Walker Vortex Vacuum Wand for VPI

Hello all,
From a thread over on the Asylum, I noted Walker has introduced an Arm Wand for VPI RCMs.
After reading it's description at Elusive Disc, I can't help but think that this Delrin Wand, with no protective strips, coming in contact with the vinyl, no matter how one adjusts the Wand Tower, will be "kind" to the vinyl?

The other item included with the Wand, is two little O-rings, placed on Spindle, said to keep the record from touching the Mat. Wouldn't a rubber washer serve the same purpose?

Perhaps too new to hear other's opinions? I like the idea of never needing to worry about velvet strips going bad, less chance of cross-contamination, etc, but just cannot seem to get past the idea of the Delrin contacting Vinyl? Mark
Hi Mark,

I just read that also, and said huh ?? The whole thing made me wonder, especially the O Rings, as I would think the record would "tip" and touch the platter when the brush is applied for cleaning ? Maybe I missed something here ?
I've been using the new Walker Audio Vortex Vacuum Tube for the past couple of days and have been comparing it to my stock VPI vacuum tubes. I am very impressed with the results! Lloyd has once again taken a concept to the next higher level of execution and performance.

The new Vortex tube is a direct replacement for the VPI RCM stock vacuum tube and is made from a soft Delrin material. As Markd51 points out, it doesn't have the felt strips on either side of the vacuum slot. Additionally, the slot machined into the Vortex tube is narrower than in the VPI tube. The result is much higher vacuum suction (Lloyd says two to two and a half times more) than the stock VPI tube provides. This is readily observable in use: with the Vortex a single revolution leaves a completely dry record surface. This never happens with the stock tubes.

The other big advantage for me is that I can stop swapping vacuum towers/tubes between the cleaning steps and the rinse steps. Switching the stock tubes was a important step to eliminate cross contamination between cleaning and rinse steps and doing so improved my results. The Vortex tube largely eliminates the risk of cross-contamination because with the pure Delrin material there is nothing to hold moisture from one step to the next. A quick wipe of the tube with a paper towel between steps eliminates any remaining possibility.

I've always liked the speed of cleaning with the VPI because the vacuum wand covers the entire surface of an LP in one pass. The speed difference of a VPI as compared to a "string cleaner" like the Loricraft or Odyssey RCMs is significant. With the greater vacuum suction delivered by the Vortex wand, I suspect that the cleaning results may now be comparable, but I don't have any way to that make a comparison. In a conversation this evening with Lloyd, he said that he's made the comparison about 50 times at this point and he's convinced that the results he is now getting with his VPI RCM fitted with a Vortex tube is at least as good as the results he gets with his $7,000 German built Odyssey string cleaner RCM that he's used for the past year or two. (He says he's selling his Odyssey.)

Markd51 mentions the O-rings. I asked Lloyd about them. He says they are nothing special, just O-rings that accomplish what he wanted to accomplish in floating the LP above the surface of the platter. (He says that floating the edge of the LP keeps the surface off the platter to minimize contamination and allows the LP to pull into contact with the vacuum tube more readily.) He provides them with the Vortex tube, but one could use any number of other solutions -- the O-rings were cost effective.

Is the Vortex replacement vacuum tube worth it's not inconsiderable cost? For me, the answer clearly is YES! It's improved the sonic results I'm getting from my multi-step cleaning regimen, it allows me to stay with the VPI RCM I've been using for 20 years now, it eliminates having to change vacuum tubes between steps thus simplifying the cleaning process, and the VPI/Vortex tube combination cleans much faster than any string cleaner design.

If you use a VPI record cleaning machine, purchasing a Vortex vacuum wand should be a top consideration for your next upgrade. I'm delighted with the results I'm getting here. (In fact, I just re-rinsed with the Prelude Final Step 4 rinse and Vortex wand my copy of The Malcolm Arnold English Dances on Lyrita SRCS 109 and am sitting here just being blown away by the improvement I'm hearing in a record previously cleaned!)
Thank you for your thorough evaluation of this new product.

