how do I strip old finish from leather boots?
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Thread: how do I strip old finish from leather boots?

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    Question how do I strip old finish from leather boots?

    I figure a few of you ex-military may have some insight into this. Many years ago when I was in the Army Reserves a few of us came up with the bright idea of applying Kiwi Honor Guard Instant Spit Shine to our boots.

    Leather Honor Guard Instant Spit Shine :: KIWI care products

    It is almost like gloss black paint. Does anyone have any ideas how to strip it from a pair of boots? I actually don't care about the shine (or lack of), but the stuff is like plastic and I want to put some Obenauf's on the boots, but it just wipes off due to the Honor Guard coating. I didn't want to go right to paint stripper because I'm sure that is horrible for leather.

    And before you ask, yes, we eventually got in trouble for doing it.
    Andy B.

    1966 110 Lawn Tractor
    2012 2520 - DELIVERED 27APR2012!!!

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    GTT's Pilot in Command (PIC) farmgirl19's Avatar
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    I have no idea, andy b., but maybe you could try to clean the boots really well with some saddle soap. That stuff you used says it is "water resistant", not waterproof. Maybe a good soaking with the saddle soap, will loosen its hold. Then you can use a good leather conditioner on the boots after, to try to protect the leather.
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    rtgt's Avatar
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    Can't say for sure. Maybe a one way street. Never tried to clean up something like that.

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    fg,

    It's pretty "water resistant".

    rtgt,

    That's what I'm afraid of. I guess they are going to start cracking anyway without being able to condition them, so I may as well try some MEK and see what happens. Then I'll have to soak them with Lexol and apply some Obenauf's.
    Andy B.

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    Tractor that I used to own - 1954 40 Utility
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    I never used instant spit shine. I was always the company expert on doing it the old fashioned way. If I remember correctly someone in our unit used it before he came to us. I think he tried to remove it but I cannot remember what he did or whether it worked or not. I still talk with a lot of them and will see if anyone remembers.
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    Kenny,

    Let me know if you find anything out. Yeah, after this incident, I went back to the old fashioned way. I never used the Instant Spit Shine again.

    I'll post a pic tomorrow of them.
    Andy B.

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    Dingeryote's Avatar
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    Plain old shave cream and a stiff brush from the motorpool wash rack got most of it off, just like stripping new boots.
    Let it sit on there and get into the leather a bit, then scrub like a crack addict with poison ivy.
    Once the obernaufs gets in the leather, any of the remaining gunk will flake off. Corn huskers hand lotion and Neatsfoot oil was our mix.
    You will likely have to re-dye just like when breaking down new boots though.

    We called that crap "Instant Field boot". Once it was on a pair of boots, it cracked, peeled, and looked worse than clapped out cadillacs with a brush shine.
    From there, they were only good for humping the happy hills or slogging in the stumps.

    It never failed that at least a couple newbies would try that junk within weeks of them reporting in.
    Whoever invented the stuff must have a DOD boot contract.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dingeryote View Post
    Plain old shave cream and a stiff brush from the motorpool wash rack got most of it off, just like stripping new boots.
    Let it sit on there and get into the leather a bit, then scrub like a crack addict with poison ivy.
    Once the obernaufs gets in the leather, any of the remaining gunk will flake off. Corn huskers hand lotion and Neatsfoot oil was our mix.
    You will likely have to re-dye just like when breaking down new boots though.

    We called that crap "Instant Field boot". Once it was on a pair of boots, it cracked, peeled, and looked worse than clapped out cadillacs with a brush shine.
    From there, they were only good for humping the happy hills or slogging in the stumps.

    It never failed that at least a couple newbies would try that junk within weeks of them reporting in.
    Whoever invented the stuff must have a DOD boot contract.
    Never thought about shaving cream, a body repair man told me once to use shaving cream to clean my hands before touching metal ready to paint. He also said about using shaving cream to remove grease from on my hands. Its a good hand cleaner.
    Gene

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    I think you got some good advice andy b. I never used it either, but spent many hours spit shining boots the old fashioned way. I always liked the old Army issue combat boots for comfort.

    Another option for you would be to re-enlist and get the new rough out leather boots.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRobinson View Post

    Another option for you would be to re-enlist and get the new rough out leather boots.
    I'm sure they wouldn't have me!

    So here they are. Yes, they are old Corcoran Tanker Boots. Yes, after several months the First Sergeant announced that only standard issue footwear was allowed and no "Instant Spit Shine", due to my friends and I. Yes, the First Sergeant and I spent a lot of time together discussing military protocol. I even remember his name, First Sergeant Tom Maxwell. He was pretty cool to put up with the shenanigans of a young lad like myself.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm going to give the MEK and acetone a try. I don't have any shaving cream at present, and I doubt running a Norelco rechargeable shaver over the boots will have any effect.

    At the very worst they may end up looking like the new issue rough-out boots.
    Andy B.

    1966 110 Lawn Tractor
    2012 2520 - DELIVERED 27APR2012!!!

    Tractor that I used to own - 1954 40 Utility
    KB3WPN

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