Military Surplus - Remembering what it used to be like

Sarge’s Army surplus store - from Pixar’s movie CARS
Military Surplus Stores & Sales
Army / Navy Surplus Stores and Stories

Military Vehicle Surplus Sales - Yards & Dealers

Brian's Military Jeeps of WWII - Surplus WWII Jeep parts & Accessories

Cosmoline - What's that?

Speaking of Army Surplus... What about those $50 Jeep in a Crate Stories?

Army / Navy Surplus Stores
Often noted for their low prices, an "Army Surplus Store' or "Navy Surplus Store" is a retail store that sells surplus military and/or surplus industrial inventory. Military surplus are goods, equipment, clothing and other items, that the governments military branches found to be in excess to their actual needs. These surplus items were sold at public auction by the government when no longer needed by the military. Entrepreneurs would then buy these goods cheaply and then resell them at surplus stores after a slight markup. The surplus was almost always military, government or industrial excess (although now some items are being produced in China specially for the 'Army Surplus' trade, since the real US Military surplus has been almost entirely sold out for several years). Surplus stores sell items such as clothing, jackets, helmets, canvas packs and pouches, and general equipment that was intended for the various branches of the military, but that the military never got around to using in many cases. Usually the goods sold by the military at the government auctions are clothing, equipment, tools,  and hardware of a generally useful nature. Only very rarely does a Government Surplus Auction include weapons, ammunition, or vehicles. (For more info on buying Government Surplus Jeeps, there is a link at the bottom). In spite of that, guns and ammo are often found at surplus stores. Sometimes the items being sold in the Army Surplus Store are in used condition and other times the items are NOS - New Old Stock - meaning the item was purchased new, stored, but never used by the military. Many items are in new condition because the item is no longer needed by the military as the technology of warfare makes older versions become obsolete. Surplus stores may also sell items that are past their use-by date but are still usable. Surplus stores often sell hiking, backpacking, and camping equipment as well as survival supplies.

Helmets, K-Rations, C-Rations, mess kits, bayonets, camouflage nets. These were the kinds of things you could commonly buy in the 1960's and 1970's at Army / Navy Surplus stores in the US.
Helmets, K-Rations, C-Rations, mess kits, bayonets, camouflage nets. These were the kinds of things you could commonly buy in the 1960's and 1970's at Army / Navy Surplus stores in the US. You got to experience that wonderful musty smell for free.  ;-)
The world of military surplus has changed.  Gone are the days when every town had an Army / Navy Surplus Store. A typical refrain in the 1960's & 1970's was "Tell mom I'm heading off to the army surplus store to get some stuff". Hours later you'd return with bags of goodies. Some made of stinky canvas - a special smell to many - other stuff covered in a wax like grease called Cosmoline. Ahhh, those were the days. There were some great places like Western Surplus in Los Angeles, and Long Beach Surplus on Garden Grove Blvd. in Westminster, CA. These places had bins & bins full of ammo pouches, pistol belts, canteens and shovel covers umm I mean "Entrenching Tool" covers, and the bins measured about 2 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft deep. Each item had it own huge bin, which was full to the brim & spilling out onto the floor.  All with prices tagged, penciled or inked (not good) on to them. Prices like 39 cents, 75 cents, with the expensive ones going for $1.50 each - even at those prices, I didn't think they could ever run out. There were just too many bins full of NOS WWI & WWII dated Army Surplus for them to ever run out - or so I thought. After 10 great years of always being able to run down to Long Beach Surplus and pick up as many more as I wanted, I arrived one day to find several bins empty, and most others seriously depleted. "What happened to all the stuff"?  "Some dealers from Belgium came in last week and cleaned us out of most of our WWII stuff" I was told by a long time employee.  "What?" Why would THEY be coming over here - way over here on the West Coast, don't they have this stuff at home? Didn't we leave boatloads of it on the docks when we sent the troops home after the war ended? Isn't the East Coast closer to them? What's the deal?    This was taking place in the heyday of faxing. The world was becoming a smaller place. (As a side note... remember when you used to get jokes FAXED to you instead of being fwd, and fwd by email? Too funny huh.  When was the last time anyone faxed you a joke or cartoon LOL).  The long & the short of it was that things were drying up. More people were wanting it, and with faxing helping to put surplus operators, buyers, and middlemen in contact with each other, it was disappearing fast!  I sure wish I had bought & put away more of it. I also wish I had taken pictures.
It makes me sad that the heyday of Army Surplus stores are over. They are almost a thing of the past now.  I am glad I got to grow up with them.  They made my life a richer one.  Add them to the list of things that kids growing up today will miss out on.

Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront - King Street, Alexandria, VA, 1921
Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront
King Street, Alexandria, VA, 1921

Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront - Kaufman Surplus, Manhattan, NY
Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront
Kaufman Surplus, Manhattan, NY

Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront - Church Street, New York, NY
Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront
Church Street, New York, NY

Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront - Central Surplus, MA
Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront
Central Surplus, MA

Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront - L.A. Surplus, Market Street
Old Army Navy Surplus Storefront
L.A. Surplus, Market Street

Army Navy Surplus Store in Garden Grove, CA in the 1950's
Army Navy Surplus Store in the 1950's
Garden Grove, CA
(Memories of this surplus store)

Army Navy Surplus Store with a WWII Jeep on display
WWII Jeep on display in a Surplus Store

Van Nuys Army Navy Surplus Store, Van Nuys, CA
Van Nuys Army Navy Surplus Store,
Van Nuys, CA

Old Army Surplus Store Sign for Allied War Surplus, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1964
Old Army Surplus Store Sign in 1964
Allied War Surplus, Salt Lake City, Utah