I'm sure you can understand many of us are very curious, and perhaps I sort of have an apprehension as well, thinking about direct contact of the Delrin Wand to the surface of the vinyl, and worry about the possibility of groove damage?

I think of this even more, considering the slot as you say is narrower, and because of this, greater venturi-suction effect is created, and perhaps greater friction between the two surfaces?

I can understand the description of an extremely smooth surface of the Wand, but wonder-visualize as well, the possibility of contaminants being wedged in between the mating surfaces?

Sorry to sound like a "Doubting Thomas", I do know that Walker makes some very outstanding, cutting edge products. I assume this should be another from the great minds. Mark
Ditto Rushton's experience. Have been using the new Walker Audio Vortex Vacuum Tube this past weekend with my VPI. It took a little time to get it adjusted just right. The results are very good - just as Walker promised.

No scratches on the LPs. No problem at all.

This product in conjunction with the Walker Prelude record cleaners deep cleans the records better than other cleaners I have tried. I do tend to reserve the four step process for new records or prized gems from my collection.

The Vortex allows for faster cleaning - no more VPI tube swapping.
I can get an understanding of a re-adjustment of the Wand Tower Height, per Walker's instructions, which I read at Elusive Disc, but what isn't clear, is mention of properly aligning the Slot in Delrin Tube, so that it faces straight down towards the record.

With that being said, and for the cost that Walker is charging, which is not at all cheap for a piece of tubular Delrin, with slot, why didn't Walker then cut the proper locating Slot in the Delrin Tube End, mating correctly with the locating Pin in the VPI Wand Tower?

Probably no biggie, I know, it doesn't take a Physics Major to probably align the Tube correctly.
Maybe I should ask Lloyd Walker this question? Mark
Hi Mark,

I take seriously your concern over "the possibility of contaminants being wedged in between the mating surfaces." But, I see the same risk with the felt edges on the stock VPI tubes. After some consideration, I decided that the Walker Vortex is actually less risky in this regard than the VPI tubes.

With the VPI tubes, I've always been careful to rinse and "scrape down" the felts at the end of each session because I've always worried about something getting trapped in the felt and then scratching my vinyl. I don't have the same worry with the Delrin Vortex tube. The material itself is fairly soft (not like the hard VPI plastic of the tube), and it's easy to assure oneself that it's clean and not harboring some grit that might scratch.

Could some grit sitting on the surface of an LP get caught against the tube? Sure. But it could as well get caught against the felt of the stock tube. Still, we've all got to make our respective choices in the matter and I certainly respect your concern.

Oldvinyl, glad to hear you're having the same experience with Lloyd's newest creation as I am.

Mark, why do you think Lloyd did not? The locating slot is machined on mine. FYI, some older towers do not have a locator pin. I have my original tower with no locator pin and a more recent tower with locator pin. But even with the locator pin, there is some tolerance for the tube to be twisted. Why does Lloyd mention installing the slot at exactly vertical? Because VPI has us trained to offset the slot a few degrees, which works best for the stock tube but not for this replacement tube. And, there are grey haired guys like me who have those original towers.

...and for the cost that Walker is charging, which is not at all cheap for a piece of tubular Delrin, with slot, why didn't Walker then cut the proper locating Slot in the Delrin Tube End, mating correctly with the locating Pin in the VPI Wand Tower?

As to cost, I'm sure Lloyd would encourage you to feel free to make your own. He's the one who worked on the design, going through multiple iterations of materials and configurations, and it's his time invested in getting the materials, doing machining and making the product available. I don't understand poking at a guy over charging for his product. The cost of a second tower and tube from VPI so you can swap wands to avoid cross contamination is $50, the cost to replace the arm tube every few years is $25 per tube. (Sure, I know you can remove and replace the felt with some other after market solutions for the felt.) Lloyd gives us, imo, a superior solution that has far greater vacuum suction at the surface of the LP, doesn't wear out, doesn't have to be replaced, and pretty well eliminates cross-contamination thus eliminating the need to have two wands. I think that's a pretty reasonable exchange for my cash.
I dropped a hint on another thread about the Walker Vortex after I heard a prototype a few weeks ago at the home of friend who lives near Lloyd. Glad to know that design is finalized and it's now available. I will get one asap, as I was greatly impressed.

