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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
O.K., I’m starting a new thread to try to establish an identifying feature of Black Bakelite type grips. It’s pretty apparent that the market is awash with repro plastic grips.

Gibson in The Krieghoff Parabellum covers both brown and black grips in detail. Gibson states that use of the term Bakelite is technically incorrect as the grips were made of a softer material. Bakelite is a trade name and describes a synthetic made material. One of the properties of Bakelite is it a thermosetting verses a thermoplastic material. Thermosetting material maintains its shape under heat whereas thermoplastic material will alter their shape when subjected to heat. I believe that’s why plastic Repros, thermoplastics, have been reported to bend in hot water and real black grips don’t because like Bakelite the real grips are thermosetting. Bakelite is made from Formaldehyde and Carbolic acid which is related to coal. I’m speculating that black Mauser grips being made from a coal derivative were similar enough, at least in looks, and possibly chemical composition to Bakelite, to result in the term Bakelite being used to describe the grips.
Gibson states that the brown grips were plastic that appears to most likely be made from a petroleum base. The later black grips were made from a coal derivative that was not as strong as the plastic grip but coal supplies were more available than petroleum.
The brown plastic grips were phased out during 1940 and Krieghoff started using the same black bakelite type grips used on Mausers until 1944. The black bakelite material starts to appear in 1939. Gibson doesn’t describe any black grips ever being made of petroleum based plastic. The reason to switch from plastic to bakelite type was because petroleum was in short supply.
From personal observation of grips at gun shows and photos posted on the two Luger forums, I have noticed that one type of grip that has been reported to be an original Mauser black grip possesses a differentiating characteristic that if present in all original black grips would be a basis for identifying real black grips from plastic repros. The characteristic is shown in photos from forum members and is the fibrous material that shows up in the screw holes and other locations that appear as a straw like substance imbedded in the material.
Following photos have been taken from the forums. I don't have the names to give credit.

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My conjecture is that since the grips were not as strong as the plastic type, a binder or filler was utilized to provide some attribute that was considered desirable. Possibly to add strength or keep the grip together if damaged. The grip would be less likely to shatter and break in small pieces since the material was not a strong material and may break apart if subjected to a hard blow. Of course, this doesn’t preclude Bakelite type grips being made without the binder material. In this case it appears that the only true identifier would be the heat test, (hot water?) to determine if the material was thermosetting, i.e. didn’t bend under heat since thermoplastic, (bends under heat) has not been reported being used to make grips.
As an aside, the photos Gibson use in his book for the Mauser grips don’t exhibit the qualities that many folks attribute to real grips e.g. the back of the grips are not machined or exhibit machine marks from the dies. The second addition was published in 1988 and I don’t know when the photos were taken.
For the Mauser grips, the photos and text describe/show one screw hole in each grip located at the inside top of right grip and inside bottom of left grip.
All brown plastic Krieghoffs have two holes in back of each grip; one on top and one on the bottom.

I’m asking all the folks that would be kind enough to participate in trying to establish if original black Bakelite type grips exhibit the fibrous material as shown in the accompanying photos. In many cases you must look with a magnifier/loupe to see the straw like material. It would be nice if folks that could trace the grips and Luger such that there was no question that the grips are real would participate.
Many folks have already used the hot water test and it would be nice to know if the grips that passed the hot water test, i.e. didn’t bend, exhibit the fibrous filler material.
I’d also like to know how the folks that had grips that bent under hot water performed the test. How hot was the water, how long was the grip subjected to the heat?
I’m trying to establish if any bakelite type grips were made without the fibrous material. If someone applied heat and the grip didn’t bend and the grip didn’t exhibit fibrous material it could mean that bakelite grips were made without the fibrous additive.
I’m searching for anything that may zero in on factors that could be utilized to ID real grips.
There are a lot of smart folks out there and I’d appreciate any input that may help in performing this survey.
One last item, Jan Still stated that there was a posting that listed the material that the grips were made of; if anyone knows where this info resides, please let us know.

Thanks in advance.
Tom
 

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Figure 1. byf 42, sn 135c, details left inside “black widow” grip. 4 photographs


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Figure 2. byf 42, sn 135c, details right inside “black widow” grip. 2 photographs

There are a few visible fibers, but not the abundance that I have observed in photographs of other “black widow” grips. The circles on the raised sections (that I assume result from the process of making the mold) are visible.
 

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Tom.. Pictures of the black grips from the two guns I fell pretty sure are original. The first are off 41 BYF #9154p which came as a complete rig with both numbered alum bottom mags.


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The next set is off a 42 BYF #4243h which is getting pretty late in the game. It came with a black plastic bottom fxo mag.



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Interesting that the screw holes are at different ends on these two examples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dave,
Thanks for the photos.
In the first set, the fibers are easy to see. The second set is not obvious. What does it look like to you holding them in your hands, see any fibers? It's interesting that the holes are on opposite ends of the sets and on the same end of each set rather than top and bottom.
OBTY, are the machine imprints that are evident in the photos that Jan posted visible on your grips?
Thanks for your input,
Tom
 

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Tom.... Got out my screwdriver and this is what I found. To answer your question, the grips from the 42 BYF do not really show any filler. Perhaps there is something here similar to P-38 grips where late in the war they did not show any filler and looked like a different type of plastic and were "softer".


