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Good Evening,

Ive been away at College for two years now and have stored my most valued collectibles in a footlocker wrapped in plastic. Inside the trunk mostly consists of helmets, canteens and overseas caps. Ive been thinking that maybe this isnt the best way to store my stuff, what is the best way to store my items? Thank you! - Nick K

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I have uniforms too, I put them inside garbage bags and hung them up in my closet. Also all my stuff is stored in my room, which has central air and heating so it generally stays the same temperature all year round. - Nick K

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I've found that storing uniforms flat in plastic locking storage bins with blocks of cedar in them works pretty well. If you have to use hangers, (and I don't recommend it long-term for old cloth, or new for that matter) use padded hangers, not wood, plastic, or metal ones. Buy a strip of cedar and cut it into 2x2 inch or so blocks. Keeps the moths out!

 

John

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This is very relevant to me... Since I am in a dry environment, I've never really had to worry about rust so I leave all my helmets out in the open. Is this sufficient? I also have some uniforms in a dark, cool closet, but they are hanging up. I'm not going to college far away so I will be home every now and then to check up on stuff and dust, so I'm not too worried.

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From a museum employee's point of view, Uniforms should be stored flat and if possible in archival boxes. They are expensive but this is a preferred method of storing. If you have to hang them, I would not recommend garbage bags or plastic. The plastic will give off gases when they break down and could damage your uniforms. If they have to be hung, use plastic hangars and wrap muslin cloth around them. This will create a barrier between the plastic and the uniform. Also try to take tissue paper and fill in the shoulder area and the sleeves. This will keep the uniform from forming those hanger bumps often seen as well as separating the sleeves of the uniform so they do not develop long term creases.

 

Storage of pistol belts and other equipment can be in the footlocker, but should be lined with acid free paper and the belts laid flat.

 

Plastic storage bins are alright, and a cheaper route rather than the archival boxes, but again it is not recommended to fold them and place them on top of each other as the weight over the years will cause creasing and wear.

 

Overseas caps are rather easy to store. You can store them in a shoe box, lined with archival acid free paper, and tissue paper between each hat, these can be stacked and stored with no problem.

 

Separate any leather items from metal and do not store them together. Brass and leather for example tend to have a chemical reaction after a long period of time and the outcome is a greenish substance called verdigris. This is caused by the leather dye's and the leather treating chemicals mixing with the metal. Sam Browne belts with lots of leather and brass buckles suffer from this chemical reaction extensively. Separate them and store them away from each other.

 

Metal and cloth insignia can be store in acid free zip lock baggies , just take a one hole punch and punch a hole in the baggie so the item can "breathe"..

 

Just some quick ideas that we use daily in the museum.

 

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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From a museum employee's point of view, Uniforms should be stored flat and if possible in archival boxes. They are expensive but this is a preferred method of storing. If you have to hang them, I would not recommend garbage bags or plastic. The plastic will give off gases when they break down and could damage your uniforms. If they have to be hung, use plastic hangars and wrap muslin cloth around them. This will create a barrier between the plastic and the uniform. Also try to take tissue paper and fill in the shoulder area and the sleeves. This will keep the uniform from forming those hanger bumps often seen as well as separating the sleeves of the uniform so they do not develop long term creases.

 

Storage of pistol belts and other equipment can be in the footlocker, but should be lined with acid free paper and the belts laid flat.

 

Plastic storage bins are alright, and a cheaper route rather than the archival boxes, but again it is not recommended to fold them and place them on top of each other as the weight over the years will cause creasing and wear.

 

Overseas caps are rather easy to store. You can store them in a shoe box, lined with archival acid free paper, and tissue paper between each hat, these can be stacked and stored with no problem.

 

Separate any leather items from metal and do not store them together. Brass and leather for example tend to have a chemical reaction after a long period of time and the outcome is a greenish substance called verdigris. This is caused by the leather dye's and the leather treating chemicals mixing with the metal. Sam Browne belts with lots of leather and brass buckles suffer from this chemical reaction extensively. Separate them and store them away from each other.

 

Metal and cloth insignia can be store in acid free zip lock baggies , just take a one hole punch and punch a hole in the baggie so the item can "breathe"..

 

Just some quick ideas that we use daily in the museum.

 

 

Leigh

 

If I must keep my uniforms on a rack and on hangers, would you recommend spacing them out, or bunching them up along the rack? My thinking is that some of the weight is distributed when they are bunched together due to the friction, but I could be wrong.

 

 

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You will want to space them out, not a lot, but at least 2 fingers wide in space between them, so they can breathe..

 

In the museum closet we have an upper and lower rack, so we have plenty of room for space between uniforms.

 

If you have the space, hang the pants out full length and not folded over the hangar in the middle, because again after time a crease will develop. If you have to hang them folded, hang them on a separate hangar and put a piece of acid free foam materiel so the pants don't fully rest on the rack of the hanger and it will less likely leave a crease in the pants.

 

On Monday when I go back to work I will take pictures of some of the material we use at the museum to preserve, and a lot of this can be obtained from hobby shops.. Acid free is the key to ask for and look for in products..

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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You will want to space them out, not a lot, but at least 2 fingers wide in space between them, so they can breathe..

