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Polishing/shining your boots


2ndInf.Div.
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2ndInf.Div.

As always I'm looking for ways to improve my impression, and this is one thing I couldn't leave out. Since I base my impression off of my grandfathers pictures and what he remembers using, I asked him how he got his double buckles to look the way they do. Thankfully this is one thing he didn't forget! He told me they went to the PX and bought Kiwi brown shoe polish and they would polish and shine them every night. I think these boots will really add to the overall look of my impression. So here you have it, on the left is my grandfather's original dated April 17, 1945 and on the right is my At The Front repro that I worked on. What do you think? I'll finish up the other one sometime today so I'll get a picture of the pair when I'm finished!

post-80799-1341335005.jpg

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Looks good...not easy to get an even shine on rough-out leather! I have a pair of late war buckle boots which were treated with a waterproof compound which added a kind of "shine" to the leather. Apparently this was quite commonly done for a more "spiffy" garrison appearance in the immediate post-war period.

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2ndInf.Div.
Looks good...not easy to get an even shine on rough-out leather! I have a pair of late war buckle boots which were treated with a waterproof compound which added a kind of "shine" to the leather. Apparently this was quite commonly done for a more "spiffy" garrison appearance in the immediate post-war period.

 

I like the look of them ;) His boots are in remarkably great shape for being as old as they are. By some miracle I was able to slip into them, and I wore them until I was able to afford a pair of reproductions. The main reason is not just because of the age, but because of the size. His are 7 1/2's...I wear 10's! So not only did my feet hurt, but I was afraid they would come apart.

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I like the look of them ;) His boots are in remarkably great shape for being as old as they are. By some miracle I was able to slip into them, and I wore them until I was able to afford a pair of reproductions. The main reason is not just because of the age, but because of the size. His are 7 1/2's...I wear 10's! So not only did my feet hurt, but I was afraid they would come apart.

 

Very wise! 65 year old rubber soles can look serviceable but can be prone to cracking or splitting if over-flexed. I've seen this happen more than once, including to a pair of original WW2 Corcorans which belonged to a friend of mine! :pinch:

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2ndInf.Div.
Very wise! 65 year old rubber soles can look serviceable but can be prone to cracking or splitting if over-flexed. I've seen this happen more than once, including to a pair of original WW2 Corcorans which belonged to a friend of mine! :pinch:

 

Yeah...you won't see me wearing them again. One of the laces snapped so I'll have to buy a pair of original replacements (I think ATF sells them for $1 a pair). It's unfortunate, but lesson learned. At least their still with us!

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willysmb44

I've had a pair of repro S&M Wholesale double buckles for a while now and I really need to darken them up as they're quite light color.

 

The photos remind me of something my Dad told about his USAF time in the 50s. He said that people with outrageously large or small shoe sizes got rough-outs left over from WW2. He told me those airmen were pretty smug about having footwear that didn't need to shined like everyone else's black shoes...

Until the Drill SGT showed up and told them to get those rough-outs shaved down and shined! :blink:

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panzerbait

I don't know how effective this method would be...but I had a Korean era veteran who volunteers at our museum tell me that they used to burn off the rough out nape on their double buckle boots with lighter fluid, then shine away.

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mpguy80/08

Keep in mind that getting a good shine on a pair of boots is not a quick prospect... it takes time, elbow grease and a lot of dedication. I start my roughouts with several coats of Kiwi Wet Pruf. Other waterproofing materials can be used as well such as sno-seal. Rub it in really good, ensuring that you get it down into the cracks and crevices and along the seams. Using a hair dryer or heat gun (be careful) heat the boots and let the liquid soak into the leather. Let the boots dry for a day or so then repeat the process. After two coats of wet pruf or sno seal, heating, then letting the boots dry for a day, the leather should be a LOT smoother and may or may not have a slight sheen to it. Take a can of Kiwi Brown shoe polish and apply it to the leather. At this point, you can use the application brush and cover the roughout leather with a even coat of polish. Using the large brush, give the leather a good brisk brushing to set the initial coat of polish onto the leather. The leather at this point should be a lot smoother, so after this step you can start applying the polish with either a T shirt or cotton balls... Work in small areas and use a little water as well. I utilize the polish lid, with a little water and put an ice cube in the water. The Cold water helps harden the polish on the boot and will make spit shining easier. Be careful not to build up too much polish in any area because you can actually mess up the polish base. The idea is to build up your polish base slowly and carefully. Like I said, it takes a lot of time and effort but the end result is worth it.

 

Wayne

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willysmb44
I don't know how effective this method would be...but I had a Korean era veteran who volunteers at our museum tell me that they used to burn off the rough out nape on their double buckle boots with lighter fluid, then shine away.
Now that I read this, that's what dad said those guys with roughouts did to be able to shine them. I bet they looked awfully gnarly anyway after they were done.
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2ndInf.Div.

