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Polishing Corcoran's


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#1 cmjordan77

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 05:02 PM

Hello,
I have a pair of Corcoran's that I just got. They were Slightly used, and I mean slightly, couldnt have been worn 1-2 times max. There are some skint spots, or small scuffs. Nothing deep, just on the top. I have not tried to polish these boots yet at all. Actually, I have never tried to polish any WWII Type boot. I have read about rubbing them with Lighter fluid etc.. etc.. that may be good to strip the to start, but no way I will do this. I have no clue what I am doing or anything of that sort. I was looking at polishes and I see that there is a Kiwi "Parade Gloss" polish Brown. It may be a good fit. I have some regular brown, but I was wondering if I should try the parade gloss. I wonder why everyone spends days, stripping etc to get their boots looking good. I am unsure of what someone considers or what you would compare too when a pair of boots "looks good". I am new to the collecting/reenacting scene. I am curious if someone can post some snaps of their Mint Polished compared to a regular polished so I will know. I have read about cortovan or ox blood, etc... and I am not going to use that either. I am just going to try Brown I guess. Any suggestions?? Photos??

Thank you!

#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 05:37 PM

If you do some google searches you find that cordovan seems to most often recommended.

#3 Blake_E

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:06 PM

YES, i am interested in this also. What did they use back in the day to spit polish them with? Whatever it was, it appeared to darken them over time, which is exactly what i want (for my repo pair)

#4 cmjordan77

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:08 PM

I tried using Kiwi's Parade Gloss Brown. I threw on some coats, and literally spit shined them to a decently high gloss. I just put about 2hrs into it. I figured if I really put some elbow grease into it, it woudl shine even better. I read somewhere on google a guy using brown and Juan who owns Corcoran was impressed with how much they shined 1000 better than new.
I thought that worked pretty good, but I am new and not too experienced. But I am not going to take lighter fluid to mine, break down the leather color, etc... I have heard lots of people doing this, but I dont hve extra $$ if I screw mine up to buy a new pair. I dont have enough experience yet to do this.
I am unsure if the guys back in the 1940's did this to their boots either.
Just my opinion

Please anyone who knows anything else to do, PLEASE REPLY, Thank you!!

#5 Laury Allison

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:27 PM

I used to use cordovan over black on my jump boots to give them a DEEP shine. I later found some Kiwi Purple....which was hard to find, but even better. I've also heard of guys using Kiwi Clear as a top coat....but I don't remember ever using that. A paratrooper told me that trick a long time ago and I always got great results from that.

Now as far as brown boots go, I would stick with brown....cordovan has a red tint to it. If you part of a reenactor group....see what the other guys are using. The clear should work fine as a top coat for that deep paratrooper shine.

To achieve the best results....especially on a new pair of boots is to strip them first. Be careful doing that if you've never done it before!!!! I wouldn't recommend lighter fluid though. I have used rubbing alcohol. If you anything you light....put them in the bathtub so you can turn the water on and put them out quickly. It will strip away the factory dies very fast....so don't let your boots burn up. Let them dry very good before you do anything else. Use leather die for the color you want. Apply 2 or 3 coats of leather die....letting each coat dry good before applying the next one. Now your boots will still look like hell at this point....but it is then time to start applying polish. Start with the color you want....in this case I would think a standard brown. Apply lots of polish and build it up with water and a soft cloth....a white t-shirt or cloth diaper (if you can still find them) works best. After you get a really good shine (all over)....then apply a thin coat of the clear polish. At that point, it takes very little polish to maintain your shine...a very thin coat and lots of water. Wth polish you can use a lighter on it to make it a creamier wax...it makes it easier to work with and easier to work into the leather. The can lid is good to put it out with if necessary. I also always used the can lid to put water in to use while shining them.

You wouldn't wear the same boots in the field that you would wear for inspection or with your Class "A"s....so your good boots should be easy to maintain after you get them to where you want. Also, small circles work best...just keep rubbing until you get the gloss you want. When your rag feels sluggish on the boot, add a dab of either water or polish or both....depending on what stage your are at. A lot of people use a nylon stocking to smooth everything out at the end....plus get any lint or dust off of the boot.

