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Author Topic: Pleo skin repair test  (Read 626 times)

mweed

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Pleo skin repair test
« on: April 10, 2017, 09:04:29 PM »

For almost the last ten years pleo owners have had to deal with skin problems, and since it doesn't seem like we'll ever be able to buy new skins, and since Bob is really showing signs of deterioration, I figured I better start testing ideas to see what we can do to keep pleo skins going for as long as possible.  Products like Gibbs might work to keep skins in good shape, but they do nothing to fix skins with problems.

Pleo skins are primarily made from latex, a natural rubber compound.  And as a natural product like wood, latex naturally "rots."  Exposure to ultraviolet light, extreme temperatures, oxygen in the air, and time cause latex to deteriorate.  One of the more common uses for latex similar to what pleo skins are made out of is latex masks used for halloween and in movie special effects.  The most common solution to repair damaged latex masks is to use more latex.  Some major tears are repaired from the inside, and small holes and cracks can be repaired from the outside.  For my first test I'm going to try using latex to fix the tail skin on Fred.


You can see on the far left is a rip that goes more than half-way around the tail.  The next joint to the right has a long crack that doesn't go all the way through the skin.  The next couple of segments have lots of little holes and cracks, then a big rip that is about a quarter of circumference.  Finally, we have a really big and ragged tear that reaches about two-thirds of the way all around the entire bottom side.

The two biggest tears will need to be repaired from the inside, so I'm going to start on the remainder of the damage on the outside first. 

Liquid latex can be used as a glue and can also be used as a coating to add thickness and strength.  Using a fine paintbrush and Q-tip I coated the sides of the cracks, squeezed the skin back together, and then put a thin coat over the crack. 

The theory is the liquid latex will act as a glue holding the skin together and filling the small cracks and holes will keep them from growing while staying stretchy.  Natural latex dries clear but will most likely look more shiny.  If everything goes well, one thought is to put a thin coat over the whole skin to act as a protective coat and give an even shine. :)  We'll see how it goes.

It takes about an hour and a half for the latex to dry and a full day to completely set.  After an hour, the crack on the left is looking good and still looks shiny.  The rip is holding together good, but ideally may need several coats.  We'll see how this rip holds up or will need patching from inside as well.  I'll give it overnight and then evaluate and put on a second coat.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2017, 09:51:32 PM by mweed »
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InmemoryofRomeo

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 02:14:34 AM »

Love to hear the results :) I have a few Pleo's with cracks now, including Pleakley who was left just ever so slightly out of neutral position and got a cracked neck :(
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aibo7m3

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 06:50:45 AM »

Good luck! I would love to hear the results as well! None of my RBs have managed to get any cracks in their skin, but some of my Ugobes have quite a few, so a potential fix would be great. Make sure to report back on how everything goes!
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 08:33:07 PM »

Day 2 starts out with mixed results.

After a full day the first layer has dried completely.

The crack on the left which didn't go all the way through filled in nicely.  One of the factors of deteriorating latex is it dries out and shrinks.  The new liquid latex dried clear, but since the old latex absorbed some of the liquid, it swelled a bit.  And since the latex dried clear, the result is the crack dried open so you can see into the crack.

The good news is the new latex dried very soft and flexible.  It really felt just like the rest of the skin on the pleo.  The crack flexed and stretched nicely and the latex seemed to work just fine and protected the crack from growing.  :)  It is a little shinier than the painted skin and seems like it could be a great solution.  The only problem was when rubbed the edge, the patch started to come up and I was able to peel the whole thing off in one piece. :(

The rip on the right that was split completely open didn't glue the two edges together, but did make a seal between them that stretched nicely.  It dried as a very thin layer.  To properly patch the rip you're supposed to apply multiple layers to add thickness and strength.

So, for the second coat of latex, I put a second layer on the rip, re-did the crack, and applied the latex to a wide area to see how it does.  I also put a coat on a crack on the bottom side of the tail to see if the latex just wasn't sticking to the paint.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 08:39:44 PM by mweed »
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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 04:51:06 AM »

Have you used any cleaning products on your Pleo's Mike? They could perhaps interrupt the adhesion. As could oils from petting or grime I suppose.
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 09:22:25 AM »

That is a valid concern for many pleo owners.  Most of the material I read on latex maintenance and chemicals said silicone based products like Armor-all and oil based products are bad:

Quote
Latex masks (and foam) have elastic qualities because of long molecular chains that allow stretching of the whole piece. What happens isn't a loss of moisture, but a chemical reaction that actually alters these molecular chains. The major enemies of latex are oxygen, UV light, smoke,and dust. These enemies cause one of two problems. 1- Either a breakdown of the cross-linked chains, which causes the latex to get gooey, and fail. 2- Or a continuation of the cross-linking process, until the mask becomes hard and brittle.

