Basic 33 RPM LP Jacket Repair

Basic 33 RPM LP Jacket Repair

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Many times basic repairs to your LP jackets can really spruce up the cover and increase the grade a notch. For example, A VG- cover can increase to a VG grade, a VG moves up to a VG+. Below are some basic repair tips I have gleaned over time that I will share with you. If anyone has other tips, please let me know and I will update the guide.

Seam & Spine Splits - Repairing with Glue. Many people tend to shy away from buying records with splits seams and spines. However, if you are willing to spend a little time doing some repairs, you could end up getting your record cheap and with a nice looking cover after you refurbish it.

  • If at all possible, always make your seam and spine repairs using glue. I have found Elmer's Office Glue Stick to work great. It's a gel adhesive that comes is a push up stick and dries clear and bonds very well. You will need to have a small flat head screwdriver to apply the glue. Scrape the screwdriver across the glue stick so the top of the screwdriver has a small amount of adhesive on the tip. Now carefully open the split seam enough so you can apply the glue from the tip of the screwdriver to the inside of the cover. Be sure to apply at the very top of the inside of the LP jacket. If you apply the glue to low, you won't be able to slide your LP inner sleeve in when it dries.

  • Once you have applied the glue along the seam (one side of the seam is fine), press the seam together and take a paper towel, lightly dampened with water, and slide it along the top of the seam or spine you just glued. What this does is remove any excess glue on the outside of the LP cover and smooths out the flaking from the seam being broken.

  • Now clamp the seam or spine down with a series of black binder clips. Make sure the binder clips are positioned so they are clamped to the very top of the repaired seam or spine. Let the clamped cover sit for several hours.

  • After several hours, you can remove the binder clips. Your seam or spine is now repaired.

Seam & Spine Splits - Repairing with Tape. I recommend making repairs with glue but if you decide to go the tape route then I recommend using acid free photo & document tape. Make sure the tape is clear and not opaque (the brand I use is Scotch). The acid free part is very important because acid free tape will not yellow over time.

  • Simply measure out the piece you need and press the tape onto the front side of the LP cover. Now flip the jacket over and gently pull the tape so there is a tight fit over the spine or seam and then press down. Trim the excess tape at the corners or LP opening with a straight edge razor. The straight edge razor ensures a very clean cut up against the LP slick. Since the tape is clear document and photo quality, it will blend nicely into the LP front / back slick. I have applied this technique with some of my LP covers and the blending is excellent.

Seam Separation Repairs: This is different than a seam split. A seam separation is when the LP jackets seam becomes separated (versus a split) due to the original glue used by the record company becoming aged / brittle and no longer able to adhere the cover together . This is prevalent with covers manufactured starting in the 1980's.

  • You can use the Elmer's Glue Stick, but I found a very quick and effective fix is to apply double sided tape over the original glue line. Scotch sells the double sided tape in hand held dispensers and works great. Apply the double sided tape with 2-3 runs to make sure you have enough adhesive and then simply press down.

Removing Stickers. Most sticker will come off by applying a product like Goo Gone to the label or sticker.

  • Take a Q-Tip and dip it into the Goo Gone. Now apply the Goo Gone to the entire surface of the sticker and of course along the edges. Let the Goo Gone sit for a few minutes. After a few minutes, use your fingernail and gently pull back the sticker or label. Do not attempt to take the sticker or label off in one fell swoop because you will tear the LP slick. Once you get an edge of the sticker lifted, dip your Q-Tip back in the Goo Gone and dab underneath the lifted section of the sticker. Allow the Goo Gone to sit a couple of minutes so it can dissove the adhesive. Continue this process until the sticker or label is completely removed.

  • I do not recommend using Isopropyl alcohol. Too much Isopropyl alcohol will leave a permanent pink discoloration. If you have ever seen a peeled Beatles Butcher with a pink hue, that's why. The cover was peeled using too much Isopropyl alcohol.

  • Another effective solution is removing stickers with Ronsonol ligher fluid. It will not leave any dark marks (which Goo Gone can be guilty of). It evaporates in minutes and will not eat at the colors or paper. Apply to the entire sticker (use a Q-Tip) and then set a poly outer sleeve and set a book as a weight on top of the sticker. Wait 1-2 minutes and peel the sticker away. Technique and length of application varies based on different adhesives but 3 minutes would be enough time. As with Acetone, do not drip Ronsonol on your vinyl. It will damage the record surface.

Removing Ink & Markers: This is by far the most difficult repair to make. Permament markers and pen ink are extremely tough to remove. In most cases, if the writing is not overly intrusive, it is best to leave well enough alone. But here are some techniques that I have used with varying levels of success:

  • If you are looking to remove marker or ink from a laminated cover like the old Beatle UK flipback jackets, I found success in removing both marker and ink by using a dry erase marker. Simply apply the dry erase marker over the writing you are looking to remove. Let dry for a several seconds and then wipe. The old marker and ink writing will also rub off. Do not apply this technique to a non-laminated cover. The dry erase marker will have the same effect as a permanent marker and you just made your situtation worse.

  • Concentrated (non-diluted) Simple Green works well on removing ball point ink from covers (it does not do as good a job on permanent marker). You need to be careful not to rub too hard otherwise you will remove the print from the LP jacket.