I have heard my Dad talk about having to strip brown boots when there would be an inspection or when he would change units because somebody wanted everybody to have the same shade of brown. So again if you are part of a group, see what the rest of them are doing to save having to do the whole process over again.

It can take several days to build a pair of boots up....so unless you are really into doing that, you wouldn't want to do it very often. Also, I have used a surgical glove on my hand that I shining with to keep from staining up my fingers for days on end....

Hope this helps and have fun spit shining your boots. Let us see them when you done.

Laury

#6 edgeer

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 08:47 AM

What my dad taught me how to shine corcoran's was the way he first started to shined them back when he was with the 11th airborne and continued throughout his career. Start by stripping down to leather and then apply about 3 coats of black leather dye. wipe between each coat with a clean rag. next apply a heavy layer of black shoe polish. Both he and I used the kiwi brand. Next is to light/ melt the polish. The reason for this was to get the polish into the pores of the leather and seal them. However, instead of water, he used rubbing alcohol. The first heavy coat takes some time to get up a shine. Also, use a cotton diaper, t-shirt, etc. Personally, i leaned away from cottonballs.

After you get a shine on the first layer, dab the rag into the polish lightly. ensure the rag is wet with the alcohol or water and apply in light coats. Keep doing this until you achieve the desire shine. The first time may take a few hours. But the shine is worth it. I remember mine. I can remember mine, once I achieved the high shine, it would take me only about 30 minutes. The shine would be about an arms length shine. I could see my face in the toe, when I held it at arm's length.

ed

#7 Laury Allison

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 09:08 AM

What my dad taught me how to shine corcoran's was the way he first started to shined them back when he was with the 11th airborne and continued throughout his career. Start by stripping down to leather and then apply about 3 coats of black leather dye. wipe between each coat with a clean rag. next apply a heavy layer of black shoe polish. Both he and I used the kiwi brand. Next is to light/ melt the polish. The reason for this was to get the polish into the pores of the leather and seal them. However, instead of water, he used rubbing alcohol. The first heavy coat takes some time to get up a shine. Also, use a cotton diaper, t-shirt, etc. Personally, i leaned away from cottonballs.

After you get a shine on the first layer, dab the rag into the polish lightly. ensure the rag is wet with the alcohol or water and apply in light coats. Keep doing this until you achieve the desire shine. The first time may take a few hours. But the shine is worth it. I remember mine. I can remember mine, once I achieved the high shine, it would take me only about 30 minutes. The shine would be about an arms length shine. I could see my face in the toe, when I held it at arm's length.

ed


Never tried the rubbing alcohol instead of water....thanks for the tip. I never did like using cottonballs either.

The top thin coat of cordovan or purple really made a big difference for me. Purple was the best. I was told that Kiwi only does one batch or it each year. The Army Mule outside of Fort McClellan used to buy most of it. Since they are gone, I'm not sure where you could get it?

It is amazing when you get the desired shine. Like you say, if you've ever done it, you do remember it. Once you do get the shine you want, it is easy to maintain.

Laury

#8 edgeer

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:05 PM

Oh, i did forget another step I added years later. I learned it when I was attending BNCO/CA at Fort Ord, CA. The 2 store WW2 barracks we stayed in had linoleum laid down in sheets. The School 1SG expected the floors to have 36 inch shine. This was accomplished with J & J paste floor wax with an additional coat of neutral shoe polish.

After that I began to use Kiwi Neutral polish after I got the shine i wanted. not only did it add a deeper shine but also added a protective coat as well.

#9 SilverbackMP

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 10:56 PM

I have a mint set of brown Korean War Era Jump boots. Would ruin the collectability to polish these up? I want to add white laces (with the originals tucked in the boots) for an MP setup. I was thinking about Kiwi brown followed by Kiwi neutral.

Edited by SilverbackMP, 24 August 2008 - 10:57 PM.