I grew up in Queens, NY back in the 70s & 80's and I used to work for a guy named Sam who owned Woodhaven Surplus. I worked there from October 1983 to February of 1992 when I moved. It was the typical Mil-Surp shop where everything seemed to be in heaping piles with "pig paths" winding through it. There was one light bulb hanging from the ceiling to light the place (or so it seemed).  I remember when Philippe (that Belgian guy who was referenced in a post on your surplus stores page) showed up. He played like he was a small time but I don't think Sam really knew how much money 'ol Phil had backing him up.  Sam made the mistake of taking Philippe with him and showing him where all of his sources of supply where located. Philippe returned later and simply brought all of those places out. There was another guy who came over from Europe around the same time and did the same thing. He was an Englishman who lived in Belgium. Don't remember his name, though. This was around 1985/1988. I guess when the finished with the East Coast, they just moved out to the West Coast where you were.  One reason for these European dealers coming over to the states and buying up all our goodies was that they were able to get current pricing on GI stuff 20 yeas ago. For example; back in 1985, an M41 field jacket sold for $25.00 over here. You could get $75.00 to $125.00 for the same jacket overseas.  It was fun to take a few min and reminisce about the good old days with you. They certainly are gone for good aren't there? 
Regards, Matt
   Hi Matt, that was an awesome letter! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I totally remember Sam's Woodhaven Surplus. His newspaper style catalogs were huge! They were great. I loved getting them and pouring over them and circling all the goodies I wanted to put in my next order.  I wish I had bought twice as much as I did.  His store was another case of me thinking he would never run out of his piles of surplus goods.  The info in your letter sure corroborates my memory of those days and fills in some of the missing details.  Yes, the surplus days are gone.  In many case the "real' surplus isn't sold because the Gov. destroys almost everything now so that Al-Qaeda won't get a hold of it and sneak up on our troops/bases dressed up like our guys.  That leaves the few remaining surplus + camping stores selling 'made in Asia' repro's.  Another thing that makes me grimace is that now I have become like my grandfather in telling stories about the 'good old days' when "the men were men, and the surplus was real by God surplus".   By putting your letter on my surplus page, I hope it encourages other surplus store workers/dealers to write me their remembrances. If you have other good surplus stories, yarns, tales, etc... please send them along.  Brian
  Follow Up Email:  Brian, You're welcome. When we were dealing with Philippe, we also acted as his primary shipping agent packaging and shipping all of his treasures that he found over here back to Europe. I can remember a pile (had to be over 50) of fixed bale M1 steel helmets that he had found somewhere that we had to pack up (I had never seen a fixed bale helmet before then and was unaware of them). It was also not uncommon to run into Philippe at the larger gun shows on the East coast as they were also good sources of militaria and often times real deals could be had because of the lack of interest in that stuff.  Around '89 or '90 I remember the W.W.I / W.W.II stuff really drying up and the shop taking on the look more and more of one of those "vintage" clothing shops that trendy people pay way to much for old clothing in. Sam had returned from one of his "rag" dealers* with a load of stuff. He borrowed a friend's 1 ton van as his Ford ranger couldn't handle the load he had purchased. The rag dealers had been running a sale on a 4'x4'x8' bale of clothes** for some ridiculously low price (can't remember but I think it was way under $100.00). The bale weighed in at about 2000-2400 lb.  Although I didn't go with Sam, I kind of wish I had if only to see how they got that bale in there. It took several of us to get the bale out of the van and over to the side walk in front of the shop. When we cut the steel bands holding this "block" of fabric together, it actually held it's shape for a little while until we pulled enough stuff off of it for the bundle to finally let go...
 "WW-I  USMC Blouse w/ Medals Attached" story -If memory serves, there was a lot of OD field jackets M51s and M65s, OG107 uniforms, civilian clothes (trench coats and those old "Elmer Fudd" plaid wool hunting coats from the 50s). In the center of that pile of stuff was this USMC Forest green wool blouse. At first we thought it was just your regular run of the mill USMC dress green wool blouse - nothing special. One of the guys grabbed it and unfolded it and Holy Finless Brown Trout! Not only was it a First World War blouse, it still had the EGA collar discs and the original owner's medals! As to how that "gem" wound up in that bale is anybody's guess but my theory is that someone passed away and their family hauled everything to Goodwill. 
* "Rag Dealer" - NYC slang for places that sold old clothes and other used items. In bulk. It would be the "rag dealers" who the "vintage" stores would get their stock from. They were situated in old industrial areas in musty old warehouses that pre dated W.W.II. The one dealer that I met was an old Jewish gentleman that was Walter Matthau -the actor's brother.
** "Clothing Bale" - As the description implies, this is a large bundle of clothes that was put into a compactor, compressed and then secured with steel strapping to form a large rectangular bale.
I have a few more stories for you and as I think of them, I'll send them along. Most will be fit for public reading others (I'll mark them as such) are for your eyes only. Man, I can smell the moth balls again. - Matt
    Excellent! Keep them coming!  I would not be surprised if the M1 fixed bales came from a surplus store in the basement of a downtown San Diego, CA high-rise business building... I found a 5x5ft steel cage of them there, but I had already bleed my finances dry buying up other stuff on the trip... so again thinking that there's no way they will sell them all before I get back again (since they've been here for 40+ years) I went home and came back a month or two later to buy them.. and yup, they said someone had come in and bought them all.  Aaaarrgghhh!    Brian

As a side note, I worked at Long Beach Surplus as a kid, from 1969-1972. There were three locations at that time, one on Long Beach Blvd., one on 2nd st. in Belmont Shore, and the Westminster store which was new. I worked at the Belmont Shore location. The store was originally called 'Long Beach War Surplus' but as it got more "commercial", the name was changed to 'Long Beach Surplus Sales'. We simply answered the phone, "Surplus". I've got a million funny stories about working there, but one in particular stands out. We received a full truckload of Vietnam era jungle boots, all used. I mean *thousands* of pairs. We already had more than we knew what to do with. For the most part, we were all kids working there so what we did one day, was take those boots and throw them up in the attic without anyone knowing. When that store was eventually demolished, sometime in the 80's I think, I burst out laughing imagining someone finding thousands of pairs of jungle boots in the attic and wondering how in the hell they got up - Dave Marskell
  Hey Dave, Thanks for writing!  Please share some more stories!
When I was young, I never could understand why it was named "Long Beach Surplus", but located in Westminster. I wondered why not just call it "Westminster Surplus"?  I didn't know there were other locations...
Boy I wish I could go back today... just to relive the sights, and smell of the cosmoline & fungus proofing... the feeling of being surrounded by all this WWII history... and it was history priced at .39 or .99 cents each.
Please write up any other funny or interesting stories from your time there.   I get emails asking for more stories from both Surplus Store workers and customers...  So the interest is there.  I'd love to be able to post more stories like your 'boots in the attic' anecdote.
ahhh the memories - Brian
  Follow Up Email:  Brian, The original location was the store on Long Beach Blvd., followed by the Belmont Shore location, then finally Westminster. The reason the two Long Beach stores closed, was simply due to property values. They got so high, that the owner had no choice really, but to sell those two. I'm sure he did quite well. Where he made all his money initially, was around 1964 when suddenly, "everybody" had to have bell-bottom jeans. Who were the only people wearing them at that time? The U.S. Navy, and Barney had millions of pairs of them! I was 16 in 1969 and at that time, we were primarily war surplus. You can only make so much money selling G.I. canteens for .99 cents!
BTW, we didn't have any real fixed pricing on anything. When we'd receive a shipment of say ammo belts or pouches, we'd simply "guess" as to what a fair price would be. Nobody told us what to price items at. As the next several years went on, the demand for war surplus items as such, waned. The store had to become more commercial to flourish. We began selling, fishing gear, camping equipment, hiking boots, sleeping bags, tents, etc. Especially Levi's! It went from one rack to about four! Eventually, war surplus items were reduced to one solitary rack in the store. Some things continued to remain big sellers though, emergency drinking water, rations and so on. Anything one could use for camping. Field jackets were another popular item. Remembering the era, everybody had to have a field jacket with a peace sign stitched on it :)
One item in particular also sold out virtually overnight. Get this; parachutes! White cargo-chutes. 99 cents! One of the guys, Andy Gumpfer knew how to tie-dye. We took a cargo-chute and tie dyed it and draped it from the ceiling in the store. Greatest advertising gimmick of all time! You have to remember though, that these 'chutes were used. When we unrolled them, you never knew what you were going to find in there. Once we found a scorpion! It was perhaps the greatest job in the world for a kid to have. One of my fondest memories, was the manager, John Zagorski who I would guess is probably dead now. John smoked these huge green cigars of some sort and chewed on the ends. You could smoke indoors at that time. They were the foulest smelling and looking things you could imagine. The funny part was, when John would be talking to a customer, he'd take the cigar out of his mouth and he talked with his hands. He'd wave this chewed, foul smelling cigar inches from someone's! Oh, the good old days :)
p.s. And you are right, there was no such thing as a crate Jeep, although everyone was "convinced" there was. And if you told them it was a myth or rumor, they still didn't believe you. They'd look at you as if you were lying to them and keeping the crate Jeeps for yourself :)
  Hi Dave, I remember High School & College kids putting the parachute canopies over their beds! Awesome to hear how it came to be promoted at your store.
You are right about the Jeep in a crate story. It's been better the last 10 years with the internet and my mission (continuing the efforts of Ray Cowdery) to get the word out about there not being Jeeps in Crates for $100 being sold surplus.  There was a lot of push-back from people older and wiser(?) than me (in my 20's). So many guys who absolutely swore that a friend, of a friends uncle 3x removed had bought one from the widow of a postman who got it from his boss who bought it direct from the Government still in the grease  LOL and that next time he saw him, would get me the details how I could buy one too.
Any more anecdotes?  Funny stories?  Interesting characters, co-workers, customers etc?
best regards, Brian
PS  I've posted what you have shared previously so everyone can get a kick out of it.
Hi Brian,

