Different Results between Record Cleaning Machines

The last thread on Record Cleaning Machines (RCMs) in 2009 covered the simple to the exotic in machinery.

RCMs haven't changed much since then, but AIVS has released 'Solution 15,' an enzyme cleaning solution, to augment their three bottle cleaning kit.

I have an older VPI RCM (the 16, not the 16.5). After cleaning with AIVS chemistry on my VPI my records, one Warner Brothers (Sweet Baby James), one RCA (Bridge Over Troubled Waters), both from 1970, didn't sound as quiet as the LPs cleaned on my friend's Loricraft using exactly the same chemistry and very similar technique. We noted a couple of things.

First, the stylus collected a *huge* amount of gunk --particularly from what was, at least chemically, a record cleaned with care, and according to AIVS instructions.

Second, after playing a couple of songs, we stopped, cleaned the stylus again, and played once more. The sound was drastically improved. Anyone have experience similar to this?

I'm a little skeptical about using an expensive TT, cartridge and stylus for auxiliary record cleaning.

Was it the 'gunk removal' that led to better sound with the second playback? Was the mold release compound coming off in globs with the needle carving its way down to the sound? Why was so much material caught on the stylus? And why didn't the RCM collect more of it?

Is the answer too obvious?

The VPI's vacuum motor is brand new. The table sounds like its bearings are arthritic when it rotates, but beside that, it turns with considerable torque.

Thanks in advance for any experience you might have about this.

At the moment I'm considering a Loricraft purchase. Anyone have a Lorcraft for sale?

Happy Thanksgiving,
I had for many years VPI 16.5, then I bought a Keith Monks (Point Nozzle Design, Loricraft copied it) and was shocked about the superior cleaning result with that Design.
There are 2 task to be made
1. To use a fluid which goes into the grooves and disconnects the dirt.
2. To remove it as good as possible.
For No. 1 there are various solutions available, the secret is in the technical solution for No.2
A point nozzle is slow, but unsurpassed in superior result. It removes the fluid from groove to groove AND all is dry after that.
All other designs fail here, because they work more or less ok as long as the "lips" are dry. After a few spins they are wet and stay wet. This is also responsible for noise even after cleaning with other designs.
Costly, but for those who want the best result, the way to go.
I have what was a VPI 16 which I upgraded to a 16.5 using VPI's upgrade kit. The upgraded version vacuums significantly better than the original. I suspect that this is contributing to your issue, and strongly recommend the upgrade. The upgrade work is rather minor: prying the old vacuum tube off the plexiglas top, and enlarging the vacuum hole in the base slightly to accept the new spring-loaded vacuum tube assembly.
Why has not someone built a RCM with steam. I use hand held unit and it works wonders, a record doctor machine does the clean up.
I think Syntax has described the issue and the solution quite nicely.
I have no definitive answers because I have not used every cleaning machine on the planet.

But I'll offer my 2 cents.

I have yet to come across a record, either brand spankin new, bought new, but have been in my personal collection for up to near 37 years of age, or the used unknown past history thrift finds dating from whenever, that I have found to gunk up my Stylus with a cleaning process involving either a 3, or 4-step AIVS process, and my VPI 16.5 RCM.

Only one period in time have I ever experienced such considerable gunk build-up on a Stylus (Benz Glider), years ago, and it was prior to owning an RCM, and it was with Records that I had treated with LAST Record Preservative.

Most of it simpky whisked away with a Stylus Brush, but at the time, I usually followed with LAST Stylus Cleaner to be sure.

At the present, and with a ZYX Airy 3, I never seen accumilations of gunk using the cleaning processes, and 16.5 machine I mention above. Never. Stylus maintainence has never been easier for me. Just a simple dunk or two into Magic Eraser ensures my Stylus stays as clean as the day I bought the ZYX Cartridge.

Something sounds amiss, either poor fluid pickup, or some oddball records that have been sprayed with Silicone Spray Lubricant, or such, that is proving almost impossible to remove? Mark
againstWhile I am not nearly as obsessive about cleaning as some appear to be I have used [and been a dealer for] both VPI and Nitty Gritty for so long I have lost track. I have found them both to be effective in cleaning records and something that anyone with a sizable collection of LPs should have. I suppose some of the more expensive machines do an even better job but I have been satisfied with the ones I have had.
From what you've written, the conclusions, and answers are these that I come to.

Since you state all other aspects of the cleaning processes, which are the exact same cleaners, and methods of application are the same, then the only variable is the fluid removal, meaning the RCM.

Yes, many state the Loricraft-Monks are superior machines, and perhaps they have a number of advantages versus any slotted wand type of fluid removal.

But I don't believe any properly working VPI RCM, or any other similar type of RCM that uses a similar design of fluid removal to be so substandard and flawed in their fluid removal efficiency to be causing what you're experiencing.

