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Anonymous Poster

Softening Hard Rubber?

05/12/2008 8:42 PM

I know I'm showing my age! I'm trying to repair a phonograph turntable (remember vinyl?). The rubber drive wheel has hardened and can't get any traction. I've soaked it in alcohol and nail polish remover, no help.

Any off-the-shelf product to make it grab a little?? I have a couple (several) old LPs I want to get to digital.

Thanks!! ss

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#1

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/12/2008 8:52 PM

How about wrapping it with soft rubber bands or o-rings? Maybe "paint" it with a urethane (I think) product like bed liner or undercoating. Or give it a thin coating of RTV?

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/12/2008 9:09 PM

I'm not sure if it will help, but back when VCRs had lots of rubber belts, etc. we used to use a rubber rejuvinator on worn bits. Some folks swore by it. I only tried it once on a belt that wasn't really that bad to begin with, so I can't say much.

I'm not particuarly recommending this vendor or these exact products, but a company called MCM Electronics offers such stuff. Of course you may want to look around elsewhere. Here's some links:

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/20-1890

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/20-230

Hope this helps you get your vinyl groove on, baby.

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#13
In reply to #2

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/13/2008 11:54 PM

I gave guest a GA. I have been repairing Turntables, Recorders, tape decks, VCR's etc. since 1958. Having repaired many thousands, I must have learned at least a couple of things. First, if a quality replacement part is available, replace new. If not, or if new part is on back order, use of rubber revitalizer worked very well. I always used a brand called "Friend". Apparently no longer available. It worked great but smelled like @#$%^%^&*. I suspect the products on sale at MCM are very similar. (Bought stuff from MCM for many years. Great Company, good prices, quality products).

For old and obsolete products, you might want to look at Projector Recorder Belt company. They have been around for many, many years and stock a lot of rare parts.

Here is their link: http://www.russellind.com/prbline/prblinecom_.htm

Also a great company with superior customer service.

If rubber is cracking, it is beyond help. If it is glazed, or hardened, it can be partially restored to usefulness for an indeterminate time. Superfine sandpaper helps, Avoid using alcohol as it tends to dry out the rubber, causing it to crack prematurely.

Some techs swore by Green soap. They recommended soaking overnight. I never used Green soap except for Space Derby's (Cub Scout Cubmaster). Might be worth a try. Good Luck.

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#3

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/12/2008 11:47 PM

Try some white lithium grease. When I sold auto parts, I would recommend people use it on the rubber sections of their A-frame bushings to keep them from drying out. I'm not sure where you would find it.

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#4

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/13/2008 1:02 AM

Hello Guest,

Your rubber wheel has had it, I'm sad to say.

Rubber products oxidise slowly and once oxidised, they cannot be rejuvenated, because the chemical action is irreversible.

Characteristic of "aged rubber" is brittleness and inflexibility, and on your intermediate drive wheel, even if you did manage to 'rejuvenate" it, there will be a flat spot where it was pressed against the underside rim of the record disc platter.

So, don't waste your time with solvents, or wrapping rubber bands around it, or coating it with silicone rubber.

You don't give your location, but there are presently "record turntable units" being made in China and Taiwan, which are readily available, in places like Walmart etc, also much cheaper than any repair to your existing turntable could ever be.

The coating of rubber with "rubber grease", does reduce the speed of oxidation, and the rubber grease coating is extensively used in vehicle brake and clutch assembly, for long-term flexibility of the rubber parts.

Rubber grease must be applied early in the life of rubber products, but in the case of the intermediate drive wheel of a record turntable, if rubber grease had been applied, the wheel would have reduced friction against the turntable platter, slipping would give an uneven reproduction of that vintage disc.

Hope that assists you, and saves you from further fruitless efforts.

Kind Regards....

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/13/2008 10:10 AM

I agree that once the material in question is brittle and inflexible, it is unlikely that it can be restored but I do not agree that attempting to coat it with something that may already be around the house (like a tiny amount of silicone rubber) would "waste your time" or cause "fruitless efforts".

Traction restoring options may not work but that's half the fun and there is learning involved in messing with this kind of stuff. Of coarse there may not be enough diameter flexibility in the design to even allow this but we are just throwing out options.

Attempting a low cost and easily tried option I believe is a prudent idea when we are just trying to play two records. Especially when you compare it to buying another consumer item for temporary use. Heck, for just two records, I would try to borrow an old record player.

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#5

Re: Softening hard rubber?

05/13/2008 8:16 AM

No need to soften anything.

Easiest thing; pickup rubber drawer-liner material at Walmart - the rubber "woven" mat-like stuff. It is priable, flat and will grab both the turn table and the record without leaving marks or residue (which you will get if applying a chemical to the existing rubber).

