Neil Sorenson
United States
Springfield
VT: VERMONT
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I recently received an older game in trade that had some warping to the board and cardstock counters and was wondering how best to fix things other than simply piling up a load of Strontium 90 on top of the things for a month. I talked to a friend of mine that is an archivist and she had some useful info for me that I wanted to pass along.

....

There's a technique that conservators use to relax paper...like with a large panoramic photo that's been rolled for decades. Basically, you create a humidification chamber -- which is a gentle way to relax the paper fibers.

The ones I've seen are a round plastic garbage can w/tight lid, plus a smaller plastic can inside without a lid. You place a little water in the bottom of the big can, put the item in the smaller can, put the can w/photo in the larger one and put the lid on it. Since you're talking about a board game, you'd need to rig something with a rectangular tub. It's just a temporarily humid environment. Paper is hygroscopic ($10 word!) which means it will absorb any extra moisture. That relaxes the paper fibers.

Once it's relaxed (this can take days...remember it's a gentle process!) place the item under weights to flatten it out.

VERY IMPORTANT: The item should NEVER touch water. Also, there is a chance that the shiny coating isn't hygroscopic -- which means it can't be relaxed. Keep an eye on it and if you see any cracking I'd stop. ANOTHER WARNING: Coated or varnished papers can become sticky or cloudy when exposed to moisture. You'll have to weigh the risk/benefits.

More info here: http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/localrecs/conservation/notes/...

Keep me posted on your progress. If you take photos, I'd love to post them on my Practical Archivist blog (www.practicalarchivist.com)

Cheers,
Sally J.
The Practical Archivist

....

Hope somebody out there finds this as useful as I have.
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Alan Kaiser
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Interesting. Now I just have to figure out if my Dual in the Dark boards were actually in contact with water or not! Based on what you've said I'd say the Dual in the Dark components were shipped in a 'relaxed' state but when they dried (under weight) they warped. It doesn't seem that relaxing them again is going to fix the problem. I'd guess the problem lies in the publisher applying printed material (what you see on the board) to cardboard that is relaxed but the printed material doesn't react the same way to drying as the cardboard so that is how warping occurs.
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Steve R Bullock
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Palm Coast
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I followed all your instructions until I reached:

put the can w/photo in the larger

What photo?

Thanks.
 
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Susan F.
Canada
Lethbridge
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volnon wrote:
I followed all your instructions until I reached:

put the can w/photo in the larger

What photo?

The example listed was for relaxing a large photo.
 
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Iain K
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Arvada
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alkaiser wrote:
Interesting. Now I just have to figure out if my Dual in the Dark boards were actually in contact with water or not! Based on what you've said I'd say the Dual in the Dark components were shipped in a 'relaxed' state but when they dried (under weight) they warped. It doesn't seem that relaxing them again is going to fix the problem. I'd guess the problem lies in the publisher applying printed material (what you see on the board) to cardboard that is relaxed but the printed material doesn't react the same way to drying as the cardboard so that is how warping occurs.

Good points Alan, one of the issues we have here in Denver is a shockingly dry climate, particularly with respect to the climate near sea level in which most games are produced.

Let's also remember that boards and cards can warp because they are coated on one side and not the other, the board shrinks as moisture leaves it, but the coating which isn't as hygroscopic does not shrink as much. This differential results in warpage. Rehumidifying the paper component may make no difference as the warping will reoccur when the weight used during drying is removed.

It's worth a try, but the solution, as has been discussed is to use better quality materials to make the boards, materials which are not as hygroscopic.


PS & FYI many plastics are hygroscopic to varying degrees as well. For example Nylon is very hygroscopic, and nylon parts press fit on metal components can crack if they are placed in very dry environments.
 
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Mark Saha
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Hmm, this is all interesting and a subject close to my heart but...

A comment: Instead of constructing the garbage can humidifier contraption, why not just wait for a humid day? I guess this depends on where you live.

