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Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

Older ThinkPads.. from the 600, the 7xx, the iSeries, 300, 500, the Transnote and, of course, the 701
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MooNWalker
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Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#1 Post by MooNWalker » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:52 am

I have multiple ThinkPad from early nineties, on some of them the rubberized coating is still in a very nice condition, and on some it's gone tacky and sticky and stays on whatever touches the machine. I have some newer machines (like 760-series) that are more tacky than my good 750C, and I broken 750C that's as tacky as my 701C. The fact that machines of the same age have their coating in a different condition makes me think that the primary reasons behind the coating degradation are environmental, and that means there's gotta be a way to minimize said degradation over time. Now I assume this coating is something polyurethane-based, but I can't seem to find anything about polyurethane degradation factors other than UV light (which only seems to account for discoloration) and some fungi. So my question is this:

Does anyone here know what factors can influence the rate at which the rubbery coating of the thinkpads is degrading into a sticky gooey mess, how can I limit said degradation over the long term?
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kfzhu1229
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#2 Post by kfzhu1229 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:45 pm

One obvious thing is to minimise its exposure to UV light - that is, for example, try not to get the lid exposed to direct sunlight. The black colouring absorbs light well enough to heat it up with a heat output equal to the CPU of these machines. Another thing is to try to keep it away from oily, basic or acid substances - and that includes your palm oil. Other factors include physical damage - the coating comes off much easier when there are deep sharp scratches present. I kept my T22 and T23 inside a room without any windows to let the sunlight in, and it seems to do a decent job.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#3 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:49 am

If all else fails, try this: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=121754
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#4 Post by axur-delmeria » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:09 am

Since OP mentioned fungi, humidity.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#5 Post by theterminator93 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:07 am

Sort of on this topic, but has anyone ever come across an acceptable paint that mimics the original sheen and feel of the factory finish, for those of us who would want to strip and re-finish machines with the stickiness, or simply lots of scratches and blemishes?
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#6 Post by Jefferson » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:10 pm

i think how it's been cleaned is the biggest factor. the rubberized surface should only be cleaned with soft cloth and water. any chemical will make the surface deteriorate.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#7 Post by MooNWalker » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:57 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:49 am
If all else fails, try this: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=121754
That I'm reserving for those machines that are already gooeying away, those that don't yet stick to everything that touches them I'd like to preserve the best I can.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#8 Post by Dragunov » Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:26 am

Jefferson wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:10 pm
i think how it's been cleaned is the biggest factor. the rubberized surface should only be cleaned with soft cloth and water. any chemical will make the surface deteriorate.
I use Mr. Clean, magic eraser to remove scratches, scuffs, and sticker residue. I then, rub Nivea hand cream into the rubberized coating, then wipe it off like I didn't want it on to begin with. I buff it afterwards, with a blue, lint free, paper shop towel shop towel. Not only does it restore the coating to almost new condition, it reduces fingerprints. I also use Armor-All, on the hard plastic. I apply it to a blue, paper shop towel, then rub it in. This also resists fingerprints.

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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#9 Post by MooNWalker » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:09 am

Dragunov wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:26 am
I then, rub Nivea hand cream into the rubberized coating, then wipe it off like I didn't want it on to begin with. I buff it afterwards, with a blue, lint free, paper shop towel shop towel. Not only does it restore the coating to almost new condition, it reduces fingerprints.
Wait, do you mean
it restore the coating to almost new condition
as in it reverses the gooeying up process? Because I thought that once polyurethane starts going gooey that's a one-way trip.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#10 Post by Dragunov » Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:01 am

MooNWalker wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:09 am
Dragunov wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:26 am
I then, rub Nivea hand cream into the rubberized coating, then wipe it off like I didn't want it on to begin with. I buff it afterwards, with a blue, lint free, paper shop towel shop towel. Not only does it restore the coating to almost new condition, it reduces fingerprints.
Wait, do you mean
it restore the coating to almost new condition
as in it reverses the gooeying up process? Because I thought that once polyurethane starts going gooey that's a one-way trip.
I've never had a gooey one, so.... Not sure. You can try the magic eraser, then Nivea. If it doesn't work, you can remove the coating as another poster suggested.

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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#11 Post by onespeedbiker » Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:21 am

I would also assume skin oil should also be cleaned off. I have a 385ED where the the coating is still holding up, except for a patch on the right side of the palm rest, where I assume the previous owner rested their right palm.

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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#12 Post by zoltan87 » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:58 pm

Do you guys think that newer series thinkpads (from somewhere around the T40 series onward as far as I can tell) use a different type of couating?

They seem less rubbery compared to older Thinkpads, but the main thing is, they hold up much better with age.
I know there is an age difference between these and the more vintage Thinkpads, still a T40 is 15+ years old now too, and the coating on these machines is just fine if not abused.

I have several T60 units and an X32, and the rubber coating is perfectly fine on all of them. So here I am hoping that these newer series laptops won't experience the same kind of degradation and softening up like those vintage machines.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#13 Post by RealBlackStuff » Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:02 am

They must have used different paints in different factories.
One of my (two only) T23s has all its lid-paint removed due to gooey-ness ( viewtopic.php?f=28&t=121754 )
while the other is still in perfect condition with only a few small scratches.
Since I have swapped parts (incl. lids) so much between my (at one time over 30) T23s, I can't point a finger at Scotland, USA or Mexico.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#14 Post by dr_st » Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:42 pm

zoltan87 wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:58 pm
I have several T60 units and an X32, and the rubber coating is perfectly fine on all of them. So here I am hoping that these newer series laptops won't experience the same kind of degradation and softening up like those vintage machines.
My T60 and X32 do experience local degradation of the coating, though.
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#15 Post by zoltan87 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:58 pm

dr_st wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 2:42 pm
My T60 and X32 do experience local degradation of the coating, though.
That's interesting. Are you experiencing that gooey-ness like on the really old Thinkpads, or more like just the rubber coating wearing away at certain points?
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Re: Preserving rubberized coating - what environmental factors to avoid?

#16 Post by dr_st » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:34 am

I know what you are talking about as I have a gamepad that used to have this, until I cleaned it all with alcohol-soaked wipes. My T60 and X32 are nothing like that at this point - it is more like there are a few spots where it wore off. Those spots are a bit sticky to the touch, so I don't know if in 10 years it's going to be just as bad as on the old Thinkpads now, but probably not. I think by now, as we are talking about 13-15 year-old systems, any massive degradation would have already been noticeable.
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