The magnitude of sonic improvement compared to cleaning w/the standard VPI arm tube is REMARKABLE! The speed benefit, and no more replacement pads is also a great benefit.
Way to go, Walker Audio! Cheers,
I don't own a VPI, but if I did I'd buy this tube in a heartbeat. Rushton's description makes perfect sense, this wand should yield some of the benefits of the string machines like my Loricraft at a tiny fraction of the cost. (The VPI is still noisier than &^%$, but it's also faster to use, so there's the tradeoff.)

To my mind the chance of anything but liquid being trapped between wand and record should be virtually nonexistent. Records should be thoroughly dry brushed and all loose contaminants removed before they go on the RCM, so what's left to get trapped?

My only concern would be that a smaller slot makes the motor work harder, so overheating might be occur sooner. OTOH if fewer revolutions are required...
Never saw this one coming but it looks interesting. Do you guys already using this utilize these o-rings then? As already mentioned, I'm trying to imagine scrubbing a suspended, flexible disc effectively.
Yes, I'm using the o-rings and gentle scrubbing is not a problem. But, I never apply a lot of pressure to my scrubbing. I let the cleaning solution do its work and the "scrubbing" is to make sure everything is getting stirred around well with some gentle action of the scrub pad fibers.
I am interested in this as an option. I'm guessing that using steam, as some of us are these days, on the suspended disc is more likely to lead to warping. (Just a guess but it seems to make sense) Would this work just as well on the standard cork mats we typically switch out for dirty versus clean sides?
Sonofjim, the o-rings are not a necessary component to this. If you're steam cleaning, like the results you're getting and concerned about not having the LP fully supported when applying steam, just don't use the o-rings. The Vortex vacuum wand will still work.
I meant no disrespect to you Rushton, and again, I appreciate the time you have taken to give a thorough account of this product.

I still stand by my feeling that this product should've been more reasonably priced. $80 is a lot of Maracas for a tube of Delrin. R+D shouldn't be a factor for overcharging on an item like this. let's face it, R+D didn't cost Lloyd $1,000's on this one, in fact I doubt more than $50.

$40 would've been a bit more realistic, and I'm sure, still an ample amount of profit. Is Lloyd getting "greedy"?

Of course, VPI themselves could just as easily come to market with one similar, they are thier Machines.

Your suggestion of making my own is a good one, I have the resources, and the means to do this. Of course too, if I go to market with a clone, who will buy it? It won't of course have Lloyd's magical name on it, or carry the prestige, even though it might be every bit as good.

Again Rushton, and all, thank you for your responses. Mark
No experience with Mr. Walker or his products. It's nice to see people innovating and improving each other's products in audio. But as a VPI 16.5 owner who already thought $25.00 for a plastic replacement wand was a little ridiculous . . . well you can see where this is going.

It sounds like there are serious improvements by going to a Delrin tube from what the members have posted here. I'd be curious to try it. But $80 for a plastic tube?

My VPI pickup tube measures (about) 5/8" OD, 3/8" ID x 5" long. Seems like the same Delrin material is available - http://www.k-mac-plastics.net/acetal-delrin-celcon-acetron-tubes.htm - at $37 for 5 feet. Enough to make $960 worth of Vortex tubes. Granted, this size may not be an exact fit, but I think we're in the ballpark. There is some cost to machining the vacuum slot and the alignment slot and capping the end. Distribution costs and retail mark up. Not to mention Mr. Walker thought of it, and I didn't. But 2500% above cost of materials (and there is only one material here, if you discount the o-rings) and no complicated machining or assembly?

