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Colt Trooper .357: want to restore stocks

2054 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  mdc5162
Whats up everyone, I just joined this forum and this is my first post. I just picked up a Colt Trooper .357 from 1966.

One of my goals is to restore the gun a little bit and the stocks seem to be a good starting point. From looking at pictures, it seems these stocks have faded to a tan when they were originally a cherry wood color. What is a good way to get the stocks closer to the original finish?

I read some of the other threads about wood grips but none have discussed restoring color too much. (I personally think the gun looks amazing as it is now but I might want a 9mm 1911 instead so bringing it as close to original is probably a good idea.)

(Any suggestions on good oil to rub into the wood to make them richer looking?)

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Ask Coltforum's Swamprat to do it. He does AWESOME stock restorations for a reasonable price.
Thanks for the tip but I was hoping to make it a nice saturday project and get some hands on experience along the way
Here's what I've done a few times.

Soak the grips in lacquer thinner or a good quality wood stripper like Formby's to remove all the old finish and clean the wood.
This will not harm the medallions, so leave them in place to prevent cracking the grip attempting removal.
Use a solvent-proof toothbrush to lightly scrub the checkering.
After thorough drying, LIGHTLY sand the wood where needed.

If you have the tools and skill, you can point up the checkering with a set of checkering tools.

Colt used a stain-finish to finish grips in those days. This was some sort of varnish with a reddish stain.
The closest I found to factory was Minwax Satin PolyShades Old Maple.
This is a polyurethane satin finish with a reddish stain. The satin is a closer match to factory then the gloss finish.

I recommend brushing on two to three coats, lightly sanding between coats after each coat is thoroughly dry.
For a smoother finish I'd spray the last coat on with an airbrush to leave a final finish without brush strokes.
Factory finishes didn't totally fill the grain but if desired you can add coats and sand more between coats for a smoother look.

I thin the Minwax with about 5% paint thinner so it'd brush easier and with less brush marks.
I'd thin the airbrush coat more to allow a good spray.

The final look is very close to the color of the original Colt finish.
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For a lot of years I use Fiebing's leather dye for gun stock wood stain . It is available in several shades of tan, brown & black. It can be mixed to get in-between color & can be lightened if need be with alcohol on a rag. Cost maybe the problem for a one-time job.

For checkering I finish with poly eurythane varnish brushed in and brushed off with an acid brush cut down to less than half inch bristles. An old toothbrush would do.
I also have long used leather dyes as wood stains.
One that works very well is Tandy water-based dyes.
These come in many colors and can be easily blended and thinned to lighter tints with alcohol.

You can get most any color you want by mixing, and the dye soaks into even oily wood very well.
For darker colors the solvent based Fiebeing's is great, but you do need to thin it with the special thinner or you can dye the wood too dark.

However, for an authentic Colt grip finish the Mixwax PolyShades is better because that's how Colt did it.
I applaud your enthusiasm for wanting a "saturday project" even though it'll take longer than a day if you do it correctly. All the fellas have given you great information and they know from experinece. That's always my cue to contact "The Maestro of Stocks" as it frees my day(s) to attend to other issues and I KNOW it'll come out better than my meager attempt :eek: . I do know my limitations :p
Awesome information, thank you.

Some of it basically sounds like stripping away the color and repainting or re coloring the stock which I might want to have an experienced person do it OR gain experience THEN do it.

I think I want to start out with maybe murphy's oil and a brush for cleaning but I dont think I'm going to mix colors and such just yet. What I DO want to do though is find a nice oil I can rub into the stocks to make them richer and a bit darker. Does that make sense to you guys??

And thanks for your applause MtnSpur
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