VPI bearing oil/grease?

I know this has been discussed and forgive me but I'm a little confused. Most of my confusion is from talking with Mike at VPI. I called VPI years ago to ask what type of lubricant to use, the answer was white lithium grease. ( no mention of any of this in the owner's manual) After my bushings were replaced a few years later with bronze, I inquired as to what oil/grease was recommended. The answer was 40W oil. After reading other posts here, I've read that Mike has recommended Mobil synthetic, I don't ever recall them recommending VPI bearing grease to me or anyone. I'd like to get a definitive answer from VPI users here. Thanks.

on page two is says...Lithium based grease on the platter bearing shaft and put a dab on the ball

hope that helps.
There is no definitive answer. Lithium grease, motor oil, trick oils (vdH, etc.), will all "work" to varying degrees. I have tried them all, and guess what? They all sound different. Your particular set-up will dictate which one works best. The thicker ones (grease), will be quieter, but will drag the platter down more, and sound slightly less dynamic; but are probably best if you have noticeable play in your bearing well (not uncommon with VPI's)). Thinner oils will usually allow for freer motion of your platter, and sound more dynamic, and a little brighter. Oil was, for my set-up, essential for use of a flywheel. Grease was simply too "draggy" for use of a flywheel, and would cause speed fluctuation.

There is no one solution. Experiment, and see which one sounds/works best for you. Good luck.
Oakleys @ Frogman... Thanks, In regards to the bronze bushings, do they require any kind of lubrication?
Do you have a connection with VPI? My manual from 20 years ago, says nothing about lubrication. That's what I referred to in my thread.
Whatever i nick from the workshop.
frogman, that is interesting about the "sound" of lubricant being used.

i use synthetic motor oil on my tnt mkv hr. once a year as a rule I apply oil, and also for the motor.

there is overpriced tt "specific" oils or greases available, i think vpi used to sell a $25-30 variety.
nope. just an very happy owner of vpi table.

the link i posted to aries owners manual i found from google search.

i think vpi is pretty great company with great product and i own one of their tables for about 10 yrs....but not so great user manuals. seems to be there is an inverse relationship between the info provided in the owner manual and the expense of the table...go figure. maybe vpi figures for expensive tables dealer will set up and explain? also they are none too easy...or hard...to get in touch with, but they have always answered all of my questions with good workable advice.

I think much of the confusion revolves around the inverted bearing type vs the well type. My understanding is that the well types require oil such as mobile 1 or as Mike recommended on my HW-19 and TNT, Tufoil. The inverted types require something such grease with won't roll of the shaft due to gravity. This is just my opinion and not an expert one at that.
good point dave i was also told to try slick50..ithink that was the name..for tnt.
My HW-19 sounds best to me when using slick 50
If Mobil 1 is good enough for my BMW it should be good enough for your turntable.
Ok, I made the assumption (correctly, I believe), that Slaw does not have an inverted bearing. Mike would never have recommended oil for an inverted bearing, for the reasons mentioned by others. However, grease OR oil can be used in non-inverted bearing wells (bronze bushings), as recommended by VPI at different times. My experince of the effects of the different lubricants I mentioned in my previous post.
Correct!!! I don't have an invertive bearing! That's my point, I've been recommended by Mike , white lithium grease and 40W oil for a non inverted bearing!!! The problem is,..that VPI has introduced a range of products that can't even be supported by themselves, as far "solid" recommendations to "THEIR" own customers. Cummon'!
Castrol HD 40 is the one I use on my hw-19 mark 3.
Yeah, it can be frustrating, as there is a feeling of security in having one answer to a problem. VPI has never been that kind of company. In their defense, I always get the sense that they are always trying new things, and arriving at a new preference/recommendation, as in the case of lubes. I think there is a positive side to that approach. The most recent recommendation doesn't necessarily mean that the previous one was a bad one. Anyway, I encourage you to try both the grease and the oil, they WILL sound different.
The bearing is just a simple bearing Thousands of oil/grease formulations exist. many are just common, that is they will work on just about any ordinary bearing. Oil/grease is sort of like interconnects: you can use nearly any of them to get the electrical connection. AND just like interconnects, various folks have different preferences. IF VPI told you that you have to use 'Squemish' brand cables ($6.98 two meter pair) would you? Same for oil/grease.
Which is best.. you have ears. If you do not want to think.. than any lubricant will do.
VPI told me they have a new (about a year ago) super grease to be used on my Superscoutmaster. I have been using it with success.
In my experience, with a TNT Mk II, Slick 50 turned to sludge. I don't believe they recommend it any more. Mobil 1 worked best for me.
Mike told me white lithium for my Scoutmaster and 40 weight for the motor bearing and their damping fluid for the damping trough.
I'll try to clear this up a bit.

