The Game Doctor -- repairing and cleaning boardgames

The library of game-related articles posted in the old Yahoo forum's Files section. Generally essays containing advice for collectors, interviews with game designers, and charts and innovations for gamers. The Files forum, too, is a work in progress and incomplete, but all files will eventually be transcribed. Posting here, also, is restricted to the moderators, but comments on the articles are welcome in the main Baseball Games forum.

The Game Doctor -- repairing and cleaning boardgames

BaseballGamesBKW
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Joined: October 25th, 2013, 6:10 am

September 5th, 2015, 3:36 am #1

This thread, as the title pretty clearly indicates, contains in each post an article, originally posted
as a file at our old Yahoo forum, about boardgame repair. Below, in order:

General care and handling 101 -- the basics, by Bruce Whitehill

Split corners and torn aprons -- advice on box repair

Tape and stickers -- tips for removal

Dirt and stains -- remedies from Bruce Whitehill

Warping -- tips for flattening warped games

Mildew -- treatment for mildew
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BaseballGamesBKW
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Joined: October 25th, 2013, 6:10 am

September 5th, 2015, 3:40 am #2

General care and handling 101 -- the basics, by Bruce Whitehill

Bruce Whitehill, the Big Game Hunter [ http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/ ],
is one of the world's foremost authorities on board games and game collecting,
the inventor of "Championship Baseball" (Milton Bradley, 1984) -- and a nice
guy, in our experience; we've corresponded with him more than once. Here are
some basic tips from Mr Whitehill on caring for your vintage games.
-- Butch7999

______________________________________________________________________________

Most games are made of cardboard and paper. After 1860, the paper used, called "coated stock"
(notice the shine or reflection of light), was more resistant to soiling. This paper can be cleaned with,
quite simply, soap and water. But before I go into that, remember that proper handling of a game
will lessen the need for cleaning and repair. Here are a few words of caution:

> Beware of sun, heat, cold, moisture, and excessive dryness.

> Keep games out of direct sunlight and away from bright light (the colors will fade).
Keep games away from extreme heat or cold, and away from areas with great temperature fluctuations
(the gameboards might warp, or the litho sheet may bubble or separate from the cardboard).

> Keep games out of damp areas (they will mildew) or very dry areas (they may become brittle).

> Watch out for rubber bands.
Don't use rubber bands to hold the cover on a game box unless you have to for a short period
(such as in transit); they may disintegrate and fuse to the box cover. Buy the very elastic, high grade
rubber bands packed in large boxes, found in office supply stores (suggested: Plymouth rubber bands,
size 33). Make sure you remove and replace rubber bands on game boxes very carefully so that you
don't wear down the edges on the box; use two rubber bands, placing them right near the edge on
opposite ends of the box; don't slide the rubber band along the box edge, lift it up. If, when antiquing,
you want to look at game held together by a rubber band, ask the dealer to let you take it off rather than
trusting the dealer to do it right.

> Avoid tape, stacks, and one-handed hoists.
Do not lift an old game with one hand, as your fingers might go right through the bottom.
Don't stack games so the top of a game box is being pressed down by the game above.
And never, ever use tape of any kind.

> Collectors must wash hands before returning to collecting.
The oil in your fingers leaves marks (that's why professional crooks always wear gloves).
Excessive handing will leave games soiled, and the dust and dirt from one game can be transferred
by hand to other games. Wash your hands often when you're working with games.

-- © Bruce Whitehill, 1997, 2002
Published in "Toy Shop," May, 1997
http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/
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BaseballGamesBKW
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September 5th, 2015, 3:48 am #3

Split corners and torn aprons -- advice on box repair

"One of the main reasons boxes split in the first place is because of the way they're constructed.
The actual cardboard sides aren't attached to each other at all, it's the covering paper that holds
everything together."

That's from one of the best tutorials we've seen on game-box repair, an article by Greg Aleknevicus,
editor of The Games Journal [ http://www.thegamesjournal.com/ ]. It's nicely illustrated with
15 helpful step-by-step photos, and we recommend it highly. You can find it on-line here:
http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles ... oxes.shtml

Another useful article on the topic is the following piece by Bruce Whitehill -- one of the world's
foremost authorities on board games and game collecting, and a nice guy, in our experience;
we've corresponded with him more than once. Here are some more tips from Mr Whitehill on
repairing your vintage games.
-- Butch7999

____________________________________________________________________________

The side of a game box is called the apron; where the apron is attached to the game box is called the edge.
Edges are often worn, and aprons can be torn (in the middle) or split (at the corner), or detached completely.

Place aluminum foil or wax paper on a flat counter or tabletop. Set the cover on the foil/paper with the aprons
pointing up. Use an archivists' glue (which will not become brittle) or a household glue such as Elmer's or Weldbond.
Strengthen the box by placing a thin line of glue along the inside edges and corners. The glue may be white
when wet but should dry colorless.

Glue the inside edges and let dry before gluing the corners; use as little glue as possible (it will dry better).

