You need to be a fortunate bunny these days. To some extent you already have had some luck as you've landed on this website but if you own or have managed to acquire a record deck with a perfect perspex lid, then the Gods really are on-side.
The main body of the gramophone can often be in virtually mint condition, but the poor old lid often looks a bit tired to say the least. The description equipment sellers give of a Perspex cover is often tainted with undue optimism. “Light duster marks” may be just that, but sometimes you can legitimately ask what sort of duster has been used to clean the lid- a knuckle-duster perhaps? This article won't help you deal with gouges out of perspex lids (can anything?), or indeed very deep scratches, but you'd be surprised how effectively quite nasty grazes can be lessened or eliminated altogether with the right product, tools and a little application.
Now I'm no fan of DIY of any type, basically because I'm no good at it and don't enjoy that particular challenge. It's perhaps marginally more scintillating than watching “X Factor”, but it's a close run thing. I will happily recommend master craftsman/engineers for repairs and renovation, but I sensibly steer clear of full equipment re-builds or any major "modifications". Nevertheless, for this task anyway, I've made an exception on the basis that it doesn't need any fancy tooling or skills, and, as far as I'm aware, there aren't that many professional Perspex “renovators” willing to undertake such small scale work. I may be wrong, and no doubt Recordecklidrepair.com will be in touch, so please contact me if you know better.
It's strange to imagine how a sweet little yellow fluffy duster and a tin of "Sparkle", can cause so much harm over time to a Perspex lid. It's a lot stranger to think that setting an abrasive pad to the plastic is the first step to renovation, but that's exactly what I've done to a few lids now. Ideally, I'd like to suggest that you “try the technique on an inconspicuous area first”, but for a turntable cover, this isn't really a goer. Obviously, if you can get hold of an unwanted lid and practice, it will give you confidence before tackling your own precious Perspex.
Initially, I just used a perspex renovation kit bought from Dauphin Restoration Ltd, a company with a good deal of experience in acrylic and perspex renovation, as well as manufacturing custom designs in acrylic. A complete Dauphin renovation kit costs around £50.00 plus VAT and postage, and includes 3 bottles of liquid abrasives, one for course abrasion, fine abrasion and polishing work. There are also 5 small sanding sticks, each one with 4 small sanding pads, from course to very very fine. This is more than enough to renovate several perspex covers, so you may wish to do your friend a favour too-although he/she won’t be so friendly for long if you mess it up. If the cover is barely scratched but just a bit worse for wear, you'll probably only need to use the fine liquid abrasive on a soft cloth. You won't need to get involved in any sanding to get decent results, but it's useful to have the whole kit, just in case.
The procedure is basically exactly as you would imagine. You set to with a sanding stick, working on the area across the scratch, not along it. Yes, I do mean sanding your precious perspex lid! Begin with the rough pad and when the lid is evenly opaque, graduate to the slightly smoother one, finishing with the very fine pad. At this stage, you shouldn't be able see the scratch any longer, but the lid will be alarmingly opaque where you've sanded it. Now use the 3 abrasive liquids in turn to polish out the opaqueness, starting with the course solution. The final bottle is for fine polishing which is an acrylic cleaner really, rather than an abrasive. Just do the procedure on a small scratch first and see how you get on. It does work very well with small scratches that aren't very deep. The complication is that there are many different types of perspex and acrylic out there, with varying degrees of hardness. The amount of elbow grease needed to remove a scratch on one may barely “scratch the surface” (so to speak), on another.
Because I've had several lids to renovate, it's been worth my while becoming a bit bolder, and investing in a small electric polisher - a small drill with attachments in my case.
I used a variety of sponge “polisher” foam pads of varying grades of coarseness, in conjunction with the Dauphin liquids. It's the same technique as before, but lets you deal with nastier scratches with much less effort. It's also feasible to tackle a much larger area or even the entire surface of the lid, without your limb dropping off or losing the will to live. For the initial “sanding” of the scratch, I used a fine grade 00 sanding pad rather than a Dauphin stick, but these sticks are still useful if a mark is on the inside the lid surface, close to a corner or edge
Now, listen to me.....this is very important. If you are going to use a power tool, you must moderate the speed of the rotary polishing pad. Keep it down to no more than 900 rpm, and don't leave the pad in contact with the same area of perspex /acrylic for any length of time, or you will melt it. If that happens, the plastic is permanently scarred. Having said that, this is unlikely to occur if you exercise due caution but if in any doubt, turn the drill off and carefully feel the temperature of the perspex where you're working. It should be barely warm to the touch.
It's worthwhile putting a bathroom towel down on the floor (or grass) to help stabilize the lid whilst whilst you're working on it, and this saves spluttering the solution around over your kitchen floor, if you're using a power tool. Squirt a small quantity of liquid on the perspex and apply the rotating sponge, very slowly at first smearing the liquid on the surface, then progressing to a faster speed.
There are other liquid abrasives which may be cheaper, but I can only personally vouch for the Dauphin ones and those manufactured by 3M, primarily for car body renovation . I should say at this stage that I don't own shares in either of those companies, nor do I know any of the employees personally.
I've found Dauphin very helpful when I rang in for advice. Please let me know how you get on if you decide to give this a go and e-mail any suggestions you may have. Happy polishing.
Dauphin Restoration, The Poultry Farm, Marsh Baldon, Oxford, OX44 9LJ
Phone: 01865 343 542