Yep, the newer, inverted Bearing use-require grease.

The older, non-inverted, well type bearings used Oil.

When Mike at VPI suggested-recommended an Oil such as Mobil 1, either 5-50W, or 10-30W, he wasn't haphazardly guessing. These synthetic Oils have very good properties making them ideal for use for their Platter Bearings.

If Thom Mackris of Galibier Design were to chime in, or if you went to Galibier's site, you'll get some basic explanations about bearings, basic properties, and that tolerances can often dictate what viscosity of Oil will be needed.

As Thom would probably tell you, with very tight, precise tolerances, one would never be able to successfully use a relatively heavy viscosity Oil, the Bearing would take forever, and a day to fully seat.

That tolerances will dictate what viscosity will ideally work per given bearing. In the case of a VPI conventional non-inverted bearing, when brand new, a lighter Oil may suffice. if the Bearing"s thrust-bushing surfaces have worn, one then might find the need of a slightly heavier viscosity, to lessen rocking-play of the bearing shaft in the well.

There must be a science to this, in that too light, or too heavy just isn't going to cut it. In every instance-application, one will no doubt need to find the Oil that works "just right".

For me, with my VPI MK-IV Bearing, either Mobil 1 10-30W, or 5-30W works just fine. An oil such as 50W, or heavier in my particular Bearing, would never work, unless I sit on the Platter to get it to seat, and you certainly don't want to do that! Mark
Markd51- thanks for the info. good stuff.
I have owned one HW19 MK I, one MK II, two MK IV platters over the years; and now a TNT MK V platter on my TNT. I have also checked a few similar platters owned by others. Every single one had some degree of noticeable play/rocking in the bearing well. Markd51's info is correct except for the implication that lithium grease, or some other type of high-viscosity oil is not appropiate for the older non-inverted type bearings. The bearings were not machined to tight enough tolerances to make the use of high-viscosity oils/grease impractical. It is appropriate to use them; or more accurately, it can be. This per VPI's recommendation.

Again, it is most definitely worthwhile to experiment with lithium grease in these bearings. It will make the table quieter, and les bright, but potentially less dynamic. A worthwhile, and easily reversible tweak.
When I used to work in a machine shop (college job, many lifetimes ago) the guy responsible for the high precision lathes used to use STP Oil Treatment to lube his machine. Other freinds of mine who are shooters use the same stuff to lube their reloading presses. On a whim I have tried it with my VPI Aries and I think that it works great.

The trick, as with all lubribation for VPI decks, is to not use too much lubricant. For a standard (non-inverted) bearing use 2-3 drops into the bottom of the well and a THIN coating on the bearing itself. Thin means almost microscopically thin - you are not trying to actually lube the bearing, but rather to fill in the microscopic grooves in the metal. Capillary action will take care of the rest after the oil heats up.
br3098 thanks for the tip!
STP Oil Treatment is awfully thick and used to be recommended for tonearm damping because of its high viscosity. I know you said only 2-3 drops, but still ...
Dopogue said:
STP Oil Treatment is awfully thick and used to be recommended for tonearm damping because of its high viscosity. I know you said only 2-3 drops, but still ...

Yeah, I know... that was my thought as well. But it's not as viscous as grease. Maybe it wouldn't be the best thing to use if your listening room gets cold, but my room is never below 68 degrees, at least when I'm in it.

It has worked well for me but YMMV.
My absolute favorite lubricant for ALL metallic and/or ceramic TT platter/spindle bearings is A. J. van den Hul's (of all people ;--) Spindle Oil. It's unlike anything else out there (that would be appropriate for a TT) and you can find out why here: http://www.vandenhul.com/p_IK01.aspx
The best price (I've found in the US) is here: http://www.eugenehifi.com/VanDenHul/htm/van_den_Hul_Accessories.htm
(Acoustic Sounds charges $25 more!)

This product has been around for at least ten years, but few people seem to know about it. The better the turntable, the more noticable the increased quiet. There used to be a disclaimer about not using it with bearings that had nylon/plastic/Delrin parts. Maybe they don't make bearings with those materials anymore?
Hi all,

Some good general principles were laid out above. In general, you’re balancing out two parameters against each other: bearing play and damping. There’s no hard and fast rule. In addition to the local parameters within your control (your turntable drive system - motor, controller, drive belt, platter/mass, bearing play), you may have to adjust for the tuning of the rest of your system.

To maintain your sanity, I’d focus on the turntable to the exclusion of your downstream components, but I mention them above, mainly to make a point that this all fits together into a coherent whole.