I suspect a flaw-fault with the vacuum operation of your machine. Perhaps the 16.5 upgrade kit may be of help? Still, I believe the Kit will still lack the baffled fluid recovery tank that modern VPI RCMs have.

Can you elaborate more about your machine's operation?
Say what?I have VP17F works great a 16 is very very old DUDE.
I owned an original VPI 16(purchased in 1981), and now own the 16.5(using VPI's fluids). Many of the records in my possession, were cleaned with the first, then treated with LAST(once). I've always pre-play cleaned with a Discwasher D3 or 4 system and have NEVER experienced the least bit of gunk buildup, on my styli, which have always been treated with STYLAST(every 3 discs). Clicks, pops or any other extraneous noise during disc play, to me, would be extremely annoying. The vast majority of my albums(those purchased after my first VPI RCM), are still free of those distractions.
If you are considering the Loricraft as an upgrade, it certainly is a very fine machine. I strongly doubt that any here, such as my friend Doug Deacon, would retrograde from his Loricraft back to any wand style RCM.

The Loricraft I understand takes some knowledge to understand its operational features, which I have read Doug write about here (search the archives). Understanding the machine will no doubt be beneficial to extracting its best performance.

Still, I'll defend the VPI 16.5, or others similar to, either from VPI, or others like Clearaudio, that with the proper cleaning products, and techniques such issues as you have experienced should not be happening.

Hard to say where the shortcomings are, but as I understand about the older VPI model 16 RCM, the Wand is attached-glued to the Lid of the Machine. That it is possible you are losing vacuum pressure from a poor seal-fit of parts with this older Vacuum Wand design?

All newer VPI Machines use a vacuum wand assembly that has a good fit tolerance, for better vacuum suction with very little vacuum leakage, if any.

Others, such as the Clearaudio Smart Matrix-Smart Matrix Pro is a very nicely made machine.

Thanks to your responses I've discovered that my Model 16 was retrofitted with the spring-loaded 16.5 vacuum wand and a new top. Therefore there isn't the problem endemic to the 16, where the vacuum tube was attached to the lid of the machine.

I'm at a loss to explain the performance I've seen. I am a meticulous photographer, thoroughly versed in the use and effects of time and agitation of fluids. Further, I know the AIVS solutions work beautifully: I've heard their results on my friend's system. Nothing short of stunning.

The vacuum wand is adjusted to the correct height and parallel to the platter because I found it causing the platter to stop rotating and readjusted the height to prevent stoppage.

The vacuum tube slot is supposed to be angled slightly toward the front of the machine --according to the user's manual-- and I've done that, too.

Hope someone out there has the answer. Thanks for your input thus far: it still seems a mystery to me.

From your descriptions, all sound well.

One thing that is an unkonwn to me, as I never seen the inside of a model 16 machine, is where, and how the vacuum motor is positioned-situated within the machine, and by how and what means does the vacuum motor cause suction at the vacuum wand?

At least with the model 16.5, the priciple is basically simple, you have a vacuum motor butted up against one side of a baffled recovery tank, and in essence the vacuum wand at the other. There is a foam rubber seal on the 16.5 RCM, where the vacuum motor face butts up against the recovery tank. If this goes bad, which it can over time, proper sealing will be compromised, there will be a loss of vacuum pressure, and as well possible fluid leakage may occur at this area.

With my 16.5, basically all the fluids are off the record within one revolution. I do another revolution as insurance.

And as many others have found, more revolutions than 2 usually accomplish nothing more than than building a static charge due to a now dry wand rubbing the record's surface.

About the only other unknown I can think of mentioning, was what records did you note this with? Was this with just a few records that were used, that you've noticed this just lately, and only one occasion, or does this seem to be the norm, no matter what records you throw at your machine?

I ask this because records coming from some unknown source could possibly have been cleaned, and treated with something very stubborn to remove.

And that a repeat cleaning again had been the possible cause of positive results? Mark
I'm using a VPI 16.5 and have cleaned appr 1500 records with it. The Loricrafts stronger vaccum effect is of course superior, but I achieve excellent results with my VPI as well. I use MFSLs brushes with replaceable pads. The brushes are fine enough to reach into the grooves. With careful pressure applied, these brushes plus a good cleaning fluid (my favorite is from discdoc.com) and a good rinse with lab water should get you very close to the loricraft. I have never had gunk on my cartridge tip from a dirty record after it was cleaned like described. Try this first, before spending big $$$ on a Loricraft.
Try this first, before spending big $$$ on a Loricraft..

The Loricraft has another big advantage:
You can use it without Earplugs.
No question about that Syntax, simplest way out with a VPI 16.5, acquire a cheap set of headphones like one would use at the Gun Range. And isolate yourself somewhere where you disturb no one else.