Needless to say I don't have the wherewithal or inclination to make and market an alternative. But anyone with a garage workshop could conceivably zing out 12 of these for themselves and a few audio buddies in the space of an afternoon and spend far less than the cost of one tube. You could even throw in an afternoon's worth of beer and still come in under the cost of one Vortex.
Tweaks are always expensive way out of proportion to the cost of their manufacture. It's up to the end user to decide whether he or she wants to "roll their own" or pay the price. I am sure that Lloyd gave careful thought to the price point and figured it would sell for that amount. For me, IF I decide that there really is an advantage over the stock suction tube, I would be a buyer in this case, because I don't have the time for the hassle of finding the exact right material and getting it cut to do the job. Further, that's way more than $80 worth of my time right there. In other cases, I do make my own stuff, usually when the materials are more readily accessible. To each his own.
Seriously folks, think about the cost issue for a moment. $25.00 for the VPI wand which has to be replaced at least once a year if you are cleaning records regularly. $80.00 for the Walker wand which will probably never have to be replaced. And you really think the Walker is expensive?
I got a Vortex today, and noticed a couple problems in trying it out: first, the suction-opening of the wand doesn't seem to be long enough to suction up the liquids from the inner and outer points of the record, so that there is a residue of cleaner left. The second part is the more serious part: I noticed some surface streaks-scratches around the middle of the record, caused by the wand. Either I got a faulty wand, or I haven't figured out how to align it properly on the VPI, or the Vortex is badly flawed. I'll keep experimenting with it, since it does seem to clean better than the VPI wands, but I'm a little discouraged. Anyone have any suggestions about getting rid of the problems?
I am not a user of the Vortex, others here can perhaps offer better advice. I'm trying to visualize the whole affair, and will try offering help through a good mechanical background.

I suspect that tower height adjustment, with the Delrin Locking Collar will be critical, in that the Wand doesn't come down too far under vacuum suction, thus causing excessive force upon the record.

From what others have said here, and the reason perhaps why Lloyd has complimented this product with Rubber O-Rings, is that the LP will actually sit ever so slightly above the Platter, and as the Wand goes down upon the LP, the LP supposed to actually come up towards the wand, to "meet" the wand, and thus by doing this, it is not the Wand's downforce pressure, but the LP actually coming up to meet the Wand regulating the degree of pressure, and by this, this must insure a certain level of adhesion-friction between the two which is not overly excessive.

Anymore friction-force between the two will no doubt result in possibly marring LP's, and may be also the cause of fluids being left behind as well?

Perhaps an accurate measurement of your slot, will let others help, as they relay to you what they find.

Again, I haven't used one, and may be in error with my thoughts, but I have probably hit the nail on the head with my above comments. Mark
Jamesbrianc, here's what I'm doing or have done:

Use a microfiber cloth to carefully clean all the accessible surfaces of the tube to make sure nothing is stuck to it from packaging and handling.

Seat the tube all the way into the tower if necessary to get the beginning of the slot above the lead in grooves of a sample LP. There apparently is some variability among the VPI towers and/or deck mounting position from what I'm hearing via some email correspondence with other users. (Remember, VPI has been manufacturing their RCM for 30 years.)

For my tower, I ended up removing the locator pin (push up from the bottom through the top of the tower) in order to push the tube further into the tower. Now, when looking inside the tower from the bottom, I can see that the end of the tube is pushed all the way against the bulge of the back wall of the tower. You may need to do the same.

Use one of your thin LPs and position the locking ring on the tower so the tube can drop down to the surface of the LP. Leave the locking ring at this position. Thicker records should then be fine.

Experiment a bit with orientation of the slot over the LP to get it as directly above the LP as possible.

On non-warped records, when suction is applied, you should not see any light between the tube and the surface of the LP across most of the length of the tube when looking from the side at the level of the LP. You likely will see some gap at the very outer edge of the LP. This location is always going to be somewhat variable due to the varying outer edge profiles.

