Help please - "tool" gone "all sticky" outside

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AES

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Back in the days when "work was work", I used to carry all sorts of "stuff" on site.

Included was a solar-powered charger for things like cell phones. The outer case is some sort of grey plastic, and the hand grip parts are some sort of soft "rubbery/plasticy" stuff.

Until today, I haven't even looked at it for at least 4 or 5 years - it's been inside it's little nylon carry bag, together with various leads, adaptors, etc, and all neatly put away inside a filing cabinet drawer. NO liquids, NO excessive heat, cold , humidity, etc - it's in my office, which is a normal room inside a normally centrally-heated double-glazed house.

On opening it to do something today I found the whole body, especially the hand grip parts, have gone all "sticky" - VERY sticky indeed! I cannot see any obvious coating or anything, but when I touch it I leave faint finger prints "etched" into the black "rubbery" parts, AND there's a very sticky residue on my hands (which took some effort with soap and water to remove). Wiping the kit with a damp tissue has left tissue residue all over the kit (and on my hands), again especially on the "rubbery" parts, but all over everything really - EXCEPT for the inside of the pouch that came with it, though there is a SLIGHT stickiness on the gloss paper leaflet that also came with it and was also stored in the pouch.

So can anybody please tell me:

1. What's happened?

2. And more to the point, how the hell do I remove it??

3. And also, will the kit still be serviceable?

The above may well sound strange, but I assure all that this is an "actual", NOT a wind up!

Thanks in advance for any pointers
 

Lorenzl

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It has just degraded and I doubt there is anything you can do with it. If you want to keep it I would cover it another material as I would think it still works OK and there is probably no way of cleaning it up.
 

AES

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It has just degraded and I doubt there is anything you can do with it. If you want to keep it I would cover it another material as I would think it still works OK and there is probably no way of cleaning it up.

Wow, that was a quick reply, thanks Lorenzl!
Covering it with something else hardly seems possible, it's a very complicated shape. Being an old fuddy-duddy I HATE chucking stuff away, but if (a big IF) I told my wife about it she'd ask me what I want to use it for, and my honest reply would be "No idea, I don't do business travel any more, and these days, wherever I do go, it's always "civilised" enough to have proper charging points in the hotel room or whatever".

But ................

I'm intrigued by "just degraded" however. I've never had anything go sticky before, and back in "the good old days" I was always carting loads of stuff around the world - printers, scanners, lap tops, etc, etc. In fact some of that stuff is still sitting in the same filing cabinet drawer , and none of that's gone "sticky". Any ideas about "degraded" please?
 

Phill05

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Liberal amounts of Talc powder on the sticky parts then rub down with say a tooth brush then some more talc until that clears the sticky away.
If you had left it out in the air it might not have gone sticky well that's what I have found, example: rubberised strap one hung up behind the door is fine spare put in a bag in the drawer sticky.
 

sometimewoodworker

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1. What's happened?

2. And more to the point, how the hell do I remove it??

3. And also, will the kit still be serviceable?

The above may well sound strange, but I assure all that this is an "actual", NOT a wind up!
1. The material has got old age/contamination rot
2. It will be extremely difficult to impossible, but try all solvents you can find like acetone, white sprit, turpentine etc probably none will work
3) maybe

if the layer of rot is thin try talcum powder.

I know it’s real things like that happen quite quickly here. One thing that may help is to keep plastic items in a wood container as the different plastics together can exacerbate the problem
 

eribaMotters

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This sounds very similar to a [not that cheap] black Pure radio of our sons. He'd had it in his bedroom for several years and as he had moved out we thought "We'll have that". Every mm of the rubberised plastic case had turned sticky. I wiped it with soap and water and meths but no effect. I eventually used white spirit and then scrubbed with Cif cream cleaner and a green pan scrubber. It does not look good but at least it is no longer sticky.
I've noticed another Pure radio we own, this time in white is going a similar way but not as bad or as quickly.

Colin
 

Myfordman

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I had this on the gear knob of a Peugeot 405. For the first 18 years of my ownership it was hard and shiny just as you would expect then in the next year it went sticky, developed splits and then fell apart. Turned up a wooden replacement no problem but never did get to the bottom of why.
 

Richard_C

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Our not so cheap pure radio did the same, kept on a shelf and used daily so not stored away.

You can try the talc approach, that just sticks on so it doesn't feel as bad. I got it off the main bits you handle with meths, many sheets of kitchen roll and hard labour just because it felt so horrid. Underneath was hard black plastic.

I also had an inexpensive thermos flask which did the same, I put it in the recycling bin which is unusual for me. I like to repair recycle but it just wasn't worth it.

I hate the stuff they use, which seems designed to drive us to buy new long before the working parts give up.
 

Sideways

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Agree with others. The soft touch material that was applied as part of the manufacturing process is not properly stable and breaks down with age.
I've a few items that suffered this fate - a bluetooth GPS receiver from the days when GPS wasn't built into all our phones and tablets, an otherwise excellent panasonic bear trimmer, etc.
Frankly there is no good solution. Nothing really dissolves the residue and despite your best efforts, the device will look like cr4p after you are through scraping it off.
It will work fine but you will never get it looking good again.
Lesson learned. Don't buy anything with this matt, soft touch finish. It may take a decade or more but enough years and I think that they all fail like this.
 

Lorenzl

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My bicycle handle bar gips have gone the same way and my bike has been stored in a dry dark garage.

Plastic has "fillers" which help give it different properties for example glass for wear resistance. Others help with flexibility but they can evaporate over time.

Plastic fillers Wikipedia
 

John Hall

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I have some vintage screwdrivers with yellow plastic handles…over time the plastic forms beads of moisture which easily wipes off, but reappears after time…I’ve tried wiping with WD40 and white spirit, but it keeps happening…strange..
 

AES

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Thanks to all of you for the replies.

Very helpful and informative (apart from the "bear trimmers" - sorry Sideways!). Still deciding what to do - if anything.

I suppose I can at least be grateful that it's an item that A) didn't cost much, and B) to be honest, the chances of me really needing to use it now are virtually nil. "Still and all ................................ "

:)
 

Fergie 307

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They use this rubberized coating on a lot of car parts, interior trim handles and so forth. If it's applied over hard plastic then when it starts to go you can often just roll it off with firm pressure and your fingers. Tedious job but you get left with a perfect plastic part, just minus the rubbery stuff. Might be worth a try.
 

KeenToLearn

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I like Stanley multibit screwdrivers and have a couple. On one the rubber grip has done this and whenever you apply any torque it smears the rubber/ silicon residue all over your hands. Like you I dont like throwing things away so still get messy hands when I cant find the good one!
 

Morag Jones

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Another one to add to the list; I have a telescope on a tripod in my Lounge, about 20 years old and has always been actively in use. The stickiness and black fingerprints happen too on the soft touch coatings. Optics unaffected!! But I agree it is annoying.
 

pgrbff

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I think it can be removed, had same problem with early hero gopro camera. I'm not at home, my 13 year old uses it now, but I think we did find a solution online. I wouldnt try anything like acetone, too agressive, it will more than likely dissolve the plastic below. Ethyl, methyl or isoprpyl alcohol might work but I don't think it will be particularly easy.
 
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