OK, so now that one has seen many pictures and illustrations of canteens, how does this apply to obtaining a canteen for one’s living history impression. Your basic choices are reproductions or refurbished originals. Both have their good and bad points.
The easiest way to go, and the one that I strongly recommend for unit members, is to obtain a reproduction 1907 pattern. This will allow you to do either early war or late war with no issued. Currently, the 1907 pattern is being reproduced and can be obtained from Hessen Antique. for $79.99. It’s not a bad canteen but I have heard that some of them had problems with leaks from poorly welded seams. Hopefully they’ve worked out this problem. I’ve obtained one from Hessen and one from Schipperfabrik (when they were selling them) and have used both with no problems. I suspect that they were both using the same supplier.
Below is a reproduction that I obtained from Schipperfabrik (who is no longer carrying them):
However, if you want to have a refurbished original, these are also possible but will require a lot of work. Also you to realize that you’re dealing with items that are now about 100 years old and they can be seriously cruddy. The later ones made of tinned sheet steel are usually severely rusted out and usually have holes. Obtaining a good candidate for refurbishing can be a lengthy process- the’re out there on eBay but you have to look carefully and even then, it can be a crap shoot.
Overall, the better candidates for refurbishing are the earlier 1907 aluminum models and they’re a lot easier to clean out. The method I have used for cleaning out canteens is to:
1) First wash out completely with hot water and bleach. You may have to do this several times to remove any loose crud.
2) Get coarse gravel/sand and fill about a quarter of the canteen with it. Add water until you’ve made a slurry mix and then shake vigorously for a minute or two and then empty. You may have to do this a few times. It’s a good idea to rinse out between gravel/sand sessions. When there’s no more loosed up crud falling out, you should be good. It would also be a good idea to check out the interior with a penlight or similar.
3) Rinse out again with bleach and hot water. Make sure there’s no more crud coming out.
4) Rinse out again with a mix of white vinegar and water.
5) Let the canteen air dry.
The canteen should now be usable. Optionally, you can add a layer of melted Beeswax. One of the hardest parts is refurbishing the stopper and this will require replacing the cork. I haven’t done this myself but there are a couple of people who do this work. Also, you will need a new leather harness, this is something you will either have to do yourself or find someone to do for you (if you’re interested, please contact me for details.)