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Oldnautibits' Frequently Asked Questions

These (rather obviously) are some of the questions that we are asked most often!

  1. We see so many reproductions, or fake items, being offered for sale - how can we be sure the Oldnautibits stock is genuine?
  2. Does Oldnautibits guarantee that original wartime flying jackets can be worn on a daily basis?
  3. Do Oldnautibits provide a restoration service for vintage leather flight clothing?
  4. Do Oldnautibits ship worldwide?
  5. What methods of despatch do Oldnautibits use?
  6. Is insurance cover included within the price?
  7. If an item arrives in a damaged condition, how do I claim?
  8. 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?
  9. Will Oldnautibits source an item for me which is not on your inventory?
  10. If you source a specific item for me, am I obliged to buy it?
  11. My granddad was in the navy and we have his sea boots at home. Can you give me an idea what they are worth?
  12. Will you take "part exchange" against an item we wish to purchase from your site?
  13. We have never dealt with Oldnautibits before - how can we know our money is secure and our goods will be despatched promptly?
  14. How often do you update your stock on the Oldnautibits site?
  15. What currency and payment terms do you accept?
  16. 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?
  17. 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?
  18. How do I post customer feedback on the site?

We see so many reproductions or fake items being offered for sale - how can we be sure Oldnautibits stock is genuine?

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. Top

Does Oldnautibits guarantee that original wartime flying jackets can be worn on a daily basis?

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. Top

Do Oldnautibits provide a restoration service for vintage leather flight clothing?

Unfortunately no! Restoration is a time consuming process, with our limited resources we do not have the capacity to take on additional work. Top

Do Oldnautibits ship worldwide?

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. Top

What methods of despatch do Oldnautibits use?

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. Top

Is insurance cover included within the price?

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. Top

If an item arrives in a damaged condition, how do I claim?

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. Top

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?

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!. Top

Will Oldnautibits source an item for me which is not on your inventory?

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. Top

If you source a specific item for me, am I obliged to buy it?

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 obligation. Top

My granddad was in the navy and we have his sea boots at home. Can you give me an idea what they are worth?

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. Top

Will you take "part exchange" against an item we wish to purchase from your site?

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 means ask. Top

We have never dealt with Oldnautibits before - how can we know our money is secure and our goods will be despatched promptly?

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 promptly answered! Top

How often do you update your stock on the Oldnautibits site?

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! Top

What currency and payment terms do you accept?

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. Top

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?

  • 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.
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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?

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: www.antiqueleatherdressing.co.uk

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! Top

How do I post customer feedback on the site?

If you have any feedback relating to our site, stock requests, or suggestions, we are always glad to hear from you. Unless we know what you want, we will not be able to keep improving our service.

You can use our Contact Form, or e-mail us at:-

feedback at oldnautibits dot com

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