Rim Drive Mod or how to make it even better

I was going to just add this post to a previous post regarding the VPI rim drive, but this is important and I want all those who use the new drive to know this. I just spoke to Harry W who told me that if you use sorbothane, or soft felt, etc, under the feet of the motor/flywheel assembly, the sound is even more improved. Don't use it under the turntable itself...only under the motors. I tried it and it REALLY works.

Consider that the platform where you sit the turntable along with the motor/flywheel assembly becomes part of the overall turntable the very second you do it. That means that the overall presentation of the turntable is necessarily affected, and only the user can truly tune it. By adding a highly compliant material to the bottom of the motor/flywheel assembly, the end user is able to isolate it to some degree, however. What all this means, the way I see it, is that any turntable made with external pods that aren't isolated by their very nature, are the same in that regard. I feel that is the reason that you will find some pods from various manufacturers that contain lead shot, or some other material, to help control unwanted effects. It goes, in my opinion, to the very concept of turntable design. Does that mean that it is a bad idea? Of course not. I believe it does mean that the shelf or platform you choose is as important as any other piece in the frontend, however. My point is that you may also want to take a strong look below the sorbothane to see if that "extended plinth" can also be improved.

What I find so interesting is that the felt,et al only works with the rim drive - and only under the motors, and is detrimental under the platter assembly. Additionally, that it is a step backward using the felt under the motors as well with the belt drive. Never the less....using the soft footers with the rim drive is surely an advancement. ...from top to bottom there is a significant increase in clarity, pitch stability, etc.
Its interesting you mention this. I have my SAMA placed on a 6 x 6 slate tile and isolated from the maple platform using Sorbothane feet. I am also using silk thread belt for the Super Platter. The plinth rests on footer so both the SAMA and plinth are at the same relative height. I prefer this setup over having both the SAMA and plinth resting on the maple platform.
I ordered my rim drive in February and still don't have it! Who do you know?

Can't wait to try all this stuff...

Harry W... I had to wait as well. The wait is worth it. You get to open up the motor assembly and see a rats nest full of wire. You must cut and reattach the wires. MAKE SURE YOU"RE CUTTING THE CORRECT ONES. Oh - here's something I remember as well. You have to take the 4 silver feet off of the assembly. Peel the green felt pads off - they are only stuck on with glue. Put them carefully onto some wax paper or something similar to save them. When you finish the project, it will run (I forgot) very slow or very fast. Adjust with the SDS. Put the felt pads under the feet as I suggested above. Get the felt pads from Home Depot - furniture slides. This will enable the whole assembly to slide easily so that you can just kiss the drive wheel to the platter. Be sure that the wheel is driving on solid metal. Adjust the height so that the wheel is not running in one of the grooves of the platter. If you have a VPI arm, at first the drive will make the arm dance uncontrollably. Don't be socked - just wait 2 days for the belt around the drive wheel to seat. Enjoy.
Tom, if you are impatient and dying to try RIM drive on your VPI it is alot of fun to DIY with an old platter+ bearing . I don't know if it is better or not than the stock upgrade, but it works very well and surely much less expensive !
I finally got my rim drive yesterday. I hooked it up, and tried it out. Right now, I have 2 problems:

1) Speed stability. The KAB speedstrobe shows that the table is not running smoothly. Just by visual inspection I can tell that this speed instability results from the belt on the rim drive. It does not form a perfect circle. It other words, the belt has a few "bulges" which cause the contact pressure with the platter to increase, thereby briefly speeding it up. How does one address this?

2) I cannot currently use the Periphery ring clamp because it contacts the rim drive. To accomodate the ring clamp I would need to raise the table about 1/2 inch. If you loosen the Scoutmaster feet enough to raise the table 1/2 inch, the table itself will no longer be stable, but will be "wobbly" instead. What to do?



Please see the recent thread on SSM/rim drive with cloud 11 vibration issues. In it several of us with rim drives worked through minor problems we were having. In short, my rim drive was behaving in a similar way for at least the first few days. This has smoothed out with time to the point were now(2 weeks latter) I'm getting as smooth movement as I was with the belts. Light contact pressure and softer footers have helped with this. As far as your height issue, I did have to raise mine especially with the new footers but it wasn't as difficult as your situation sounds. Do you have the mini feet or standard feet?

The afore mentioned post is more comprehensive. This will work out and you'll be glad you did it.
I use the standard Scoutmaster feet. (My original table was a standard Scoutmaster which has been upgraded piece by piece to SuperScoutmaster).


I already had the mini feet when I did the rim drive. They probably make raising and leveling the table easier. It's an additional investment I know but you may want to try them.
Yeah, I may have to get the mini-feet. I'm still running the motor without a record playing to try to get the belt to "seat", but so far it hasn't really budged. I can actually feel the motor assembly rocking back and forth as the slightly thicker areas of the belt contact the platter. The felt pads underneath the feet, at this point, will only serve to allow the motor assembly to push itself away from the table, resulting in an incorrect table speed.

I hope it gets better. My first impression is not a good one.

Thanks for all the help and advice! I'll be sure to report any progress or lack thereof.