If the corner is split, put some glue on the end of each apron, then hold the two aprons together with a paper clip
(patience!).
Push the two aprons firmly together, then add a little more glue to both the inside and the outside of the corner.
Don't worry about getting glue on the paper clip; when the clip is removed carefully (wait until it is completely dry
-- 24 hours is safe), it will snap off, leaving the glued corner intact (hopefully). Do only one corner at a time,
or two corners diagonally opposite.

An apron that's torn in the middle can be held with a paper clip or, better yet, a "tweezer clamp" (try a hardware store).

If you are replacing an apron, set the apron so it is perpendicular to the box top or bottom and place a block or book
along the outside of the apron to keep the apron upright. You may have to use a small, heavy item as support
on the inside, or to keep the box bottom flat. Run a thin line of glue along the inside edge.
-- © Bruce Whitehill, 1997, 2002
Published in "Toy Shop," May, 1997
http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/
____________________________________________________________________________

Here's an entirely different approach. In the Baseball Games front office, we've always been constitutionally
opposed to any use of any sort of tape when it comes to game repair -- but that's based on the application of
clear adhesive tape, masking tape, brown-paper packaging tape, or any other clumsy and horrible stuff
that we far too often encounter adhering to vintage boardgame boxes. It's terribly ugly, and a huge problem
to remove without incurring even worse damage to the box. However, even old dogs like us can still learn
a new trick. A January 2009 conversation at the Net54 Memorabilia Forum [ http://snipurl.com/19had0 ]
elicited this advice from a "William_9":


"There are strong, archival, and removable tapes available. The kind that I use when I want a strong hold
that is reversible is called hinging tape -- similar to stamp hinges, but a slightly heavier paper stock. It's made
from white paper and has a gummed back that you moisten to stick. Nice thing about it that you can cut it to size
and bend it to fit into corners cleanly. Removal requires nothing more than moistening the back side and letting it
fall off. Any left over residue can be wiped off with a damp cloth. You could easily fix the corners of your game
from the inside and it would be a clean and completely reversible fix. The tape I am referring to is readily available
in framing or art stores. Chances are if they sell mat board and matting supplies the store will also carry this tape.
Its intended use is for hinging artwork behind the bevel cut mat."
____________________________________________________________________________

original file 2004 March
edited 2009 January
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BaseballGamesBKW
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Joined: October 25th, 2013, 6:10 am

September 5th, 2015, 3:53 am #4

Tape and stickers -- tips for removal

Bruce Whitehill is one of the world's foremost authorities on board games and game collecting
-- and a nice guy, in our experience; we've corresponded with him more than once. Here are
some tips from Mr Whitehill on removing tape and stickers from your vintage games.
-- Butch7999

_____________________________________________________________________________

The best way to repair paper games is to send them to an experienced restorer. And if you repair
your own games, the best material to use is acid free glue and paper, available at most art supply stores.

Never try to pull off a piece of tape or price sticker without using rubber cement thinner. Look for
Carter's Rubber Cement Thinner in an office supply store. Put the cement thinner in a tiny (2"), clean oil can,
or use an eye dropper. Saturate a corner of the sticker, then gently peel back the corner, pressing down
(not lifting up) as you do. Keep adding cement thinner as you slowly peel off the sticker. You can also try
using a hair dryer on the tape or sticker; the heat may destroy the adhesive.

-- © Bruce Whitehill, 1997, 2002
Published in "Toy Shop," May, 1997
http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/
______________________________________________________________________________

We'd also add that a toothpick or Q-tip is a useful, if patience-taxing, tool for working cement thinner
underneath tape or stickers once you've got an edge started on its way off. And we'd advise caution
with the hair-dryer method; excessive heat can cause the glossy paper on coated stock to separate
from the cardboard underneath, leaving bubbles or blisters on the surface.
-- Butch7999
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BaseballGamesBKW
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Joined: October 25th, 2013, 6:10 am

September 5th, 2015, 3:59 am #5

Dirt and stains -- remedies from Bruce Whitehill

Bruce Whitehill, inventor of Milton Bradley "Championship Baseball" (1984), is one of the world's
foremost authorities on board games and game collecting -- and a nice guy, in our experience;
we've corresponded with him more than once. Here are some basic tips from Mr Whitehill on
cleaning your vintage games.
-- Butch7999

_____________________________________________________________________________

> Dirty games.
One of the best bargains a collector can find is a dirty game. Many non-collecting dealers know nothing
about cleaning games and are afraid to try to remove the dirt from a game box for fear of ruining it.
Some stains, including simple water stains (light brown spots), ink marks and embedded grime may be
impossible to get out.
If you're thinking of buying a soiled game with the hope of cleaning it up, a good on-the-spot spot test
is to wet your finger and rub it gently on the box cover; if you wind up with a clean spot on the box
and a dirty finger, there's a good chance the game will clean up well.

