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View Full Version : Mold or Goo on long term storage screwdriver handles. Whatizzit?



oddball racing
10-19-2011, 09:27 PM
I have a lot of screwdriver handles that have been stored for some time and they seem to have a whitish mold or something growing on the handles. It looks just like white over spray ranging to almost appearing to be painted white.
On another note, most of the affected brands are craftsman and excilite; Whereas some of the crap no name stuff still looks ok. No rust...just this white stuff. Cleaning solvents? cleaning ideas anyone? What izzit anyway?
Thanks, Mike

boslab
10-19-2011, 09:40 PM
just wipe with wd40, if mould it would be interesting as to what kind of plastic eater you have discovered, i suspect the end of civilisation as we know it as all wires will be covered in wood or somthing!
maybe there is an organic residue on them that the mouls is eating or its an oxidation reaction of some kind, bio friendly mould [injection mould] release agents have been around for a while so some spores could get a foothold, scrape some and have a look down a microscope, maybe they will name oddbalium mycellium fastus if it a new strain lol
sodium metabisulphate aka bleach perhaps
regards
mark

gwilson
10-19-2011, 09:47 PM
My Stanley black plastic dead blow hammer became white over the years,and eventually chunks of plastic fell off of it. Tossed it. Perhaps the plastic is disintegrating??

Grind Hard
10-19-2011, 09:48 PM
It is plasticizers migrating to the surface. In other words the plastic is decaying because it it was designed for cheapness not longevity.

johnnyd
10-19-2011, 11:39 PM
Sears had a LOT of plastic handled screwdrivers that did that (plastic handled wood chisels also). You may also notice an odd smell coming from the toolbox. Smells almost like vomit.:eek:
The department manager almost went nuts trying to find the source of that smell. We found out it was coming from the screwdriver bin (special sale bin)
I think that the formula has been changed to get rid of the smell.

The white "crust" on the handles will scrape off with your fingernail, but it will come back eventually. Part of the aging process.

darryl
10-20-2011, 12:13 AM
I read about a type of plastic that was supposed to be good for things like screwdriver handles. I don't know what was so good about it, but that particular plastic reeks above and beyond most others. It also tends to be a bit sticky, although nothing comes off on your hands. I've seen it used on high-end tools.

Chris S.
10-20-2011, 12:37 AM
Yeah, I opened my old Kennedy tool chest that's been closed for years. The excelite and craftsmans all have it, including the smell. ;)

Chris

Joe Rogers
10-20-2011, 06:55 AM
The original black Snap-On handles do it too. Then they exude some oily substance and then spontaneously fall apart. At least the dealer comes once a week and happily upgrades the screw drivers with new stuff.
Joe

BigBoy1
10-20-2011, 07:39 AM
I had the same problem. I have a drawer in the kitchen in which I keep a few tools (including screwdrivers) so I don't have a run out to the shop to get a simple tool when needed. My wife complained of the drawer smelling of vomit and it was the screw and nut driver handles. I took all of the offending tools and put them on the deck in the direct sun light for several weeks. There were rotated daily so all sides of the handle were in the sun light. That seemed to "bake-out" the smell as she has not compained about the smell after I put the offening tools back into the drawer.

Will Sears replace their Craftsman brand screwdrivers with the whitish coating? My "local" Sears store is almost 100 miles away and I don't want to make a trip only to find they won't accept them as they are not really damaged and are still usable.

Lew Hartswick
10-20-2011, 08:39 AM
Yeah, I opened my old Kennedy tool chest that's been closed for years. The excelite and craftsmans all have it, including the smell. ;)

Chris
Back quite a few years ago, I had one of my Xcelite "spintites" do that
but it was a different style handle than the rest. I think it was older.
All the rest of them never did develop any. And that has been 30 or
40 years ago. So I would think that plastic has not been in use for a
long time now.
...lew...

gary350
10-20-2011, 08:52 AM
If it is mold vinegar will take it off and kill spores so it will not come back.

gaston
10-20-2011, 09:38 AM
had it happen to a full set of new craftsman screwdrivers a few years ago. I put them in a tool box I don't use often and in less than 3 months the handles were white and the blades were rusty! I had other craftsman screwdrivers in the same drawer that were years old that were like new yet. Took them back and Sears replaces them

gwilson
10-20-2011, 10:25 AM
The stuff that plastics exude can definitely rust metal. A gunsmith friend had a pistol OILED in a box,which kept getting rusty. When he changed the plastic grips,the rusting stopped.

