SOTA Star Sapphire III - ball bearing & vacuum


I’ve recently purchased an old SOTA Star Sapphire III with vacuum. I’m in the process of learning about the tt, cleaning and checking its components.
I’d like to open the platter, check the ball bearing and maybe add some oil, but I’m not sure how to do it. As removal of the platter from chasis was a bit tricky (thanks to Elevick for sending me instructions), I’m afraid to damage something if I remove the wrong bolts. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about…

Upon the metallic cylinder are the security screws. On the bottom, 3 allen bolts which I think are the ones to remove. If someone has done it before, help will be welcome.

I have some problems with the Power Supply/Vacuum box too. PS works ok, but the vacuum doesn't seem to make any suction. I emailed SOTA and Donna kindly sent me a Vacuum troubleshooting guide, but I need further instructions. I'm waiting for a mail from Kirk, but this could take some time because they have a lot of work. Maybe someone here knows how to identify the failure or even to fix it.
This is a picture inside the box...

The pump (enclosed camera) seems to work (noise 3-4 first senconds after power on, then silence). The hose that goes into it (3) is loose. If I pull it comes out, so my first concern is if that hose shouldn't be fixed to a nipple inside 3. I've checked for suction at 3 (with or without hose) but I don't feel/hear anything. Of course no suction from the nipple at 1.
This was a unit purchased in the USA and then brought to Europe. First owner changed himself the jumpers according to instructions from SOTA and he did it OK. He doesn't remember if he changed the fuses, though he believes he didn't. He says the turntable worked ok after the change, In fact, PS works and the tt runs smooth, but I have the feeling he didn't achieve vacuum after the change and he didn't realize. Again, any help will be welcome.

There is a bolt going though the spindle block holding the shaft. The bolt is hollow and has the air fitting screwed into it. The three cap bolts shown in your picture are holding the keeper plate that keeps the assembly together. If you remove those three bolts you can pull out the shaft. You can remove the shaft from the spindle block by removing the afore mentioned hollow bolt. Be carefull the ball doesnt go rolling away. Ask Kirk how to lube. If your pump shuts off after a few seconds but you have no vacuum you probably need to send it back to the factory for service. The table is an extremely good TT and is worth making an investment in repair. I think the star is currently V5 ask Kirk what it would be to update, you would have a current spec very fine table.

Enjoy, Rick
Thank you very much Rick, I supposed were those 3 bolts but I wanted to be sure, now I am.
I already asked SOTA about lube and the vacuum, but this was 10 days ago. I don't know if their reply will take much long but I don't want to bother them with more mails. Now the tt is dismantled (arm, platter) and I'd like to mount it next week (after lubing) and play some LP's, which I haven't done yet.

About the vacuum, I think it can't be nothing serious, the table has 20 years but only 300 hrs use. Maybe the loose hose I related in the above post, a leak in a hose or an inadequate fuse (fuses aren't blown but weren't changed when the PS was converted from 120v to 230v). If I can't manage to fix it, I'll think about sending the big Vacuum box from Spain to the USA, though I'm not very enthusiastic about the idea.
The noise you experience in the begginning of the cycle is typical, at least from my experience. As far as the vacuum goes, I've never been particularly impressed with its efficacy. If you're thinking it will take the curse out of record warps forget it. At best, it has been described as a subtle improvement but in all honesty, I noticed no difference. This was after repeated attempts of cleaning the perimeter of the suction mat with 92% isoprophyl. My suggestion would be to contact SOTA and get a replacement hose but don't expect miracles.
Koji, I didnt realize you were in spain. Have patience Donna and Kitk can get backed up and they will help but I would e-mail or call again. If you hear the pump upon start up and then it shuts off that indicates the vacuum switch is working which means there is a vacuum. If the pump did not shut off this would indicate a leaky hose. Put a record on the platter and clamp it firmly suck on the hose and see if the lip starts to pull down, plug it with your tongue and see if it holds vacuum if so your platter is ok and now to the fittings and pump itself. I dont agree that the vacuum does little or nothing. On a perfectly flat record the difference will be minimal if at all noticeable but if there is even a slight warp you will hear an audible improvement. I like the way records sound on my sota better than any table Ive owned and I attribute some of that to the vacuum. From your picture it looks like you have the current lip on the platter which is great and may indicate the decks been updated.
good luck, Rick
Yes, the noise is typical Russell, that's the reason I thought the pump motor was ok but maybe I was wrong.

Thank you Rick. After checking the steps above, I can confirm 100% that the problem is inside the pump. Manually (breathing in) the lip pulls down and the record seals well. Then if I block the hose it keeps the lip/record down, so there isn't any leak in the platter or the main hose.

I'll try to contact Sota again.
I lived with star sapphire 111 for 15 years and I had several problems with the vacuum. When the vacuum kicks on it is very strong until the record sucks down, then the pressure drops down that is normal. If you open the box you will that the hose does not run from the pump directly outside but from a regulator valve to a second hose that leads out. That valve is a cheap plastic part and tends to go. klugyboy