upgrading VPI turntable

i am thinking about upgrading my VPI HW 19 JR turntable which would entail new arm cartridge , feet and power cord. Budget around $1500. question is , is it worth the money to upgrade a discontinued turntable or invest this in a new turntable and which one . possibly a Rega RP-3 ? any advise please
Yes i have a REGA 300 tonearm. Can upgrade to the origin live as long as its able to drop in .
audiopoints look like an easy upgrade looks like a good start
I replaced the entire suspension and plinth on my MKIII with a 1/2" X 3" brass "T" supported by 2" Brass columns. I drilled the bearing hole and machined a slot for my SME-V tonearm and the whole thing sits on sorbo pucks. I am using my SAMA to drive it. Total cost was around $250 for the new plinthless base.

Improvements - 3 dimensionality - no resonance and a height to the image. Also I use a Grado and by turning around the SAMA so the AC cord exits to the left and rear - no more hum! Maybe I post pix if I can get it together. Next upgrade $800 on the Classic platter and bearing assy. But one kid in college next year. I have to sell something. Maybe a kidney.
I wish i was that handy to make upgrades like that ,unfortunately beyond replacing a lightbulb i am not too handy. i srewed up a tonearm trying to replace a cartridge by pulling too hard on the pins and disconnecting them from the wire. Any upgrades would have to find someone in NYC area to do work witch all starts to add up. your upgrades sound great though
I'm fairly handy, and can assemble, lube, or mount parts without getting into too much trouble.

Still, when I decided to upgrade from the MDF Junior Plinth, to something different, I purchased the 1.00" thick Black Acrylic Plinth already pre-cut to size from a Plastics Company, and then took that brand new Sheet, and the original MDF Plinth to an accomplished machinist.

What he did, was pretty much copy the original, and made a clone, but insured that the 211mm S-P distance for the required Tonearm was within +- .003" tolerance. VPI was a little "off" on the Original Plinth's S-P spec by about 2mm.

I was originally seriously kicking around using 1.00" Aluminum Sheet as a Plinth Material instead, and this Material can be acquired from places such as McMaster-Carr. Was going to have it cut slightly oversize, let the machinist cut it to proper precise size, do all the needed machining-drilling-tapping, polish the top surface, then send it out to an Anodizer, and have it Black Anodized.

I think the Sheet of Aluminum a few years back was something like $125. And add about $200 for machining fees, and then the costs for anodizing.

I later decided Acrylic would be suitable, attractive, have good sonic qualities, since VPI also thought it was a worthy material, less expensive, but not easier to work with the Machinist claimed. Acylic when being worked has a nasty habit due to static electricity of sticking to everything!

I substituted the stock Sorbothane Puck Suspension with four Herbies Firm Tall Tenderfeet due to the added weight of Plinth, solid Steel Sub-Chassis Sheet under the Plinth, and a 16lb Mk-IV Platter. In stock Junior form, the standard firmness Tall Tenderfeet would work fine. Herbies Grungebuster Discs, and Washers were utilized all over the place on the table to very good effect.

My Table is a somewhat very similar clone to an original HW-19 MK-IV Table. I wanted to keep a very similar theme, and look, yet added a few nice touches-improvements.

The folks at VPI have seen Pics of it, and they were quite impressed. So was my buddy Doug Deacon here, saying it was the nicest HW-19 Table he's ever seen.

The beauty of the HW-19, is that it can be "personalized" in so many different ways ala Home Improvement center practically. As one example, one gentleman over on akarma took his Oak Base, to a Guitar Luthier, and had them shoot the Base in Tobacco Sunburst Finish. His reminds me of a Fender Stratocaster! Very nice.

If I can ever me of further service, and help to you, and others here, you are more than welcome to contact me.
I wanted to get away from the huge surface area of the plinth. My theory being that a large surface area would only serve to couple better to low frequency sound waves. Also brass has a very nice "ductile" quality making it a bit dead acoustically. But it is soft enough to be for machining the equivalent of basswood to carving. You can drill/mill and thread it fairly evenly.

The feet in the associated picture are coupled to the brass plates using 3 1/8" ball bearings in 1/16" holes around the periphery of the round rod. A single large screw in the center then assures a really high pressure contact point.

I ended up resting the whole affair on sorbothane pucks because I could hear less motor using a stethoscope on the "plinth". I've tried using spikes on the TT and spikes on the motor. But so far the best I've found is to rest the motor on it's original sorbofeet but on a couple of solid lead bars (came with an arcici lead balloon I used to own).

Any suggestions on belt material would be great too. I've tried dental floss. I think there's an improvement (I was in the middle of a lot of switching out stuff) but I couldn't keep the tension reliably and the TT would slow down.

Here's a front view:

Not sure which link to use also try here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7122615275/

And from underneath:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7122615443/

The cable tie is holding the phono cable anchored to a TT support leg. Seeing if this sounds better than letting it hang free from the tonearm.

And the motor with a little switch box added:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7122615459/

The whole thing weighs considerably more than the old chassis (MKIII). And the sound now is much taller and more three dimensional. Using a Grado Sonata II, thinking of using one of these Soundsmith SMMC2-ST cartridges from Mapleshade - has anybody tried one of them?