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Footlocker restoration

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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!





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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!!





Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less."

GEN Robert E. Lee


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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:

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC

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