  • If the writing is in pencil, I have found an eraser like a Staedtler Mars Plastic (you can pick it up in Office Depot, etc.) works great.I have even found it works fairly well on ink if the ink was written lightly. Be careful on LP labels though. You run the risk of removing the color from the label if you erase.

  • Another technique is to apply acetone. Acetone evaporates is seconds and is very good at removing ink and markers. However, there are two things you need to know: Never spill acetone on your vinyl records. It will damage the record instantly. Also, if the ink or marker has set for a long time, you will not be able to completely remove all the writing. The trick to working with acetone is to apply it in a targeted fashion (e.g., with a Q-Tip - do not apply it in a broad based fashion) and then immediately dab with clean soft cloth. Repeat this process until the un-wanted blemish has been removed to your satisfaction.

  • To remove pencil, dirt and grime try a Kneaded Eraser. They are clean, with minimal crumbling and non-abrasive. Rub with light pressure to remove pencil marks, dirt and grime. Be sure to "knead" the dirty portion of the eraser back in so you are always working with a clean section of the eraser. Eraser will need to replaced after a dozen covers or so but are inexpensive and can be purchased at any art or stationery store.

  • To remove ink try a product called "Krazy Kloth". It will do an excellent job of removing most inks. It will leave a slight oily residue which comes up upon wiping with a paper towel, leaving no marks. As with any ink removing product, it is highly recommended you practice and test on junk covers before attempting a fix one of your prized LP jackets. If you rub to hard or to long, you will remove the cover art ink.

Word of caution: I have found that attempting to remove marker or ink from a label usually ends up making the situation worse . Before getting bold and tackling one of your prized LPs, I recommend practicing on some junk vinyl, this way you won't destroy your collectible copies if your experiment ends up less than desirable. You can pick-up cheap records at a thrift store or flea market so you can experiment.

Cleaning Up Dirt & Grunge from LP Slicks:

  • Use a product like a contractor's soot and dirt removing sponge (Ace Hardware sells them) to wipe the cover's surface area. This is a dry sponge that requires no water. You will be astonished at how much the sponge picks up after wiping the album cover surface several times. This sponge works especially well on textured, non-glossy slicks (e.g., George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and Bangladesh).

  • This next step is to spray some Windex on a paper towel. Do not saturate. Gently wipe the jacket surface area with the sprayed towel. More dirt will come off and after a few minutes, the cover will be completely dry and you should see a marked difference in appearance. Do not rub hard otherwise you run the risk of removing the print on the slick. Be especially careful with Sgt Pepper slicks. It doesn't take much rubbing to remove the blue background on the front cover.

  • For UK laminated covers (front and back), applying concentrated Simple Green onto a paper towel and then wiping both the laminated front slick and the non-laminated back cover works great. Another eBay Beatle collector told me about this technique and lo and behold, it worked very well. I was able to improve the appearance (and grading) of my old UK flipback covers. Let the covers dry for several hours after cleaning them. You may see some dampness in between cracks in the laminate but not to worry, after letting the cover dry, the damp spots will evaporate and disappear.

  • Try Magic Eraser for removing dirt, soot, gunk and some ink and water marks. The best type are those that can be rinsed and reused. Very lightly dampen one end of the sponge and stroke/rub lightly and specifically where needed. Then use the dry end of the sponge to quickly pick-up any residual grime. Quickly wipe with a dry paper towel. This approach does not work well on porous paper covers but works great on most LP jackets. This technique takes a bit of practice so it is recommend you try it out on some junk covers until you get it down to your satisfaction. Results can be excellent.

Repairing Tears or Rips:

  • If there is a tear in the slick and the torn piece of the slick is still present, apply the Elmer's Glue Stick and press down. It works great.

  • If you have a tear at the opening or mouth of the LP cover, take a piece of tape and apply it to inside of the cover and then press down. I normally use clear packaging tape for this type of repair because packaging tape is far more durable than run of the mill Scotch tape.

Restoring a White Album Cover: Virtually all Beatle White Album covers have ring and shelf wear unless the record was purchased and immediately stored in a vault. They are also notorious for seam splits. Well, the seam splits can be repaired as described above, but what about restoring the front and back slick? Here's how:

  • First, remove the records from the jacket! Use the contractor's sponge described above to remove any overt topical dirt. Then use the Windex on a a paper towel to remove any additional embedded dirt / grime. These first two steps are important - do not skip over them. Now with a clean automobile waxing applicator, dab a little Scratch Out (yes, the same Scratch Out used on cars - you can get it at any auto store) and rub the scratch out on the LP slick in a circular motion. Wait a few minutes and let the Scratch Out dry. With a clean cotton cloth, gently polish the cover free of the Scratch Out. Most of the ring wear and jacket wear disappear before your eyes. Not only will your White Album look much cleaner but it will also have a nice glossy sheen.

  • If your White Album is numbered, do not apply the Scratch Out on the number - work around it. Rubbing the Scratch Out on the number may remove / fade the numeric print.

  • This technique does not remove water damage or ink / marker.

Removing Mildew & Storage Odor: Mildew is tough to combat, but you can try this method:

  • Place the cover (without the record) in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. The microwave should extract the moisture. Repeat as necessary for a cleaner smelling sleeve.

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