Tom, I;m sorry to hear about your trouble. Regarding the bulge issue, the O-Ring may just need to be rolled slightly to seat uniformly in the machined groove. I machine grooves and install o-rings quite a lot. If you take your index finger and gently follow the perimeter of the o-ring, it should enter the groove and stay there. Now if the groove is'nt machined to the proper size both width and depth, no amount of fussing will fix it. The bulge should not be there after you try this. If it remains, contact VPI.
I agree. Contact VPI if the problem seems unresolvable. They'll be happy to help with a fix even, I'm sure, if it means sending you a whole new unit. I've been playing mine today with no such issues I assure you.
TFKaudio...don't fret...the ring will seat and you will be happy. It took a couple of days for mine to seat properly. Do get the minifeet...it makes the table much easier to level, raise/lower. Don't forget to use something soft under the motor assembly and have the turntable proper on a very solid platform.
I WAS thinking about getting a rim drive but have some questions.
STRINGREEN, Why would you have to open the unit and cut wiers? Is this something everybody does?, I've only heard you mention it.
To those who own the rim drive: Does it conflict with the ring clamp on your tables if you use cone feet?
Rim drive is supposed to be available for the Aries table this Summer, I own an Aries 3 and like the stock cone feet planted on a Neuance shelf, I wonder if I'll have to change my setup for the rim drive.

Hi Mike,
Yes, the instruction sheet tells you how to cut the wires. You have to do this because you must reverse the direction of the motors. The rim drive needs to run counter-clockwise so that the platter will spin clockwise.
Yes, it does conflict with the ring clamp if you use the cone feet. You can raise the table enough to get clearance, but I think you'll notice that the table is somewhat wobbly after loosening the cones enough to get the clearance you need. Keep in mind that my experience is with a Scoutmaster, not an Aries 3. Your situation may be different.


Tfkaudio is right...get the feet Mike, it also makes it easier to level the table accurately (a must). You will like the rim drive - do it.
I thought the rim drive was an all inclusive, stand alone unit shipped from VPI, I don't understand why you'd have to rewire it.
I feel your pain, I try to keep the cone feet tight on my Aries and level the coffee table everything is on, as soon as you unscrew the feet the TT gets wobbly.
Actually, I don't think the rim drive in its current form could be used with the Aries 3. The Aries 3 plinth has a cut-out where the motor is placed. The dual-motor flywheel is a long, rectangular motor that is able to be used with the HRX, TNT-6, or Super Scoutmaster.
I started this upgrade from an original Scoutmaster, which also had a cutout for the smaller 300rpm motor. I had to upgrade the plinth to a Super Scoutmaster plinth, which has no cutout, before I could upgrade the motor.
But, to answer your question, No, the rim-drive is not an all-inclusive upgrade. The upgrade assumes you already have the dual-motor flywheel. The rim drive upgrade package only includes the new flywheel, and some belts and pulleys. This is why you have to re-wire your motor.
In terms of cost, I feel like VPI should have offered the upgrade in completed form, with the motor already tailored to the rim drive. Because I didn't already have the dual-motor flywheel, I essentially had to pay for the old belt flywheel, even though I might never use it.
And yes, you can't unscrew the cone feet very much at all before the table gets wobbly. VPI should have listed the mini-feet as a required prerequisite for the rim drive upgrade, if that's what it will take for me to be able to use the ring clamp again.
Question for those with the mini-feet... How tall are they? The cones are about 1 1/2 inches tall.


Thanks Tom,
I understand now about the upgrade.
The cone feet are 1.750" tall and the mini feet are 1.875" tall, only 1/8" taller.
VPI is supposed to come out with rim drive for Aries this Summer.

My cone feet are 1 1/2 inches tall. I'm not counting the foam rings placed in between the feet and the underside of the plinth, which add another quarter inch. The extra 3/8 inches of height provided by the mini-feet will probably be enough for me (assuming I still use the foam rings with the mini-feet). Do users of the mini-feet still have the foam rings in between the feet and the plinth?


No foam rings...The problem with the cones, is that when you unscrew them...make them taller, they get rickety.
Without the foam rings, the net difference in height between the cones and mini-feet is 1/8 inch. That's still not enough clearance to use my outer ring clamp.
Do the mini feet have height adjustment? If so, how is it done?


Hey Tom,
I was thinking that if I was faced with raising my VPI TT with the cone feet, I would simply install a longer 1/4-20 screw and put a spacer between the TT and cone. The spacer could be made out of wood, aluminum or plastic to any height one needs.

Good idea. I think I'll try that. I'm not really feeling like spending $300 for the mini-feet just so I can gain the extra height.
After about 4 days of running the rim drive 5 to 6 hours a day, I see very little improvement in speed stability. If I put my ear to the rim drive, I can hear the noise of the "thicker" portion of the belt contacting the platter. Whether the belt is actually thicker at some point on its circumference, or just isn't seated yet, is anybody's guess. At that moment the platter speeds up slight, then slows down. This repeats over and over, and the KAB speed strobe confirms this by showing the "33" rocking back and forth ever so slightly.
My guess is that I will put a call into VPI tomorrow, and unless I get some recommendation that sets things right, will likely go back to the belts until this upgrade is ready for prime time.

