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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a set that is in perfect shape other than the faded brown color. Any advice on restoring them to black without them looking bad?
 

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Unfortunately, this is how hard rubber ages.

You might try immersing them in olive oil, to see if it 'brightens' them - but other than making them look 'clean' - they probably won't look much darker.

Alternatively - they're a great reason to look for a nice, clean, 'silvered-out' Single Action Army...
 

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I haven't tried this (note the qualifier) because I never dealt with hard rubber grips much, but I've been told that you can use solvent based leather dye to restore the color.

Fiebing's shoe dye is a solvent based leather dye and can be bought at most any shoe or leather store.
I'd strongly recommend trying this on a hidden area to see what it does.

Of course, the aged brown color does add a certain class to a gun.
 

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I've dealt with all manner of hard rubber grips - from the 'Suicide Specials' of the Old West - to the big Mark VI Webley .455s.

They're always a 'By Guess and By God' sort of thing, though patience pays off.

Feibing's 'will' color, but I've found that it'll work out of the pores - to color the hand, holster and clothing, unless you let it sit for a 'very' long time, and even then you can still coax some of it out, unless it's in a protected spot.

Just clean your grips - and if you don't like them - there are a helluva lot of guys who'll buy them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
These are New Service Grips for a high condition/patina free gun so I need them to look good. Thanks for the advice my friends.
 

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It's funny how the situation dictates what we want. A nice brown set of grips indicating the possibility of original grips lots of times on the SAA is desired. Not what you're after this time. Let us know if the leather dye works if you try it
 

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Well I have never tried this but what about the car care products that are suppose to bring back you black trim.....

I have used a product made by HONDA on faded handlebar switches....it is called HONDA POLISH....I soak the switches with it and let it soak in overnight...look like new the next day....

I have also heard of people using RITZ black dye....lots of the RUGER black plastic grips turn brown...I usually just coat them with CLENZOIL and let them soak it in....makes them look a lot better....good luck...RR.
 

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+1 for RR's words on the Honda polish. BC (before children) I used it on just about everything on a motorcycle, which is a lot of plastic and rubber and it does make it look dark and shiny, so I used it on the Sea Doo as well. won't hurt your grips, just don't know how long it will keep them black if it works.
 

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A light and well Brushed application of the old time 'Kiwi' Black Shoe Polish would also work well.

I am not too sure about the Olive Oil, or, I would worry it might deteriorate the Hard Rubber...I know it deteriorates other Rubber and Plastics, it sort of slowly 'melts' them and or makes them decompose and get granular.
 

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India or 'Hard' Rubber was kind of it's own thing...it is basically cooked concentrated Tree Sap from the Rubber Tree, which in this instance has had Carbon or Lamp Black added, maybe Sulfur, I forget now.

It will not react the same as synthetic polymer or resin 'plastics'...and can be ruined by heat, hot water, or some solvents.

I know Olive Oil will destroy various old and new Plastic materials, as can other Organic or Plant based Oils...Moth Balls when too close can also destroy various older plastics, including the old Soybean and or Linseed process Clothing Buttons of the latter 19th Century and early 20th.
 

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I've used Fiebings black leather dye on old S&W grips turned brown - good, better than anything else I tried. With my several 1902-1915 New Service and 1902 & 1905 autos in high to miserable condition, all held their original black & none brown.
 

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Ritz Dye works great on Ruger Hard Rubber I have never done Colt before . Take a pack of Ritz Black Dye and mix in a pint jar with lid. let them soak for around 24 hours, take them out and dry them. clean off excess dye with a paper towel and I usually spoof can a shot of clear coat to seal the grip. look like new. I may have some pictures of reconditioning somewhere. will look for them if you want to see them.

Dan
 

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I restored a set of grips that had turned brown with this method: First, clean the grips with some household cleaner like Formula 409 and a soft toothbrush, rinse under lukewarm water and dry well. Then apply some Kiwi black shoe dye (not polish, which is just colored wax) with an old brush and let dry. Wear gloves and work over some newspapers as the dye will definitely stain your hands and anything else it comes in contact with. I have not had any of the dye rub off or transfer to my hands. The Kiwi shoe dye is readily available at most grocery and drug stores and was around $6-$8 if I recall. A bottle will last forever and is useful for touching up other objects too.
 

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The grip panels on M1913 sabers are also gutta percha. The brown color comes from oils being pulled out of the composite by solvents or just time.Rub them with a good quality gun oil, leaving an excess, and the color should return on a few hours.
 

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I have a set that is in perfect shape other than the faded brown color. Any advice on restoring them to black without them looking bad?
I have experimented with many procedures on old hard rubber (vulcanite) grips. In school I was taught that there were two basic types of plastics - thermoplastic and thermoset. The former can be heated and bent, while the latter often chars when heated but cannot be bent while hot. As for vulcanite, it performs in between these two extremes. Vulcanite can be heated and bent to a small degree, but if overdone it can also crack.

For decades I have straightened dozens of Colt SAA "hard rubber" grips. What has happened over the years is that someone notices that their SAA grips are loose, so they tighten the screw. That puts a new load force on each grip. That's OK, except that someone again leaves the gun inside his 140F vehicle! Or somewhere else where it gets hot. The next time he checks those grips, they are loose again! He tightens the screw again, probably this time with more torque. Over a period of time, the grips are being turned inside out.

Once I get a pair straight again, sometimes the black pigment looks depleted. Usually just applying a light petroleum oil to the grips will turn that light brown color back to black. But in extreme cases I have to use black shoe die. Not polish, but black die. Fieblings leather die would be a good choice.

But these black grips can turn brown without any of the above. I believe that handling a Colt SAA with hot sweaty hands is why they also turn brown. The sweat (water) absorbs a small amount of black pigment from the grips each time they are handled. The actual depth of the pigment depletion is almost superficial, but it will eventually appear as a brown surface.

Some of you may be interested in seeing these two related attachments. Vulcanite comes in two colors, brick red and black. The Goodyear piece here is from about 1870. William Disson was proprietor of The Bismarck Saloon in Houston, TX at 28 Preston Ave 1870-71.
 

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