Things aren't what they used to be.


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We've all said it: "Things aren't what they used to be."  Mars bars chcnged their recipe in about 1978, chocolate in general has suffered greatly from 'Shrinkflation' and nothing seems to last these days.  This morning I had been fixing the brakes on my bike and was covered in brake block dust so I reached for the SWARFEGA. In "The old days" Swarfega cleaned just about anything off your skin but this modern 'Original' Swarfega is next to useless and costs a fortune too.

 

When Swarfega looked like this it worked a treat: 

 

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But now that it looks like this, it is rubbish: 

 

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Lots of the old cleaning solvents were found to have ingredients that were potentially carcinogenic. They did work much better than the ‘safer’ modern versions however. I always keep a box of surgical rubber gloves in the workshop to use when I do a messy job now. I doubt that the used gloves are environmentally friendly when disposed of though. Curing one problem usually creates another. Just wait until your electric car’s battery runs flat up in the Highlands and there’s no ‘phone signal either!

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Swarfega was reformulated after fears it removed natural oils from skin, not sure when but Deb chemicals, the manufacturers, was sold some years ago to a London investment group so probably has little of the original ingredients left in this age of elf n safety.

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Swarfega will have to change its recipe again very soon as it contains the micro plastic beads which are the subject of a forthcoming ban. I'm not going to recommend them, on H and S grounds, but if you browse the web there are diy alternatives - at your own risk!

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If I recall correctly, one of my more senior colleagues at the Coal Board Labs did some analysis on Swarfega (the late 60s version).  It was basically paraffin (kerosene), and water, in an emulsion of some sort, with a bit of added color and antiseptic.

 

As I recall the coal board itself issued a simlar cleaner which was red in colour and called Centrex.

 

As a youngster, I would clean my hands after fixing bikes or whatever, using soap, with a sprinkle of 'Vim' added.  It worked.

 

When I worked for a firm called 'Gunac'  in Liverpool, applying multi layer paint and waterproofing to the iconic Littlewoods Building.. we cleaned our hands at the end of the day with something called 'Tolly Oil' (which I suspect was simply Toluene) That stuff definitely worked, but did strip the oils from your skin too.  Gunac seems to still exist.. at least in New Zealand.

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Ajax worked just as well. They sell a brand of hand cleaning soap here called Solvol, similar to what we used to call "sand soap" which back in the day I think used to work by taking then first layer of skin off along with the dirt.

I always found that a liberal application of barrier cream helped the dirt come off much easier and helped prevent contact dermatitis from the "suds" that was used in machining metals in those days.

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I've just remembered a pink 'barrier cream' that I think was also issued by the Coal Board.  strange smelling stuff.. probably based on Lanolin.. which is derived from sheep wool.

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Loosely on the subject of cleaning, I  remember years ago my supervisor telling me of a case of a caretaker in one of the east sussex schools, who had been cleaning the urinals in the boys toilet, using ajax scouring  powder. He then decided to rinse it off with bleach, a sort of belt & braces  theory.. They found his body the following morning. He had gassed himself.

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^^^Hence the warnings on toilet bowl cleaner to the effect of 'Do not mix with other cleaners.'^^^

 

I've heard of at least two instances of people being gassed in a similar fashion by using one of the more modern hydrochloric or phosphoric acid based cleaners and, probably after it didn't clean very successfully, poured bleach in the bowl as well. This results in the generation of very highly toxic chlorine gas - the same stuff as used as 'gas' in WW1.

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1 hour ago, jonab said:

 

Could be.  I know the name Rozalex but can't be sure that's what the pink stuff was.

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21 minutes ago, Brew said:

I've read the warnings before but had no idea of the results or consequences of doing so..   

Trust me on this one Brew, you don't  get a second chance. The poor guy i referred to was overcome by the gas before he had chance to get clear. These cocktails are deadly. B.

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I also know the name Rozalex. I seem to recall it from my apprentice days in the 1960s. I don't recognize the tin in the photo though.

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