TFK..Have you put a soft material under the motor assembly, and make sure the turntable itself is solidly resting directly on your table?? That soft footer/solid setup completely cured all the problems...and it sounds absolutely stunning. MUCH better than the belt drive. Are you using a platform of any time?? Try it without.
I don't use a platform of any kind. My stand is a Billy Bags audio rack. Welded, single piece construction, and rock solid. I have tried some felt, and some furniture slides under the motor. Both help, but they don't come close to the speed stability I get with the belts. Do you use a KAB speed strobe, too? Is your speed dead solid 33?

It would be nice if I could check out someone else's system and compare. Any one else running the flywheel upgrade in Chicago?

Stringreen, when you put your ear right next to the flywheel, can you hear any contact noise between the flywheel O-ring belt and the platter? I sure can. It's a "scrape, scrape, scrape" kind of noise that occurs once every revolution of the flywheel, when the area of the belt with the slight bulge to it contacts the platter. And if I press my finger in between the motor assembly and the TT plinth, I can feel the motor assembly rocking back and forth. Granted, it's a VERY slight rocking, but that rocking will surely transmit far more vibration to the table than a belt hooked to a motor flywheel...

Thanks again for the help.


I just turned on my table and put my ear right up against the motor assembly and heard nothing.. It is very quiet indeed. I would call VPI. I don't know when you got your new drive, but they have just changed the formulation for that belt. Call Harry and have him send you one of the new belts. I'm sure (but not positive) he won't charge you anything. You shouldn't be unhappy. It is really excellent. I thought I was going to change it back to belt drive when I got my unit, but I was able to stamp out all of the bugs. I am really happy with it now. I know you will be too. Call VPI tomorrow.
OOPS - I didn't respond to your speed question. I use the VPI strobe that came with the Supscoutmaster, and a neon light I got for about 3 dollars at Home Depot. When I first installed the rim drive, it ran either very fast or very slow - I forgot which, however, the SDS adjusted the speed perfectly. Those hash lines just stay solidly put.
has anybody tried using BDR shelf for the source as one solid piece under the rim drive and TT? it is supposed to have 1/25 the resonnance of granite or something like that? anyone trying something other than cloud 11s? maybe this would help against vibration issues with the rim drive.???
Powerdoctor..I don't think that would work, but by all means try it. I suspect the rim drives need the soft footers under the motor assembly to damp any out of roundness with the rim drive, and solid platform under the turntable proper as usual for VPI.
Would a solid base under the motor and the table under the Gingko work? The play would of course be under the table. Trying to figure just how much of my setup I'd have to change to make this work when the rim drive becomes available for the Scoutmaster.
Stringreen: i guess i misunderstood. if the feet of the rim drive are replaced with felt or sorbo and then sit the rim drive and the table on top of a bdr shelf and have this whole thing sitting on top of the pro 35 tt stand from billy bags. does this sound like it could work? what is your set up sitting on?
I really like the guys at Gingko. They are honest, kind, and have a very good product. I have their dust cover which makes the Superscoutmaster look like a museum piece. (By the way... if you are thinking of the dust cover, make sure you know your ultimate version of the table you are using. The 9 inch arm requires a different cover than the 10.5) I think however, that the base may not be the best thing under the rim drive. By all means try it - I think Gingko has a try and return policy - if it doesn't work for you, return it.

What Harry told me was that the best sound from the table comes from the most solidly constructed table for the turntable. You might go on line and check out their supporting table. It is excellent and not too expensive. If your Billy Bags table is as inert as the VPI, you will get similar results. (When I got to my new digs just recently in Scottsdale, where the floor here is French limestone and solid, there was a remarkable improvement in comparison to my New Jersey home which had wood floors). To the solidity of the turntable, you should put the felt, or any softer material under the motor assembly. That's what I have and it sounds great.

The noise and oscillating 33's are exactly what my rim drive did for the first week or so. The numbers on my KAB strobe now stay about as stable as with the belts. The cyclical clicking is gone but I wouldn't say the assembly is completely quiet. There's a more constant whirring or mechanical noise that I have assumed is normal operation. This is quite low level and no more loud than the motor assembly made with the belts. I'm not sure why your belt hasn't behaved in a similar fashion. It may need more time. It may pay to try a different belt. Make sure that the drive belt is barely touching the platter. I think that really helps to. Mike at VPI told me that when the super platter continues to turn slightly longer than the flywheel on turn off but you still have smooth start up its about right. Don't hesitate to call Mike. He'll probably be a big help. I echo Stringreen's assessment that when you get this thing running right its a definite improvement over the belts. It's just a bit(or a lot)more finicky.

Don't go back to the belts until you're sure you've done all you can to make this work. I think you'll be glad you stuck with it.
In reply to Powerdoctor, I have my rim drive SSM on a BDR Shelf for the Source and it sounds fantastic. I have Nordost pulsar points under the shelf which are in turn screwed into a Target stand on spikes. Haven't had the VPI for long and so I can't say it's optimized yet but Wow....