#10 edgeer

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 08:52 PM

I have a mint set of brown Korean War Era Jump boots. Would ruin the collectability to polish these up? I want to add white laces (with the originals tucked in the boots) for an MP setup. I was thinking about Kiwi brown followed by Kiwi neutral.


From what my Dad (11th Airborne 46-470 told me about the 40s through mid-50s the only ones that was supposed to wear Corcoran's (Jump boots) were airborne qualified. He recalls more then once where a soldier who was not airborne was told take them off or have them cut off. Anyways, white laces on corcoran's especially if they are done in a ladder laced style looks sharp. I'm adding a photo of my dad taken in 51 in an Ike jacket, Corcoran's with white laces.

btw, my dad waring the garrison cap. still has that IKE jacket and is still in good condition. Despite surviving 3 sons wearing it as an everyday jacket (60s-70s).

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Edited by edgeer, 25 August 2008 - 08:56 PM.


#11 twhigham

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 12:43 PM

What my dad taught me how to shine corcoran's was the way he first started to shined them back when he was with the 11th airborne and continued throughout his career. Start by stripping down to leather and then apply about 3 coats of black leather dye. wipe between each coat with a clean rag. next apply a heavy layer of black shoe polish. Both he and I used the kiwi brand. Next is to light/ melt the polish. The reason for this was to get the polish into the pores of the leather and seal them. However, instead of water, he used rubbing alcohol. The first heavy coat takes some time to get up a shine. Also, use a cotton diaper, t-shirt, etc. Personally, i leaned away from cottonballs.

After you get a shine on the first layer, dab the rag into the polish lightly. ensure the rag is wet with the alcohol or water and apply in light coats. Keep doing this until you achieve the desire shine. The first time may take a few hours. But the shine is worth it. I remember mine. I can remember mine, once I achieved the high shine, it would take me only about 30 minutes. The shine would be about an arms length shine. I could see my face in the toe, when I held it at arm's length.

ed


Modern leather uses a different tanning process than they did "back in the day" due to EPA concerns with using certain oils and tanning agents, so what your dad did may not work today. Your method of using black dye and polish works great... on old black boots. For modern black boots you don't need to strip and re-dye the leather. Just apply the polish in 2 or 3 coats and use a horsehair brush, then follow-up with a light buffing cloth.

The best way to polish is to follow the directions on the Kiwi paste can.

For modern Corcorans being used for WW2 reenacting, use a base coat of Kiwi Brown then follow up with Kiwi Cordovan to get the reddish highlights effect.

#12 edgeer

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 02:03 PM

Modern leather uses a different tanning process than they did "back in the day" due to EPA concerns with using certain oils and tanning agents, so what your dad did may not work today. Your method of using black dye and polish works great... on old black boots. For modern black boots you don't need to strip and re-dye the leather. Just apply the polish in 2 or 3 coats and use a horsehair brush, then follow-up with a light buffing cloth.

The best way to polish is to follow the directions on the Kiwi paste can.

For modern Corcorans being used for WW2 reenacting, use a base coat of Kiwi Brown then follow up with Kiwi Cordovan to get the reddish highlights effect.



actually, I used that method of using black shoe dye, black kiwi and the neutral shoe polish up til I retired in 96. Worked great on the the black issued boots and black jungle boots.

However, after that time frame i can't truly say.

#13 SilverbackMP

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 11:13 PM

From what my Dad (11th Airborne 46-470 told me about the 40s through mid-50s the only ones that was supposed to wear Corcoran's (Jump boots) were airborne qualified. He recalls more then once where a soldier who was not airborne was told take them off or have them cut off. Anyways, white laces on corcoran's especially if they are done in a ladder laced style looks sharp. I'm adding a photo of my dad taken in 51 in an Ike jacket, Corcoran's with white laces.


MPs got away with wearing jump boots in 40s and 50s. At one time there was a minumum height and weight requirement to be a MP. In addion we/they carry clubs. :D

#14 Blake_E

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 06:44 AM

Some rangers also got to wear them yes?

#15 edgeer

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 11:44 AM

Some rangers also got to wear them yes?


