Can you please explain what difficulties you had with the Loricraft and what you did to correct them. I have a PRC-3 that seems to work fine, but I am open to trying something to improve its cleaning ability. Thanks.
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I have a PRC-4 and have added Vaseline to the ends of the two tubes that connect to the jar as well as around the jar lid. This seems to increase suction very slightly. I also added a tiny black rubber washer to the top of the thread spindle to provide some friction which prevents the spool from spinning freely.
Very occasionally the arms skips 1/16th of an inch as it cleans the LP, so I just move it manually and redo that section. I don't know why it does it.
Other than that, I'm not having any problems. Could you describe what you have done and the problems you have had?
Warning - this is going to be a long post.
When the RCM arrived I unpacked it and set it up with no problems. First impressions after a few washings were that it was quiet and very effective, leaving no static buildup on washed LP's. After a few hundred LP's I noted poor sound on an LP after washing which had been visually NM beforehand. Close inspection showed an obvious pattern of marks on the vinyl. I carried on and some time later the same thing happened again. I took pictures and e-mailed the factory. To their credit I was contacted immediately by Terry, the Managing Director. In North American English I suspect he is the owner. He offered to have me ship the unit back to them, at their expense, and they would make it right. We went through a trouble-shooting session and at the end of it he suggested that I try a few things myself. Terry said they had seen similar marks from very early versions of their machines but not since then.
Like Peter, I also had trouble with the arm 'skipping', mainly when spinning the platter clock-wise. With counterclock-wise rotation I have never had that problem.
Those are the 2 problems I have had to deal with. I will detail my solutions momentarily. After my initial contact with the factory I was pretty much left on my own to use trial and error to come up with solutions. Fortunately I'm mechanically competent and very persistent (not pig-headed, of course).
Let's start with the lesser problem first - the skipping cleaning wand. It's really aggravating but it doesn't damage records. I determined that the axes of the wand and of the platter were not perfectly parallel so I opened up the unit and shimmed the platter until they were lined up properly. This seemed to help. I had been running the LC with the deck as close to horizontal as I could get it so the next thing I did was drop the front of the unit so that the wand had to go 'uphill' as it was crossing the LP. That was what really got things to the point where the skipping wand is a very minor issue. It probably happens 5% of the time now and I can live with that. I don't know how much tilt there is on the unit. If you choose to try that it will be up to you to decide how much tilt is enough.
On to the major problem - the marks put on the records. I tried increasing and reducing wand tracking force. Marks continue. As advised, I stop running the platter CCW. Marks continue. By this time I've been inside the unit 5-6 times. Are you aware that that lovely wood box is made from veneered MDF? Every time you remove the screws holding the top in place you take a bit of MDF 'sawdust' away. Fortunately all the screws are still holding but you don't want to be doing cover removal 50 times. I tried tightening the wand bearings. It seemed to help but the marks continued.
So there I am with a pricey RCM that eats LP's. Nothing I've tried has completely fixed the problem. Factory doesn't reply to e-mails. I'm starting to think I've got an expensive boat anchor.
I keep looking at the damaged LP's. There's a pattern to the marks. I keep washing LP's. One day I notice that there is a vibration in the wand that I can feel in my fintertips as I place/remove the wand. The light bulb goes on - maybe the wand is vibrating enough to create the marks. I go back inside. The suction pump is mounted on a flexible base and then a bumper stop is placed between the head of the pump and the top of the box. Hmmm... the flex mount reduces vibration but the bump stop feeds it all right back in to the whole unit. So I remove the bump stop. Less vibration. Fewer damaged LP's. I think we're on to something here. Back we go inside again. Completely decouple the pump from the box by sitting it on some foam and some terry towel. Almost no wand vibration! Even better, no more damaged LP's.
Here is how I have the unit set up at present, with no changes in quite a while and none planned as it seems to be working alright: friction material under the spool of thread to prevent spinning; zero or slightly negative tracking force (the vacuum will suck the wand onto the LP); I tightened up the bearings in the wand a bit so that they bind slightly; unit is tilted slightly down at the front; vacuum pump is now completely decoupled from the box - this means it is loose and couldn't be shipped but it's a small price to pay.
While I'm at it I might as well describe my washing routine. I put an LP on my old slot-style RCM and give it a couple of rotations with a felt brush to remove loose material. Then I move over to the LC and do 1,2 or 3 wash passes and a rinse pass. I always do at least 1 pass in each direction. Dry off the rim of the LP with a piece of paper towel and audition the disc. I'm sure there are many good cleaning fluid formulae out there - mine is 10 ml of VPI concentrate to 1 litre of lab-grade water. I make up small batches of cleaning fluid with 25% lab-grade (99.9%) isopropyl alcohol and enough Kodak PhotoFlow to prevent puddling. My rinse fluid is lab-grade water with 5% lab-grade alcohol and about 1/2 as much Photoflow. I may try Triton X-114 as my surfactant sometime as I think the Photoflow is a bit greasy but otherwise I am content with my cleaning fluid formula. Of course you can only put alcohol on vinyl.