Yes,that vomit smell isn't too good!!

Nitrocellulose plastic is the worst. I have had vintage guitars' bindings go bad,and screw up the metal parts. That stuff exudes nitric acid IF the plastic wasn't properly made to begin with. Some nitrocellulose never seems to go bad,while some not that old just falls apart.

daryl bane
10-20-2011, 10:47 AM
Ha, Ha, Well I'm glad to hear I'm not the only on with this problem. We have a huge and I mean huge bin of old Excelite tools and the smell/stink will knock you down.

Chris S.
10-20-2011, 10:57 AM
The stuff that plastics exude can definitely rust metal. A gunsmith friend had a pistol OILED in a box,which kept getting rusty. When he changed the plastic grips,the rusting stopped.



Plasic grips? Yuck!:eek:

radkins
10-20-2011, 11:06 AM
You could indeed be looking at mold!

I had a set of cheap screwdrivers that had a semi-soft plastic material for the handles, "Task Force" brand from Lowes building supply. These things definitely did mold in humid weather when left on a rack in a dark corner of my shop. I noticed that a couple of the Torx bit drivers in the set did not mold because they had not been used so I assume the oil from hands or some other contaminate was what the mold was feeding on and not the plastic itself. Over the years I have seen other plastic and rubber handled tools with mold on them and a quick spray with any good mold and mildew cleaner (Lysol?) will remove it. The plastic degradation mentioned above is also VERY common but can usually be distinguished by the smell and the fact it is hard to wipe off while the mold is odorless and will wipe off fairly easily.

JMS6449
10-20-2011, 11:37 AM
The stinky plastic is CAB=Celluouse Acetate Butyrate. It always outgases, and is noticable in confined spaces.

Harvey Melvin Richards
10-20-2011, 01:34 PM
I had a friend that had a basket filled with various cheap plastics toys for visiting children to play with. Lots of these toys would react with others and meld with each other into strange goo balls. It was an interesting unintentional science experiment.

aboard_epsilon
10-20-2011, 02:01 PM
talking of plastic degrading.

I wonder if they have done any tests on "old" car bumpers/ fenders

bet some of the first plastic ones are reaching 30 years old now

my car is 16 years old ..my bumper disintegrated in a collision i had. ..the car that i hit was two years old ..the bumper was intact on that .

I'm thinking all these crash tests they do, dont apply after 5 years even when you have no rust or other damage.

So the risk to you goes up year by year as the bumpers age.

bet they didn't think about that ..did they :(

All the best.markj

Chris S.
10-20-2011, 07:01 PM
The stinky plastic is CAB=Celluouse Acetate Butyrate. It always outgases, and is noticable in confined spaces.

My wife accuses me of that! When my dog was still with us I'd blame him. :D

ak95xj
10-20-2011, 07:16 PM
Had some craftsman one that smelled like cheese...Usually they dissapear (along with allen keys), before I have this problem

Paul Alciatore
10-21-2011, 01:02 AM
I have seen this, but only on Xcelite tools. I have a number of Craftsman drivers but never seen it there. Not on other brands either, just Xcelite. I have no explanation for why only on Xcelite.

Suby4me
04-20-2016, 08:08 PM
I have a lot of screwdriver handles that have been stored for some time and they seem to have a whitish mold or something growing on the handles. It looks just like white over spray ranging to almost appearing to be painted white.
On another note, most of the affected brands are craftsman and excilite; Whereas some of the crap no name stuff still looks ok. No rust...just this white stuff. Cleaning solvents? cleaning ideas anyone? What izzit anyway?
Thanks, Mike

A fairly simple fix to rid your tools of the white fuzzy stuff. I let mine soak in a bucket of kerosene for about 4 days, when i took them out the white fuzzy stuff was gone and all i had to do was wipe them dry.