When aligned, a single rotation should remove all moisture across the grooved area of the LP. If some moisture remains at the lead in groove or in the dead wax area, I use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe those areas dry if needed.

Wipe down the wand on the slot side with another clean microfiber cloth from time to time. I'm still playing around with the need for this and currently am doing it only after finishing a cleaning session.

I hope sharing these steps that I've used may be of some help.
Rushton (and Markd51)--Thanks for the feedback. I'll certainly fiddle with it more. If you (Rushton) haven't had similar problems, I'll assume that it's a set-up issue. Best,

JB Coleman
JB, Please take the time for a couple of seconds to take a good ruler to the slot, and measure the slot length. Rushton can perhaps help, by confirming the slot size is the same (or not). Ya never know, yours could be slightly short, and this of course would make the differences. Again, hope this helps. Mark
Markd51--I just checked the slot length: it's exactly 8 centimeters. If that's shorter than the average, I'd certainly like to hear about it. Thanks,

JB Coleman
JB, I'll measure the slot in my tube and will post the results. I may not be able to get this done today, however.
JB, Something sounds wrong to me, as I just took a measurement of my stock VPI Acrylic Wand's slot, and the measurement is exactly 100mm, or 4", which ever you prefer to use. And the measurement of the origin of the slot, measured from the outside perimeter of round base collar of the Wand Assembly is exactly 1/8".

So, with that being said, something sounds awfully wrong, in that the slot sounds as if it was cut much too short at 8cm (which is 80mm). That's 20mm shorter in length than the VPI Wand Slot.

Provided Lloyd made an exact clone of the VPI Wand dimensioanlly, but just from a different material (Delrin), and a narrower cut slot minus the velvet lips, I honestly don;t see why the slot should be 20mm shorter? Sounds more like you got a wand more suited for 78rpm Shellacs?

We'll wait for Rushton to chime in with his findings, but you may wish to as well, shoot an email off to the folks at Walker, they'll definitely know what's cookin.
JB, I just measured the slot opening in my Walker Vortex tube: it's 81mm. Very close to what you measured on yours.
This sounds quite interesting, but I'd like to know how this differs from the original VPI hard wands made of teflon.

I read they switched to velvet because some people were scratching LPs.

So before I subjected my LP collection to a new device such as this, I'd really like to see some electron microscopy on a new LP, and after various numbers of cleaning cycles with the Vortex to determine if the landings or top edge of the groove walls were at all distorted.

I believe I have even occasionally seen tiny scratches in the run out groove areas with my Loricraft, so I think one can't be too gentle with our valuable and extensive collections.

With the proper research and documentation of results, I'd have no problem spending the $80 Walker is asking.
I agree with Emailists. The more I think about this the more I wonder about it's saftey. I definitely am not ruling it out but I need hear more success stories before I take the plunge. So far, I can't find this thing on Walker's own website. Has anyone else found information on it there?
My experience this morning has been dismal.

First of all, the slit in the Walker tube is thicker than my VPI tube. I was expecting the opposite (to increase suction).

I cannot get a record to vacuum dry. It still looks visibly wet and feels damp. I suspect some of that is because the felt on the VPI tube worked in tandem with suction to dry the LP.

I have spent an hour playing with height adjustments and while I've seen improvement, I don't feel it is right. I'm using a thin throw away record, but if the setup is this sensitive to height, using LPs of different thickness is going to be problematic.

Also, because of the rings, the tube makes more solid contact near the spindle than it does the edge.

At this point I'm at a loss of what to try next.
Update: I did notice that the slit in the tube wasn't oriented perfectly downwards so I adjusted it. Here's what I now experience:

I have the height so that I can see the record lift up slightly to meet the tube (which I assume is correct), but I get a screeching sound, sort of like a cross between a children's party horn and an elephant. It's quite, um, alarming, but the record does get vacuumed apart from the outer edge and close to the spindle which remains moistened.