I’ve not played with VPI’s, but everyone whose opinion I respect, tells me that they have enough play in them to work best with a lightweight lithium grease (think bicycle wheel bearings). At the other extreme, Galibiers, along the vintage Micro Seikis tend to work best with lubricants that are closer to water in viscosity than they are to something like 5W motor oil.

This is where I take issue with the use of thicker oils in my ‘tables – oils that can work, but which require a multi-hour seating process. It would be a great thing to build up the Galibier mythology, but it hurts the music.

Bearing play (as you’d correctly guess) is mitigated by increasing viscosity, and in general, the less play the better. Damping is a bit more complicated and here’s where the listening comes into play (to balance bearing rigidity against over-damping).

The unfortunate reality of all hi-fi components is that you can damp things too much. This is another case of having too much of a good thing. You’ll read various threads on how there’s nary a person (for example) who uses the silicone damping fluid in the Tri-Planar tonearms. The general consensus is that while an occasional “nasty” is tamed, it comes at the expense of a fairly ho-hum sound overall.

The same holds true in lubricant choice for turntable bearings, speaker design, and amplification design. It’s extremely challenging for example, to filter a power supply to the point where it’s quiet, but that still has great transient response. The common error with many “good” amplification components is that they get the quiet part right, but miss the nuance and subtle transient details. Getting to quiet is comparatively easy, but quiet with no sacrifice in musical nuance is a very challenge to pull off.

The good news is that experimentation won’t do any harm, and you have a system tuning component available to you. I’d advise against staying away from oils with detergents in them. Also, some oils will form a varnish after a while (3-In-One), but even this can be cleaned with something like carburetor cleaner. The synthetic motor oils are fine.

Here’s the link to more of my comments on the subject: http://www.galibierdesign.com/prd_bearing.html.

Thom @ Galibier
Frogman, I owned P.Lurnes Audiomeca TT with inverted bearing and had no idea what lubricant to use. But I own now Kuzma Stabi Ref. with inverted bearing and I orderd lubricant from Kuzma. I got the oil and not some grease.
It is dependant of the bearing construction as I think or understand the problem. But I am not a technical guy so no claims reg. the 'truth'.
Thom_mackris, "the voice of reason". Thanks for another great post.

Remember, that in the case of inverted bearings ... well, they're upside down.

It's been a long, long time (20+ years) since I've had one in my posession, and the issue of lubrication didn't come up.

Typically, inverted bearings have some sort of jeweled thrust bearing which doesn't require lube. As far as the side walls are concerned (in general), the oil needs to be viscuous enough to not seep out the bottom.

Unless someone has an innovative means of controlling the flow of the lube out the bottom of an inverted bearing, it appears to me that it would mandate a very thick oil, which in turn would mandate loose tolerances.

I'd love to hear more about this ...

Thom @ Galibier
Being an inverted bearing, how would it work if a pool of light oil were deposited in the bearing such that when the shaft was inserted the oil would work its way up the and out of the top of the bearing. A small felt concentric ring around the bearing would absorb any excess oil and keep the top of the bearing lubricated. The shaft itself would spin in a very thin pool of oil. It wouldn't take much oil to do the job.

I'm looking at an early TNT bearing as I write this. It might work though there would be some "settling time" involved to get the shaft all the way down to the point where the ball bearing is in contact with the thrust plate.

Any thoughts (as I build my table)?
Too much oil= soft muddy sound. The bearing will keep itself lubricated with the proper oil/grease. Simply re-apply occasionally.
I agree if it's thick oil or grease. But would light oil be a different story?
Bpoletti, the correct amount of oil will stay in the well, and not work it's way out of the well. No need for your "oil trap". A tip:

A few years ago, after cleaning and relubing my TNT bearing, I was dismayed at what initially seemed like boring, unexciting sound; or as some would say, no PRAT. Turned out that I had put too much oil in the well. The excess oil had accumulated around the top of the bearing well's circular top plate, and was making contact with the bottom of the platter spindle's circular bottom plate. As the platter turned, the excess oil was putting drag on it. The sonic effect was not subtle. Beware of too much oil (or grease).
Very interesting. So less is more. Thanks for the tip!

How about rotating the bearing periodically? What I mean is to remove the three screws attaching the bearing to the plinth and rotating the bearing one-third turn and reattaching it to the plinth? This would put a "fresh" surface of the bronze insert against the pressure of the pull of the belt on the spindle. Any benefit for this?
Sorry for necro-ing this thread. But have a more or less the same question. I own a VPI Scout and lately I have noticed that it isn't running so smooth anymore. So it is time for some maintenance I guess.