I grew up in Hawthorne, CA. I too miss the old surplus stores. I am 60 years old now, but remember fondly going to a surplus store on Hawthorne Blvd. I think it was either Hawthorne or Gardena. Anyway I remember the bins full of neat stuff. I would take my allowance and buy anything I could. I would buy insect repellent for 10 cents or leggings, helmet liners, canteens, mess kits, anything and everything. In the mid-fifties me and my friends would play war. The more original your stuff was the more cool you were. My dad is a veteran of the battle of Lone Tree and a liberator of the island of Corregidor. He applied to be an Alamo Scout, but was turned down. (At the time they had all the volunteers they needed). He was in the sixth infantry (Sightseers). We have an old military jeep, but know nothing about it. Maybe we can send you a picture of it and you could get us started on restoring it. (My dad is still alive and doing well). The jeep has been modified by someone many years ago, but we would like to return it to its original look. Any advice. Thank you, Brian.
   Thanks for the awesome recounting of youthful times. I, too, remember all us kids on the block playing Army just like you describe. It was always a heroic battle to capture the mailbox while defending the Orange groves from the enemy.  ;-)  Please thank your dad for his service to our country. I hope he knows how much we appreciate what he & his buddies did, suffered, and sacrificed.  I would love to help out and offer any advice I can to help save another jeep for future generations to admire and help teach the history of World War Two. Brian
Dear Brian, excellent web site and siren description! I used to go to the surplus center near San Fernando Rd. and also Western Surplus on Lankershim. I lived on Roscoe Blvd. in Van Nuys in 1978-1984. I owned a WC weapons carrier and an MB while I was a member of the Military Vehicle Club in the area. One of my buddies was Dr. George Mitzushima who owned a raft of armor and other stuff in the Valley. In 1984, I went to England and France for the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Hundreds and hundreds of trucks and jeeps and armor on tour. What a rush! Love your surplus store stories as I have been involved in the same here in Maryland and DC. All gone now. My buddy and I showed a few Belgians how to find US Surplus some twenty years ago. They caught on fast and bought everything out by the truck load. One guy named Phillipe of Brussels sent back container loads. They paid "10 cents a pound here" and made a fortune in Europe. Anyway... I may have known you while I was out in LA. Take care, Steve R.

   Thanks Steve - Glad you like the stories. I'll send you a private response. Brian
Collection of circa 1942-1947 Army Surplus Store Catalog prices
Collection of circa 1942-1947 Army Surplus Store Catalog prices
Collection of World War Two
Army Surplus Store Catalog prices
circa 1942-1947 

Collection of circa 1942-1947 Army Surplus Store Catalog prices

Collection of circa 1942-1947 Army Surplus Store Catalog prices
Col. Bubbie's Strand Surplus Store, Galveston, TX
Col. Bubbie's Strand Surplus Store 
Galveston, Texas
Colonel Bubbie's Strand Surplus Store in Galveston, TX
Colonel Bubbie's Strand Surplus Store in Galveston, Texas was another on the 'Old Time, huge inventory, stocks everything' surplus stores.  I went there while in town for the Galveston MVCC (MVPA) convention.  I was there for many hours and did ferret out some treasures, only to be disappointed when after doing all the work to find them, the Col. wanted about 2x the going rate from high end dealers like Hayes O. 
Needless to say it all went back into the catacombs. 
From reading their not too favorable reviews on Yahoo Travel, it doesn't look like anything has changed there. 
Brian, I used to like to go to Col. Bubbies when I would go down to Galveston. Got some nice WWII things back in the early 90's. Wonder if it made it through the hurricane. - Chantel Tennyson 
   - Let me know if it survived. - Brian
Bannerman's 1889 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1888 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1903 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1903 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1904 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1904 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1927 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1927 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1927 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1927 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1936 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1936 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1945 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1945 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's 1955 Army Navy Surplus Catalog
Bannerman's 1955 Surplus Store Catalog

Bannerman's Island Arsenal Castle
Bannerman's Island Arsenal Castle

Bannerman's Castle
Bannerman's Castle

- Coming Soon -
Army Surplus Mail Order Catalogs

Bannerman's is most likely the greatest army surplus venture there will ever be.
The Brooklyn, New York business, known everywhere as “Bannerman’s” was founded during the Civil War era in 1865.
Francis Bannerman's was one of the first merchants to recognize the value of surplus military goods and Bannerman's became the premier private arms dealer in the world. 

