VTF on-the-fly for OL Silver, really

Last night my Shelter 901 sounded like it had been drugged. No dynamics, no punch, no life, slow transients. Seems this incredible cold snap had stiffened the suspension up. Solution? Raise the VTF again.

We were already at 1.90g, up from 1.80 in the summer. I zipped it up to 1.95 and - WOO-HOO! - all was well again.

"Yeah, yeah, get to the point Doug". Okay, on my OL Silver setting VTF anywhere between 1.85g and 2.00g takes just a fraction of a second. It actually takes me longer to cue the stylus than it does to adjust the weight.

Those of you accustomed to fiddling with the Silver's counterweight might wonder how that could be. Here goes:

First, you need Twl's HIFI Mod on your Silver. You must get it from Twl or at least use the same weights he does, the ones with the little holes at the pointy end. (If you don't have the HIFI Mod you haven't heard what this arm can do. Run, don't walk, to the "Strange Tonearm Tweak" thread.)

Second, you need a large size paper clip. Plastic coated is okay if you like colors. Straighten it out, then rebend it into a sort of U-clamp that will just straddle the ends of HIFI Mod weights. Bend each end of the "U" in so there's a 1/8" long tip pointing right at the other tip. Congratulations! You've just finished the hard part.

Put this doohickey onto the HIFI Mod by slipping the tips into the holes at the end of the weights. Adjust tension as necessary so that it can be swivelled without binding but still holds position. Voila! Instant VTF selector!

If you have a Shelter 501mkII or 901, place the clip vertically above the bearing and set the counterweight to 1.90g. This will give you an effective range of about 1.85 (clip back near the C/W) to 2.00 (clip forward near the arm tube). In summer when lower VTF's are needed, make the vertical position 1.80 and you'll have a range of about 1.75 - 1.90. Adjust these recommendations accordingly as required for your setup.

Now you can set VTF by ear as fast as you can cue your arm up and back down again. I don't recommend trying to move the paper clip while playing, its easy to make the arm skip and/or temporarily over-stress the cantilever when pushing the paper clip down.

Credit to my partner Paul for dreaming this up. It's simple, effective and as cheap as a tweak can be. Try it.
Far freakin' out. I have this mental picture of a tonearm with fishing weights and paper clips hanging off of it, and let me tell you, (in the immortal words of David Letterman), it couldn't look more lovely. :-)
You're right Zaikesman, it's a piece of art. We didn't bother to make the paper clip perfectly straight before re-forming it into the "U", so it's a little squiggly. It ain't no stinkin' Morch or SME, lemme tell ya. :)

I was a bit worried about resonances, but A/Bing with and without it we haven't been able to detect any. Unlike the infamous resonating VTF spring on an RB300, this clip is symmetrical with the bearings, touches only the arm itself and is coupled via the lead weights. Even a large size paper clip is too thin in cross section to pick up airborne resonances, especially given its slightly squiggly shape.
Hi Doug. I agree that this is a nice mod, and makes the small incremental changes of VTF very much easier to do on the OL Silver arm with TWL HiFi mod.

I have installed this on my arm, per Doug's instructions, and have found it a worthwhile addition to my system. I have not noticed any negative aspects of resonance added by the presence of this item.

I think it is an innovative idea that solved an annoying problem of very small incremental VTF changes that are required with temperature change to the very VTF sensitive Shelter cartridges.

The fact that the clip is located at the bearing axis, allows it to be used to give a small but very useful range of adjustment in addition or subraction directions. Plus, it does so in such a way as to not affect the resonance characteristics of the arm, because it is not actually connected to the arm tube, but is indirectly coupled thru the HiFi mod and bearing axle.

This is a good idea that is simple and effective.
Thanks, Tom. The inventor has a Ph.D. in metallurgy. Bet he never imagined he'd be "famous" for twiddling a paper clip.

OTOH, Paul's first patent had something to do with a bucket of water and a tea strainer as a model for improving copper casting practices. Don't ask. Saved his company gazillions and per his employment contract he got paid $1.

Obviously the Twl seal of approval is a far better reward.