The only thing that Silicone, or Armor-All will accomplish is that it will make the mask slippery, and that will make the mask un-repairable. Nothing sticks to silicone. No glue, no paint. Nothing. So what you end up with is a mask that is still hard as shoe leather, and if it's cracking, un-repairable.

Quote
The major enemies of all latex masks are:
Perspiration- It contains oil, and oil rots rubber.
Petroleum- Any kind of oil, Vaseline, or solvent, dissolves latex.
Sunlight- UV rays and ultraviolet. They also make rubber brittle.
Heat- Heat will bake out the natural moisture rubber needs.
Age- Any mask, no matter how you baby it, will eventually rot.

Quote
Be aware some soaps are harsh to latex and will damage or weaken it over time.  Anything with chlorine or bleach should be avoided and any such contact will weaken the materials even if quickly rinsed.

But to answer your question,  one of the reasons I picked the tail I'm testing on is because it is one that I've never used anything on.   It's a bricked pleo I've had for years that I use as a prop, so there really has been very little handling and has been frozen in the same position for most of it's existence.  Dust would be the only issue.  I did use some water to wash off the skin, but not soap or cleaners.  And the first coat I pulled out of the one crack should have done a good job of removing any dirt or grime that was there for a really clean surface for the second coat! :)
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 09:35:15 AM »

As a side note, the dried latex did have a slight shiny or glossy look.  It really wasn't that noticeable in the dark green creases.  I actually liked the look, it brought out the colors better.  The one photo of the dried repair doesn't really show the difference very well.
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 11:15:36 PM »


As you can see by the glare in the middle section there is a define shine. when I first applied the second coat it seemed to take longer to set, even where I was applying it as a first coat. After two hours of drying the coating still showed some milkiness in the thicker areas.  And after 24 hours, the second coat still feels tacky.  So I'm going to give it another day to dry.  I will point out at the tip of the red arrow on the right that you can see where the latex coat is starting to peel.  This is due to my testing to see if the latex was dry.  Not a promising sign.  I'm thinking the slow drying may have to do with the high humidity (we had a lot of rain yesterday).

Since I'm waiting on that second coat, I went ahead and cut off the piece of skin from the butt area near the back right leg that I plan to use for the second part of the test.  Now, don't panic when I say I'm cutting off pieces of skin . . . this pleo hasn't had back legs in seven or eight years.  %) (There's a story about this somewhere in the archives.)
I applied a coat of latex to a corner on the inside of the skin.  It went from milky to clear in less than 15 minutes!  And if the light doesn't hit it just right to see the glare, you can't tell where I applied the latex.  :o  It's still tacky, so we'll give it overnight to dry as well.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 11:18:33 PM by mweed »
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pnhicks

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2017, 03:38:28 AM »

Hi.


I have been fascinated by the whole idea of skinning Pleos and in various experiments (totally nonscientific type) found that latex doesn't bond well to the original skin.  I believe it was Taoworm or someone like that who pointed out the nature of Pleo skin releases oils.  This makes finding an overcoat/ repair material that won't eventually un-bond tricky. 


I have been attempting to make a mold for the tail (the easiest part) and remake it out of dragon skin silicone.  The initial results were okay, but this like the when you hear that someone is going to make CNC parts or 3D print a new head etc, etc..

Could have, should have, would have


My Two cents from Spain,

Peter

« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 03:42:51 AM by pnhicks »
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2017, 09:30:44 AM »

Taoworm23 was the one who pointed out right at two years ago in the topic Care and restoration of Pleo skins that pleo skins are made from Thermo Plastic Elastomers.  He is the one who also recommended using Gibbs to help protect the skin and even confirmed this with the company that made the skin material.

Quote
On a side note about Thermo Plastic Elastomers
TPE (pleos skin) is repaired by CAREFULLY applying heat. 
TPE needs to be around 500 degrees F to melt
You can use a 'wind proof' butane torch lighter from a distance to carefully heat until the surface glosses over, indicating that it is beginning to melt, much like wax.

Then you close or join the heated surfaces. If you have a seam, let it cool a little, then heat the seam and use a damp cloth to apply a skin like texture and to conceal the seam.