Back in the 50s it was an unwritten rule that unless you earned jump wings, you Don't Wear Corcoran's. No this is only word of my from my dad and a few other Airborne vets.

Now, I know when I joined in 75, I bought and wore a pair of them. I was throughout my 21 yrs career a straight leg.

Ed

#16 Bluehawk

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 12:58 PM

What my dad taught me how to shine corcoran's was the way he first started to shined them back when he was with the 11th airborne and continued throughout his career. Start by stripping down to leather and then apply about 3 coats of black leather dye. wipe between each coat with a clean rag. next apply a heavy layer of black shoe polish. Both he and I used the kiwi brand. Next is to light/ melt the polish. The reason for this was to get the polish into the pores of the leather and seal them. However, instead of water, he used rubbing alcohol. The first heavy coat takes some time to get up a shine. Also, use a cotton diaper, t-shirt, etc. Personally, i leaned away from cottonballs.

After you get a shine on the first layer, dab the rag into the polish lightly. ensure the rag is wet with the alcohol or water and apply in light coats. Keep doing this until you achieve the desire shine. The first time may take a few hours. But the shine is worth it. I remember mine. I can remember mine, once I achieved the high shine, it would take me only about 30 minutes. The shine would be about an arms length shine. I could see my face in the toe, when I held it at arm's length.

ed

That's EXACTLY the way I learned it.

#17 cmjordan77

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 02:18 PM

I have been debating about Cordovan use or not. Like I stated, I used Kiwi Parade Gloss Brown. It put a nice bright shine on my boots. I am not sure if anyone else has tried that polish or not. I know they make it in black too. It makes the boots nice and glossy. I am a little nervous about adding the Cord. I have never seen pictures of boots with that color in them. I am sure the soldiers did, but I have never seen a picture of it. If anyone will post a pic, I surely would appreciate it. Also, I would surely like to see some pictures of someone's BROWN para boots that are spint shined the way that is best. I have seen some folks talking about it, I would like to see. I know mine are not the best, by any means.
I am still in "training" ha!
Thanks!

#18 Lazzari

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 01:20 AM

Not the best close up of a pair of corcoran's but as you can see they are highly polished brown with a pair of leggings over the top as worn by our first sergeant.

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#19 Captainofthe7th

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 03:46 PM

Bluehawk and Edgeer, and Silverback MP, as far as jump boots in the 50s ago, quite a few people confuse them with the M1948 russet pattern combat boot. My grandfather had a pair of these in 53 and 54 after he got home from Korea. He always called them "like paratrooper boots" and he has them shined up like a mirror with yellow laces for Cav. They're nearly identical to paratrooper boots and slowly replaced the two buckle combat boots.

Rob

#20 Bluehawk

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 05:17 PM

Bluehawk and Edgeer, and Silverback MP, as far as jump boots in the 50s ago, quite a few people confuse them with the M1948 russet pattern combat boot. My grandfather had a pair of these in 53 and 54 after he got home from Korea. He always called them "like paratrooper boots" and he has them shined up like a mirror with yellow laces for Cav. They're nearly identical to paratrooper boots and slowly replaced the two buckle combat boots.

Rob

My memory (the reminder of it) has been jogged, thank you! :lol:

#21 Captainofthe7th

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 04:32 AM

Didn't intend to say you were wrong! They just look very similar and I know a large majority of people can confuse them...there is a difference, although I'm not sure exactly what it is. They are not Corcorans, I'm sure of that. Chances are if you have Corcoran brand jump boots they were made for paratroopers?

Rob

#22 Bluehawk

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 05:26 AM

Didn't intend to say you were wrong! They just look very similar and I know a large majority of people can confuse them...there is a difference, although I'm not sure exactly what it is. They are not Corcorans, I'm sure of that. Chances are if you have Corcoran brand jump boots they were made for paratroopers?

Rob

No. no... :lol: It IS simply true (I have been finding) that my memories are not as sharp as I would want them, about such things.

I certainly DID confuse them.

Nothing like being part of a research site such as USMF to awaken one to one's deficiencies!


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