Has anyone else experienced this sound? I'm afraid to try anything but a junk LP, but of course with junk LPs I can't tell if I'm adding snap, crackles and pops (no visible scarring).
Madfloyd, try moving the stop ring higher up on the tower to allow the tube to pull all the way down onto the record.
Another new user I've been emailing with was having a similar problem to your first post (not the screeching, which I don't have either) because he was trying to use the stop ring to limit the tower to what he believed was "just the right height." Once he gave up on that idea and moved the stop ring higher, he started getting the good results that I'm getting here. Good luck, keep experimenting. The results when you get it right are worth the effort.
...I get a screeching sound, sort of like a cross between a children's party horn and an elephant.
Sounds like most of the horn speakers I heard at RMAF. You may be onto something!
You've got that right Doug! My feelings exactly .Good meeting you at the reception!
So before I subjected my LP collection to a new device such as this, I'd really like to see some electron microscopy on a new LP, and after various numbers of cleaning cycles with the Vortex to determine if the landings or top edge of the groove walls were at all distorted.

Since the stylus normally touches halfway down the groove, what is happening at the surface of the record should not be of much consequence.
I've decided for now that I'm not going to trust this thing either. For one thing, I'm not sure how much advantage it offers and Intuitively it sounds risky. Based on the lack of buzz on the subject I'm wondering if others have decided the same.
I gave up on it. Happy with switching wands and not worrying.
Sorry to hear, Madfloyd. I'm well over 100 LPs with the new Walker Vortex wand and continue to get much better results with it than I was getting with the stock felt lipped wands (switching between two). A half a dozen friends in the Philadelphia Area Audio Group also have switched to the Vortex wand and are getting great results thus far. Clearly one of those "ymmv" situations. Thanks for the report.
Guys just wanted to add that I've had my Vortex for a couple of weeks now, and am having much success. It sonically and visibly gives me better results than using the VPI tubes.

Given all the comments, I proceeded with much caution and spoke with a couple of other users. I did scratch a couple of throwaway LPs while adjusting the setup, but now things are great. Learnings include:

- The slot should be not perfectly downward, but a tiny bit slanted away from you towards the back of the machine

- Adjusting the collar height as Rushton mentions is key

- The slot is intentionally designed to maximize suction in the groove area; it won't vacuum fluid off the lead-in grooove or dead wax area. Place a finger in a microfibre cloth and let the LP spin a couple of revolutions so that the towel picks up excess fluid at the edge or center of the LP(this is easier & faster than it sounds)

- Yes, the large washer will lift the LP slightly off the cork mat, so as to eliminate contamination of a clean side; so remember that you don't need to apply much pressure when scrubbing fluid into the LP

Coupled with Walker Audio Prelude, I'm getting results that surpass anything I've tried previously. Like many aspects of this hobby, it takes some learning to maximize what you've got, but the trouble is worth it. Cheers,
Get your Vortex wand now if you're interested in one. I talked with Lloyd today and he told me he's discontinuing the product. It's just taking too much time to build them. So, what's in stock at various retailers now are the last there will be. (I'm getting another one to hold as a backup.)
Rushton, that's a shame.

I know Lloyd and he probably put a lot of time in development of that product. It looked like the answer for those with a VPI and multi stage cleaning fluids to make quick work of an otherwise slow job.
Hi Albert, yes, Lloyd had spent a lot of time on this project and it was time to make the next level of investment in production or pull the plug. In my experience, his wand on a VPI not only made for "quick work" it yielded superior sonics as the end result.A loss to the community of VPI users.

for those looking to pick one up before they are gone...

