BIX TT Won't Hold Speed - Bearing Lube?


About a year ago, I bought a BIX turntable, which came with its own synthetic bearing lube, which I used. The bearing is the middle vintage with the built-on platter collar, not the latest one with the oil grooves.

It seems like I have to adjust the playing speed quite often with this TT, and it seems to be related to temperature. In the winter, when the indoor temp is lowest (65-72) it runs the slowest, and in the summer, when the temp hovers around 80, it runs fastest.

The bearing has a very tight tolerance, so I think it's the viscosity of the oil that is affecting the speed. What type of lube would give me the most constant speed in this type of situation? Has anyone else encountered this problem?

My other TT is a Michell Orbe and I've also used a lot of the VPI tables in the past, and never had this problem with any of those.
I have to admit upfront that I'm ignorant as to what type of bearing the BIX uses. What you describe kind of sounds like temp related issues, but I have a hard time believing that a few degrees difference inside your house between winter and summer could be causing this, at least as it might relate to lubrication. Very strange, indeed.

One experiment you could try is to get a can of freeze spray (Rat Shack maybe?) and some kind of digital temp sensor. Then you have a direct method for cooling down the bearing while watching the temp at the oil bath. Measure the speed with a strobe while the temp is low, then again at a normal room temp in the summer.
Yes, it's kind of a strange problem. Perhaps the bearing is still breaking in... Anyway, it seems to be set for summer temperatures. But if I have to keep fiddling with the electronic speed control I'll try experimenting with a different type of synthetic oil - maybe multi-viscosity 5W30 weight. There was an Australian company advertising some type of super-duper turntable bearing lube a while back, and it was reasonably priced. I just can't remember the name of the company (or product, for that matter). Has anyone tried that one?

Another thing I may experiment with is the drive belt. Right now I'm using a monofilament belt that came with the turntable but I've heard that some folks have had very good results using tape belts. I'm thinking that perhaps more contact area may help, but I could be wrong. I don't know that the belt is slipping; it may actually be turning slower because of the higher perceived load.
Why don;t you try watchmakers' lube. It doesn;t leave residue. If lube's the culprit (sounds like it)
I'm not familiar with the Bix bearing, but FWIW Teres bearings use automatic transmission fluid. Buy one bottle at Walmart and you're set for life.

In my (completely unqualified) opinion there is no reason to pay for "audiophile" bearing lubricant. The demands of this application are simply too easy to meet for there to be any real benefit. Choose a clean, commercial quality lubricant of suitable viscosity for the bearing design and you should be fine.

You don't need high temperature performance. From a lubrication POV the temperatures in a TT bearing never get high, not even close. You need low temperature stability. I might try a multi-grade like 5W-20 or even 0W-20.

Again this is all assuming the Bix bearing needs oil and not grease.
I agree, ATF does work well. I think you might want to avoid any that contain certain additives, like teflon, etc, but I'm not sure. Maybe try a search on this over at AA.
I am fairly new to this hobby, but I would like to put something on the table regarding temperature. I would think that after a few hundred revolutions, the bearing would warm enough to make a cool ambient temperature a non-issue. I realize that the whole point is to eliminate friction, but it sure seems like that 10-20 degree difference is negligible. Maybe the motor is sensitive to AC current flucuations. Again, I am no expert, and welcome a mild correction if needed ;)-b
My good friend Billbo, the Bix TT uses a DC motor. It is isolated from AC fluctuations by a step-down transformer, known in the common tongue as a wall-wart. Your idea is interesting but the Bix-ians would find it strange, foreign even.

- Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to... giggle! <;~)
Hi Doug and Dan,

Thanks for your tip on the ATF, I will likely try that soon. It sounds like a good idea.

Billbo, I appreciate your attempt. DD might be right, but my feeling is that you should never be afraid to jump into the fray and participate. :)