My experience is that no cure is permanent if you live in a region with extreme fluctuations in humidity, about which more below...

(1) MY BASIC CURE:

I've always found that any warped board will flatten eventually if you just place it on a flat surface and pile a lot of weight on it.

First I place a large book like an atlas on the (folded up) warped board, so that it is covered completely. Then pile as many more large books as you can find on the atlas -- or anything else really heavy.

Leave it a few days and pretty much ANY board will flatten eventually.

However, a change in the weather can undo your work...


(2) THE "MEDITERRANEAN EFFECT":

I live in southern California near the beach, where we have what is called a "Mediterranean climate." Don't know if that's really so but can certainly describe it:

At times, especially in spring, we get fogged in along the coast for days or weeks -- humidity can reach 80% or more for long periods.

Late summer and fall bring the notorious "Santa Ana winds" from the great deserts to the west. Temperatures at these times often soar into the 100s (F), but are not that uncomfortable because humidity drops to 10% or less.

My experience is that what causes MOST warping is low humidity (dry air).
When humidity gets really low (10%), everything curls up -- photographs, game boards, etc.

During these times, even my flat reliable old 1958 AH solid mounted boards will warp.

But once humidity returns to normal, such items eventually flatten out on their own. Photos and game boards alike.

(3) BOTTOM LINE:

If a board is warped when game is purchased, I put it under a pile of books and leave it awhile. This works best on high or average humidity days. Stuff will flatten during low humidity, but not as well and often doesn't keep.

But I've managed to flatten most every problem board I ever had.

(4) ANY PORT IN A STORM:

If you need to play a game, board is warped, and you don't have time to flatten it...

Just put it under acrylic like a paper map.

Anyway, these are my experiences, living in a climate with extreme fluctuations in humidity.

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alkaiser wrote:
Interesting. Now I just have to figure out if my Dual in the Dark boards were actually in contact with water or not! Based on what you've said I'd say the Dual in the Dark components were shipped in a 'relaxed' state but when they dried (under weight) they warped. It doesn't seem that relaxing them again is going to fix the problem. I'd guess the problem lies in the publisher applying printed material (what you see on the board) to cardboard that is relaxed but the printed material doesn't react the same way to drying as the cardboard so that is how warping occurs.

I wonder. Might the producers be able to solve this problem if they used a similar composition varnish on the back side as they do on the top.
 
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Alan Kaiser
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Wilhammer wrote:


I wonder. Might the producers be able to solve this problem if they used a similar composition varnish on the back side as they do on the top.

In most of the Z-Man stuff I've seen it looks like the boards are not 'printed'. It looks like the graphics is applied via full board sticker of some type. I'm not a printing expert but that's the impression I have based on the look and feel of the board.
 
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Johan Sammelin
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Karlstad
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Wilhammer wrote:
alkaiser wrote:
Interesting. Now I just have to figure out if my Dual in the Dark boards were actually in contact with water or not! Based on what you've said I'd say the Dual in the Dark components were shipped in a 'relaxed' state but when they dried (under weight) they warped. It doesn't seem that relaxing them again is going to fix the problem. I'd guess the problem lies in the publisher applying printed material (what you see on the board) to cardboard that is relaxed but the printed material doesn't react the same way to drying as the cardboard so that is how warping occurs.

I wonder. Might the producers be able to solve this problem if they used a similar composition varnish on the back side as they do on the top.

When I built tabletop terrain that was a trick I found to work when applying glue/varnish to large cardboard bases.

One way to help prevent minor warping might be to get all the folds to 'loosen up'. I usually bend all folds of a new game board carefully backwards just a little bit. I imagine this will help keep the individual board sections from warping due to not being able to lay completely flat. And it might possibly even prevent any 'tension' in the joints from warping the board. Well, I don't don't really know - but so far the only game that I've had problems with is 1960: The Making of the President - but after some gentle 'fold-softening', weighing down, and gentle calculated contra-warping, it looks ok.
 
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