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Scrooge

Brittle and crumbling

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So last weekend, i went about the process of setting up my display. I used to be into it in a much bigger way, but had to finally admit defeat as i could no longer manage the storage problem, in addition to the days of time i spent setting up and tearing down. Im sure some of you can relate. About 5? years ago i sold most of my outdoor blowmolds. The 12 snowmen that i still own are the ones which didnt sell due to being faded, cracked, common, or a combination there of. I am able to manage storage and setup of these 12 snowmen, along with light strings and spiral trees. Todays display is a shadow if its formal self...but sure does look good and its the biggest display for 2 miles in any direction. (i live in a minneapolis suburb).

Anyways, back to my simple story. My blowmolds get dusty and cobwebby in storage after a year or two of un use. (yes, some years i skip the display). I really should bag them to keep them clean. So, before i put them out i wash them off with soapy water and the garden hose. As the years have rolled past, some of these old blowmolds have gotten very brittle. To the point that the simple weight of my hand on the top of the hat,  gently steadying the blowmold from falling over as i wash  it, causes the plastic to break and the pieces fall inside the snowman. Sometimes the simple act of carrying the blowmold causes the plastic to crack. The plastic is more brittle than a peeled egg shell. 

So, i baby these old friends along, hoping to get one more year of use. In some areas there are holes which i just let be. For the most part you cant see the cracks and holes from the street. On the tops of the hats, where the whole top has caved in, i have resorted to using post office clear packing tape to cover the hole, hoping to prevent snow from accumulating inside the blowmold. Even the act of gently applying tape and lightly pressing it into place will cause more breakage. It seems that the empire 48" giant snowman seems to be the biggest problem. Does it have something to do with the red painted hat attracting more sunlight? Or are the 48" giant snowmen simply thin up on top due to the nature of the blowmolding process? Im not sure. Second worse (in my opinion) are the brim of the top hat of empire 40" bumpy snowmen. 

I saw another topic where a brave soul repaired a broken blowmold. I believe that i can not get away with any real repairs, as the sooner i fix one hole, the area adjacent to the repair breaks away. 

Well, at this point, the display looks good. I dont have to think about brittle blowmolds crumbling under my touch until its tear down time. 

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I've had a couple that were brittle, as brittle as you are describing, I just put them on the curb and bought a replacement. Some do get more brittle than others, it's weird. Honestly, I think it's just bad luck, I have that same empire snowman, since the 80's and its not brittle at all. I know it's UV rays that dry them out and make them brittle but some seem to hold up much better than others.

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We purchased that same snowman back in the late 80's and use him every year.  There are no brittle spots on it.  We do take everything down after the first week of January.  Do you leave your snowman/men outside for an extended time?  

Edited by donna123

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5 hours ago, 55cgas said:

I've had a couple that were brittle, as brittle as you are describing, I just put them on the curb and bought a replacement. Some do get more brittle than others, it's weird. Honestly, I think it's just bad luck, I have that same empire snowman, since the 80's and its not brittle at all. I know it's UV rays that dry them out and make them brittle but some seem to hold up much better than others.

Yeah, though ive cut way back, i do still buy nice blowmolds if i see them at garage sales. I refuse to pay 30-40$ for a blowmold at menards. If these dont fall apart in my hands come early january tear down, ill shoot for using them again. The tear down can be rough on them though, as they often freeze to the ground. A sturdy blowmold will pop loose from the ice with little effort. These brittle ones are a trick. Ocassionally, i have had to resort to pouring warm water on the bases to release them from the ground.

 

23 minutes ago, donna123 said:

We purchased that same snowman back in the late 80's and use him every year.  There are no brittle spots on it.  We do take everything down after the first week of January.  Do you leave your snowman/men outside for an extended time?  

I store them inside when theres room. At the height of my storage problem, i stored them outside covered with a plastic tarp. Since i typically buy my blowmolds at garage sales, its hard to say for sure how they were stored before i got them. That might be the bulk of the reason behind some blowmolds getting brittle and some not.

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17 hours ago, Scrooge said:

I store them inside when theres room. At the height of my storage problem, i stored them outside covered with a plastic tarp. Since i typically buy my blowmolds at garage sales, its hard to say for sure how they were stored before i got them. That might be the bulk of the reason behind some blowmolds getting brittle and some not.