By the early 1900s, Bannerman's supply of military goods was staggering. Entire nations were his customers. 
It is estimated that "50 percent of the commemorative cannons placed in public areas were purchased through Bannerman's."
Countries outfitted whole armies through Bannerman's. 
During the Russian-Japanese war, Bannerman's filled an order for 100,000 saddles, rifles, knapsacks, haversacks, gun slings, uniforms and 20 million cartridges, as well as a shipload of assorted military goods. (1)
Francis Bannerman also contributed cannons, uniforms, and blankets to the U.S. government during World War I. 

Francis (Frank) Bannerman VI - The Father of the Army-Navy Store
The patriarch of Bannermans family business and the builder of Bannerman's Castle, Frank Bannerman VI, was a Scottish patriot, very proud of his descent from one of the few Macdonald's to survive the massacre at Glencoe in 1692. During the 1690's, the King of England demanded allegiance from the Scottish clans. Legend has it that the Macdonald clan was slow to give the British their oath of loyalty. Acting on behalf of the Crown, a rival clan, the Campbells, slaughtered all Macdonald males ages 12-70. One escaped to the hills with the clan banner -- and from that day on, his family name was Bannerman. (3)

Francis "Frank" Bannerman was born March 24, 1851, in Dundee, Scotland, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1854. The family moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1858 where his father established a business selling flags, rope and other articles that he acquired at Navy auctions. While he was still in school, Francis began to collect scrap from sailing ships in New York harbor. He was very successful at this. When his father joined the union army during the Civil War, 13-year-old Francis began running the business. 

At the close of the American Civil War, the U.S. government began auctioning off military goods by the ton, with most items being scrapped for their metal. Francis Bannerman was one of the first people to realize that much of what was being sold at scrap prices had a much higher market value - much higher than the scrap metal value. He increased his inventory at the end of the Civil War by buying surplus stock at government auctions and began a military surplus business near the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1865 where he purchased and sold the surplus military equipment. 

When Bannerman went to California to bid on government cartridge boxes, he avoided heavy rail-freight charges by chartering an entire clipper ship to take his purchases back to New York via Cape Horn. He acquired a huge store of army belt-plates and smelted them down in his front yard, separating the lead from the brass in the process; the salvaged metals were then sold, in what was deemed a profitable undertaking. He converted a peaceful passenger ship into a well-armed man-of-war for a South American government in one week, “a record for speed that could scarcely be duplicated,” he boasted; and in one quick turnaround he bought up thousands of Civil War carbines and sold them in bulk to a New York store that retailed the guns for sixty-nine cents apiece. If they yielded a profit at this retail price, one can only imagine what Bannerman paid for them.

Arms meant more to Frank Bannerman than profits alone. The federal government had a practice of smashing surplus arms under heavy hammers before auctioning them. This destruction scandalized Bannerman:

We remember at the close of the Civil War, making the highest bid at Government sale, on a lot of 11,000 old guns, “veterans of many wars,” part of the lot surrendered by General Lee, classified “Rebel.” The U.S. Ordnance Officer refused to accept our bid for the guns, alleging “that Bannerman would repair the guns and put them into serviceable order, and they would then enter into competition with the now obsolete guns that the Government had for sale.” So this lot of “Rebel” guns, which contained many heirlooms of patriots who had fought with Washington and Jackson, was consigned to the fire, and the old burnt locks and barrels sold to us later as scrap iron. (2)

In 1867 the business occupied a ship chandlery on Atlantic Avenue engaged in the purchase of worn rope for paper making.  Under his guidance, Bannerman's became the world's largest buyer of surplus military equipment. As more and more material was acquired, it moved several times, finally arriving at 501 Broadway, in Manhattan. 

The store on the 500 block of Broadway opened in 1897 to outfit volunteers for the Spanish-American War. Their storeroom and showroom took up a full block at 501 Broadway, and opened to the public in 1905. The New York Herald said of it that, "No museum in the world exceeds it in the number of exhibits." 

Banner's company bought weapons directly from the Spanish government before it evacuated Cuba; and then purchased over 90 percent of the Spanish guns, ammunition, and equipment captured by the United States military which was auctioned off by the United States government. So much equipment and ammunition was bought after the Spanish-American War that the laws of New York city forced them to look for storage outside of the city limits. Since they couldn't store the over 90 tons of explosives in New York, they bought Bannerman Island on the Hudson River near West Point. 

The Bannermans purchased Pollepel Island (known afterwards as Bannerman's Island) from the Taft family in 1900 as a safe storage site. Mr. Bannerman began the construction of a recreated Scottish castle and simple residence in 1901. Equipment of every description as well as ammunition were shipped there for storage until sold. The castle, clearly visible from the shore of the Hudson River, served as a giant advertisement for his business. On the side of the castle facing the western bank of the Hudson, Mr. Bannerman had "Bannerman's Island Arsenal" cast into the wall. 

In 1918 construction on the island ceased upon Mr. Bannerman's death. On August 1920, 200 tons of shells and powder exploded in an ancillary structure, destroying a portion of the complex. 

Bannerman's sales of military weapons to civilians declined during the early 20th century as a result of state and federal legislation. However the company in general prospered until the 1970s. 

Bannerman's Catalogues
Bannerman Catalogs have been of great interest to Militaria and gun collectors, as well as sportsmen for the past 125 years.
Bannerman's catalogues educated generations of readers, both old & young alike, during the late 19th and 20th centuries. 
The Bannermans widely advertised their large, illustrated catalog in the back of pulp and sporting goods magazines in the 1920's and 1930's for 40 cents. Catalogs of their goods were routinely issued for almost one hundred years. 

Cannon? Bannerman offered them with twenty-four hundred rounds of shot “at bargain prices,” ready to be shipped within five minutes of the receipt of an order (“no red tape with our quick deliveries”).
Gatling guns? The firm stocked two hundred, with eight million rounds of ball cartridges “for any government War Department desiring to equip their army with a first-class outfit.”
A machine that could cast over a hundred thousand bullets a day? Bannerman could give you a price.
An ancient crossbow? A Zulu warrior’s lance? A Congo blow-gun arrow? See Bannerman—price: $75, $6.75, and $1.00 each, respectively. He acquired these curiosities through foreign agents and on his own frequent arms-buying forays abroad. (2)

Not only did the company offer for sale an amazing variety of weaponry and accessories, they took pride in showing the evolution of weapons and included many pages of descriptions, drawings, photos and even patent applications. 
They are a great reference resource to Militaria collectors today. 
Many collectors claim that the Bannerman catalog is the best book ever written on weapons of war. Each catalogue is a weapon history book in itself, although the quality of the printing deteriorated over the years as the staff aged and pages were reproduced. 

The Bannermans army surplus catalogs were published regularly from the 1880s to the 1960s. 
Their post 1900 catalogs can offer up to approximately 350 illustrated pages and feature a wide assortment of items from African arrows with metal barbed points to a Moroccan sheik saddle in serviceable order.  The firm also did a brisk business in martial antiques, supplying the veterans’ post wanting a front-lawn cannon, the museum seeking a suit of armor, the collector looking for a seventeenth-century blunderbuss, or the schoolboy dreaming of crossed sabers hanging in his room.