Let the repair cool to room temperature before moving. A damp cloth soaked in cool water and applied to the repair helps to reduce heat more quickly.
Then replace/put back on Pleos skin.

WARNING * Work area must have active ventilation, such as exhaust fan or a fan next to an open window to pull any fumes outside.

I saw a post were someone tried to use super glue on TPE and that doesn't work, TPE is thermal and you can re-melt it.
(My cat damaged the tip of pleos tail years ago. I superglued it but it came loose years later.)

Cleaning
If you must wash Pleo ,wash with warm soapy water, (1 part antibacterial soap 4 parts water) taking care not to wet electronic components. TPE cannot be fully sanitized due to being made out of a porous material (meaning Pleos skin has pores that can harbor bacteria).

I do somewhat disagree about the super glue.  It does work and has held up well for me.  The problem is it dies hard.  His suggestion to use heat to melt the TPE is one I plan on trying in this topic, but for any major tears this is going to require skinning, which may be the only good answer, but I want to try out the other suggestions first as I'm afraid fully skinning will be beyond most people.

If you have a pleo with skin that's still intact, Gibbs is by far the best way to protect the skin.  But once it's damaged, we need to find a way to fix it.  And for some skins like the one on the pleo I'm using for the experiments, I'd have to heat to the melting point almost the entire skin to fix all the little crack and splits.  For heat I plan on using a good quality hot air gun with temperature controls.  It think this will be the safest way to go with the least amount of risk to the internal components.  There are a few other ways to repair TPE I plan on testing as well.  Latex repair materials were just much more common and easily obtainable so I thought I'd start there.  When researching latex repair, about half the stuff was geared towards halloween/SFX masks and half to repairing latex sex clothing.  With TPE repair, almost all is aimed at repairing sex dolls, with a little bit aimed at auto repair. :o
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Talon

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 12:28:17 PM »

This sounds like a nice place to start. So could someone clear up something for me? I've been using Vinylex on my Ugobes and Pledge on my RB's for all the time that I've owned them. Ugobe and Bleu- my Ugobes have no tears that I can detect by touch. Ryu my RB on the other hand has developed lots of small holes in her neck skin from bits of broken vertebrae moving around. My question is should I stop using these products altogether and start using Gibbs on everyone?
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2017, 09:49:26 PM »

I too have used Vinylex that I bought years ago.   But two years ago in the Care and restoration of Pleo skins topic Taoworm23 contacted the company that made the material used for pleo skin and they said that products like Pledge (as Ugobe & Jetta suggested) and Armor All are BAD for pleo skins.

Vinylex is not as clear an issue.  It is a silicone-based cleaner / protector.   It does provide UV protection that helps save the skin, it claims to restore the underlying plasticizers (which is good), but over time silicone is known to damage the chemical structure of thermoplastic elastomers.  Crewella contacted Lexol, the makers of Vinylex when we first started using it and they assured her that it would not dry out thermoplastics.  So, in theory, Vinylex is good for the short term to protect, but may or may not be bad over the long term.  Gibbs is good for the long term in helping keep the skin like new, but really does nothing to protect.

I can say to stop using Pledge.  I can't really give you a definite answer on the Vinylex.  I have used Vinylex and I know it has helped, Gibbs should be a better product, but I have never used it.  Taoworm23 had been using Gibbs for six years on his original pleo and reported that the skin was as good as when he first got the pleo.  You have used the Vinylex and it seems to have helped.  I have ordered some Gibbs, but it will be many months or years before I know for sure.
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mweed

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Re: Pleo skin repair test
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2017, 10:18:36 PM »

OK, the final results are in for Liquid Latex: not an ideal choice.

The good: Easy to find and easy to apply, dries clear and feels natural, works well to fill cracks and holes while remaining flexible and stretchable.
The bad: Doesn't really work as a glue to mend larger rips and tears.
The ugly: Does not stick well to the skin, so it doesn't hold up to rubbing or petting at all.

A coat of latex over the skin does provide UV and dust protection to the skin and will keep the skin from getting any worse.  The latex does stick much better to the softer inner side of the skin, but won't hold up as a patch.  So, the only way latex will work as a repair option is for pleos that don't get much petting or handling.  This makes latex a possible solution for use on the tail and neck as these areas don't get much physical contact, but not on the body sides or back.  It is possible that putting clothing on the pleo over the latex may work to protect the latex from peeling.  If so, latex may be a good option.   As most of the holes and ripped skin are on the tail and neck becuase these areas are flexed a lot, I wouldn't rule out latex as a repair option, but be prepared to re-apply.
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