Cut to fit (no one will ever see it if it's not permenant) and you should be good to go.

Ken

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#7

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 5:09 PM

First I would try some sand paper to roughen the surface a bit. If that don.t work try soaking it in some brake fluid.

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#8

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 5:20 PM

Note unless the turn table has controls to vary the RPM's wrapping anything around or painting it on the outside of the drive roller will change the play speed.

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#49
In reply to #8

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/19/2008 10:52 AM

It depends on whether the rubber wheel is connected to the motive driveshaft directly or whether, as was the case with the Garrard SP25 and similar platter drives, it acts as a transfer wheel that takes the drive from the separate motive driveshaft and puts it on the platter. If the latter, the absolute diameter doesn't matter, which is the joy of it.

Oh, the joys of analog sound. Bring back valve amplifiers...

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#52
In reply to #8

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

10/18/2014 10:40 PM

The size of the idler wheel will NOT affect the speed of the turntable or tape recorder!

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#53
In reply to #52

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

10/18/2014 11:17 PM

Correct, IFF it is indeed an idler.

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#9

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 10:46 PM

1st you can not soften the rubber but what you can do is lightly sand paper the surface and with your finger rub a thin layer of silicone sealer around the surface and allow to dry. this will last for years to come.

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#10

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 11:13 PM

Go online to a computer printer parts supplier and look for a product called "rubber rejuvinator" or just do a search for it. We've used it quite successfully on the rubber rollers of printers that got hard.

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 12:12 AM

I have done the same many times. I still have a tiny bit left - the one I use is 'Rubber Renue', Cat no 408A-100ml, from M.G. Chemicals, Toronto, Canada,www.mgchemicals.com, 1-800201-8822

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#11

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 11:17 PM

wipe the contact surface with brake fluid then wash off in hot water after about 10 seconds. the brake fluid will soften and swell the rubber, if you don't wash it off it will estroy the article altogether after swelling it up about three times its original size. Ensure the gear ratio remains the same although you can electronically adjust it in the recording.

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#12

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/13/2008 11:49 PM

HA!

It might work... Try using the liquid plastic for dipping tool handles; you know what I mean. Twirl the wheel in the dip and continue to twirl until set; about three minutes. Who knows it may be the ticket.

Suppose you have a quartz timing unit if not just go to craigslist and find a useable TT or demo a new one.

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#15

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 12:41 AM

When a car had a squealing (slipping) fan belt, I used fan belt dressing sold at auto parts stores in spray cans. I haven't looked for it for years since I started re-tensioning the belts as you should anyway instead of being lazy, but it does get you to work on a freezing morning without being the center of attention. It might still be available. It is particularly made to give the rubber more traction, not like a lot of the things already suggested like white lithium GREASE.

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#16

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 3:31 AM

I have found that the best way is to strip off the hardened rubber drive disc from the wheel & using wad punches on a rubber sheet refit a new rubber disc- I have even used old rubber from tractor, car, etc tubes- dress to same diameter as original.

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#17

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 4:14 AM

Hi ss Try Chloroform then use Ur fingernail to remove & renew the "Burnished" surface. Worked for me even good on rubber drive belts for old tape recorders.

I have an old "Pioneer" Turntable at home excellent condition would gladly give it to you if you were just around the corner..but you are light years away from me! hehe

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 5:01 AM

Hi, Metman!

Great post! Welcome to CR4. Hope to see lots more of you in here. Are you a turntable/tube radio type as well?

You types who like old radio/tape deck/tube equipment should get together and form a user group.

Mark

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#18

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 4:54 AM

The belt dressing mentioned earlier might work or try your local radio control model store & ask about the product model car racers use to give the tyres extra grip.

I think, as suggested earlier, you may have to make a replacement. Don't be too blinkered when looking for parts, I faced a similar problem in getting an old reel to reel tape recorder going so that I could copy my grandfathers retirement speech. I ended up replacing a perished drive belt with the neck of a party balloon.

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#20

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 6:02 AM

Don't know how you might achieve this. My only alternative action would be to go to your local radio repairman/men and get another wheel which fits the little bearing. The diameter is of little importance, other than it must fit in the space provided, as the drive is a traction drive, via the circumference of the idler wheel. the ratio is firmly established between the motor drive boss and the rim of the turntable. If the wheel is a metal one, and has a tyre, you may be able to prise it off and replace it with a store bought 'O'ring. Get a significantly undersized one so that it's difficult to mount, due to the stretching of the oring. This will ensure that the ring/tyre will run truer, as it is in extreme tension and less able to deform.

Hope this helps some,

Cheers,

Stu.