My own VPI 16.5, with its mods is pictured on Osage Audio-AIVS's site, under "RCM Museum. Adding a 4" hole in the back of mine, to add a Cooling Fan made the machine even louder yet. And trying Dynamat did nothing but probably add another 5 lbs of weight to an already heavy machine.

Thin blanket insulation lining the inside of cabinet probably would've been more beneficial, but doubtful if the machine's roar would be dropped by more than a few db at best.

About the only solution, would be to totally isolate the vac motor, and relegate it to a seperate cabinet underneath the machine.

As I understand it, some type of highly specialized vacuum motor that would be quiet, will also likely be costly as well.

VPI had to make a number of decisions, to market an affordable machine to the masses (16.5) that had a vac motor that was powerful, yet easily obtainable, and relatively inexpensive.

Thus the vac motors (Ametek-Lamb) are virtually identical to what you'll find in commercial Shop Vacs, or commercial walk behind Floor Scrubbing Machines, and it's why they sound quite similar.
My upgrade from VPI 16 to Loricraft was worth every penny, even buying new. It just brought my system to a new level of quiet. The lower noise floor, even with records that appear to be clean, allows me to listen even deeper into the layers of the music. Especially happy with how the lower noise deepen the front to back soundstage.
You might check the seals in the vacuum system. Coating each one with a thin layer of Vaseline will stop any vacuum leaks. An old machinist's trick that works on my Loricraft. Should work on other machines too.

I'd trade the speed of a VPI for the "speed" of my Loricraft, lol. Otherwise I concur with Syntax and other users of this elegantly designed machine.
In the future, you may want to consider using O-ring lubricant which is silicone based. Vaseline, or any type of petroleum derived product will eventually break down natural rubber seals, gaskets and the like.
Doug Deacon That trade trick is worldwide spread , positive proof added to the multi uses of vaseline,.. and some may have thought there was only one.

Loricraft very effective, even the entry level model. Undeniable proof you get what you pay for, with Loricraft anyway.

What seals on the Loricraft do you apply a lubricant to? I'd like to try that on mine.
In_shore, that tip came from my father in law, a British WW2 veteran and master machinist... world-wide indeed.

Good tip, Richard. Vaseline should not be used on natural rubber. In particular, vaseline is not a recommended lubricant for use with everybody's favorite all-natural latex products. In_shore, please note! ;)

Dave, I used it on the brass nipples where the clear air hoses slip on. Improved vacuum performance and they're not rubber so it should do no harm.
Thanks Doug. I'll give it a try.
Spoke with Jim Pendleton (of AIVS) this morning. He was *great,* taking the time necessary to answer every one of my questions.

He first asked if I knew the cleaning history of the albums. As a control in my cleaning experiment, I cleaned an album I bought new, in 1970, and another of the same vintage, recently acquired from a local collector.

Jim listened to the symptoms (reported in the first entry of this listing), then asked about my technique (which followed the AIVS directions to a 'T'). He then suggested that the gunk found on my friend's stylus after playing my 'cleaned' LPs was very possibly mold release agent that had hardened over the years. [Forty years *is* kind of a long time...]

His recommendation was that I clean a second time. Apologizing for the use of extra solution, he suggested in future when cleaning LPs of this age or earlier, *two* consecutive passes of Solution 15 were advisable, followed by completing the regular sequence of chemicals and rinses to complete the cycle.

As a control for this experiment, he suggested cleaning one of the two 1970 vintage records with my friend's Loricraft to see if that does a better job. That, along with cleaning another LP of like vintage on the Loricraft --one that has *not* been cleaned on my VPI-- should give some insight into the efficacy of my particular VPI (Model 16, factory converted to 16.5 spec, with new vacuum motor) as well as comparing the Loricraft vs [my] VPI 16/16.5's performance.

When all this is done, I'll report back.

Thanks to everyone for their input.

I interpret gunk on yous stylus after a wet cleaning to mean a loosening and redepositing of contaminants, therefore an incomplete vacuum extraction. This would be an easy hypothesis to test:

1. Play a "uncleaned" record. Check for gunk.
2. Clean that record. Play it. Check for gunk.
3. Play that record again. Check for gunk.

If the most gunk is gathered after Step 2, my hypothesis has some merit.

Not sure if possible, but perhaps use a different pad on your vacuum wand? Perhaps creating one out of a Disk Doctor wet scrub replacement pad. This would provide the added benefit of little "fingers" to help dig into the groove and wick out moisture and gunk. Just a thought.

I agree that it seems from the OP that contaminants aren't being removed by the vacuum step. However, if he follows your 3 steps, shouldn't the record get cleaner each time he plays it by the simple fact that the stylus is scooping out more of the gunk each time? I don't see how he could ever get more gunk on the stylus later in the process.
If the record was actually getting cleaned by a play, there's really no point to cleaning - just play the record twice. I think the record is actually getting "dirtier" from the "cleaning process".