Don't use this to lube your VPI Classic bearing

I recently lubricated the bearing on my Classic using white lithium grease purchased from ACE Hardware. The brand is AGS; it came in a white 1.25 oz tube. After about a week, I heard a whooshing sound coming from (under) the platter at each spin. I removed the platter and the sight was not pretty - some of the grease turned into a gooey brown substance and pooled at the bottom of the shaft; there were some chunks of the grease inside the hollow. I didn't use that much of it and it looked worse than after a full year of use with the original job performed by VPI.

I cleaned it all out, and the whooshing sound went away. So if your Classic is due for maintenance, stay away from this particular product.

Does any Classic owner have a brand/product they can recommend for lubricating the bearing? Considering that you only need a little bit of it about once a year, $26 for the lube from VPI is a bit steep.
"Since you only need a little bit of it about once a year, $26 for the lube from VPI"... is trivial compared with the risk of ruining the bearing.

It appears that your cheap gene overruled your common sense gene. Did you make any effort to ascertain whether this white grease was functionally equivalent to the OEM lubricant?

Every mechanical system is designed to be run with a lubricant having specific properties. Read your car's owner's manual. There's one spec for motor oil, another for brake fluid, a third for axle grease. Would you use axle grease as brake fluid or lube the ball joints with motor oil? (Hint: if you don't know, pay the mechanic.)

Some TT manufacturers (Teres, for example) make it easy for owners to relube the bearing by providing complete instructions and a spec for the appropriate lubricant. Others (VPI for example) do not. If you don't have the necessary information, stick to the OEM product. If you don't know enough to even ask the right questions, pay someone who does.

/harrumph! ;-)
Directly from the Classic Manual.

• After at least one year of use, the platter bearing and motor will need to be lubricated. For the platter bearing use 1/4 teaspoon of white lithium grease placed on the ball. For the motor, use 1 drop of 40-weight motor oil below the brass piece.

Great for the Classic bearing. How about a TNT1 or an Aries1? Same lubricant on a different design? (I don't have a manual for either.)
The term lithium grease can be slightly misleading as the lithium content is actually the thickener used to thicken the oil content to make it grease as opposed to an oil.

Go to any high end bike shop that sells road racing bikes and ask for lithium grease used for packing the bike bearing. These high performance lithium bike greases use synthetic oil as the base as oppose to mineral oil.

The oil and lithium will separate over time when left in a tube. You should “knead” the contents before using. It sound like the lithium grease was not fully mixed before application, therefore, the oil content simply wept down the bearing shaft and succumbed to gravity.
Ditto Brf. For years I've been using Campagnolo bottom bracket grease in various TT and CDP jewel and ball bearings. It doesn't dry up and turn brown like most other greases. You could also try automotive moly grease.

There was an episode of Law & Order/Criminal intent in which forensics pinned a murder on a bicyclist by tracing the formula of the exotic grease in his bottom bracket. Take care.
How about "Phil's" Green Bicycle Grease?
Bpoletti, use lithium grease for inverted bearings and synthetic oil for well type bearing. VPI recommends Mobile 1 for their well bearing tables.
Dave, You forgot to add, "Bahdum-dum", a la Law and Order.
Thanks all.

Doug, I don't know what "functionally equivalent to the OEM lubricant" means in this case. As the poster directly below kindly cited, the manual simply speaks of "white lithium grease." White lithium grease does not sell for $26 for a small tube. If a VPI uses a different blend on their end, and it's superior to white lithium grease they recommend, they should say so. Otherwise, what do you use if a gourmet recipe calls for "butter"? I used white lithium grease I got at a Home Depot last year and it was fine. With this particular grease from Ace, there was no indication whether it was mineral or synthetic based. I now find out there is white lithium grease and then there is white lithium grease.

