I don't know how to fix that particular problem. I do know that a new tonearm lifter for VPI turntables can be purchased from Music direct for $100.00.
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the oil seems to be available at hobby stores - used in RC car suspensions.
Exactly, for the precision it is silicone oil, it costs much less than that sold by tonearm manufacturers.
Having replaced it in several vintage arms that I own, I can suggest buying the 300,000 / 500,000 cst for a normal descent the 1,000,000 cst for a very very slow descent; beyond that numerical value nothing is found, only fat but not good for the lifter.
Is this: https://i.postimg.cc/g2J8KGYn/IMG-20190831-123401.jpg
My lifter bacame wonky, so I got a repelacment from a friend who works on VPI's.
Put the new one on, and put a record on. Instinctively, I cue the arm and drop the lever... THE STYLUS SLAMS DOWN ON THE RECORD!
A close inspection reveals the replacement isn't hydraulic, but a cheap cam mechanism. Did VPI slip in some budget cuttting in some runs? I have to carefully lower the lever slowly to prevent another crash.
I’ve had issues with my cueing devices as well. My issue was it wouldn’t raise high enough. VPI sent another one, supposedly new, and it had the same issue. Their "fix" is to send out 1/8" high dots to apply to the curved arm rest part. Not the best "fix" IMO.
Not busy enough to post a forum that supposedly has a fix but too busy to type 3 words...........also, Audiogon is my choice for "search and find" as you mentioned.
For years the cueing device WAS the only component not made in the USA. About a year or so ago VPI changed from the foreign hydraulic lift to a mechanical cam lift made in the USA. You can tell the difference by the length of the cueing arm--long and thin (foreign hydraulic) short and thicker (mechanical USA). I've had both and prefer the mechanical lift--you control the rate of fall physically rather than relying upon the hydraulic system to slow the arm drop speed. The two types are interchangeable and easily swapped out--just ask VPI to send you a new one.
I would have hoped the best solution you posted would have been VPI’s solution at the time I was dealing with it.
I guess 1 more call to VPI is in order...again.
(None of this was ever funny to me.), although I do find it (odd) that suddenly @stringreen (now has time), not only to post a solution but in addition, to freely accept anyone’s emails for his/her help. I’ll just say that is very interesting.
One of @stringeen’s suggestions for a fix is "lowering the arm". Does anyone besides me see what’s wrong with that picture? If not, it messes up one’s previous painstaking cartridge set-up, at the least.........