 

In the museum closet we have an upper and lower rack, so we have plenty of room for space between uniforms.

 

If you have the space, hang the pants out full length and not folded over the hangar in the middle, because again after time a crease will develop. If you have to hang them folded, hang them on a separate hangar and put a piece of acid free foam materiel so the pants don't fully rest on the rack of the hanger and it will less likely leave a crease in the pants.

 

On Monday when I go back to work I will take pictures of some of the material we use at the museum to preserve, and a lot of this can be obtained from hobby shops.. Acid free is the key to ask for and look for in products..

 

Leigh

 

Thanks. I'm planning on buying a few acid free boxes soon to store my few rare pieces.

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I will post some more information about the acid free boxes and other materials you can use tomorrow..

 

It is important to share this information with collectors so you may preserve your valuables..

 

Good luck with your collection

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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Here are a few links to some display and preservation items for your collections. You will notice the padded hangars that I mentioned as well as different size archival storage boxes. A little later on today I will take some pictures of the archival products we use at the museum for storage and preservation

http://www.hollingermetaledge.com/product-guide.html

http://www.gaylord.com/

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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Here are some pictures of the archival boxes and hangars that you can purchase from Gaylord.com. Again these are pricey but well worth the investment. You can purchase a few at a time and build up your stock and also you can check for clearance and sales items and also used products.

 

Leigh

 

If you have any questions I will be more than happy to try to assist you

 

 

 

 

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"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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I have a question:

 

What are your personal opinions on putting uniforms in the freezer to kill moths and beetles? Most of the uniforms I now own were in closets for who knows how long and only a couple uniforms show no signs of these bugs. And if not the freezer, what methods do you all have to get rid of these destructive bugs (and keep them away)?

Interested in items related to:

-Amarillo A.A.F. / Amarillo Air Force Base

-Military instillations located in the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, and West Texas.

-"F" Company, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division (Texas National Guard)

-413th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR)

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I have a question:

 

What are your personal opinions on putting uniforms in the freezer to kill moths and beetles? Most of the uniforms I now own were in closets for who knows how long and only a couple uniforms show no signs of these bugs. And if not the freezer, what methods do you all have to get rid of these destructive bugs (and keep them away)?

That is a great question..

 

Here is what we have done in the past.

 

When a new aquisition comes in the doors we have to immediately quarantine the items and segregate them from the collection to prevent any type of contamination.

 

The freezer option works very well, but it is not just a one time thing. It should be done at least 2 times. Here is why..

 

Step 1. It is suggested that you first vaccum the item (using a museum grade vaccum) or by putting a mesh screen (window screen material) over the uniform so the suction will not pull the fibers of the uniform. Vaccum all the pockets and inside and outside of the uniform as well as the sleeves, liner ect.

Step 2. Put the item in the freezer for 24 hours and freeze the item (uniform, hat, etc). The first deep freeze will kill all living bugs and pests that you may not see..

Step 3. Defrost the item for 24 hours, revaccum the item

Step 4. Refreeze the item again for 24 hours. The second freeze will kill larvae and eggs that may have hatched since the first freeze. (It is thought that the first freeze will not kill everything becasue the bugs think it is a hybernation cycle)

Step 5. Defrost and repeat Step 3.

Step 6. If you want you can refreeze the item for a third time if you feel that the item was really infested.

 

After step 6 you can still segregate the uniform or what have you from your collection for another few weeks so you can observe the item to see if there are any other pests that survived.

 

We do this at the museum on occasion

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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Leigh

I have some signed books I want to protect,can I seal them up in mylar bags to protect them? Thanks Jay

 

Jay,

 

Mylar is fine, you can also get some acid free paper and wrap the book in it and place that in the mylar bag. Also you may want to get a single hole punch and pucnh a hole in the mylar bag to let the item breathe. We do this with insignia and documents. We also store all of our documents and books in archival boxes and flat map cases

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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great tips, Leigh. Would it be fine if I stored uniforms in a plastic bin?

 

Storing in plastic tubs does have some risks, over time the plastic will give off gasses and start to break down whcih could have an affect on what you are storing, but you can line the tubs with acid free paper and then store flat in the box. Since you live in the New England area you may have a problem with humidity. You will have to check the acid free paper more often for discoloration. Any type of discoloring means that the acid free paper has been doing it's job by absorbing anything in the air.

 

Archival safe boxes are the best bet, you can find them at GAYLORD industries. They speicalize in museum quality and collection preservation items.

 

Humidifiers will also help keeping the moisture away from your valuable artifacts. Here in the dry El Paso Desert climate we rarely have to worry about the humidity but we do have our rainy season right now and the humidity levels are elevated so we are watching our artifacts and other items in storage..

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

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Leigh would it be OK to store things in Mylar bags inside of the plastic tubs or should that be discouraged completely?

That's acceptable and to even help preserve longer you can line the tub with acid free paper or archival cardboard, such as a large uniform box that was pictured above, you can cut the seams and have a barrier between the plastic tub and your mylar enclosed artifacts,, that will work nicely..

 

Leigh

"Pain is only Weakness Leaving the Body"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr
US Army (Retired)

donation2009.gifdonation2010.gifdonation2011.gifdonation2012.gif

donation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2017.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

 

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