foam. Stop and check. You can always remove more foam. Good luck putting it back.

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10. Use the drill to enlarge the holes slightly. This is the time to check if the nut and bolt will fit. If the holes are too small, run the drill and wiggle the bit around in there. If the thick end of the nut will fit, do not widen the hole any further.

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11. Reinstall the mask. Starting with the bolt in the brim followed by the side bolts, screw em’ in!  Do not forget to use the rubber washer between the metal and the outside of the helmet. At this point of installation it is advised to use a bit of thread locker on each of bolts. Beware that you do not over tighten the bolts

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12. Snap the liner back in place! Congrats! Protect ya neck kid!

 

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This is not the only method of retrofitting the newer style helmet, but I have found it to be the most accurate and safest way to keep your gear from looking ramshackle. Using this method also allows you to swap liners out with the change of weather conditions. I am pretty excited to have made this work out. At the end of the day, I find the “Sink-Fit” to be a more comfortable helmet with the mask attached. However, I have not played long games in both styles of the helmet. Maybe if someone really wants it, I will do a side by side comparison review. Until then, I will put my money on the Sink-Fit winning overall betterness. It was definitely more fun to build.

I would like to add that Fixcraft recently mentioned publicly that there were extremely limited stock of this mask and once it is gone that is it. It is over. Never to be seen again. If you really like this helmet to mask combo, now is the time! Fixcraft also said that they have been working on an improved mask that will not require as much customization or void the Bern warranty. If you have more patience or do not feel getting super crafty, I am sure it is worth the wait.

 

 

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