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Material Problem

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Material Problem

Old 30th Sep 2020, 13:19
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Material Problem

So, I well know that there are some clever and practical minds on this forum, perhaps they can help. I have a helmet, that was bought a few years ago. It's still perfectly functional and comfortable. However, it has on it's outer surface a rubberised layer, perhaps 1-2mm thick and said layer has degraded over time causing it to become sticky to the touch, although it doesn't look damaged in any way. Each time it's put on, or taken off my fingers become sticky, although there's not evidence of anything on my fingers. I'm looking to seal the outer surface with some kind of see-through sealant. Any ideas, as the few DIY and painter's merchants I went into for advice seemed to baulk at committing to a solution.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 13:20
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A job for Duck tape?
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 13:34
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A lot of these "soft touch" surface finishes are a type of paint. Annoyingly horrible after a few years. Repeated wiping with white spirit sometimes reduced the worst of the stickiness.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 13:50
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Had exactly this problem on a digital tyre pressure gauge some time ago. The hard plastic of the case had some sort of thin, rubber-like, coating that went sticky. I found that the coating came off with a bit of isopropanol and a fair bit of rubbing, much as Carry0nLuggage mentions. Since getting all the rubbery, sticky stuff off the thing has been fine, it just has a glossy black finish now, rather than the satin black soft-touch finish.

The question mark with doing this to a helmet is whether or not any solvent might harm the structural integrity. It's very unlikely that an alcohol, like isopropanol, would cause any harm, and fairly unlikely that white spirit would, either. Solvents that may well definitely harm the underlying material (assuming it's a plastic or composite) would be stuff like acetone, MEK, paint thinners, etc, so I'd avoid those.

Best thing might be to test a small area with a clean cloth and a bit of isopropanol, neat, rather than diluted as rubbing alcohol. If the coating seems to stain the cloth, then carry on, but it may well take a fair bit of time and lots of hard rubbing to get all the coating off. If isopropanol doesn't touch it, then try the same procedure with a bit of white spirit, and see if that will get it off.

If neither of the above methods work, then I think you might have to resort to trying to carefully get it off mechanically, perhaps by gently scraping with a sharp blade on edge. That may remove enough of the coating that the remnants can be removed as above.

It might be possible to re-paint the underlying surface, but this very much depends on what it's made from. Typical rattle-cans of spray paint often contain aggressive solvents, that may well weaken the material of the helmet. There are very low solvent paints, primarily water-based two pack vehicle paints, that could be safe to use, but these are really only usable safely by someone with the right sort of spray kit and protective gear, as they can be a bit nasty as suspended droplets in the air.

Last edited by VP959; 30th Sep 2020 at 14:03. Reason: typo, "lost" when I meant "low"
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 13:50
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Have you tried Talcum Powder aka Baby Powder ?
I had a beard/moustache trimmer with a kind of rubberised grip, in our apartment in France, which became very ‘sticky‘ to the touch presumably because of the heat/humidity.
I tried a few things but the talc worked. It didn’t stay or show as white, it seemed to be absorbed by the stickiness.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 14:15
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Can you contact the manufacturer..? flying or m/c helmet..?
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 14:58
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Plasticizer migrating out of its host plasic. Potential health hazard. Dump it.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 15:00
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Can you give us an idea of what the helmet looks like?
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 16:01
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For some reason I read the thread title as "marital problem". Was all togged up with me marriage guidance councillor hat on...
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 16:50
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AO said "A job for Duck tape?"

I think he would only need that if he was going to cycle under low beams etc?
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 20:40
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Thanks for the suggestions chaps, Isopropanol might be a goer, as is the talcum powder.

Plasticizer migrating out of its host plasic. Potential health hazard. Dump it.
Could you expand on that please, I hadn't even considered such a possibility as the outer material appears to be rubber or an imitation thereof. I have a bottle of aftershave that has a rubberised cap that is also a bit sticky. Both aftershave and helmet have been mainly stored in cool dark places, so if there is a breakdown of the constituent parts i wonder what has been the catalyst ?
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 21:43
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Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack View Post
Thanks for the suggestions chaps, Isopropanol might be a goer, as is the talcum powder.

Plasticizer migrating out of its host plasic. Potential health hazard. Dump it.
Could you expand on that please, I hadn't even considered such a possibility as the outer material appears to be rubber or an imitation thereof. I have a bottle of aftershave that has a rubberised cap that is also a bit sticky. Both aftershave and helmet have been mainly stored in cool dark places, so if there is a breakdown of the constituent parts i wonder what has been the catalyst ?
Unlikely it is Plasticizer from the base plastic. If the 'goo' is worse on the outer surface than next to base material that would tend to rule it out.

A while ago i watched a automotive restoration show where the had the same issue with soft touch control knobs on a very high end car (Ferrari or maybe Porsche).
The new old stock replacements at about $1500 for a set had the same issue so it is an age not environment issue.
They found a vendor that specializes in refurbishing these for not much less than the factory furnished ones.

Wish I had the kind of money were $1500 for a few knobs was OK...

I think the talcum powder or othee cover is your best bet, getting it all off would be a royal pain.
If you do go for mechanical removeall put it in the deep freeze for a day, that may harden it enough to be chippable. Works well for candle wax.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 21:53
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I would suggest that if a helmet is old enough to be degrading in this way and you're relying on it to protect your bonce it's time to buy a new one.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 22:03
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That's the problem, the bonce its covering is soft and sticky as well....
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 22:07
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Originally Posted by Tashengurt View Post
I would suggest that if a helmet is old enough to be degrading in this way and you're relying on it to protect your bonce it's time to buy a new one.
Bingo! You don't mention the type of helmet, but when I was racing it was recommended we replace our helmets every five years (and effectively mandated at 10 years) as the protective materials degrade with age and use.
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 00:44
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I wish they wouldn't do that!!!!!!!!!! My 2002 BMW Compact has it everywhere on the flight deck. I've spent ages doing what VR suggests, leaving a shiny plastic surface. I'm just waiting for the car to depreciated to zero then it won't be a problem. Oh, it already has. :-(
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 08:32
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20 years ago, my old Renault 5 steering wheel would go tacky and leave black residue on my hands in warm weather..
iíd agree with the advice that if the helmetís that old, itís probably time to replace it, unless itís purely some kind of strange fashion item!
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 09:40
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Just out of interest what type of helmet is it?
Some of the early Alpha Mk10s had a soft touch type covering that seemed quite resistant to knocks but wasn't adopted as standard. I've was curious why not though I doubt the problem discussed was the issue.
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 10:25
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Sticky tape

A thought came to me at the mention of duct tape. You might be able to use some really sticky tape to strip the coating off.
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 11:44
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I used my work hat, just like the one in the pic, as a m/c helmet for several years back in the days when flying was expensive and money very short........

I recommend getting one, it'll never deteriorate. There are plenty around, I would imagine.

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