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Footlocker restoration

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#1 Sgt L

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 07:12 AM

Hi everyone, 


Recently I acquired a footlocker that was left behind in a farm building in The Netherlands after WWII. Apparently it was stored in the attic of the farm ever since. 

There is a lot of rust and I was wondering if anyone has some suggestions on how to restore the foot locker. What is the best way to remove the rust. Is it possible to restore the letters and numbers? What to do with the leather handles?  Any help is appreciated!





Edited by Sgt L, 16 November 2019 - 07:14 AM.

#2 skautdog

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 08:02 AM

I wouldn't try to "restore" the footlocker. You have a living piece of history just as it is. I would LIGHTLY apply Renaissance Wax to any metal or leather surface. I also have an older WWII footlocker with leather handles. I placed a tag on the handles the states, "DO NOT LIFT" to hopefully keep anyone from putting any weight on the deteriorated leather straps.I would just enjoy the history and provenance as is and help preservation as indicated above.


Just my OPINION and others likely have different input. Good luck!!



#3 Sgt L

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 08:34 AM

I didn’t mean restore as in making it brand new. So preserve is a better word I guess. Does the wax prevent the rust from getting any worse?

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#4 Bluehawk

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 09:14 AM

Ren wax is a remarkable preservation product. It will stabliize deterioration of most surfaces and materials. It will not retard deterioration, however. Essentially, the wax will "freeze" further deterioration of the footlocker for a number of years.


Important to follow the instructions on the container.

Once rust takes hold, then it starts to actually dissolve or remove the base material - so it is fairly impossible to reverse. Removing the stuff in this case just needs soap and water with a non-abrasive brush. 

It IS possible to fully restore artifacts like that footlocker - at rather high expense, and with the understanding that (as mentioned above) doing so will eliminate most of the visible history of the object.

So, with some gentle cleaning off of all dust and loose crud, then proper application of Ren wax... good to go in most cases. Yes, it works with leather and almost everything else. Leaving the numbers and letters as they are right now is probably best.

Some info about the wax:

Edited by Bluehawk, 16 November 2019 - 09:18 AM.

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