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Ok, got the tonearm fixed up - one of the screws had come loose inside the housing. Anyway, still skips on every song. The arm pulls back towards the rim. It's a 12 gram tonearm, and by all accounts the Grado should be a good match.
Any other thoughts? The anti skate mechanisms that I've seen are to help the arm counter the inward pull of the record. In this case, I'm trying to counter the opposite problem - it's like the arm wants to get back on the armrest.
How are you checking the VTF? Do you have a digital gauge or something like a Shure? And what VTF are you using for the carts?
A tonearm is pretty simple if the bearings aren't wasted. If it skips on every song, something has to be impeding the arm's movement.
I know the Traveler's arm is a little different to set tracking force. Are you sure you are doing it right?
To answer the questions...
1. I'm using a digital stylus gauge to set the VTF. I have tried the low and the high end of the cartridge recommendations, and they skip regardless. Setting the VTF is fairly straightforward on the Traveler.
2. The stylus (on both cartridges) seems to be aligned correctly.
3. Perhaps the bearings were damaged when the tonearm came loose. I had to do some pretty precise surgery to get things back together.
4. It sounds damn good for 30-40 seconds and then it starts skipping.
I'm going to call Music Direct tomorrow to see what they suggest.
I would exchange the table. The question is for what? I would never use an tonearm without anti-skate and VTA adjustments. Their advice - just increase the tracking force- is BS, that's not the way. At least in my experience with Nottingham Spacearm slight changes in anti-skate affect the sound, and that's good. It takes time to find the best overall combination of the VTF, VTA and anti-skate but it pays off.
While this TT does not have any anti-skate, it does indeed have very good VTA adjustment. Also, do you have a Traveler V1 or V2? The V1 did have tonearm problems that were rectified with the V2.
So a simple test should tell if you have faulty bearings. Does your tonearm have free travel both up and down and left to right? Simply get a hold of it by the finger grip and with the cueing lever down, check to see if it will freely move in the above directions under your control. Most important, make sure it can travel all the way to the center of the platter (where the label would be) with a fluid movement without any restraint - especially by the outer support ring of the gimbals. Is it banging into this?
If the above doesn't check out, you should have no problems returning to Music Direct as they are a great outfit.
I have a V2 and have had no problems whatsoever with playback of any records. I increased VTF by the recommended 0.1 gram and used the Baerwald solution on the supplied plastic protractor for my cartridge. Good luck brother and I am sure you will get to the bottom of this - the Traveler is a great table.
If it plays for a few minutes it is not the bearings, remove the wire from its connection and see if it tracks the record. If so the wire is either too twisted or not twisted enough. Did you buy this from Music Direct?? If so they will back you up completely. They are the only retailer with Travelers, we stopped making them a year ago.
Thanks everyone. Yes - the turntable is level, and it skips on every record I put on, not just the older/dirtier ones. I tried running it without the wire as recommended above, but it still skips constantly. At this point, it's completely unusable, so I'm just waiting to hear back from a "specialist" at Music Direct. This experience makes me hesitate on trying another table with no anti-skate.
In my searches online I've come across several people who have had either the similar skipping problem (pulling back to the outer rim of the table) or the tonearm issue (coming loose from the housing).
I'll keep y'all posted,