woensdag 21 november 2018

Tips on cleaning LPs

Recently Wo. wrote on a Pink Floyd album, 'Animals', that seemed unplayable due to a strange residue that had settled into the grooves of his 41 year old copy. After writing this he thought. 'what have I to lose if I try cleaning it with water and a cloth'? The result was a spic and span sounding record, as if he had bought it yesterday. Something else happened as well. He received tips from his correspondence partners on the blog. So finally something useful on this blog, some might say.

Mark, 23-10:
Problems with vinyl. There are shops with machines for cleaning records - in London they charge 50p a side. I do clean records myself: first rinse the record under warm water tap (not hot - may warp the record) and place it flat on a towel - and then wash it with a small, soft washing up sponge (the kind you get in a six pack) with a little washing up liquid. Wipe with the sponge in the direction of the groove several times in a circular action - then rinse off the soap suds under a running cold water tap - and repeat at least once. Then let the record dry unassisted standing vertically in the (conveniently configured) dish rack! A couple of my 50 year old Francoise Hardy albums which had languished unloved in someone's dusty and damp attic for years were transformed as a result - like old paintings that after enduring decades of smoky drawing rooms and dismally yellowing layers of  varnish, are cleaned to reveal long hidden details and resonant colours that previously were only hinted at. Francoise finally revealed all.....

Sorry - getting carried away there a bit.  What causes "bag rash" as it is known in the collecting fraternity that damages vinyl records is a controversial issue amongst collectors - see for example the discussion here: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/warning-to-all-record-collectors-outer-bag-inner-sleeve-concerns.387179/.   My advice is beware clear plastic or PVC-lined inner sleeves because they may react with the vinyl: and if there is any damp they could encourage mould. My instinct is you are safer with absorbent paper inner sleeves. I remember advice being given on Antiques Roadshow on TV some years ago to a book collector that you shouldn't cover precious books or rare magazines with plastic covers because the plastic is not inert: while it would seem you are protecting the item, it can actually chemically react with the card or paper under strong sunlight or if under pressure - and cause irreparable damage. 

I found this out with shrink-wrap on a couple of jazz records I bought 30 years ago. Not only did the shrink wrap eventually start to break up but it also fused in parts with the record sleeve - and pulling it away damaged the sleeve so it became all blotchy....what a mess and there was I, thinking I was preserving the original sleeve in pristine condition. Lesson learnt: R-R-R-RIP off the shrink wrap with r-r-r-r-reckless abandon (but put in the recycle bin of course).

Meanwhile my originally clear plastic Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues album, with the Robert Rauschenberg revolving sleeve, is now progressively discolouring into a smudgy brown - and the corners are cracking.....still worth a bit more than the standard issue though! The story about how David Byrne engaged the renowned (now deceased) pop artist is recounted here:

Plastic: doncha just.....  hate it! 

Hope some of the above tips are helpful! 

Gary, 23-10:
Yes, the cleaning and protection storage of vinyl is a subject that is generally neglected but is still very important for collectors. The BBC is the world recognised authority on vinyl collection and they instigated and supported Keith Monks to invent vinyl record cleaning machines many years ago: http://www.keithmonks-rcm.co.uk/index.html . Have a look at his site to see where authorised retailers offer services… to buy one would be expensive but if you are looking for a little retirement business for the future, this may be a great little investment?

DIY wise, I have heard good things about a range of products by a British company called VinylClear: http://www.vinylclear.com/home.html. I have never used their products so I can’t vouch for them, but look at their site and decide for yourself?

I have used similar processes as yourself to clean LPs and singles Mark although be careful about getting the centre label wet as some get irremovable water and detergent stains….

And yes PVC album covers do release chemical agents that destroy covers and vinyl! The problem comes from "off-gassing," where there's a chemical reaction between the vinyl and the plastic lined sleeve, and it causes a cloudy film like staining on the record that will not come off. Initially it does not seem to affect the sound quality, but over time I think that it can cause damage. In my experience, the records will slowly develop a soft crackle that gets progressively worse over time.

I have heard though that a major problem is actually more to do with pressure, and not exclusively the sleeve that is the problem. So you should get rid of the PVC right way to avoid this. In the meantime, if you don't have any sleeves to replace them with and you don't want your records to get damaged, make sure that your records are not packed extremely tightly on the shelves, with maybe just a little bit of space. So they're still vertical but there is still a little bit of wiggle room to slide them in and out. You shouldn't be having to like tug on your records to pull it out of the Shelf…. If you're concerned about the collectability of the original inner, just store the old inner sleeve separately.

There is also a general recommendation to replace PVC with polyethylene sleeves… look around online and they can be brought in packs of 100s.

When you think about it, our collections are an investment and a little extra should be spent to maintain their value, financially and emotionally!


2 opmerkingen:

  1. Thanks for the tips guys, but awaiting the dishwasher-safe LP, I'll stick to cd's.


  2. You don't know what you're missing!