Overall I am now very satisfied with the LC. It is very effective at cleaning; it is quiet; it now does no harm to my LP's. Every additional pass I make improves the sound - especially on dirty LP's.
For those of you patient enough to get this far - I appreciate your persistence. For some very interesting ideas on tweaking these machines check out
http://mintlp.com/wild/loricraft.htm . Cheers. Al
Fjferal, I enjoyed reading your post. Your persistence has paid off. I forgot to add that I also put a tiny bit of Vaseline on the magnet under the arm wand. This seems to make its motion smoother. My wand skips about 5% of the time and I've never seen it leave marks on the surface of an LP.
I'm curious why you didn't send your unit back at Loricraft's expense. I once contacted them about the rubber label cover that I've seen on other units, but I never got one with mine. They said they would send one free of charge. It never arrived. My US dealer simply said contact Loricraft directly. That's a bit frustrating.
I'm intrigued about the decoupling of the motor from the box. Has this made the unit even quieter? I never run my PRC-4 in CCW direction. Doesn't placing the nozzle on the outer edge of the LP to run toward the center (like with playing an actual LP on a tt) accomplish the same thing? I do this for my second rinse step, ie. place the nozzle on the outer edge of the LP until it hits the label and then I place it on the inner grooves and let it run to the outer groove, effectively giving the vacuum longer contact and in both directions. There is no trace of moisture left and no static build up.
I once described the Loricraft and the Odysee RCM to a car buff friend of mine. I told him that both are expensive, the latter being more and that the Loricraft seemed perhaps a bit more finicky and less of an engineering machine - very much like a Porshe/BMW compared to a Jaguar or Morgan. I asked him which he would prefer to own, and he said, "No question, the English machine. Quirks, character and all." Your experience seems to sum up his preference perfectly.
The Loricraft is so far superior to my former VPI 16.5, it's not funny. It's not an Odysee or Keith Monks, but it is less expensive.
I also noticed that slight marking of some LP's when my PRC3 was new (6-7 years ago). A tip from someone here to reduce "VTF" to zero eliminated the problem on my machine. You obviously had to do more, but at a minimum I think LC should revise the operating instructions. Downforce on the arm is not required for effective cleaning. The vacuum alone provides all the contact that's needed.
Interesting car analogies. My own two favorite vehicles have been a Mazda RX-8 and a Land Rover. Each a bit quirky and requiring user input, each irresistible and a superb performer once you made the effort to understand them.
I have had a PRC3 for about 5 years, cleaned 1000's of records, and have never experienced any of these issues. I know that doesn't help you now that you have struggled with and solved those problems but nobody should have to go to these lengths to make a product perform the way it is supposed to. I would simply returm it and I'm sure they would repair or replace it.
Just a note, like Doug, my arm has always been set to near zero VTF. No idea if that's the solution.
experiences with my PRC-3......
I have a couple of issues with my Loricraft that I don't believe have been mentioned here. If anyone has any advice on how to fix these issues, please let me know. And yes, I've followed and tried Doug's various tips.
1) Once the armwand is lowered to the record, a large (1" length?) amount of thread gets pulled back on to the record surface from the armwand. The vacuum suction doesn't appear to be strong enough to overcome the drag of the record surface / thread and the thread gets pulled out of the armwand/plastic tubing. Once the armwand is raised from the record surface, the thread gets sucked back into the plastic tubing.
Candidly, I'm not too bothered since the thread is still providing the necessary gap between the tip and the record surface. However, the fact that the thread is being pulled out of the armwand means that the chemicals from the previous wash/rinse cycle are now being mixed with the current cleaning (however minutely).
2) Occasionally, the thread "gets stuck" when exposing new thread (by rotating the spool) and needs manual persuasion by gently pulling the thread at the armwand tip for it to function properly.
One more thing: There is frequently a tiny amount of liquid left on the record surface after cleaning. Is this a sign that my vacuum pump isn't working to its full capabilities?
I have a couple of suggestions that might help.
Problem #1: I have seen this on my PRC-4 only a couple of times in two years. I think it is new thread coming from the dry tube leading to the spool end, not used thread coming back out of the wet tube leading to the jar. I put a very small rubber washer on top of the thread spool spindle to create friction which prevents the spool from spinning easily/freely. This has prevented thread from coming out too fast. I just moved the rubber washer to the bottom of the spool. Works great.
