Slightly OT: Craftsman screwdrivers

I opened a tool box I don't use much and all my Craftsman screwdrivers
(10-15 years old) had a white opaque coating on the plastic handles.
If it was mildew, it was hard and it took a trip through the
dishwasher to soften it so I could scrub it off. What happened? I
live in a damp climate in the summer, but cold in the winter. The
tools are in my garage, but the temp stays above freezing.
Reply to
John
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I had some one time that discolored and had the smell of vomit. Sears didn't want to replace them until I told them that the next time they saw them, they would be broken. The replacements never had the smell problem. Kingfish
Reply to
Kingfish
Xcellite nut drivers did this for a while. Yuk.
Jim
Reply to
jim rozen
Yeah, I have a whole service set at work like that!
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Reply to
Rick
||I had some one time that discolored and had the smell of vomit. Sears ||didn't want to replace them until I told them that the next time they ||saw them, they would be broken. The replacements never had the smell ||problem.
I have some of those! Kinda rough opening the drawer after a period of inactivity. Texas Parts Guy
Reply to
Rex B
If pressed to guess, I'd say it was the plasticizer in those handles leaching out at the surface and polymerizing or reacting with something else in the environment.
For those who haven't learned this yet, it's the plasticizers in all the materials inside a car which leach out, get into the air and then coat the inside of the windows with a cloudy film, particularly when the car is young and the weather is warm. I often wonder what that stuff does to you when you breath it in. I don't worry about it much though as the last time I bought a brand new car was in 1960. Since then I've always bought "new to me" 3-5 year old Caddies or Oldsmobilers and let the original buyers take the depreciation and property tax hits. Works for me.
I'd expect screwdriver handles to be loaded with plasticizers to keep them from becoming brittle, so that when folks (like me) use them for chisels and whack them with a BFH they don't shatter so easily.
Jeff (Who's not a plastics engineer but played one on TV once.)
Reply to
Jeff Wisnia
I have a whole set of similar-vintage (clear yellow handles, right?) Xcellite nut drivers that are fine, but I also had some of their older screwdrivers that got cloudy and smelled like cat urine. I think moisture has something to do with it.
IIRC, the cat piss ones shattered over the course of a year or so.
GTO(John)
Reply to
GTO69RA4
||For those who haven't learned this yet, it's the plasticizers in all the ||materials inside a car which leach out, get into the air and then coat ||the inside of the windows with a cloudy film, particularly when the car ||is young and the weather is warm. I often wonder what that stuff does to ||you when you breath it in.
My wife has a 2000 New Beetle that has always had a wax-like smell from the plastics. Frankly, it makes me ill. I have to make sure the car is ventilated and fan blowing when I drive or ride in it. Texas Parts Guy
Reply to
Rex B
Have seen this myself on older screwdrivers with yellow plastic handles. Probably not mildew but more likely some kind of chemical fumes from the plastic handles as they age. Mike
Reply to
MikeM
Mine aren't yellow plastic. They are color-coded, translucent. Red for 1/4", like that. Nor have they gotten brittle as they aged. - GWE
MikeM wrote:
Reply to
Grant Erwin
Craftsman actually started adding scent to the plastic to reduce the complains of bad odors. I believe it was vanilla and maybe pine. That was a while ago and I don't know if they still do it.
Reply to
asdf
Before tonight I thought it was a X-lite plastic issue - it normally smells a little different.
I opened a box that hasn't been opened for years and a Sears screw driver was white.
I cleaned a dozen or so x-lite drivers (screw and nut) in my vibration tank with Simple Green. Worked great. Clean in water after and dry out. So far they stay clean.
Martin
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
Smelly screwdrivers are the butyrate plastic. Usually very tough stuff.
Reply to
Beecrofter
A lot of screwdriver handles are made of urethane which is made from urea (synthesized, not "natural"). Urea is a white crysteline powder in it's raw form. Urea combined with Alchohol and other substances (under heat and pressure) produces urethane. It's possible that aging is decomposing the urethane to the point of accumulating raw urea crystals on the surface.
I've never had mine turn white, but as they age they tend to start to produce a putrid stench. Urethane smells bad (if you relly sniff those handles good) even when new, but after 15-20 years, yow, it stinks up the whole tool chest :(
Larry
Reply to
Larry
Some of my fathers Craftsman screwdrivers are like that, some of mine to. I solved the problem by using a Bosch cordless drill motor. None of that manual labor for me. Karl
Reply to
Karl Vorwerk
My neighbors already think me odd. I don't know what they'll think after they see me in my garage smelling my screwdriver handles...
Peter
Reply to
Peter Grey
I've had exactly the same problem with them when they get 10 years old or older. I've also had the same problem with Xcelite hex wrenches. They still work well, but their handles start to degrade. I don't believe it's a fungus on anything like that, but simply a decomposition of the plastic material on long term exposure to the atmosphere.
Fortunately they're inexpensively replaced, and I still consider them a great value for the price since they work so well.
Harry C.
Reply to
Harry Conover
Thanks Larry -
That explains a lot. It is tough to just clean off - but it does with simple green in the tank.
Martin
Larry wrote:
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn

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