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solvent for gripper installation

Dear P2techers:
I'm working with a tool company using toluene to soak a soft plastic 
handle before sliding it on a metal tool handle.  Tools are mostly 
pliers and such.  The client says the toluene "stretches" the 
plastic, although I think it may just soften it, making it easier to 
slide onto the tool handles.  Does anyone have experience with this 
type of application and know of a different material that may work 
here?  My first thought is heating the handle in a soapy solution 
from the inside (like a test-tube washer system) and then sliding it 
Any ideas would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Sherry Davis