Monday, July 16, 2012

fix warped records

As you have learned, I love buying/collecting/listening to records.
Sometimes I'll find really cheap records at thrift stores. It can be a risk, since often they are in not-so-hot shape. So sometimes you get home and find that they are really warped. That is what happened to my Madonna True Blue album that I bought for $1
Recently I bought 2 great albums, but left them in the car on accident for 2 days. The 100 + degree heat warped them to the max. I put them on the record player and the needle jumped off them at one point like so bad, it looks like a car from a movie high-speed car chase in San Francisco. whoops.

Since these were all records that I really wanted, I was pretty devastated. From what I had heard from others, a warped record is pretty much done-zo.
But I didn't accept that fate. I looked online, talked to the owner of one record store, emailed a so called "expert" and they all pretty much said the same thing...there IS a way you can TRY to fix them. Done and done. I was on this.

This process sounds pretty easy. And it is! It just takes some time, and you have to keep an eye on things. And it's best done in the summer heat. I did these early in the afternoon, so I was able to work on my tan while taking care of it.
Also, I did a test run. I bought the same Madonna album somewhere else, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if the fix didn't work to that one. (and i ended up destroying it in the process...more on that later)

Here is what you need:
-2 cleans sheets of glass (bigger than the record)
-something to evenly distribute weight (i used a pot of water, but you can use a can of paint, or anything else that is close to the size of the record)
-heat (i used the sun. it's pretty fool-proof)

I got the sheets of glass from my step-dad. They were pretty dirty, and since I didn't want to scratch my records, I went ahead and washed them...with pantene. our dish soap went missing for about 3 hours yesterday, them magically re-appeared. so i found a travel bottle of pantene and used the hose outside. my records smell lovely.


the patients
 ok, so once everything was ready to go, I sandwiched my 1st record (do them 1 at a time! Otherwise it won't work) between the 2 pieces of glass and set it in the sun on concrete. Putting them in the grass, or a towel or anything that isn't totally flat won't work.
Let it sit there for about 5 minutes, heating up. Then, I put the big pot of water on top, to help flatten it

After about 10 minutes, i flipped it and repeated the process. If the record is in really bad shape, I'd move the pot around to the different problem areas. And leave it out longer. After at least 10 minutes on both sides, take off the pot and check it (still sandwiched between the glass. It is still really soft at this point). If it looks done, move on to the next one. If not, leave it out a bit longer.
Easiest way to tell if it is done: If the glass looks evenly sandwiched. If it is higher on one side, then the record is still warped.

Important note here:

don't leave any of the records just sitting in the sun before or after the process without the glass. I did that to my Madonna one, after all the work of fixing it. Before my (and my roommate...she was a witness) very eyes, it warped so bad it looked like waves. It was melting right there.
So after you finish each one, rush them inside (or leave them in the glass as you take them in), put them in the sleeve, and put something heavy on them to help them keep the shape as they cool. I actually just put mine on the shelf with the others, because they are crammed in there pretty tight, and that is going to help keep it flat.

Once they are totally cooled, go ahead and try them out on the record player. Mine were so much better. Not quite 100%, but much better than they were before. They didn't warble like most warped records do. You could still see they weren't totally flat, but they did great.

If the record isn't quite there yet, try again, maybe leaving them outside a little longer, or putting a larger, heavier object on top of the glass. I even stepped on it a few times, just to help out.

Also...just a warning: if you have a bad record, there is a moment that might be slightly terrifying. You need to brace yourself...
For the first record, i put the pot on right away for the first one, instead of letting it heat up first.  A few minutes in...when the record was hot enough that it started to get soft, I heard a loud cracking noise. I thought the glass or the record had broken. Nope. Pretty much, that is the sound of the record flattening really fast. really really fast and the 2 sheets of glass bumping each other. So it meant it was working, but it was pretty scary at first.

Anyway, I am going to work on perfecting the process. But at this point, i rescued 2 records and might make the 3rd a bowl (also easy to do)
In the meantime, I hope this helps!

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