> Wash and dry paper games.
Mild liquid soap and a little water will clean up most games. Always test a small area first.
Put a small amount of non-abrasive, non-detergent hand soap or dish washing liquid on a damp sponge.
Gently rub the sponge on the paper in a circular motion near an edge. If the edges are worn, be careful
not to get too much moisture on any exposed cardboard. Rinse and re-soap the sponge frequently, and
wipe the cleaned area with a well-rinsed damp sponge. Repeat as necessary, but don't allow the surface
to become too wet; let it dry completely between cleanings. Always check to see if the paper is being
rubbed off or is buckling, or if the color is fading; if so, stop cleaning.

> The big rubout.
You can also clean paper games with a kneadable soft eraser -- an art eraser (not a pencil eraser).
An eraser will let you remove some of the coloring from an ink mark, (though the indentation in the paper
will remain). Remember that an eraser is acting as an abrasive and is removing paper, so work carefully.

> Cleaning non-paper games.
To clean metal gameboards (such as most of Wolverine's products), use the same cleaners and polishers
recommended by those who deal in toys and tin litho. One toy restorer recommends Meguiar's Mirror Glaze # 7,
which can be purchased in an automotive store.

Cleaning wood is as simple as washing or polishing wood objects in your home. Murphy's Oil Soap works well.
If the game has illustrations drawn right on the wood, be careful; test a very tiny area, using liquid soap
and water, to see if the color comes off or fades; use a white cloth or sponge to see if it is picking up any of
the color from the wood. Clean along the grain of the wood, not against the grain, and work in short strokes.

Plastic takes well to soap and water. Do not use chemical cleaners on clear plastic (such as the plastic
that covers the newer bagatelle games) -- they can cloud the plastic.

-- © Bruce Whitehill, 1997, 2002
Published in "Toy Shop," May, 1997
http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/
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BaseballGamesBKW
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September 5th, 2015, 4:02 am #6

Warping -- tips for flattening warped games

Bruce Whitehill is one of the world's foremost authorities on board games and game collecting
-- and a nice guy, in our experience; we've corresponded with him more than once. Here are
some more tips from Mr Whitehill on restoring your vintage games.
-- Butch7999

_____________________________________________________________________________

> Warp speed!
Some game boxes are warped. (So are some collectors.) If your box is warped, wet the entire inside
of the box with a wet sponge or a plant mister, or pour a little water into the box and move it around
to cover the entire surface. Pour out any excess water, place the cover on a flat surface, line it with
wax paper, and place inside the cover any flat, heavy object (a heavy bookend, or a large, unabridged
dictionary or coffee table book), preferably one that is nearly the same size as the cover.

If your gameboard is warped, place it for a few days (in an open position if it is a folded board) under
as large and as heavy an object as you can; depending on your sleeping habits, you may want to try it
between your mattress and box spring.

-- © Bruce Whitehill, 1997, 2002
Published in "Toy Shop," May, 1997
http://www.thebiggamehunter.com/
_____________________________________________________________________________

We'd add that purified or demineralized water may be a better bet than tap water for the method
described above; municipal water and well water contain minerals and chemicals that may slightly
discolor more sensitive areas of your game.
-- Butch7999
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BaseballGamesBKW
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September 5th, 2015, 4:07 am #7

Mildew -- treatment for mildew

Vintage game suffering from mildew? A good dose of hot sunshine and dry air is effective triage
for stopping the growth of mildew already present.

To prevent it from cropping up in the first place, always keep the humidity low wherever you're storing
your games, books, or other paper collectibles. The University of Missouri-Columbia extension office
recommends that you could try hanging a bag of paradichlorobenzene or paraformaldehyde in the closet
or closed bookcase where they're stored (caution: paraformaldehyde is poisonous and may be very
irritating to some persons. Avoid inhaling the fumes.) Or dust your games, books, and papers with
paraformaldehyde, then package and seal them. For museum-grade protection, paper collectibles can
also be protected by wiping them carefully with a cloth mildly dampened with a solution of 3/8 ounce (11 g)
of salicylanilide in 1 quart (0.95 liters) of rubbing alcohol. Or use low-pressure sprays containing a fungicide
to protect paper products against mildew. Unless they're kept in closed containers, respray them frequently.

If mildew's already present, and if the mildewed paper or cardboard is damp, dry it first as suggested --
sunshine, dry air. If your game is very damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on it to absorb the moisture.
Leave the starch or powder on for several hours, then brush it off. After the game's dried, carefully remove
any dry, loose bits of mold with a clean, soft cloth. If the mildewed paper is washable, wipe it gently with a
damp cloth wrung out of thick soapsuds, then with clear water. Take care not to wet the paper more than
necessary, and don't scrub it. Finally, pat it dry with a soft, dry cloth. If stains remain, you could try bleaching
with a mild solution of household bleach, then sponging with a cloth wrung out of clear water. For small stains,
a commercial ink eradicator may be useful.

Before you try any of those remedies, try applying them discreetly -- say, a Q-tip sized application --
to a small, hard-to-see area of the damage. If it works there, you can proceed more confidently to treating
the whole game; if the game reacts badly to the little test treatment, you won't have made things too much worse.
-- Butch7999
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