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Microwaving a National Timetable Book to unbind the pages

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319321

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I am looking to unbind a few pages from a 1995 copy of the National Rail Timetable (one of the staff editions).

This is so that I can scan and enlarge the pages - I have tried using a scanner but the 'curve' at the spine end of the pages is too great and I have also tried using a phone camera but the quality is too poor.

I did some research into unbinding the book and have previously used the microwaving technique on some smaller books, however I have not attempted it with anything as big as the National Rail Timetable.

I was wondering if anyone had done this before, and could offer any tips on what power setting and timing to use, and whether it would be better to 'cook' it in multiple short 'bursts' rather than in one long burst so as to prevent the pages from getting too hot.

This is not a mad idea.

Here is someone doing it for manga.

[youtube]g8sPlaS0ycE[/youtube]
 
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I've never done it myself on large books (although I've been challenged with the "spine" problem on occasions when scanning), but have you considered trying to use a hair dryer rather than a microwave to melt the glue?

The advantages of the hair dryer are:-
- You can direct the heat only where it's needed (onto the spine, not the pages),
- You can sweep the hot air jet evenly back and forward to avoid overheating one spot,
- You can watch closely how it's all proceeding so you use only the minimum heat needed to melt the glue (you can't observe so closely inside a microwave).

With this method I'd also suggest putting something heavy on top of the book to stop all the pages blowing around once the binding is released!

If you want to use a microwave I'd think it would be sensible to use multiple short bursts (e.g. 50% or Medium power) and try a fairly short "zap" and a bit of trial and error to start.
 

pdeaves

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An alternative is to use a big knife or fine saw to cut the very edge away. A place where I used to work briefly had a huge guillotine for this very purpose: cut the spine off, separate the pages and scan.
 
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319321

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Thanks for the advice. I will probably be trying the hairdryer method in the next few days, and will report back on the results. If thats unsuccessful, I will be putting one in the microwave. I will be keeping an eye on the thread, so if anyone has any real world experience of (sucessfully or unsucessfully) unbinding thick paperback books such as the GBTT I would grateful for any help.
 

DaleCooper

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On a serious note I wonder if my go-to solution for such things might work. That's lighter fluid (petrol), it dissolves most glues but doesn't usually harm other materials or inks and of course it evaporates very quickly. Of course you should first try it on an old book of no value to make sure it does no harm and doesn't make the ink run.
 

319321

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Yeah, I've got a copy of a valueless timetable I am going to experiment on (and also use as a spare for timetable mileages in case some are too smeared to be able to read, even when I have enlarged the pages). Lighter fluid....thats a suggestion I havn't come across before. It probably wouldn't combine well or allow me to use the microwave technique after trying it though?
 

Bevan Price

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On a serious note I wonder if my go-to solution for such things might work. That's lighter fluid (petrol), it dissolves most glues but doesn't usually harm other materials or inks and of course it evaporates very quickly. Of course you should first try it on an old book of no value to make sure it does no harm and doesn't make the ink run.

Don't forget to do that in a well-ventilated area (outdoors if possible), well away from flames / sparks/ hotplates, etc. Also if you did use a microwave, avoid very high settings. I once produced "smoking toast" in a microwave when my toasterwas unavailable.
 

Flying Snail

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Do you know of any printers locally? If they have a powered guillotine it would slice the binding off no bother. If the text is far enough from the binding they may even be able to re-bind the pages when you're done if you want it.

An auto-feed scanner-copier would also make light work of scanning the whole thing, the thin paper might be a problem though. I can imagine the novelty of hand scanning the whole timetable would wear off pretty quickly.

I could have had the whole thing done in an afternoon when I worked in that line years ago.
 

319321

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I started at about 8pm and finished about the ripping and the bulk scanning at 11pm.

I ended up just ripping the spine of with my bare hands then tearing each individual page from the remnants of the spine - no heat or other technology involved.

I am lucky in that I have a duplex scanner on my desk, and I scanned the whole thing through, with only six jams and one torn page.

In 250 pages, I have discovered one instance of pages sticking together and needing to be rescanned.

The thinness of the pages did mean that the sheetfeeder scanned them a bit wonkily, but its not too bad.
 
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