The company even had links from the famous iron chain that had been strung across the Hudson River during the American Revolution as a device to snag British ships. The links were cut into cross sections a quarter of an inch thick, polished bright, stamped “Section of chain used by General George Washington, West Point, New York, 1778.”  The last of these links to the Revolution were sold in the 1940’s for $2.75 apiece.

Bannerman also conducted a lively trade in less lethal wares. He sold surplus military uniforms to bands, fire departments, and patriotic organizations. Seventy-five years after the Civil War the firm was still offering Union army uniforms “in the original cases, free from moths and in perfect condition.” Buffalo Bill used Bannerman supplies in his act. The cast of My Maryland, a 1927 musical with a Civil War theme, was outfitted in original blue and gray uniforms from Bannerman’s. (2)
"To my generation, Bannerman's was a real evocative name," says Bob Parker, now a man nearing 70. "My brother and I used to get the catalog in New Mexico where we lived in the 1930s, and buy kepis (hats) issued in the Civil War for seventy five cents! A lot of things came in their original crates, never unpacked. It was a great place for tack, cots, tents, saddles ... I still have my kepi from 1935." Bannerman's supplied countless theatrical productions with uniforms for costumes, and many illustrators and painters with military detail. (1). 

New Militaria Collectors today often ask about why their seemingly NOS (New Old Stock) clothing and articles of uniform are marked "Bannermans". Many people do not realize how much original NOS military surplus from the Cival War, WWI, and WWII in the form of uniforms, clothing, patches, silk maps, blood chits, and accountrements was procured by theatrical companies, costume shops, and movie studios. These private civilian entities often added their own sewn-in or iron-on labels, or they stamped their own company name in permanent ink right on the garment, patch, or accounterment. Kaufmans Surplus and Max Berman & Sons were two other companies besides Bannermans who sold and/or rented NOS and used clothing, jackets, flight jackets & patches, and accounterments to theatrical companies, movie studios, and sold or rented them directly to the public as well. (scroll down to section #5 and scroll down to: "Kaufman’s supplies Broadway:")
It is uncertain when the first Bannerman's catalogs were printed, but it was very likely soon after they started business. All of the known catalogs are dated, but only a few of them are numbered. The early catalogs had no illustrations. The 1888 Bannerman catalog is representative of their early catalogs. It is a small 12 page booklet that has a brief description of a few military items and a blank space to write in the price of each item. The lack of a printed price allowed for a price change without reprinting the catalog. This also indicates that this catalog format was probably used between 1865 and 1888. The first illustrated catalog was produced in 1889. This catalog had 25 pages and was approx. 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" in size. In 1907 the catalog was 7" x 10" in size and had grown to 259 pages. In 1910 Bannerman's produced their first full size catalog, which was 9" x 11 1/2". 

Here is a list of the known Bannerman's catalogs.  If you have further info on Bannerman's catalogues, please email me.
1888, 1889, 1900, 1903, 1904, 1907, 1910 (first large catalog), 1913, 1917, 1923, 1925, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1940 (#25 - 75th anniversary), 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1954 (#28), 1955, 1966 (100th anniversary)

Bannerman's 1904 catalog states: "This catalogue contains illustrations, descriptions and history of the largest stock in the world of Military Goods from Government Auctions, and is considered by many as the authority on Military Weapons, giving information found in no other catalogue or book."  It also states "Some of our customers think this catalogue is worth its weight in gold.", which is something that still holds true 108+ years later.

Bannerman Island & Bannerman's Castle

Bannerman Island, is the site of Bannerman's Castle (also known as  Pollepel Island) is about 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City and about 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Hudson River's eastern shore. It contains about 6.5 acres (26,000 m2) — most of it rock.

The principal feature on the island is Bannerman's Castle, an abandoned military surplus warehouse. It was built in the style of a castle by businessman Francis Bannerman VI (1851–1918). One side of the castle carries the words "Bannerman's Island Arsenal". 

Francis Bannerman purchased the island in November 1900, for use as a storage facility for his growing surplus business. In the spring of 1901 he began to build an arsenal on Pollepel Island to provide a safe location to store thirty million surplus munitions cartridges. Bannerman designed the buildings himself and let the constructors interpret the designs on their own. Most of the buildings were devoted to the storage of army surplus,  but Bannerman also built another castle in a smaller scale on top of the island near the main structure as a residence. There he often used items from his surplus collection for decoration. 

The castle, clearly visible from the shore of the river, served as a giant advertisement for his business. On the side of the castle facing the western bank of the Hudson, Bannerman cast the legend "Bannerman's Island Arsenal" into the wall.

The castle today
The island and buildings were bought by New York State in 1967, after the old military merchandise had been removed, and tours of the island were given in 1968. However, on August 8, 1969, fire devastated the Arsenal, and the roofs and floors were destroyed. The island was placed off-limits to the public. 

Today, the castle is still the property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is mostly in ruins. While the exterior walls still stand, all the internal floors and non-structural walls have since burned down. The island has been the victim of vandalism, trespass, neglect and decay. Several old bulkheads and causeways that submerge at high tide present a serious navigational hazard. 

On-island guided hard hat tours were recently made available through the Bannerman's Castle Trust. The castle is easily visible to the riders of the Metro-North Railroad's Hudson line and Amtrak. The sign is easily visible to southbound riders.

Sometime during the week prior to Sunday, December 28, 2009, parts of the castle collapsed. Officials estimate 30-40 percent of the structure's front wall and about half of the east wall collapsed. It was reported by a motorist and by officials on the Metro North Railroad, which runs along the edge of the Hudson River.

For more info on Francis Bannerman,  Bannerman's Island, and Bannerman's Castle, see:

*If anyone has stories or old photos of Army Surplus stores - please email them to me so I can add them.  THANKS!

Military Vehicle Surplus Sales - Yards & Dealers

Cosmolined military vehicle engine parts overflow from shelves.Cosmolined military vehicle engine parts overflow from shelves. 

Shelves full of military vehicle engine, transmission, and differential parts still packed in cosmoline protectant.Shelves full of military vehicle engine, transmission, and differential parts still packed in cosmoline protectant. 

Shelves overflowing with military vehicle water pumps, belts, hoses, lines, and electrical parts still packed in cosmoline.Shelves overflowing with military vehicle water pumps, belts, hoses, lines, and electrical parts still packed in cosmoline. 

