Wonder If This Would Work With Stems?

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jhowell

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Jul 25, 2019
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"Tired of breaking the old, brittle plastic clips that hold on exterior and interior trim? Worried that the plastic thermostat housing will either leak or crack after being over tightened? Hoping for a way to rejuvenate the yellowed plastic gears, slides and rollers in that window regulator? Having trouble sliding the plastic handles onto the metal rods that came with that new foosball table? The answer to these and other plastics conundrums is an elixir available at the nearest kitchen sink.
My dad was a plastics engineer for 30+ years. One of the best tips he has given me thus far is to rejuvenate and limber up old and new thermoplastic polymers by soaking them for a minute or so in boiling water. The results with nylon can be especially dramatic. Yellowish nylon goes into the water brittle and comes out supple and milky white.



New composite thermostat housings, foosball table handles, and other plastic pieces that must be mounted to metal become slightly more flexible and are an easier and better fit.
The boiling water does not melt the plastic. Soaking nylon in room temperature water for a long time has the same impact as a short bath in boiling water. The chemistry is too complex for just the son of a plastics engineer to explain. Basically the moisture releases tension between polymer molecules that was created when the plastic was first made (molded, extruded, etc.) or that built up over time as the plastic was exposed to sunlight, heat, chemicals or otherwise aged.
Over the years I have only seen good results from putting my plastic parts in boiling water. At worst the plastic seems unaffected, probably a thermoset plastic (rigid body parts, distributor caps, Bakelite, etc.). However, there are myriad plastic resin recipes and plastic products out there and I must include a disclaimer and encourage common sense and caution. Do not soak plastic pieces that include electronics, gaskets, lubricants, paint, adhesives, decals, etc. that are not supposed to be exposed to water. Do not bring a plastic part out of a freezing garage and immediately dunk it into a boiling pot of water. Thin, molded plastic pieces like interior trim or milk jugs might lose their shape if exposed to heat. Heat and moisture from boiling water might not be uniformly transferred through very thick plastic pieces. If you are at all concerned about the temperature of boiling water, then maybe instead try soaking the plastic piece in unheated water for a day or two. Don’t boil a greasy composite valve cover in your spouse’s favorite spaghetti kettle…
Tom Taylor,
RockAuto.com"


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BROBS

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Nov 13, 2019
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Maybe if it had yellowed I guess but most acrylic is colored.
I think this more applies to parts made from than milky white plastic-nylon stuff like car parts.
 
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craiginthecorn

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May 8, 2017
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If you put a bent Vulcanite stem in boiling water, the stem will return to its original unbent state. I haven't tried with acrylic, but in fairly certain it will bend after heating.

Although not a ridiculous question, the simple answer is that this is a very bad idea.
 
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anotherbob

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I could be showing my vintage here, but when I read that I was thinking about the yellowing that the old NES and SNES consoles seem to get over time. If you are in your 30s or 40s you know what I am talking about.
I was watching a little clip about Akihabara and the stores there that sell used electronics. And man there where NES and SNES that were in pristine white condition. Also not sure why the font went wonky and bold either. Well I am leaving it that way cause why not.
 
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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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OP was referring specifically to plastics. But for those who aren’t aware, yes, vulcanite will straighten out, any stamping will raise, and it will turn a nice pea green...

I don’t have many pipes (probably none) with plastic stems as the OP describes. But I do have some plastic parts around that are old and discolored. I usually just replace those, like cupboard hardware...
 

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