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#21

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 7:50 AM

Soak it in transmission fluid for a day. That will soften it

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#22

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 8:18 AM

I assume that you have removed the wheel. Have you considered making a silicone rubber mold of the wheel (or with any other molding compound), and then casting a 2-component polyurethane wheel? That PU wheel should be of similar hardness (Durometer) and friction as you remember the original wheel. The PU will long outlive the rest of the machine! Good luck!

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 8:28 AM

Hi, Cardio07

Thinking outside the box just came up with a REALLY good suggestion! GA

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#28
In reply to #22

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 9:47 AM

GA. You are right on with this product. I have had personal experience with Devcon's Flexane product. It works just as the instructions said it would. And it was tougher than Chinese arithmetic.Look at

http://www.devcon.com/products/products.cfm?brandid=1&catid=3 The products are available from www.Grainger.com if you can't find locally. Recasting the wheel would give great satisfaction to the project. Good luck.

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#39
In reply to #28

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 3:13 PM

Thanks bob c. I was not aware of this product. It could yet become one of my most useful tools. Can't thank you enough for the tip.

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#45
In reply to #39

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/15/2008 11:08 AM

This product has the ability to adjust the hardness by additives. There is also a selection of primers for different applications. Enjoy.

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#24

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 8:38 AM

Check this sute out. They may have the wheel you need. http://www.kenselectronics.com/lists/phonodrive.htm Note the speed of the turntable is determend by the size of the motor drive the speed of the motor and the size of the turntable where the drive wheel engages at. The drive wheel does not have any thing to do with the determiening speed unless it is out of round or has flat spots on it in which case the speed will be uneven.

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#33
In reply to #24

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 12:53 PM

Hi, whyme!

Just a note to let you know that an 'Almost Good' or 'Good' Answer' rating is absolutely phenomenal for a first posting. Congratulations, and welcome to CR4!

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#38
In reply to #24

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 3:05 PM

Thank you Whyme, I didn't know about this site. It is now in my "favorites", It will come in handy a lot in the near future. I need to give you a "Good Answer" also.

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#25

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 8:45 AM

At the drag strip years ago we wiped the slicks down with amonia to make them sticky, don,t know if it will bring old rubber back to life or not you may need to paint some new rubber over it if that does not work.

Don't breath the amonia as it an blister your lungs and kill you if you are using full strength amonia, plenty ventelation is needed.

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#26

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 8:49 AM

Hi SS

I've always been lead to believe that rubber contains some sort of an oil - alcohol and acetone will probably have removed this and further dried out the rubber. I am aware that some people apply talcum powder to rubber drive belts and idlers to prolong their life. Your drive wheel may well be past helping - but believe it or not, there are still turntable lovers out there keeping them going.

I'm in Australia, and just found one generic turntable drive wheel still easily available from a company called WES in Sydney. This wheel has a diameter of 40mm, a hole diameter of 4mm, and WES say "suits most rim drive turntables". Its WES catalogue number is TT10.

There will be others available - a very popular and good quality German rim drive turntable make was Dual - I'd be surprised if idlers (drive wheels) for these weren't still available. You could also try eBay - an enormous number of parts for vintage audio equipment is sold there. If you reply with your turntable make and model, and the country you live in, I would imagine you will get a response from this forum.

Regards John

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#27

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 9:24 AM

Automotive FAN BELT DRESSING

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#29

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 9:52 AM

Gasoline will soften the snot out of rubber. If you use it, make sure it is dry following use and allow the fumes to clear out before returning the wheel to use. You can try painting on a thin coat of (yes dear hearts) rubber cement... Again let it dry. Depending on exactly where in the drive train this wheel is, changing the diameter will affect the playing speed. I used the diameter change years ago to use a US made turntable in Europe to compensate for the change from 60Hz to 50Hz...

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#37
In reply to #29

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 1:58 PM

Hi, Guest!

Just a stab, based upon your phraseology...do you live in Maine, USA?

Mark

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#43
In reply to #29

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/15/2008 5:38 AM

In most turntables the rubber wheel is only an idler, therefore changing its diameter will have no effect on speed.

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#30

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 11:15 AM

Automotive brake fluid will soften live rubber and make it very pliable. Be careful how long the rubber is immersed in the solution though as the rubber will swell and split if left too long.

If brake fluid will not work, you will have to replace the rubber.

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#31

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 12:24 PM

Why go to the trouble.

They now sell direct drive turn tables that have a USB connctions made specifically for transfering LP to digital.

if your collection is substantial, it is worth the investment. Any quick fix may not work well enough for good recording. Any changes you make to the drive wheel will effect your RPM. Unless this old table is variable speed, you have wasted your time.

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#40
In reply to #31

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 3:36 PM

"Why go to the trouble."

Well, let's see. Hmm. Because we like to restore old things? Because we prefer recycling useful products as opposed to overflowing the earth with garbage? Because we like to experiment and learn about all kinds of things? Because we are not LAZY? Because it's fun to do?