RB211
04-20-2016, 08:24 PM
A fairly simple fix to rid your tools of the white fuzzy stuff. I let mine soak in a bucket of kerosene for about 4 days, when i took them out the white fuzzy stuff was gone and all i had to do was wipe them dry.

My John Deere 285 instrument panel, the plastic did the same thing, but I was able to scrape / brush it off with a brush

JoeLee
04-20-2016, 10:16 PM
I know this thread has been around for a while, I don't remember reading it and haven't read it from the start but similar conversations on screwdriver handles and other tools have come up before. I've never seen any mold on any of the plastic handles of my tools probably because the humidity is kept low in my shop. But what I have noticed is some of them smell, well, like crap. I've noticed this with some older SnapOn screwdriver handles and also some expensive wood chisels. I guess it's due to breakdown of the material used in the plastic handles. I don't know if the fuzzy mold is feeding off of something in the composition of the plastic or some bacteria that is on them.

JL..............

PStechPaul
04-21-2016, 03:40 AM
I had (and may still have) some "Oxwall" brand screwdrivers and other tools that had clear yellow plastic handles that had a peculiar smell, and seemed to cause other tools to rust. I have some wood chisels where the plastic handle disintegrated and the shank that had been in the handle was badly corroded. I recently bought a cheap small all-angle vise from Banggood in China, and its rubber jaws had a rather strong smell, not unlike that in some Harbor Freight stores. One reviewer said it was so bad he had to get rid of it.

Links for Oxwall:
http://vintagehandtools.com/products/oxwall
http://progress-is-fine.blogspot.com/2012/03/vanished-tool-makers-oxwall-tools.html
http://blog.pennlive.com/lvbreakingnews/2007/03/fire_destroys_historic_oxwall.html

ikdor
04-21-2016, 07:26 AM
So it's clear the CAB is outgassing butyric acid. Is there a chemist lurking here who can give a hint on what would neutralise or break down this acid? Then perhaps we can dip them and the tools are good to go for a while again.

The boiling point of the acid is above the melting temperature of the CAB, so that won't do. Could we boil it off in a vacuum? The vapour pressure is 0.112 kPa at 20C or 0.74 kPa at 50C.
Should I get a turbo molecular pump? :p

Igor
(with a toolchest reeking of puke at work)

RWO
04-21-2016, 04:27 PM
This month's Scientific American has an article on plastic decay. The museum people are having hell trying to preserve artifacts made from PVC, urethane, cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate( screw driver handles). The last two are referred to as "malignant" by conservators The plastics not only exude their plasticisers, but the molecular structure falls apart with age. As it does they emit nitric acid and acetic acid as gases. Even art work painted with acrylic paints is going bad. The 60's and 70's era NASA space suits in the Smithsonian have been damaged by the PVC coolant tubing sewn into the fabric turning to a brown, stinky liquid. The is a lot of high powered research being done to try to stop the decay and to prevent the products of decay from damaging other artifacts. It's a race to determine if many items can be preserved before they are beyond help.

RWO

Joe Rogers
04-21-2016, 06:54 PM
Yeah...remember the greasy old bastage in the Graduate told told Dustin "one word...plastics". Didn't work out well.
Joe

garagemark
04-21-2016, 07:39 PM
Acetone or lacquer thinner will usually chemically re-polish those whitish handles to like new again. I haven't returned one yet, and I haven't had any of them disintegrate either. Maybe just lucky.

TOOLZNTHINGS
04-21-2016, 08:07 PM
Acetone or lacquer thinner will usually chemically re-polish those whitish handles to like new again. I haven't returned one yet, and I haven't had any of them disintegrate either. Maybe just lucky.

Correct. A dip in acetone worked on mine. Does not last forever, but a re-dip may be necessary.

riverhawk
04-22-2016, 10:44 AM
The Snap-On screw drivers I bought in the 70's are doing that I just have the dealer replace the handles.