I was adviced to use Telfon oil for the platter bearing. Can anyone comment on this. Also while browesing this thread I read about oil for the motor. How do I do that do I have to take the motor appart?
VPI recommends white lithium grease available at any auto parts store for about $5. Teflon oil is NOT recommended by VPI.
I can't remember what oil VPI recommends for the motor. Contact Mike at VPI, and please post your findings... ;-)
I think you're a bit confused to begin with. There are two parts of a VPI table that need to be lubricated: the platter bearing and the motor.
You use white lithium grease for the platter bearing and a 40-weight motor oil for the motor. Two different parts, two different lubricants. I don't understand why the thread is 38-post long.
Actusreus: I don't think I inquired about motor lubricant. Just platter/bearing lubricant.
Frogman: You're correct in your assessment of lithium grease vs. oil and their effects on the sound. I've been experimenting...
Slaw: Your original post indicated that somewhere along the way confusion, or a mixup if you prefer, occurred with respect to what part of the tt the advice was given to. The manual for the Classic is clear as to what lubricant to use and where, and I find it hard to believe anyone at VPI would tell you to use motor oil on the platter bearing. The viscosity of motor oil makes it inadequate for lubricating the platter bearing. Lithium grease is thick enough to stay where it matters unlike oil that would simply drip down the shaft with gravity.

I also find assertions that oil vs. grease makes audible difference rather absurd. Once you get the platter spinning at the correct speed, why would it matter what you used to lubricate it? It doesn't make sense, especially with the SDS. If you can't get your platter to spin smoothly and at correct speed, that's another matter. Just use white lithium grease as VPI recommends once a year and be done with it. I'm sure you can find plenty of other things in your system to experiment with.
I just re-read the thread and it appears that there might be different types of bearings used on VPI tables. Since you didn't mention what table you had, I assumed it was an inverted bearing such as used in the Scout or the Classic. I'm not familiar with well-type bearings. It always helps to provide detailed information when you describe your problem so the advice can be more tailored and it helps avoid confusion. So what table do you actually have?
****I also find assertions that oil vs. grease makes audible difference rather absurd. Once you get the platter spinning at the correct speed, why would it matter what you used to lubricate it?**** - Actusreus

A friendly reminder that time and time again listeners have heard the effects of system adjustments or tweaks that "couldn't possibly make a difference". It's a minor miracle that a rock scraping a groove in plastic can extract something resembling music. The fact that music is so incredibly complex as far as what it takes to record/reproduce all it's subtleties makes it that much more miraculous. It should not be surprising that anything that might affect the way the platter spins, adding more or less damping or drag to it, might effect the sound. Try it, you might be surprised.
I am using a non-inverting TNT bearing on a HW-19 Mk IV. Sorry for the lack of clarity. I recently have been experimenting with oil (differing weights) and the white lithium grease. I have installed a new ceramic bearing before experimenting. I've used 10w50 synthetic, standard 30 & 40W and the grease. First, the ceramic ball bearing is definately more revealing. In my system, the thinner the oil = leaner sound. A little too lean for me. I've settled on the lithium grease.
FWIW: I've found THE solution...NLGI #2 w/DuPont Teflon.

This is the BEST sounding lube I've run across. Better yet, it DOESN'T break down over time! Very important.
Slaw, is this the "Royal Purple" grease? How would you compare it's viscosity to that of white lithium grease? Thanks.
Beware teflon additives and oils. A fully qualified engineer ( proper engineer, Imperial College London ) advised me that the teflon additives can attach to the metal surfaces and that metal particles can embed themselves in the teflon, resulting in increased bearing wear.
My experience using teflon oil in a TT in the 80's was, after checking the bearing after 6 months, the oil was the dirtiest I had ever seen. Never used teflon oil again.
In defense of Slick 50, tests done on a Chevy 6 cylinder engine by the University of Utah Engineering Experiment Station found that after treatment with the PTFE additive the test engine's friction was reduced by 13.1 percent, the output horsepower increased from 5.3 percent to 8.1 percent, and fuel economy improved as well. Unfortunately, the same tests concluded that "There was a pressure drop across the oil filter resulting from possible clogging of small passageways." Oil analysis showed that iron contamination doubled after the treatment, indicating that engine wear increased
I remember you mentioning it, perhaps even in this very thread, but I wonder how much of an issue it is for a turntable bearing where the contact surface is so small, as is the amount of the lubricant used. The very lubricant VPI recommends and uses contains PTFE as well.
I bought a tube of the Royal Purple and applied it last night.

Frogman: No, not the Royal Purple. It seems a little higher viscosity and in applying it, feels more stable. I used it my first round for about 7 months, looked at it and could not notice any breakdown at all. In that time, there was no noticable increase/decrease in platter rotations after turning the motor off as I've experienced in every other lube I've tried. A slight sonic improvement over the white lithium I was using also. I use a ceramic ball bearing.