Frustrating to say the least.
The Classic platter comes stock originally lubed with a special dry lubricant. If too much lithium grease is used later, it mixes with the dry lubricant and may even prevent the platter from rotating (that happened to me when I got the Classic platter for my Superscoutmaster/rim drive). After lots of self flagilation, Mike at VPI told me to just wipe the stuff off and start again with a tiny bit of lithium grease. I used a Q-tip to clean the well, and applied just a minimal amount of lube on the ball, and it works absolutely fine now.
This is news to me. I'm pretty sure my Classic was factory greased with white lithium grease (or an equivalent) as I saw some of it seep down the shaft with gravity.

VPI has an excellent customer service, but their manuals are often subpar. A lot of times, it seems VPI owners learn by trial and error, which is frustrating. The oiling of the motor is another example - people had no clue exactly where and how to apply oil to the motor. I read some of the threads discussing this and to my horror, some owners actually dismantled the motor assembly thinking that "below the brass piece" meant literally that since there was virtually no space between the pulley and the brass plate. This should have been made much clearer in the manual. Btw, VPI now makes their motors with a much wider space between the pulley and the plate, doubtless in response to owners' inquiries and confusion regarding this issue.
I use a quick spray of lithium grease from a spray can on my Scoutmaster once a year into the bearing well. Never had a problem but make sure you clean out what is left from last year with a Q tip. I can't figure out what "below the brass piece" means either so I put one drop of oil on the pully shaft each year by putting the motor on its side. When the motor is placed upright the oil runs down and seems to go to the correct place.
I tried several greases and oils in the past few years. Saw this at a local bike store and found it to be the best thus far ...

Ceramic Grease
I'm very weary of sprays since it's next to impossible to control the spray pattern.

"Below the brass piece" means the base of the pulley shaft that is below the brass plate surrounding the pulley. The space between the two is so narrow that you'd never think you should try to apply the oil through that space, and many people actually were unscrewing the plate to lubricate the motor. The best way to do it is to use a syringe since it will allow you to apply the oil with precision and as little mess as possible. A less precise option is to use a dropper, but the space is too narrow to do it cleanly. The gravity will get the oil down the shaft, but you'll have to clean whatever oil residue is left on the pulley above the brass plate and on the plate. The latter is essentially a variation of the method you use. Of course, you can't put the Classic's motor on its side like you can with the Scoutmaster.

Sorry if my response seemed off target, but like VPI's manual your OP was also incomplete.

You didn't state that you'd consulted the manual, had any familiarity with VPI's instructions or had doubts about their completeness. To an objective reader, your OP described only a DIY effort made without taking any guidance.

When writing it's easy to overlook key information because we know it, forgetting that readers do not. I see it every day in my work (legal contracts) and make a decent living inserting provisions that very smart people "knew" they should include, but somehow failed to.

Glad you're getting some useful feedback!
I am biker so I am familiar with all the grease mentioned above, but one that was not mentioned which I like best is Super Lube. Super Lube used to only make spray, they now have grease as well. It's Teflon based, super slick, and can support heavy load.

White lithium is intended for high speed bearing for bike hub, does not necessarily work better in a slow spin platter. I have 3 tubes of lithium grease at home, but I stick with Super Lube for my TT.
Please beware Teflon based oils and greases - the Teflon particles can embed themselves into the surface of the metal bearings, then metal particles embed themselves into the Teflon, resulting in INCREASED bearing wear.
Personally I never use teflon based lubricants on metal bearings.
To add to Dover's post, I vaguely recall reading an old post where someone mentioned VPI did not recommend Teflon based lubricants.
I did check with Mike before about Super Lube, he knew the product and recommended it. Maybe I should check with him again...
Magic Lube (1 Oz.) 26.00 is what is listed on VPIs part/price list under all TTs they make. Not Super Lube, or anything else.

A google search turned up this:

I am sure you can buy it for a lot less than 26 bucks for a one oz tube.

This is the same stuff I just used when I changed the gasket on my swimming pool pump lid. I have a tube that my repair guy accidentally left, so I think I am going to try it. This has got to be it, right?

For the record, this is indeed a PTFE base. It is non petroleum and safe for plastics and synthetics, very clear, and very sticky and viscous. It however, is NOT white lithium grease. Again, the disconnect between the manual and reality.