I made frequent trips out to the old Surplus City Jeep Parts warehouse when they were located in Sun Valley, CA.  After I became better known and became a dealer myself, I was allowed behind the counter and was allowed to rummage around in the barn like warehouses. I wore out the people who accompanied me, as well as the employees sent to help me find what I was looking for.  I wasn't looking for anything specific, just neat stuff I didn't have. As the months passed, they began asking me if I knew where stuff was. I had gotten to the point that I knew the rafters, 2nd story, and dusty cubbyholes at least as well as, if not better than, the counter guys.  ;-)  I was proud of that. I took it as a great compliment that I was allowed to investigate like an archeologist through the stores of a competitor. But we weren't really competitors. They had me hands down on the mechanical stuff - gears, crankshafts, pulleys, pistons, rods, etc.  They had the mechanical parts & the know-how for all sorts of early civilian & military jeeps. I was happy to let them be the source for all things like that.  My interest was always with the odd-ball accessories and subtle differences between Early & Late, between Ford "F" marked and Willys.  I liked all the special military only stuff - the stuff 'Farmer John' always tossed in the trash when the MB/GPW went to work on the farm.  So Surplus City and I lived a great coexistence. I sent them all my customers who needed mechanical parts. And I know that they sent customers my way as well for the really rare stuff that I always carried.  I should at this point say a special "Hello" to Chuck Heindell of Surplus City's Northern Calif. operations. We've both watched each other grow up. Every 6 months we would see each other at Patterson, then Woodson Bridge, then Big Bear, and now at Tower Park and at the Surplus City camp out.  Surplus City has since closed their Southern California store & warehouse and moved everything up to Oroville. 

I also made trips to visit Roy Van Wicklin of 4wd by Van, and Phil MacDonnald of Highland Truck Parts (now closed).  Phil always had great stuff - he's retired to Canada last I heard. Van always had stories. If I was at Van's in Calabasas for 2 hours, I knew Van would fill the time with 3 hours worth of stories. If I had 4 hours, then Van would come up with 5 hours worth of stories. Funny thing about Van, he's got a story for everything. He's quite a character. I never bought much there, as he usually wanted way too much money. Eventually he too closed up shop in LA and retired to Las Vegas. Terry was the mechanic at 4WD by Van's. He was a good guy too. Eventually he left Van's and teamed up with Kerry from Surplus City to start a small WWII jeep operation. They called themselves "The Outcasts".  I bought 3 Ford Script body tubs from them and a few boxes of miscellaneous parts from them.  They were also involved in the infamous Cuervo Gold tequila induced "Brian & Kerry's Stretcher Bearer Taxi Service" at the Woodson Bridge rally about 1988 or so. In this incident one of the Ford Script GPW body tubs previously mentioned landed on top of me when I tripped, fell, and slid under it, knocking the 4 jerry cans it was sitting on out from under it. So even today, I can with great certainty inform you that Ford Script body tubs are both heavy and have pointy poky things sticking out of the bottom. These pointy poky things, when combined with the weight of the tub, can and do cut, scrape, and otherwise bring to an end the fun & frivolity of a jeep camp out evening of running around the park with another like minded individual offering free stretcher rides to people out for an evening stroll. It took me a decade to live that episode down. Oh, to be 26 again. 

I outlasted my 2 competitors in Southern Calif., Surplus City & 4WD by Van. Maybe they had sense to get out of the crowded LA basin and go to a place where there aren't so many people and a jeep can run in real dirt. There's almost no dirt left in Orange County, Calif. It's all houses & malls. 

Bergs - The King Of Jeeps - Chicago, IL

Coming Soon - BERG's "King of Jeeps" and other Army Jeep Mail Order Catalogs

Pueblo Auto Parts - Pueblo, Colorado ~ It WAS Full of NOS WWII Army Surplus Jeep partsPueblo Auto Parts - Pueblo, Colorado WAS full of NOS WWII Army Surplus Jeep parts 

NOS WW2 Jeep and MV parts that were originally destined for combat in the ETO, PTO, MTO, and CBI.Piles of NOS WW2 Jeep and MV parts that were originally destined for combat in the ETO, PTO, MTO, and CBI. 

Stacks of Crates full of WWII Army Surplus waiting to be opened and have the cosmoline removed to reveal parts that haven't seen the light of day since they were made while WWII raged all over the World.Stacks of crates full of WWII Army Surplus waiting to be opened and have the cosmoline removed to reveal parts that haven't seen the light of day since they were made while WWII raged all over the World. 

Stacks of sheet metal body parts and military vehicle axles and crated engines.Stacks of sheet metal body parts and military vehicle axles and crated engines.

PUEBLO AUTO PARTS a.k.a. BIG 4 AUTO PARTS in Pueblo, Colorado. People don't believe me when I try to describe it to them. This was the only place like it I have ever been. It was unique and if you never saw it for yourself, you won't believe that a place like that existed. I have made at least 3 trips there with a year or so between visits. They were 2-day visits. They had to be to do it right.  There was just too much stuff to see and dig & crawl and climb through. Pigeon poop being a large part of the contents of the building. The 122 year old building was a multi-story hotel built before the turn of the century. Add to that the 3 level basement. Everything was full of parts, even the elevator shafts. Everything was full of shelves, crates, piles, boxes, stacks, bundles, sacks, etc. of antique (20's, 30's, 40's, 50's) auto & truck parts - mostly military vehicle parts. The hotel room doors were removed for easier access. The rooms were full of shelves. Rows & rows of shelves. The problem was that the shelves had all fallen forward onto the shelf unit in front of it. It was like a big stack of dominoes in the process of falling.  The contents of every downward facing shelf was piled high on the floor in front of it, while all the up facing shelves were jumbled and mixed up and hard to get at.  So imagine a 3 ft pile of stuff at the base of EACH shelf unit, where you had to crawl under the tilted shelf unit to try to get to the bottom of the pile. You had to move the pile to see what was on the bottom shelf, because the bottom shelf tilted the least so it didn't travel far. Most people took one look and said forget it! The more adventurous dove right it, but I would guess that many never got to the bottom of the piles.  Now visualize room after room after room like this, then go up another story and find another floor like the one that just took 3 hours to go through. Ok, sounds like fun doesn't it?  Well the bad news is that many windows are broken out on every floor, and pigeons by the score have decided to bury all the auto parts in poop & feathers. Now it's not so fun anymore.  There were spider webs, and dust piles the size of small rats. I'm pretty sure they weren't rats as they didn't move.  Lighting was also an issue. There might be 1 single incandescent bulb in the center hallway and that was it. There you are 40 feet away in another room wondering if maybe that isn't a dust pile after all and sometimes it wasn't.  Sometimes it was a rat, and sometimes he had friends.  I am not about to let some stupid rats come between me and those NOS Ford GPA mufflers in the corner. When I emerged hours later, I didn't look human. I think this is the filthiest I have ever been. The 1st trip was a success. I spent hundreds of dollars and was happy as a clam. Well as happy as any filthy, stinky, pigeon poop covered clam with a truck full of NOS WWII jeep parts could be. 

