Oldnautibits' Frequently Asked Questions
These (rather obviously) are some of the questions that we are asked most often!
- We see so many reproductions, or fake items,
being offered for sale - how can we be sure the Oldnautibits
stock is genuine?
- Does Oldnautibits guarantee that original
wartime flying jackets can be worn on a daily basis?
- Do Oldnautibits provide a restoration service
for vintage leather flight clothing?
- Do Oldnautibits ship worldwide?
- What methods of despatch do Oldnautibits
- Is insurance cover included within the
- If an item arrives in a damaged condition,
how do I claim?
- I am looking for an item to complete my
collection - it is not detailed on your stock lists. Should
I ask anyway, or look elsewhere?
- Will Oldnautibits source an item for me
which is not on your inventory?
- If you source a specific item for me,
am I obliged to buy it?
- My granddad was in the navy and we have
his sea boots at home. Can you give me an idea what they
- Will you take "part exchange"
against an item we wish to purchase from your site?
- We have never dealt with Oldnautibits
before - how can we know our money is secure and our goods
will be despatched promptly?
- How often do you update your stock on
the Oldnautibits site?
- What currency and payment terms do you
- I have a chance to buy a 1945 AM Scramble
Bell. I'm worried that it's a fake. Is there anything you
can tell me to look for?
- I'm restoring a vintage WWII flying helmet and oxygen mask for display in a museum. Can you recommend products for renovating the very dry leather of the helmet and a treatment for the rubber components of the oxygen mask and tube?
- How do I post customer feedback on the
As we are collectors who also happen to be dealers, we source
all our stock personally - if we are not 100% sure about the
authenticity of an item offered to us, we do not buy it. We
describe items as accurately as we are able and can always
provide more detailed pictures by e-mail to help you make
a final purchase decision. If, on receipt of an item, you
are not completely happy for any reason, providing the item
is returned to us promptly (at the buyer's expense), we will
refund the purchase price less carriage.
No! The youngest of our wartime jackets are nearing 60 years
of age. Some have had a punishing wartime career, followed
by a hard post-war life in 'civy street'. In post-war Britain,
an original RAF Irvin could be bought from any Army Surplus
Store for a few pounds! If necessary we restore the jackets
that we buy before feeding the leather, which is often in
an appalling state. We patch obvious rips or tears then replace,
if necessary, damaged or broken zips with appropriate replacements.
If, when you enquire about a jacket, you make it clear what
its end use will be (dressing mannequin, re-enactment, riding
the Norton, or just to look cool in the MG!), we will try
to match a jacket to your requirement. What we can't do is
guarantee that an original zip will not break or stitching
give out. Treated with respect, however, most of our Irvins,
B3's, or other jackets can continue to provide warmth with
that classic vintage style.
Unfortunately no! Restoration is a time consuming process,
with our limited resources we do not have the capacity to
take on additional work.
Yes - on the proviso that we are not breaking any local laws
relating to the import of restricted products to your country.
If you can let us know to which country you will require us
to ship to we can advise if we envisage any problems.
All our prices are quoted ex our UK office, so actual shipping
charges are added to the price of the item(s) purchased. If
you require a specific method of despatch please specify,
otherwise we will give you the most cost effective quotation.
For our mutual protection, particularly on high value items,
we prefer to send via a "signed for" service.
No, but this is an option which can be included within the
freight quote. On some restricted items we are unable to insure
(eg some glass products) and we will make this clear to you
within the quote.
If noticed on delivery, please make this clear when the item
is handed over or signed for. If damage is not discovered
until the package is opened, please notify Oldnautibits by
e-mail as soon as possible, describing exactly what damage
has occurred. If we have been asked by you to cover insurance,
we will make necessary arrangements for the claim. If you
have made arrangements for insurance yourself, please follow
your own procedures.
Please ask! We have new stock arriving all the time - we do
not list it on the site until it has been catalogued, cleaned
and, if necessary, restored. Just because an item is not currently
detailed on the site, it doesn't mean that we don't have it.
If we don't have it, by using our extensive contacts, we may
be able to find it, so, as I've already said, Please Ask!.
Yes! Providing the item is within the general criteria of
the stock which we carry, we are happy to add your requirement
to our "wish list". We will then provide you with the details
of a possible match, as and when a suitable item is found.
No! We only source items which we are happy to take onto our
general inventory. We we will give you the first option to
buy, if you don't like what you see, you have not further
This is, perhaps, the most difficult question we face. We
are always interested in buying good original stock (particularly
if a history is attached) - if the item is of interest to
us, we will be happy to make an offer. We do not, however,
have the time to provide a free valuation service - if this
is required for insurance purposes we would need to inspect
the item at first hand. When we do make an offer, we try to
be as realistic as possible, but remember, as dealers we need
to make a margin on reselling the item, so you may be better
off trying to find a private buyer.
