Hot Records

Warped_David_Bowie_Vinyl_Record_Album

Today’s hot temperatures have inspired me to write a little primer on the hot weather record handling.

Sometimes when people bring records into the store to sell me, I can feel the records are hot and I ask them how long have they been sitting in their vehicle. Sometimes the answer is days!

Records can be transported in hot cars on trips with multiple stops, if a few precautions are taken.

Never lay one or a few records on a car seat in direct sunlight. Once the car heats up, the hottest spot on the record will drop. Or if the heat is more generalized, the entire record will “flex” into a gentle edge warp, which might play, but your stylus will ride the record like a roller coaster.

If you want to leave your records in the car temporarily, lean them up against either the glove compartment or the seat that is getting the least direct sunlight. Just the act of standing the records up will help protect them. Heat and gravity will take longer to affect the edge of a record than the flat aspect of the vinyl. The little space between a truck seat and the back of the cab is probably ideal because the seat will absorb most of the heat.

To protect the records even more, take any loose material that might be lying around the vehicle, like a jacket or a blanket, and wrap it around the records. Even books, boxes or newspapers will help. The basic idea is to create the biggest “package” possible. It’s going take more heat to damage vinyl that’s been insulated in this way – that’s basic thermodynamics. And, if you happened to have a Styrofoam cooler on board and place the “package” in it, the car would probably have to catch fire before the records would warp.

This same basic concept applies to records in a box or on a shelf. Some of the warps I see are on records that have leaned in one direction on a shelf for years, while in storage. In such a case, if there are not enough records the fill the shelf and keep the records upright, add some books or boxes to create another big, tight “package”. The same principle applies to boxed records. A full box of upright records is going to resist warping better that a half filled box. A full box means more mass and no leaning records.

And, even though this is slightly off topic, never store a box of records on a concrete slab in the garage. Condensation is going to wick-up through the box and records. At the very least put down a moisture barrier such as a sheet of plastic. Better yet, place the box on an inert object that will act like a pallet to keep the records higher than any water level that might result from busted plumbing. Store records as far way from water heaters as possible. Don’t place your records under or near any upstairs kitchens or bathrooms. Taking these precautions will help keep your records straight and dry.