"you have wasted your time"

Could be correct, but what may be a waste of time to one person can be an excellent use of time for another. We are all different and have different needs, requirements and priorities.

My sweet wife gave me a USB turntable for Christmas. It works great, I love it. If this is your desire, here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Ion-iTTUSB-Turntable-USB-Record/dp/B000BUEMOO

I also have 3 turntables that I have restored that work well. The biggest advantage to the USB is the input level to the PC. With the other turntables, there is the problem of Magnetic Cartridges having too low an output, Ceramic cartridges have an output that is borderline overload. Of course the best solution is to feed the signal to a quality Stereo amplifier then connect the PC Audio input to the Line out on the Amplifier.

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#41
In reply to #31

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 4:14 PM

The OP did NOT specify whether the wheel was an idler or was mounted directly on the motor shaft. If it is an idler, it can be any size that fits in the space available and fills the gap between the motor shaft and the wheel rim without affecting the turntable speed. If the wheel is mounted on the motor, then of course size matters.

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#44
In reply to #41

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/15/2008 7:24 AM

Hi, dkwarner!

Well, by now it has become extremely obvious that there are a whole lot of 'old sound technology' buffs in CR4.

You guys simply MUST get yourselves a user group!!

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#46
In reply to #44

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/15/2008 12:42 PM

Hi Mark

Careful now! Some people are offended by the word 'old'. Depends how you parse the phrase... To what or whom does the 'old' apply?

I clearly remember when I was a kid, a person who was 65 years old was 'really old'. I passed that mark almost 3 years ago, and certainly do not consider myself 'really old' now. Fortunately I am able to work full time (and choose to), and don't plan on stopping any time soon.

The real problem is that almost everyone of my general age has accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and many of us can't quite admit that we need to throw it away! I think it still works, but I haven't used my reel-to-reel tape recorder in years! I did just replace the belt on my turntable (at about ten times the expected price) a couple of months ago.

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/15/2008 2:43 PM

Is that to imply that my 8 track collection is gaining in value?

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#48
In reply to #46

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/17/2008 2:24 AM

Sticker shock seems it's happening a lot lately...

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#32

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 12:36 PM

Sir;

If it is a metal or plastic wheel with a "rubber tire" on it to drive the turn table most auto supply stores carry O rings of various diameter/cross section which could duplicate your finish desired OD....even can be had at different degrees of soft/hard rubber.

If it is a full rubber wheel...have a shop with a lathe duplicate it in metal/plastic so the above O ring idea could be used.

If you only need for a few records "take off"...thin coat the existing wheel with rubber cement...thinly... so diameter (drive speed) is not materially altered...let dry a full day before use.

MR. GUY

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#34

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 1:13 PM

Hello,

I too have been repairing this kind of equipment professionally for years.

1) don't try and paint anything on the tire. If there are any irregularities or change in the diameter it will transfer to the recording as a thud or a change in speed.

2) Rubber rejuvenator works well on rubber that still has a "bit of life" left in it. Totally dried out rubber...not so good.

3) Brake fluid will for sure soften it. BUT, it will make the tire too slippery...(my experience anyway)

The only way I have ever been able to reliably repair this section is to replace the idler. Here are your options...

1) if the tire is removable You can for sure order a tire that can replace the old one. (or come close with a little rupegoldberging)

2) if the idler is one that has a metal center that is NOT removable. AND the part is no longer available there is a place here in town (Salt Lake City, Utah) called Ballard Supply (801) 972-2430 they had a company that would rebuild your idler tires for you to like new condition...I bit on the pricey side as I remember but its a Permanent fix.

Good luck! Give them a call I have not worked in this field for some time so I don't even know if they still do it. But its worth a phone call!

bill12780

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 1:43 PM

Funny story...

I've actually got the opposite problem. I have something that used to be pretty hard all the time, and now as it has aged, pretty much stays very soft!

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#36

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 1:47 PM

Funny story...

I too am showing my age.

I've actually got the opposite problem. I have something that used to be pretty hard all the time, and now as it has aged, pretty much stays very soft!

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#42
In reply to #36

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/14/2008 10:26 PM

Hello Guest,

It appears you have some sort of "echo-Bug" in your Computer.

Kind Regards....

Hello Guest,

It appears you have some sort of "echo-Bug" in your Computer.

Kind Regards....

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#50

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

05/21/2008 7:50 PM

A light coating of brake fluid.

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#51

Re: Softening Hard Rubber?

06/03/2008 5:28 PM

If all else has failed, I recall that Wynns engine revitaliser was alleged to soften and 'revitalise ' the seals in old engines to stop em leaking oil, and no doubt other similar products worked on the same principle.

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