We may be happy to take in an item to offset part of the purchase
cost. This will depend on the item, its condition and the
valuation we agree on. We can make no promises, but by all
We are a small privately owned family business, run by collectors
for collectors. Our success is your satisfaction - if we do
not meet (or hopefully exceed!) your expectations we would
not stay in business for long. To this end we guarantee to
dispatch all orders within 24 hours of receipt of cleared
funds. If you have any queries you will deal directly with
the owners - we can assure you that you will not be put in
a computer stacking system and all correspondence will be
We monitor sales and update stock status on a weekly basis.
For new stock we try and update the site early every month.
This of course depends on new stock availability and the demands
on our time and that of our webmaster!
All prices are quoted ex our UK office in British Pounds Sterling,
excluding carriage and insurance. When you have selected an
item to purchase, payment can be made by Cheque, Bankers Order,
Postal Order or Cash (by registered post only) or via Credit
Card using the PayPal system (full details can be found on
their website www.paypal.com)
If you have a problem paying in pounds sterling, we can accept
selected overseas currencies at a market rate to be agreed.
- In general, a 60+ year old bell that has seen active service
will show signs of service life. The 1937 bell in my own collection
was missing its clapper when I purchased it. It had been 'rung'
by whacking it with a spanner, or similar. Look out for bangs
and dings - these are hard to replicate.
- Many bells, described as 'Scramble Bells', were actually
Station Emergency, or Fire bells. However, they were used
for any emergency, which included 'Scrambling' the Squadron.
They were very often completely painted red - few survive
today in the original condition. On my two bells traces
of red paint remain. If the one you are looking at is genuine,
you may spot red paint - perhaps on the crown hanger, or
within the AM stamp.
- RAF Station Bells were never named to the station (unfortunately),
unlike Naval Bells, which were nearly always named to their
ship. However, most bells have the initials A.T.W. cast
in to the crown hanger, along with a small broad arrow.
I believe that this identifies the foundry that cast the
bell. I have yet to establish the foundry name. If your
bell has this, I would be starting to feel quite relaxed!
- Look inside the bell - if it's seen squadron use, it should
have a definite 'groove' where the clapper strikes the inside
of the bell. Again, difficult to replicate - if yours has
this, things are getting better!
- Most of the Station Bells that I've seen, are cast in
white bronze, or gunmetal. When polished up they look silver.
However, I know that the RAF also used Spade Top Bells on
station, these were normally brass. I'm not saying that
the classic Station Bell was never in brass, just that it
is less usual.
- Provenance. Ask the seller to give you any information
relating to the bell. Like, how long has he owned it, where
did he acquire it from, any documented history. This is
not foolproof, but will help build a picture.
- Price! Originals are both, hard to find, and
expensive! If the one you are looking at is cheap beware!
- If you decide to purchase, ask for a receipt confirming
the description of the item and price paid. Any reputable
dealer would be happy to do this (and he should also guarantee
the authenticity of the item). We offer a full refund on
all the items we sell, if ( for any reason) the purchaser
is not happy. All we ask is that the item is returned promptly,
at the buyers expense, in the same condition as it was supplied.
We shudder when we see the state of historical Irvin's, and associated historical flying kit, in some Museum displays! We recommend Pecard Leather Dressing for vintage leather flying clothing. We apply it with our fingers (although you can use a soft cloth or brush), and then work it well into the leather. We then let it absorb naturally; this can take up to a week, depending on how dry the leather is, and the storage conditions. The leather surface can be slightly sticky during this process, but it is definitely worth the wait! Be careful to keep the Pecard dressing away from the rubber parts of flying helmets and the zips and the cloth sections of jackets.
Pecard Antique Leather Dressing may be purchased online through our sister company:
The second part of the query, relating to the rubber of oxygen masks and tubes, is a question we often get asked. We don't know which mask you refer to, but we find RAF WWII 'G' pattern are the most prone to the dangers of rubber fatigue, whereas patterns 'E' and 'E*' seem to have a more stable rubber mix. We haven't used it ourselves, but we have customers who apply a thin coat of 'Armor All' to seal the rubber and protect it from UV rays. 'Armor All' is manufactured for use on synthetic car dashboards, so it tends to result in a slightly gloss finish, but we are told it does a good job in sealing the rubber and prevents further degradation.
The 'Armor All' website is www.armorall.co.uk
We always stress that, when trying a new treatment, you carry out a test application on a small section first. This way you can make sure that it doesn't adversely affect the item, and that you're happy with the result. While working on the rubber, we recommend minimum handling and the wearing of clean cotton gloves. We hope this information is of some assistance, and good luck with your restoration work!
If you have any feedback relating to our site, stock requests,
or suggestions, we are always glad to here from you. Unless
we know what you want, we will not be able to keep improving
You can use our Contact Form,
or e-mail us at:-