There is you're main problem, storing them outside. The reason they get brittle is from UV rays, unless you have UV resistant plastic tarps, the UV rays are still getting to the mold and making them brittle. 

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Wow, the height of the snow is amazing!  Was that one snow storm or an accumulation of a few snow storms?  Here in upstate NY we see some deep snow, but not like that!

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6 hours ago, 55cgas said:

There is you're main problem, storing them outside. The reason they get brittle is from UV rays, unless you have UV resistant plastic tarps, the UV rays are still getting to the mold and making them brittle. 

Ive always use the silver poly tarps from menards,  and know that poly tarps will degrade from sun exposure...sometimes less than a year in full sunlight. My tarp covered blowmolds were stored in an area of my property which is very shaded. One of the reasons i stored them there was because there was never enough sunlight to even grow grass, and i didnt want to kill the grass anywhere else in my yard. The poly tarps lasted quite a while, which might indicate that the amount of sunlight getting through the trees wasnt all that much if the tarps lasted 4-5 years. In that regard, the tarps were as much an effort to keep the blowmolds clean from leaves and tree sap etc. I don t disagree that the problem is mostly uv sunlight...and i agree that tarps are not the best uv protection...but some of my point is...that i had quite a few blowmolds under tarps, and the brittle crumbling effect im seeing is mostly on just 2 types of blowmolds. Maybe its a combination of blowmolds with 'thin' material areas combined with the effects of uv light, drying those this areas out even faster than other areas.

 

5 hours ago, donna123 said:

Wow, the height of the snow is amazing!  Was that one snow storm or an accumulation of a few snow storms?  Here in upstate NY we see some deep snow, but not like that!

That snowcover was an accumulation. We had a couple of big storms that season, and i think these photos were during or just after the snow stopped. Before the snow settles down i few inches lower. The season of 2013-14 was a bigger year for us at 70 inches. I think upstate NY gets signifificantly more than minneapolis does.

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On 12/7/2017 at 1:00 AM, Scrooge said:

Anyways, back to my simple story. My blowmolds get dusty and cobwebby in storage after a year or two of un use. (yes, some years i skip the display). I really should bag them to keep them clean. So, before i put them out i wash them off with soapy water and the garden hose. As the years have rolled past, some of these old blowmolds have gotten very brittle. To the point that the simple weight of my hand on the top of the hat,  gently steadying the blowmold from falling over as i wash  it, causes the plastic to break and the pieces fall inside the snowman. Sometimes the simple act of carrying the blowmold causes the plastic to crack. The plastic is more brittle than a peeled egg shell.

I picked up 2 Frankenstein monsters and a ghost that someone in the neighborhood put out on the curb (with a bunch of junk).  The monsters aren't too brittle but you can see cracks that don't go all the way through the  plastic.  The ghost is falling apart.  I wonder if there is anything that we could paint on 'molds when they get brittle to give them some strength.  I wonder if there is some kind of epoxy and/or polyurethane paint that could be used that wouldn't melt the plastic.

TED

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Well, as a continuation of the 'brittle' saga... 3  days ago i began pulling the blowmolds from their storage area, getting ready to put up the display on black friday.  Long story short, 2 of the brittle empire 48" snowmen that i was able to use 2 winters ago,  just fell apart at the lightest touch. I began by removing the screw which attaches the light bulb bracket, but the slightest twist of the screwdriver immediately broke the plastic and the bulb assy fell to the inside where i fished it out. I ended up putting the snowman in a large garbage can then using a 2x4 to break the plastic into small pieces which i could put into a plastic grocery bag. The sounds were like breaking glass, and the plastic shattered into tiny  dime sized pieces.  The only parts which any structural integrity were the very bottom, and the vertical barrel of the top hat. Maybe the red paint on the hat shielded the plastic from uv radiation?

These old friends will shine on again one day, when i acquire a garage sale blowmold missing its light bulb bracket and transplant the old 48" empire snowman bulb bracket.

Ive found a few replacement snowman blowmolds at garage sales the past 2 summers so the ranks are replenished, and then some. 

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