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vinyl in the tropics, a question of preservation
Liamg
post Jan 14 2012, 19:12
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I took a bold step last summer and brought by record collection out with me to India, where I work and live. It's not the most impressive collection you ever saw, but it's very prescious to me, consisting of around 200 units, mostly jazz, soul, and other funky things (some of which are quite rare).

It was a difficult decision to take them out. I know that it's not best for their health to be transported and kept in tropical conditions, but then again it is best for my health to have them with me. I'd rather enjoy them now, even if it means their lives decrease a little.

Now that all this is said and done, I have to work out how best to store them. They all have plastic sleeves and I've given them a good cupboard in the center of the house, away from the possibility of damp and sunlight. Right now, the climate is perfect--cool mid 20C, dependable and dry, but in a few month it's going to get hot. Outside it will certainly exceed 40C; indoors it won't be so bad, but definitely more than the recommended 18-21C (Wikipedia). Should I expect them to sustain significant damage under these conditions? Do I risk warping them, or worse?

Then there's the monsson season. It rains more than you can possibly imagine here--more or less nonstop from July to September. The sleeves will be very susceptible to mold (everything rots in the wet season). I'm seriously thinking of wrapping everything up watertight, filling the cupboard with silica jell and locking it up until the rains finish. (I have plenty of CDs to listen to in the mean time!)

Basically, what I would like to find out is whether the 18-21C recommendation for archivists or whether it is a something I need to pay serious attention to. I could get a climate control for the cuppboard, I suppose, but I don't want to unless I really have to. My instinct says that my records are tough and the collection will survive. I've bought vinly out here that have clearly been baking in the Calcutta sun for 30 years, and they still sound fine. I have also scavanged a few off the ground after the flood in New Orleans. I wouldn't say that they played well after surviving being decontaminated in bleach water, but they definitely played.

Does anyone have any advise to share? Or anecdotes? I will welcome the off-topic.
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Gumboot
post Jan 15 2012, 00:32
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How do your requirements compare with those of a tobacconist? Perhaps you can use their tech.

This post has been edited by Gumboot: Jan 15 2012, 00:33
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hlloyge
post Jan 15 2012, 11:11
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Well, I would digitize them while they're still good, and then store original vinyls somewhere where they won't get damaged.
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Nessuno
post Jan 15 2012, 12:09
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QUOTE (Liamg @ Jan 14 2012, 19:12) *
I'd rather enjoy them now, even if it means their lives decrease a little.

[...]

Then there's the monsson season. It rains more than you can possibly imagine here--more or less nonstop from July to September. The sleeves will be very susceptible to mold (everything rots in the wet season). I'm seriously thinking of wrapping everything up watertight, filling the cupboard with silica jell and locking it up until the rains finish. (I have plenty of CDs to listen to in the mean time!)

[...]

Does anyone have any advise to share? Or anecdotes? I will welcome the off-topic.


Is there any reason for you to listen to the actual physical record? Why don't you simply rip them to FLAC (or search for a ready made digital version where available, if you want to speed up the acquisition process)?

After this acquisition phase, their "sound image" will be forever preserved (provided a good backup strategy of course) and I think the only real concern about their "physical shape" will be on excessive humidity deforming paper sleeves, which you are already taking care of well.

I live in a moderately humid place, but rather hot in the summer, always kept my LP (about a hundred from thirty to fifteen years old) in an open shelf, with no other care than occasionally dusting and they are all in perfect shape (don't listen to them any more, though).


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Liamg
post Jan 17 2012, 18:52
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Thanks for the replies.

Technically, you're right--I could copy the disks and then archive them, but this would be taking a lot of the fun out of it for me. If I had been thinking along those lines, I would have never taken them to India in the first place. (In fact, I wouldn't have bought most of them in the first place, but would have purchased legal downloads). My mind is made up on this, so I'm looking for ways to best look after them during regular use.
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alanofoz
post Jan 17 2012, 22:27
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In that case, store them as best you can. And digitise as a backup. Then back up your backup.


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Alan
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MichaelW
post Jan 18 2012, 02:28
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I've lived in Australia, where it gets pretty hot, and now live in Auckland, where it's warm and humid most of the time.

I don't think the heat will be a major problem: as long as the records aren't left in the sun, or put in a car, there should be no gross damage, and if you play your vinyls, I'm assuming big-deal archival storage isn't your primary concern.

Humidity is another thing. At the least, as I imagine the monsoon, the cardboard sleeves will come unglued and probably a bit fungoid within a couple of seasons. I haven't actually met a fungus that eats vinyl, but there are plenty that live on photographic lenses, so I'd put nothing past them.

Here, they sell buckets of silica gel or some such to keep closets reasonably dry. If you can't get air-conditioning, I'd think putting the disks in a sealed environment with large amounts of desiccating agent would be a useful measure. Mostly you can regenerate the agents, which will save money. I guess a non-functioning fridge or freezer would make a tolerably convenient sealed space for the records.
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cliveb
post Jan 18 2012, 10:51
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QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jan 18 2012, 01:28) *
I haven't actually met a fungus that eats vinyl, but there are plenty that live on photographic lenses, so I'd put nothing past them.

I can't give you a reference, but I'm sure that I have read about vinyl records being attacked by some kind of fungus - so this is a genuine danger.

QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jan 18 2012, 01:28) *
I guess a non-functioning fridge or freezer would make a tolerably convenient sealed space for the records.

Be careful. If you used a fridge, the temptation might be to stack the records in a vertical pile. And that would *certainly* result in warpage. LPs should be stored on edge, with moderate but not excessive sideways pressure.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jan 18 2012, 17:50
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QUOTE (Liamg @ Jan 14 2012, 13:12) *
I took a bold step last summer and brought by record collection out with me to India, where I work and live. It's not the most impressive collection you ever saw, but it's very prescious to me, consisting of around 200 units, mostly jazz, soul, and other funky things (some of which are quite rare).

It was a difficult decision to take them out. I know that it's not best for their health to be transported and kept in tropical conditions, but then again it is best for my health to have them with me. I'd rather enjoy them now, even if it means their lives decrease a little.

Now that all this is said and done, I have to work out how best to store them.


Back in the day, the worst things I ever did to my LP collection were to take them to El Paso TX, and Miami FL. In El Paso the fine dust that permeated the air almost year-round was the big problem. The 110 degrees plus temperatures did not ssm to cause any additional warping with normal on-edge storage. In Miami, the heat, humidity and resulting mold were the big problems. Again, no special problems with warping, if memory serves.

Based on more recent experiences, I would say that storage in well-sealed plastic tubs, perhaps with dessicant packs, would be my best guess at a possible circumvention for these problems.

Just lately we've had some problems with flour bug infestations here in Detroit. Simply taking the affected products (cereals and cookies) off of the shelves and storing them in semi-sealed plastic tubs (sterilite, rubbermaid) has made a big difference in terms of both freshness and the problem with flying bugs.
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