The 2nd time I went to Pueblo Auto Parts I went far better prepared. The first time I went not believing the stories I had heard.  The first time I went unprepared. I didn't make that mistake again.  I was going in for the long haul and going in loaded for bear. It was me against the pigeons and their poop, the spiders and their irritating webs, the dust bunnies/dust rats, and the various dirt, trash, and broken glass. I came with several sets of gloves, extra batteries, flashlights, backpack & canvas bags, dust mask, a headset walkie talkie, and 2 bottles of water in a butt pack. I ate before I went in.  I was working my way through crawl spaces where gravity could be my undoing if a shelf unit decided to give way and finish the trip it started towards the ground. CRIKEY! <tipping hat to Steve Irwin> I loved it!. I spent 8 hours in there. They kicked me out at closing. I got a hotel room down the road because I wasn't done yet. I loved it even more the 2nd day!  Hundreds more $ spent. Ohh, but they were deals. A couple of years later I was back again for more. I am glad I did it and I am sorry I can't ever go back there to do it again. It's gone!    ;-( 

Downtown fixture Big Four Auto Parts waits for progress to bring a buyer. (The Pueblo Chieftain) Dec. 20, 1995

The Big Four auto parts building looks every bit its 110 years; and its windows are full of shiny auto parts.
And even closer still to the hotel site, the store still maintains a small, unsightly outdoor storage lot surrounded by a crinkly tin fence. <Link>
Pueblo, Colo., Auto Parts Store Closes after 70 Years in Business. (Knight Ridder/Tribune) Nov. 30, 2000
Nov. 30 -- Decades worth of inventory at the Big 4 Auto Parts store Downtown on Santa Fe Avenue will be auctioned Saturday. The sale, beginning at 10 a.m., marks another step leading to the demolition of most of the buildings on the west side of the 200 block of North Sante Fe Avenue to make way for parking for the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center. <Link>
Liquidation Auction at Landmark Pueblo, Colo., Auto Parts Store Draws Crowd. (Knight Ridder/Tribune) Dec. 4, 2000
Dec. 4 -- Charles Miller was like a kid in a toy store when he walked into the Big 4 Auto Parts store Saturday morning. "This is awesome," said Miller of Denver as he perused box after box in aisle after aisle of the 70-year-old auto parts store.  "I haven't been this excited about stuff since I was a kid," he said. "I don't plan to leave here without at least a couple boxes of stuff."  Miller joined hundreds of other auto part, antique or simply nostalgia lovers who gathered at the Big 4 store at 201 N. Santa Fe for a gigantic one-day liquidation auction.  Everything ...   <Link>

*If anyone has photos of Pueblo Auto Parts or other surplus yards I mention - please email me so I can add them.  THANKS!

Brian's Military Jeeps of WWII
Surplus WWII Jeep parts & Accessories - World War Two US GI Accouterments & AAF Gear
MA, T-1 Air Compressor, other rare WWII Willys, Ford, and Bantam Jeep partsMA, T-1 Air Compressor, other rare Willys, Ford, and Bantam Jeep parts 
Willys MBT Jeep trailer, F Ford GPW, and Ford GP Prototype PartsWillys MBT Jeep trailer, "F" Ford GPW, and Ford GP Prototype Parts 
Decontaminiator, Early Galvanized Jerry cans, and other rare WW2 Jeep partsDecontaminiator, Early Galvanized Jerry cans, and other rare WW2 Jeep parts 
World War Two Motor Pool Mechanics Tool Boxes ~ WWII dated Jeep Mechanics Boxes packed full of NOS MB/GPW jeep partsWWII dated Jeep mechanics tool boxes packed full of NOS MB/GPW jeep parts 

Fuel Filters, B/O marker lights, and other rare W.W.II collectibles.Fuel Filters, B/O marker lights, and other rare W.W.II collectibles. 
World War Two trailer full of Gas Cans, Combat Rims, and 6:00-16 NDT tires.World War Two trailer full of Gas Cans, Combat Rims, and 6:00-16 NDT tires.
In 1983 I purchased my 1st WWII Jeep. A running and driveable 1942 Willys MB. It was missing everything Military though.  I searched high & low for the parts I was missing. Although I was attending college, I tried to buy extra WW2 jeep parts whenever I found a good deal on them. I started trading extra parts through the mail to get supplies of trading parts that no one had in the local So. Calif. area.  Real Estate in Orange County, CA is too expensive to store inexpensive things like 30 cent piston rings. It only makes sense to store the really valuable (and hopefully small) Jeep parts. I always liked all the accessories and goodies that WWII jeeps either came with or had Modification Kits for, so this worked out well for me. I bought up all I could find of the things that met those prerequisites for size, value, and rarity. Years later when I decided to take advantage of a job opportunity with several publishing companies, it meant I wouldn't be around home very much. This traveling salesman job made it too difficult to sell parts, but it didn't stop me from buying as much as I could and stocking it away for a time when I would be working close to home again.  Now the walls are busting with stuff.  It's packed full and overflowing everywhere.  I just started opening up boxes, crates, and barrels of WWII Jeep Parts & accessories that I had locked up & stored for between 10-20 years. The majority are NOS. I am now cleaning, degreasing, in in some instances glass beading & painting these rare parts.  Some finds so far are MA headlight brackets, Slatgrill Brass Windshield Clamps, Decontaminators, 1st Aid kits, Red Stimsonite reflectors, Spare Parks Kit Firestone Spark Plugs, Machine Gun Mount pieces,  Ford & Willys Pintle Hooks, Ford Ignition Switches, Gearshift Knobs, Handcrank Clamps, Grease Gun Adapters, Sirens, Harley Davidson Blackout Lights, WWII Jeep Axes, WWII GI Hand Axes, WWII Slatgrill Shovels, MB/GPW shovels, Entrenching Shovels, WWII Vehicle Equipment Pick Ax, GI Entrenching Picks, WWII General License Plates, Jeep Windshield Defroster Kits, Ford & Corcoran Brown BO Lights & Guards. There are some photographs posted to the sides and below of what it looked like to open just some of these boxes and crates. Pristine pieces will be sold AS IS in NOS condition.  In cases where something was NOS but had some flaw such as rust stains or badly flaking paint, then my goal is to make these parts be ready to install in a top notch restoration. To have them be in the best condition for sale, they might be degreased (cosmoline removed), if there is storage wear or any spots of surface rust, the parts might be stripped chemically, then touched up with a glass bead machine for maximum rust eradication (if any) and for best paint adhesion. Parts would then be primed and painted and ready for sale. 