VPI is not in this week due to Capital Audiofest, can someone else confirm if this is the right "Stuff?"
No it is not the same stuff. The commercial available "magic lube' is for application on rubber, silicon and like seals and o-ring to lubricate the seal to prevent binding when torqued and tightened.
I still want to know for sure. The Magic Lube site says:

Specially formulated to be
non-melting, non-volatile, and waterproof, Magic Lube®
has been USDA H-1 rated to be environmentally safe. It
is chemical resistant and compatible with most metals,
rubbers and plastics. It is commonly used on motors,
o-rings, gaskets, bearings, waterfilters and much more.

PS, I just removed the crappy Ace Hardware lithium lube that the OP mentioned at the beginning, using qtips and paper towels, cleaning out the bearing and thrust. I put a dab of the Magic Lube and it seems great so far, doesn't run and quiet and smooth operation. I also ordered some of the Ceramic Grease from a bike shop and want to try that too.
VPI currently sells Super Lube (Bearing Grease) with PFTE for $26. Follow link below for the Music Direct add. If you look at the picture you will notice on the tube that Super Lube is registered. Therefore I suspect this is the same Super Lube with PFTE that you can also buy at hardware stores or online.

"Magic Lube" is a registered trade name so I certainly hope it's the same product for VPI's sake.

I used this last year and it worked great. I got it at Home Depot. I just hate wasting things. Same with motor oil for the motor. I had to buy a quart of it last year, and you just need a drop!!! Maybe I'll get a Harley when I go through my mid-life crisis instead of upgrading...

I passed both the grease and the oil to a buddy of mine who also has a Classic, but still. Considering how little and how infrequently you need to use it, it'd be great if VPI or VPI dealers simply provided a small packet of VPI-approved grease with the purchase. They do provide damping fluid after all. Would make things so much easier.

Let me close my post by emphasizing that this is just a very minor quibble in light of the great customer service VPI provides.
Super lube is synthetic oil impregnated with teflon as a thickener to form a grease. Magic Lube is a Teflon based product with no mention of the suspension agent. Since Magic Lube forms a seal, I would guess that it contains some form of silicone.
so is this Super Lube the same Super Lube I have been using for years for my bike? this product has been around for 30 years, it has worked wonder among all the grease I have used, their oil is superb too.
Yes, I have a 3 oz bottle coming tomorrow from Amazon for $6.50. It looks like great stuff, and I can use it on my bike components, car battery terminals, and garage door too. Now I have to clean out the bearing again! The magic lube I put in actually has been working great, but I'll go to the official stuff now. Thanks for everyone's help clarifying this.
I just did my classic 3 with Super Lube, first I cleaned out the old Lithium grease using q-tips and also a little alcohol. The hardest to clean were the top of the bearing and where it mates to the middle of the flat teflon "race". Since the teflon race is flat and the bearing is round there is a small contact surface which you want to ensure you get the now "black" colored lithium grease off. The inverted ball bearing is on the shaft which mates with a flat teflon surface on the top of the platter. From previous correspondence from Mike at VPI, he had mentioned to me that the VPI CLASSIC 3 Tolerance on the inverted bearing to platter is .0005". I added Super Lube on the shaft, top of bearing, inside the platter, and on the teflon race. I inserted the platter, and guess what, the air tight seal would only allow the platter to go about half way down. If you pushed it down, it would compress, bounce and come back up. The tolerances are so tight, that they don't allow the bearing grease to squeeze out the sides of the shaft, it just forms an air tight seal. I then put the belt on and let the platter rotate for about 10 minutes with the center weight and peripheral weight, still no luck. Finally, I figured I had too much grease. I took off the platter and removed some of the grease, and tried again. Each time it went further down the shaft. After about 3 times of removing grease, I finally arrived at the following. Put a dab of Super Lube on top of the bearing. Coat the shaft with a thin coat. Coat the platter with a very thin coat, then just a dab on the teflon surface. This will get the platter down to 70%. Put the belt on and let the turntable run for at least an hour. If you see some progress after and hour, then you are in good shape. Mine seated fully after about an hour of play. I haven't listened to it yet, to see if there is any difference. I will say, that Super Lube is night and day difference from White Lithium grease that it comes with. After just 6 mos, that Lithium grease doesn't seem to hold up very well, there is hardly any of it left also. Not much to clean out.
Ahoy Captain,

The manual states that you need to put only a little bit of grease on top of the bearing. This makes sense to me as the tight (pun intended :) specs for the bearing make anything more simply excessive, which your experience seems to confirm.

