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I don't know what shape the grips are in, some of them can be full of worm holes and very fragile. If so, I would leave them be. But, if they are solid, I see nothing wrong with warm water and a tiny touch of dishwashing detergent like Dawn and a very soft toothbrush (do not scrub though, just lightly brush). Rinse and carefully dry thoroughly, do not heat but could use an airbrush blowing air. You do not want to soak the grips in water, just brush lightly with the soap and water, rinse then hand and blow dry immediately. That's what I've done but be careful and maybe someone else may have an idea. Too wet too long will warp the grips. As far as protecting, wait a day or two after cleaning and drying to be certain the grips are thoroughly dry inside and out, then you could apply Renaissance Wax.
 

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I had to can my grips as the wormholes were extensive...or so I thought. I wish now I had tried to fill the holes with epoxy and try to blend in the repairs. Oh, well...from previous posts by the OP his don't look to be badly deteriorated. For cleaning a soft toothbrush, warm water, and some soap should do the trick. I got a modern replacement for mine, and they "look" original, or close enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all. This is really helpful. When I purchased the gun, it came with one original horn grip and one more recent (though still quite old), plastic grip. The horn grip has substantial worm damage -- and in any case I wanted a matching, period pair. (The gun itself seems to be a 1919-1920 manufacture.) Saw a pair of original horn grips on ebay so went ahead and snagged them. They look pristine apart from dirt and grime, although the one of them does have the cutout for a lanyard ring (my gun has no such ring). Will post a picture once I get them clean and attached.
 

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May I suggest getting in touch with Anthony Vanderlinden. He is a curator at the FN museum and is a member on Still's Luger forum. I know he has threads on Still's forum addressing care and restoration of horn grips there.

Regards,
 

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I saw this post and was just about to recommend Anthony Vanderlinden as well. check out his site fn-pistols... seeing some of the before and after images are astounding, and his prices are reasonable IMO (I believe he still does the restorations but I could be wrong)
 

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Soak them in neats foot oil for a few days, its a product made from cattle bone and feet, the same sort of material that the horn grips were made from in the first place. When you take them out dry them off with a series of paper towels, let them sit for a day or so and wipe them again. You will be impressed how the neat foot oil replenishes them. If your grips are warped I have had luck flatting them out using a small press made for stamps. I soak them first and then use the press over a period of a week to a few weeks depending on how bad they are, applying just a little pressure first, and increasing the pressure over time. I have had some pretty warped grips come out ok, and have never cracked one, but I do take my time. It is not a fast process.

I have also used plastic epoxy mixed with black paint with decent results on horn blemishes, but of late unless the grips are cracked I don't bother with the worm holes, I think they add character.

THOR STAMP PRESS-Subway Stamp Shop Inc.
 

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Collagen won't replace keratin. Soaking the grips in neats foot oil probably won't hurt them but won't do any good, either. You could go to a barber shop and collect hair clippings (keratin) and soak the grips in hair water for a while and it won't do any good either. I can't think of anything that will refresh horn, in fact. If anyone does, I hope they'll post it here.
 

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Collagen won't replace keratin. Soaking the grips in neats foot oil probably won't hurt them but won't do any good, either. You could go to a barber shop and collect hair clippings (keratin) and soak the grips in hair water for a while and it won't do any good either. I can't think of anything that will refresh horn, in fact. If anyone does, I hope they'll post it here.
The original question concerned cleaning the grips sir. Horn grips will absorb the natural oil from the neats foot and bring back the color from an old, dry gray appearance back to a very dark, black appearance. It will also help loosen any dirt and when the excess oil is removed off from the grips, they will appear very clean, and maintain that darkness for a very long time. I have been treating my grips in this manner for about three years now and they have not returned to that dry gray color.

I assume you were being sarcastic about soaking grips with hair and water. Would you puree the hair first? Its unproductive sarcasm like this why I go long periods without posting on this forum. The original poster asked for some free advice, I presented some free advice. You can choose for yourself if you deem it helpful.

As mentioned previously in this thread, there are "treatments" that people pay for, so you have to wonder, what did FN and other firms use? What are the "trade secrets." I tried to answer the very question you ended your post with, and my answer is neats foot oil. Have you tried it yourself?
 

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No, I was not being sarcastic, I hoped to point out that soaking grips in a keratin solution, which although is natural, is useless to restore keratin grips. I don't know why you're so defensive as to feel your opinion is beyond disagreement, or beyond science, for that matter. You're entitled to your opinion, but it's not the Word of God. Nor is mine. I am willing to defend my opinion beyond personal experience.

Neatsfoot oil is collagen made from the tendons and connective tissue in "neat" cattle (etymology) with an oil that keeps it in a state that won't dry out in the bottle. I have tried neatsfoot oil on leather, for which it works excellently. I have not tried it on horn grips. I do have a certain amount of experience with collagen, however. It makes an excellent glue, for example. It's what natural 'hide glue' is.
 

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Yep, we are entitled to our opinions, I shared mine with someone and you saw fit to share your opinion about mine, with. Its your god given right. I don't profess to be a chemist or even give it deep thought. I could care less how boiled linseed oil can restore the finish on old furniture, even if linseed oil isn't made of the same material as wood. I just know that it does. Is that a requirement for cleaning and bringing back the color? Again, I suggest you try it before you knock it. Since it is a natural oil, it wont harm the grips and will help clean them, which is exactly what the original question was. Perhaps you thought I was suggesting the neats foot oil would magically fill the worm holes? I just don't understand your point and the effort you are making to present it.
If you don't it will help, why bother even posting a reply as a third party?
Good say sir.
 

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You've got me there, freehouse. My experience with horn grips is two, one of which I replaced with plastic. Horn is very maleable if heated, and if a horn grip is warped, I suggest boiling it for a little while and then clamp it down to a flat straight piece of wood.
 
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