Not sure if this has been covered, but what causes the rubberised coating on 60x, T2x, T3x, T4x and similar older thinkpads to go sticky?
I have a 600 which is factory fresh, no degredation, I have a 600 which feels very slightly like things stick to it and a 600 which is completely mushy.
If they're already mushy, I disassemble completely, clean with IPA and take it back to either a matt black undercoat or if scratched up, I'll use a mildly abrasive liquid to bring them to a mild or bright shine. Anything to get it smooth but as close to the original as possible. Some are far too gone than to do anything else except polish.
Either way, the ones which are still factory fresh I'd like to preserve. My guess it's moisture, so they go in an air tight bag on a dry, mild day where there is low humidity in the house. I wonder if putting in a small bag of dessicant might help (like you get with new shoes)?
I don't think moisture attacks the paint. It's more like the oil from our fingers. I'm just guessing here but I don't think rubber is porous, so the adhesive used to keep the finish attached to the surface must be, trapping oil like a sponge, and ultimately failing. As you may probably know already, adhesives work electrostatically (they stick things together via electric charges) so the introduction of a dielectric (oil) alters their behavior.
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I have a much newer laptop with a rubberized palmrest area and clicker buttons. The main trackpad buttons are slightly sticky, the secondary trackpoint buttons are not. (This is a dell laptop, not a thinkpad, but the point is the same nonetheless).
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