The bugaboo of cracked grips - WaltherForums
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:58 PM   #1
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MGMike .38
The bugaboo of cracked grips

Alternative title: How to avoid sitting on a stool facing the corner wearing the conical Bubba Cap.

It is a fact that the grips on Interarms PPK/s and PPK pistols break with alarming regularity. Usually the crack emanates from the grip screw ferrule. The vendor who supplied the grips did not use enough glass in the molten plastic mix to prevent cracking when Bubba cinched down the grip screw as tight as he could manage. The reason for scrimping on glass was not the cost of the glass, but because high glass content scours the very expensive molding dies, and fuzzes out the crisp detail. So the die must be replaced more often.

Walther --on the .32 PP grips at least, which they supplied to the humorless German police-- used more glass, so the ones made in Germany stayed together better until Bubba here in the USA found an extension handle for the screwdriver to make sure the grips didn't drift under recoil. At some point Interarms prevailed on its supplier to --damn the expense-- add more glass. But unfortunately there is no way to distinguish the old from the new. Same mold, no markings.

There was an additional issue. If grips are ejected from the mold too quickly while they are still hot, they tend to distort slightly when they cool. Of course, waiting longer retards the production rate so some degree of distortion proved inevitable. If the frame surface is flat, and the grip is slightly warped, guess what happens when the grip screw is tightened.

Fast forward. How does one keep grips tight, without cracking them?

Here's what I've tried. With a leather punch cut some tiny holes the same diameter as a grip screw in peel-off stickers and cut out little paper washers. Stick them on the frame around the grip screw hole. Try the grip and see if it sits flat on the frame. If it does, add another paper "washer". Check carefully around the edges of the grip to make sure it is in firm contact with the frame. Keep doing that until the grip just barely teeter-totters on the paper washers. Experimentally install the grip screw and torque it down firmly --but not like Bubba. Press gently on the edges of the grip. Are the paper washers compressed enough that the grip fits solidly all the way around? If so, you are done. If the grip seems "high", peel one of the washers off.

The washers hopefully will support the center of a slightly warped grip and relieve the pressure that causes it to crack under recoil.

If they don't, well, it didn't cost you much to try.

M

Last edited by MGMike; 01-16-2014 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:37 AM   #2
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Great post Mike....I think I'll give it a try.....will return with my impressions but it does seem a good fix...

Something to also keep in mind for loose screws is to run the threads over a piece of tailor's chalk. It keeps the screw nice and tight but doesn't hurt the threads...it even works keeping the thread protector on my PPQ FE....
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:02 AM   #3
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This post is additional evidence that MGMike needs to be encouraged, again, to start that book we'll all buy when he finishes it. He's another gentle nudge in that direction.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by searcher451 View Post
This post is additional evidence that MGMike needs to be encouraged, again, to start that book we'll all buy when he finishes it...
Possible titles to consider...
  • Bubba doesn't live here
  • Look, but don't touch... How NOT to be a Bubba
  • Stop fooling yourself; You're not a gunsmith
  • It's Gunsmith time
  • 101 Horror Stories from Houlton
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:40 AM   #5
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MGMike .38
Another tip:

When they do crack, often a nearly invisible repair can be made with Testor's plastic cement. It is a water-clear very thin liquid glue used for model airplanes. With an artist's brush, flow a tiny amount onto the crack ON THE INSIDE and let it be drawn by capillary action into the crack. Don't use too much or it will seep to the outside and make a mess. Clamp it with a soft-jawed Irwin ratchet clamp and set it aside for 24 hours.

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Old 01-17-2014, 10:43 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by searcher451 View Post
This post is additional evidence that MGMike needs to be encouraged, again, to start that book we'll all buy when he finishes it. He's another gentle nudge in that direction.
I have done a lot of dumb things in life, but writing a gunsmithing book is not on the agenda.

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Old 01-17-2014, 12:19 PM   #7
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I wouldn't call it a gunsmith book, MGMike. I'd consider it to be a set of handy tips and observations and insights and commentary from a long history of connections inside the firearms world and, in particular, all things Walther and Interarms.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:36 PM   #8
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michael t Unproven
my ivory broke were cut out is for the safety Yep that little thin out area I really was upset
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:31 PM   #9
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Acrylic glue is clear, water-thin adhesive that dries fast and dries clear. I use it at work often. Its optical quality stuff, too. You submerge the dried stuff under water, as good as invisible. Its strong strong strong, too!!!

Make sure you have a super small hobby brush, or a syringe with a tiny needle eye, so you can control the flow and layout. I think the grips are made of an acrylic. Wont deform or ruin the host plastic, either.
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Old 01-20-2014, 12:03 PM   #10
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Once again, MGMike proves he's not just another pretty face!

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