Calculator from a smoking environment: What is to be done?



#2

I've got two calculators that I can smell at a distance. Does anyone have a recipe for reducing that odor? The cases stink, too.

(My New Year's resolution: ASK eBay sellers about the environment in which their calculators have lived.)


#3

Quote:
I've got two calculators that I can smell at a distance. Does anyone have a recipe for reducing that odor? The cases stink, too.

(My New Year's resolution: ASK eBay sellers about the environment in which their calculators have lived.)


My condolences as I have one of those too. Smells like someone
left the device in a desk drawer on top of a box of cheap
incense for a decade or so. I've tried dismantling the
unit, washing 4-5 times in a dishwasher, soaking in vinegar,
packing it disassembled in baking soda for weeks. No dice
whatsoever, the stench refuses to leave.

In the process of the above nonsense I'd peeled the serial number
sticker off the case to preserve it, stuck it elsewhere and
forgot about it. Weeks later I was unknowing working in the area
where I'd stashed the serial number and thought I was having
flash backs of that rancid smell. Then I noticed the sticker.
Unbelievable.

Sorry I have no advise other than digging a hole in the backyard.
My casualty is a sam7 12c+ so at least I'm not going to worry too
much about hitting the flash wearout on this particular unit.

#4

Open it up and clean everything as best you can with 99% isopropyl alcohol inside and Novus #1 outside. Then leave it open to the air, preferably outside and in the sun if you can, for a long time. It will eventually be smell free but may take a month or longer.

#5

Try wiping it down with Acetone or VM&P Naphtha.


#6

Quote:
Try wiping it down with Acetone or VM&P Naphtha.

Please do not use Acetone on ABS plastic as it will
immediately soften and destroy the finish. In fact it
dissolves ABS so readily it makes a superb ABS glue.
IIRC there can be variation in the distillate composition
of Naphtha so you might want to test that sparingly on
the inside of the housing before going too far.


#7

Quote:
Try wiping it down with Acetone or VM&P Naphtha.

If Acetone and Naphtha don't do the trick, try applying Thixotropic Dichloromethane liberally. ;-)

#8

You could try placing the items in a zip-lock bag along with a Bounce dryer sheet for a few days.


#9

Similar idea: I placed a smokey calculator in a drawer with some baking soda while not in use. I kept it like this for several months but I'm not sure if that length of time is necessary. The smell did go away.

#10

Thanks to all for suggestions. I'll try the minimally invasive ones first, starting with that of Ben Moss.

#11

I have several books that were detoxed by sealing them in a bag with Silica Gel. It took a few months, but finally worked. Perhaps the same will work with calculators?


#12

Allen, that's very interesting and possibly very valuable. In what form, exactly, did you obtain and deploy the silica gel?


#13

Something like this Silica Gel Desiccant.


#14

Terrific: neat, cheap, noninvasive. I'll report back next year.

#15

Something I used (probably not a good idea for circuitry) on plastic parts was a degreaser. Specifically I used Super Clean Tough Task Cleaner Degreaser from Casey's (think 7-11, Gas 'n Stop, etc.). (my brother smokes like a damn chimney)

When I've used it on plastic, glass, non-porous surfaces that damn nicotine comes right off. Your paper towel will be a disguisting yellowy-brown. It smells exactly like 409 cleaner, feels like 409, looks like 409, makes you choke like 409, etc. So 409 might work just as well.

Never checked for smell beforehand but afterwards there wasn't any. Just be sure to RINSE, RINSE, RINSE. I don't use it on anything I can't hold under warm running water and rub with a clean rag/paper towel. It takes quite a lot to rinse the degreaser off. (which may mean there is more left to clean)

** must warn you, I've only once used the degreaser on an ink surface. i.e. the keyboard back-plate on a HP-91/97, for example, where the yellow nomenclature is. The yellow lettering looked very solid and I only sprayed and immediately rinsed. I have used similar cleaners (Mean Green?) on keys of a HP-46 (removed & washed each key cap) and in a few light rubs the cleaner started taking the colored lettering right off. So I make a point to never rub on ink-printed nomenclature. Use a q-tip & go around it. Spray on the lettering and then immediately hold under water. Then PAT the lettered area dry.

Maybe the colored lettering on a 46 versus newer items is different, but never trusted the cleaner subsequently. i.e. the coloring on the 46 appeared to hold, then in about 1/2 a wipe most of it was suddenly gone.

But never had any problem using the degreaser on a case and rubbing on it with a rag.

#16

Extended soaking in isopropyl alcohol sounds very reasonable, but I don't have a tobacconated calculator to test this on. After all of the surface cleaning, this is ultimately a question of solubility... Which gives me an idea, based off of a concept I encountered for cleaning old records: PVA adhesive.

The idea would be to disassemble as much as possible, and apply a thick layer of PVA adhesive. Elevated temperatures will accelerate the process of light organics molecules being absorbed into the adhesive layer. After several weeks, peel off the adhesive (should clean the textured parts very nicely) and see if it improves.

If anyone wishes to give this a shot of has a calculator scrap they would like to try this on, let me know. I do technical work in the adhesives/sealants/polymer industry, so providing material samples is easy enough from my end.


#17

soak it in 89 octane gasoline and then light it with a match. That is the only way I was able to get the smell off some gloves I bought made in China.


#18

That sounds like the ideal treatment for the HP35S and HP15C LE models.

#19

Quote:
I've got two calculators that I can smell at a distance. Does anyone have a recipe for reducing that odor? The cases stink, too.

(My New Year's resolution: ASK eBay sellers about the environment in which their calculators have lived.)


I wonder if any of the Fabreeze (sp?) category products would help.....application methods would be an additional variable.
#20

i use a product call De-Solv-It to clean most things, it is a citrus oil based solvent intended for removing stains. works like a treat on dirt and ink marks, and leaves behind a faint orangish odour.

it also softens/dissolves adhesives, and is marvellous for removing unwanted labels and stickers. just apply to the top of the sticker, leave for 10 minutes or so to soak through, then the sticker will peel off cleanly. once the De-Solv-It has fully evaporated away, the adhesive on most labels will become sticky again.

applied lightly and rubbed off with a cloth, it will restore most items to a new-looking finish with remarkably little effort.

i believe eucalyptus oil works similarly well.


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