As you lower the platter onto the shaft, you will invariably spread some of the grease down the shaft. The first spin will do the rest. So greasing the shaft in addition to the bearing seems rather unnecessary and redundant. Both times I lubricated the bearing, in addition to the original factory job, the excess would simply make its way down the shaft with gravity.

Really, all you need to do is to put a small amount of grease on top of the bearing and carefully lower the platter. The grease has nowhere else to go but to the right places. I'd think one should avoid removing and reinstalling the platter back and forth due to a simple grease job, which really should just be a quick maintenance job once a year.

But it sounds like the VPI grease is the way to go. Duh, one might say. But $26? Really?
I have to agree with Actusreus....I put just a bit on top of the ball of my Classic platter (on a Scoutmast/rim drive) and it's fine.
But it sounds like the VPI grease is the way to go. Duh, one might say. But $26? Really?
Actually I did the $6 Super Lube Grease from Amazon as well.
If you want an excellent lubricant for all things turntable and tape machine, Dextron style automatic transmission fluid is an excellent choice. A few drops is good in any TT main platter bearing, and if you have to lubricate a motor it works well there also. The only caveat is it does not cost much.
Captain Winters,
Please let us know how this Super Lube works. It looks like it should work quite well, and saw they also sell 1 oz tubes for $3.

The Classic has an inverted bearing so would transmission fluid work? I don't know its viscosity, but anything thinner than peanut butter in room temperature would most likely not work. Or to put it differently, I don't think any "fluid" would work.
ATF works in well type besarings but not inverted bearings.
Inverted bearing? OK ATF won't do for that...
So I finally lubricated my Classic with this particular grease that was ok'ed by VPI. I found it quite thick and not slippery, almost like toothpaste. But what do I know; after all, it has Teflon in it, which is one of the most slippery substances known to man...

Well, I started listening earlier today and actually heard the pitch was off on a U2 album. My SDS was set to 60.20 Hz. When I checked the speed with the KAB strobe, the platter was spinning way too slow. I had to go up to 61.85 Hz to get the speed dead on. So what the hell? That can't be right. If I didn't have the SDS, I could not listen to without removing the grease. I find this extremely frustrating as this should be a simple maintenance job that turned into a major headache.
I use Permatex white lithium grease from a major auto parts retailer. The OCD in me says, check this out, however, I've not noticed any noises in over a year ( I use a HW-19MkIV w/non-inverted bearing/w/ceramic bearing,SDS, so I think I'm fine. I know it's expensive, but I invested in a Sutherland Timeline and have never regreted it. I know from what I've read that the Classic has good speed stability, IMO, if you're MAJOR into analog, get a Timeline. It will/should rock your world.
Hello, I'm bumping this old thread. I have a Classic 1 and want to make sure I'm using the correct Super Lube, as there seem to be several varieties. I see this one at Amazon for $5.21. Is this the one that I should use? Thank you.

Super Lube Synthetic Grease with Syncolon Multi Purpose Lubricant 3 oz

Description: "Super Lube Grease is a patented synthetic, multi-purpose lubricant with Syncolon (PTFE). Synthetic base fluids and the addition of PTFE micro powders combine to form a premium lubricant that provides protection against friction, wear, rust and corrosion over a temperature range of -45°F to +450°F. Super Lube Grease is a USDA/NSF listed Food Grade lubricant NLGI-2, rated H-1 for incidental food contact, and will not run, drip, melt or separate. Compatible with most other lubricants, Super Lube outlasts conventional greases 3–4 times."