Problem #2: This happens to mine very seldom. When it does it usually means the used thread is stuck in the wet waste tube due to friction or bunched up at the tube end just before entering the waste jar. I simple leave my pump/suction on as I apply fluid which means about 30 sec after the vacuum cycle is complete. This dries out the waste tube and the used thread, so it is less likely to stick to the brass or plastic tubing.
As far as your last concern about moisture on the record surface: do you mean a very thin layer of moisture covering the whole side, or some drops on the outer edge/rim of the LP or something else? The former has never happened to me and would concern me. The latter rarely happen, but if they do, I use a lint free cloth to wipe it up off the rim which the nozzle can't really reach, or I repeat the vacuum step for the small section that doesn't get completely dry, usually a very thin line 1/4" in from the rim. For my final rinse step, I start the wand at the outer edge like when playing a record. It travels to the label and then I pick up the arm wand and repeat from the label to outer edge, effectively getting it in both directions and twice the dry time. There does not seem to be any moisture left when that step is complete.
I forgot to mention that the level of waste fluid in the jar does effect the vacuum suction on my machine. I try to empty the jar when it is about 1 1/2" full or about when the fluid reaches the bottom of the label on the jar. Also, make sure the connection between the curved brass tube and the white nozzle is very secure. Mine came loose and this lessened the suction.
These two things should help to increase the vacuum suction.
I wonder if anyone has tried to shorten the length of the two plastic tubes to increase the vacuum suction. Mine look like they could be shortened by about an inch.
Peterayer 12/11/11 re return of unit - I did consider it. Loricraft is clearly a cottage industry. That's not necessarily a bad thing but the cottage is 5,000 miles away. Since they were initially quite helpful I thought I would have a go myself. Also, if this unit was iffy I couldn't convince myself that the next one would be better. Also - it was an intermittent problem. They are hell to deal with if you have any type of repair experience and Loricraft could be at it forever trying to come up with a fix.
re decoupling pump - it didn't make the machine audibly quieter but it greatly reduced vibration both in the arm and in the whole case.
re starting the arm at the outer edge of the LP - You likely get the same results as with changing the direction of the platter. I may try that sometime. You seem to have the benefit of ending up with a dry disc. I wet mine quite thoroughly and always have to wipe the perimeter when finished doing both sides of an LP.
re other brands - I agree that the LC is a big step up from the 16.5 . If there are more effective RCM's out there, I don't want to know about them. I could have added a lot of items to the collection for the money I spent on the Loricraft. RCM's that do things like automatically apply fluid or clean both sides at once don't interest me because of the complications and loss of operator control. Al
dhcod 12/13/11 That's great that you had an easy time getting thread. It was largely cost that led me elsewhere and to posting here about it. The last time I looked, Smart wanted $10 for 100 yd. of thread. Then I would have to have it shipped to the Great White North. I have a friend with a PRC-4 as well and for $60 all in we got a 6-pack of 450 yd. spools. We'll never have to think about thread again. Al
peterayer 12/14/11 If you are talking about the 2 hoses outside the catch bottle, I guess it would make a theoretical difference. That extra inch of tubing leaves you with a bit of wiggle room when it comes to movement in the arm or removing the lid from the catch bottle. I plan to leave mine as it is. The piece of tubing inside the catch bottle is there to prevent used fluid from being sucked into the pump and should be left in place at all times.
mintlp has some interesting ideas for increasing suction. I have not tried any. Now that my rig seems to be working I plan to just enjoy it as is. I'll leave the hot-rodding for other parts of the audio system. Al
There was another reason why I didn't go direct for a small amount of thread. As I mentioned in my initial post the Gudebrod thread is becoming hard to find (for whatever reason). I put a lot of time and effort into trying to source thread locally with no success. With the lifecycle of products being so short now and inventory being so tightly controlled, in a couple of years when I might need more thread I have no assurance I will be able to get it so I got a lifetime's supply now. In the big scheme of things the cost was trivial and now I can forget about the issue. Cheers. Al
What do you mean with "stuck"? It can be possible that the VTF of the suction Arm is too high, in combination with the sucking force that Arm can skip (or stuck?). The solution here is simple, adjust the Arm to zero VTF.
When it is an internal problem with the Arm mechanism I think, best is to contact Loricraft, probably it needs a repair or they can give you some help via Phone.
I don't check in here much anymore so didn't see this post until now. It's not real clear to me what the problem is. Do you mean it won't swing out? Do you mean it won't stop moving out? The mechanism is fairly simple and unless the motor unit is defective you can probably make things right yourself if you have some mechanical skills.
If you can clarify the problem one of us may be able to come up with a solution. Cheers. Al