Here is the final result, with the originals on the right and my ATF repros on the left. The only problem is that I put too much on a few areas so it has cracked, but I WILL be fixing this up somehow, does anyone have any suggestions? I didn't do anything to these before polishing them. Mpguy, can I still use your method of mixing cold water with the polish?

post-80799-1341362118.jpg

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The only problem is that I put too much on a few areas so it has cracked, but I WILL be fixing this up somehow, does anyone have any suggestions?

I can tell you what I did with cracked excess brogan polish - burned it off with a Zippo.

 

Gotta be careful though, get it melting (being on fire is usually not good) and then wipe off the excess quickly before it hardens - repeat until down far enough to start over.

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A trick that I was taught by a WWII vet to polish roughouts when new was to burn off the rough nubs with a propane torch (like the lighter fluid suggestion above), then scrape the leather until smoother. Polish like mad, and heat the polish with the torch (quickly so as not to burn the polish) - this will melt the polish into the leather.

 

My son uses a hair dryer to heat the final layer for his dress boots & he gets a great shine. No flame is probably a good thing.

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I know it may sound wierd but..grab an old pair of panty hose from the better half for your final polish,brings the shine way up!

Bob

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2ndInf.Div.
How the devil did you get your big ole dogs in those little boots! :blink:

 

That's a good question, but I can tell you now I couldn't wait to get them off :w00t:

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Sandlapper
A trick that I was taught by a WWII vet to polish roughouts when new was to burn off the rough nubs with a propane torch (like the lighter fluid suggestion above), then scrape the leather until smoother. Polish like mad, and heat the polish with the torch (quickly so as not to burn the polish) - this will melt the polish into the leather.

 

My son uses a hair dryer to heat the final layer for his dress boots & he gets a great shine. No flame is probably a good thing.

 

I have a related story, I asked my grandfather how do "dub" my brand new roughouts for reenacting. He said they were required to use sandpaper to smooth out the the boot eliminating the "rough nubs" until the boot was as smooth as the service shoe. Then they water proofed it ( I used sno-seal) and then finally they polished it with shoe polish.

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Just a suggestion... You might want to dub and darken the cuffs of your boots as well. It looks like your Grandfather treated the cuffs of his boots. From photographic evidence, and the veterans I have spoken with about boots they have all said they gave the cuffs of their boots the same treatment as the rest of their boots - i.e. dubbing and polish.

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2ndInf.Div.
Just a suggestion... You might want to dub and darken the cuffs of your boots as well. It looks like your Grandfather treated the cuffs of his boots. From photographic evidence, and the veterans I have spoken with about boots they have all said they gave the cuffs of their boots the same treatment as the rest of their boots - i.e. dubbing and polish.

 

Nope, he told me they never did anything to the top part. What you see on the originals are simply from use and being 67 years old.

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I talked with my neighbor a while ago who was in the 82nd during the late 50's and he said they usually had to spit shine their boots, but they also used to use a small amount of alcohol to give the pair a shine- too much and the leather would crack.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought I'd give you all a quick update on my double buckles. I took the polish off with a wire gun brush since using a lighter didn't really work (didn't burn much of the rough-out off either). I tried Sno-Seal but it didn't do much to the boots and it wouldn't dry, so I just slapped some Kiwi shoe polish on them after getting the Sno-Seal off. The polish doesn't look the best and you can see the rough-out bunched together. Should I put Sno-Seal on now that I have applied the polish? This is one of the most frustrating things I have done. I know this may all sound a bit odd, but I don't want to ruin my boots.

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Sno seal the boots first then use a hair dryer on it , then apply another coat of sno seal then hit it with the hair dryer again the heat will drive the sno seal into the boots and help to speed the drying. You can also use a heat gun but you have to be very careful tht you keep the heat gun moving you will not burn the boots with a hair dryer though. After that the sno seal should be dry with a noticeably less greasy feel to it. Then you can apply the polish. If the nap is too high on the boots you can take a bic single blade shaving razor and cut down the nap just go lightly and dont gouge the boot.

Mack

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I've used Sno-Seal for years, and the trick I use is to heat up the oven to 150 to 200 degrees, then put the boots in the oven for about 15 minutes.

 

One at a time, take a boot out and quickly apply the Sno-Seal while the boot is still warm. The Sno-Seal is bees-wax based and will melt and soak into the leather. Sometimes it will take several applications of Sno-Seal.

 

It will feel a little greasy for a few days, but should eventually dry out. You will need to reapply the Sno-Seal at least once a year depending on use.

 

I have never applied polish to my rough-outs or double-buckle boots. They will darken with use and age. Leaving them in the sun will darken them, too.

 

Oh - one word of advice: Unless you have a very understanding and supportive wife, it might be best to put your boots in the kitchen oven while the wife is out of the house. It also leaves a rather distinctive odor afterwards. Do not ask me how I know this! :ermm:

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