This is pretty much going to be it. I don't foresee finding any more warehouses or hordes of WWII MB / GPW Jeep parts. I haven't seen those since 1990. So out of the bundle of 12 Jeep Axes, I am keeping 4 for my jeeps, leaving 8 for sale. There might be another Ax that turns up, but all the jeep parts were pretty well organized when I put them all away years ago. So when those 8 Axes are gone, that's it. 

I will post as much info on each item when I offer it for sale. As much as I would love to chat & email back in forth and answer questions in great detail, I can't. If I do, nothing gets done. Nothing gets opened, degreased, glass beaded, painted, photographed, cropped & uploaded. No ads get written, auctions run, items boxed up, & taken to the shipper. It's a one man show here. Since I will be in the shop wearing various hoods, gloves, working with paint, chemicals, air tools, etc., I won't be anywhere near a computer to answer questions or look at your 'want lists'. Sorry.  I spend too much time on the internet as it is and I need to cut way back as it seems I never get the jeep jobs started let alone finished.  Also, re: wants lists.  I am trying to get all similar parts ready at the same time to the best of my ability.  All the shovels, all the WWII Jerry can spouts etc.  Usually the parts were put in as groups originally, so they should be coming out in groups. I don’t have a map to locate specific parts; I just open the boxes as I work my way farther & farther back.  Then I take the boxes down to the shop for clean up and preparation for sale. 

Last thing is: I don't know who I should sell the parts too. Do I sell to the guy who mailed me a letter 8 years ago looking for something because he's been waiting the longest?; The guy from the local jeep club because I've seen him at the meetings for 15 years; The guy who is a total white glove museum grade restoration because I know he'll worship it?; The guy who really uses his jeep because he drives the jeep weekly and wants it to keep it running?;  The new guy who lives 2 miles away and just got his 1st WWII jeep because he's close? 
So many people have written and emailed with what they are looking for. I totally understand and know how you feel.  I want to make everyone happy, but I can't. There's a 100+ people who want something I only have 8 of. How do I pick? Who do I disappoint?  I am going to do my best to remove myself from the equation so there are no hard feelings. I'll let you guys decide who wants it the most.  I'll be putting most things up on ebay so everyone has a fair shot at getting what they want. They only way around this is if you have something I want. Check my WANT LIST to see if you do.  Remember want my jeep to have all the best stuff. 

Join my email Notification List to find out immediately when (and what) items are posted for sale. See the sales flyer

Here are some more photos of my 
WWII Jeep parts as found after being 
in storage for more than a decade 

NOS Ford GPW Blackout Headlight Switch ~ WW2 Willys MB and Ford GPW Jeep

NOS Red Reflector Inserts ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep WWII Jeep Round Reflectors ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep
Bundles of WWII Jeep Shovels and Axes ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep WWII Jeep Shovels ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep WWII Can of Blue Drab Lustreless Stencil Paint and Ford Early Rubber Hood Blocks~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep
WWII Jeep Axes ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep WWII Jeep Ax Heads ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep USA Marked Ax Handle ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep
NOS Hull Compass for WWII MB/GPW Jeeps and Other WWII Vehicles NOS WWII HULL Compass box ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep NOS Military Surplus Parts still in waxed paper and Cosmolene
Misc. NOS WWII Jeep parts ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep NOS WWII Army Surplus vehicle parts ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep NOS Capstan Winch Shafts ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep
New Old Stock Early M1917 .30cal Water cooled machine gun cradles Short VEP slatgrill windshield frame and WWII Jeep Tandem Tow Bars ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep WWII Jeep Tandem Tow Bar ~ WW2 MB GPW Jeep
Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes
Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes Collection of WWII MB/GPW Jeep Tools, Army Vehicle Mechanic's Tools & Tool Boxes

Cosmoline - What's that?

CosmolineThe military was very concerned that the spare parts being sent to overseas theaters arrive in new pristine condition after their months of ocean transit.  The parts would be exposed to salt water, salt spray, high humidity, rain, possible oil and chemical spills, as well as rough handling and dirty conditions.  The military went to great lengths to preserve their spare parts. The most common method of preserving parts was to coat the parts in cosmoline, and/or place them in a cardboard boxes and then coat the boxes with cosmoline and wax paper. Cosmoline is the trade name for a general class of rust preventatives, very similar to petroleum jelly in properties, appearance, and thickness. Cosmoline is the purified ointment like residue obtained from the distillation of petroleum oils. Chemically, cosmoline is a homogeneous mixture of oily and waxy long-chain, non-polar hydrocarbons. Cosmoline feels very waxy or oily and has a petroleum-like odor and taste. Cosmoline can be found in several colors and shades. It can range in color from white to yellow, light-amber, or green. Other times a nice light opaque brown, and still other times it is dark and black as coal. Cosmoline melts from 113–125 °F (45–52 °C), has a flash point of 365 °F (185 °C), and can differ in viscosity and shear strength. Besides military vehicle parts, another common use for cosmoline was in the storage and preservation of firearms. In fact it is used to preserve from very small to the very large items. In the past items as large as vehicles and even larger coastal artillery pieces have been preserved for future use with cosmoline. In the jeep realm, the older, long time collectors can remember needing a pocket knife to scrape off the thick cosmoline coatings so you could read the contents label when exploring the old truck surplus warehouses. You never really knew what you had found until you could scrape off enough layers to be able to read the label under all those layers. It was a dirty, filthy job, yet oh how I miss those days.  It seems now everything is repro, or used. Very few items are still found 'In The Cosmoline'.

Rumor has it you can make Cosmoline yourself as follows;
  1) get, mix & melt equal amounts of lanolin and petroleum jelly (large tub) in a double boiler.
  2) Apply it warm.
Be aware it will harden like concrete and is hard to get off.

You can still buy it outright as well;

"Cosmoline, rare item. New 10 Lb bricks new in cardboard boxes. Just heat in old pan until melted and dip your valuable parts in. I have found parts treated this way in old Surplus Yards that have been laying outside for 40 years and they are still like new. Works great for gun collectors also. $14.95 a brick"

Army Surplus Warehouse
P.O. Box 1523
Idaho Falls,  Idaho  83403
Phone: 208 529 4753
**UPDATE:  It is now sold out:  I recieved an email from Amber at ArmySurplusWarehouse, as follows:
I looked at you're website! Its very nice! I saw that you have one of our old items featured on you're website. We are out of stock and keep getting a lot of phone calls for the cosmoline. Sadly, it is a thing of the past for us, we can not buy it anymore.
Apparently there is a lot of people on you're site tho :)
Keep up the good work!   Thank You!
Midway sells a product they call Cosmoline:

Brownell's has RIG rust preventive grease It may or may not be Cosmoline, but would probably work as well.

Perhaps instead of wanting to put on cosmoline, you want to get rid of it and remove it - if so, here is a good link on the topic.

Speaking of Army Surplus... What about those $50 Jeep in a Crate Stories?

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