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Started checking if the holes actually accepted the grip screw and this is what I found:

41 BYF... Holes both high and are too small for grip screw.
42 BYF... Holes both low and the grip screws fit just fine.
42 Commercial Banner... R/H high hole L/H low hole and both too big.

Decided to look at the HK guns while I was at it. All have 4 holes and I checked 6 pairs of coarse ("S" (2)1936,1937,1940 plus one spare) and the one set of fine "Ritzman" and the holes were all too small. All 6 pairs of the coarse were identical. The last one is a 42 HK and it has black grips with 4 holes that are also too small for the grip screws. I compared them to the brown HK grips and noticed a difference on the L/H grip as to the size and placement of the protrusions that keep the grip centered. Hopefully the following pictures will show that. The R/H sides are identical. Black grips are on the right in both pictures.

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Not sure what all this means but it sure is interesting. Glad you started the string.......
 

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`phoned Herr Witt, technical director of "hermann römmler-kunststofftechnik  KG" today. The company now resides near Berlin (where it originated). Herr Witt asked me to send him an e-mail and he´s sure that Herr Römmler would be only too pleased to answer any questions. Sent him a list containing some of the questions that arose in this thread ands suppose that a `phone call on Monday might get some results. Joachim Goertz would have enjoyed finding the whereabouts of the Römmler factory and being able to talk to Herr Römmler sen.; the origins of the plastic grips always eluded him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dave,
Thanks for the relook. I'm with you, I don't know where this is going but it is interesting. Hopefully Patrick can provide some information after his phone conversation.
Thanks again,
Tom
 

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Tom... Another 41 BYF (#9600x) followed me home over the weekend and the R/H side has one high hole and the L/H side has one low hole. No filler and the grip screw fits just fine. That make for 5 sets and no two are really the same.......?????
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Dave,
Did you feed it so it would follow you home?
Frustrating situation trying to come up with anything consistent. Thanks for the info.
Still hoping Patrick comes up with something.
Tom
 

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These ara a few photos of the inside of the grips from 41 BYF SN 2258u. The holes are threaded and the raised islands show the swirl patterns. The left grip has a small chip missing from under the safety area and no fiberous material can be seen there or in the screw holes. I wonder how many grip molds were used because the swirl patterns (I think from the milling cutter that was used when the mold was made) on the raised islands do not appear to be the same location on all grips that show this feature.

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Herr Witt, Roemmler´s technical manager put me through to Herr Roemmler, son of the founder. He told me that the Luger grips and K98 bayonet grips were made at their Hermann Roemmler Spremberg factory. After `45, the Russians took all the machinery and the building was completely destroyed. Herr R´s father told him that the Russians had also taken the pistol and bayonet grip forms.

The grips were made of “Duroplast” (Bakelit and/or Phenol). The company had a number of patents and had been responsible for the early development of this first type of plastic. The production method was to place the plastic material in a form and then use pressure to form the grip. Herr R. told me that the fibrous filler material was almost certainly sawdust. He could not tell me what the threaded holes were for without seeing a genuine sample but he is certain that they were not needed for the production process. His best idea is that a different method of attaching the grips to the pistol could have been contemplated at some time – and then rejected.

Herr R. would be willing to provide further information if someone could supply a sample HRS grip. He assures me that his company could make the same grips out of the same materials, using exactly the same production process.

I am sorry to say that I am somewhat out of my depth as, although I am a Luger enthusiast, I am not a collector and am mainly interested in DWM Lugers. If someone who is more knowledgeable were ever in Germany and could take the time to come to Berlin, I would be only too pleased to take them to Herzfelde where, I am certain, Herr Roemmler would provide information that might otherwise be lost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ed,
Thanks for your input.

Patrick,
Thanks for all the effort and time to talk with Herr Rommler. Following is some additional info that backs up what you posted.

Sauerfan has a posting that discusses codes for plastic grips.
http://www.gunboards.com/luger/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4085
Several interesting things pop up from the post.

One is the Maker codes, 32 is for Rommler. Has anyone ever seen a code on any Black grips?

In the paragraph CLASSIFICATION of PRESSMASSEN, the last sentence discusses Bakelite wood flour as an additive. I wonder what the example picture shows and have asked Sauerfan if the picture is available to please post it.

Another interesting thing that pops up is at the bottom of the posting regarding material codes of the Material Testing Institute. They list several types of plastics and several fillers.

There must be a way to put all this together and come up with some conclusions, anybody got an idea how to zero in?

Thanks Tom
 

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quote:Originally posted by taudelt

Ed... Will a grip screw fit the holes in your 41 BYF #2258u grips ????
Hi Dave
This dial-up connection is running about as fast as molasses on a cold winters day! The grip screws do thread into the holes fairly easy,although the threads in the grips look a little shallow, less than 75% thread engagement.
 
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