elusivedisc has them in stock and have a 10% off sale going till 12/7. use the term "HOLIDAY SALE" in the special instructions to get the discount.
If I were still using a VPI, I would be all over that offer. Like rare records, when they're no longer available everyone is going to wish they had bought.
Is there such a thing as an "I-Net BS Eliminator Spray"? If so, I think this thread needs a thorough "hosing down".
While I suspect the product was flawed (how can you adjust the height for all record thicknesses?), I must admit I'm still using the two rings that keep the LP from being contaminated by the cork mat. I'm grateful for that. :-)
Hi Madfloyd, as I've tried to describe from my experience with this wand elsewhere in this thread, just as with the VPI stock wand, one doesn't adjust the height of the tower for various record thicknesses. What has worked here is to adjust the collar on the tower to work with the thinnest record and then forget it. The vacuum suction does the rest by lifting the LP up against the wand.
Firstly, I'd like saying that I have respect, and admiration for Lloyd to try to bring improvements to products in this market for us end users. Even though you may not respond Lloyd, I hope at least you will read this, or that your aquaintances will pass this onto you, that my hat is off to you for your attempts.

I did have good interest in this product, I of course own a VPI 16.5, and have interest when there's a way to squeeze every last bit of performance from it.

This product though, seemed to be plagued by myths from the get go. Just two days ago, I read a description by MusicDirect, claiming the VRT Wand doesn't even touch the Record's surface in operation. Just too much confusion from end users, and the dealer network of what is fact, and what is fiction.

The evidence I found of an 80mm slot, versus the original 100mm slot by VPI just doesn't make any logical sense to me. How is this then faster, when a person has to go back, and take towel, or Kleenex to pick up at the LP's extremes with what the VRT Wand has left on the LP sounds like a unworthy trade off to me.

Drawing Bar Vacuum is not the 16.5's shortcoming. The Motor VPI placed in that machine in fact could substitute for a Vacuum Motor in a Tornado Floor Scrubbing Machine, and in fact that's what many of these machines use, an Eletek-Lamb Rotary Vacuum Motor.

It is Volume of fluid pick up that is needed, not a higher suction rate, which is more than adequate. Any more probably has the fluids actually drying before the Wand can pick them up. This in turn will actually leave more deposits on the LP, than successfully remove.

Harry intended the Vacuum Wand Tower to be automatically adjustable to any thickness-weight of LP. It sounds like the VRT Wand ingorned this design parameter, and by being so touchy to get properly adjusted by an ebd user, it actually goes against the proper operation, and intended design of the VPI RCM's.

Other firm beliefs I have, it that cross contamination is something that is over-hyped, that the VPI Wand, and it's Velvet Strips are a substantial cause of this. I'd truly like seeing microscopic analysis of this.

And yes, I understand the operation of other machines, like the Loricraft, in that the Vacuum nozzle does not touch the surface, but I also understand this machine can also be a bit finnicky on fluid pick-up, getting complete pick up of fluids, and if it doesn't, then in truth one will not fair much better, if fluids are left to dry on an LP's surface, and with them, residues, and contaminants.

I do see a downside of the possibility-potential of a bare Vacuum Wand doing damage to Vinyl. Would you then take this bare Wand, and wipe it across your beloved new Corvette's Paint Job? Don't you think Harry W has gone down this same road, and went down it years ago with experimentation, and testing of different designs, and materials?

In normal operation, and taking care to properly use the 16.5, or other VPI RCM's, the stock wand is not prone to breakage, only if you make the error of dropping-forcing the 16.5 Lid on the Wand when it is swung out of the way, will the Wand crack-break.

I do believe though, that a thicker walled acrylic tube would-could be an advantage, and a re-design of the 16.5 Lid-Hinges, so that the Lid cannot accidentally crack the Tube would be worthy improvements which shouldn't add any substantial price increase of the 16.5 RCM.

One of the other issues I do see with the VPI Machines, and the possibility of "cross contamination", is the Cork Platter Mats. A better material I feel would be advantageous. Some have found simple ways around this. A better material (rubber) that is easier to clean-keep clean, like on more expensive Loricraft, Monks, etc would help.

I'm sorry to be blunt about my recognizance of a product that apparently just didn't seem to do what it was supposed to do.
I agree that this whole thing seems a little suspect. I imagine there's more to the discontinuation of this than just production costs. I can't say that I know that there's any risk of LP damage because I haven't used it. Based on the disatisfaction I've heard voiced by some and the success I know to result from the current wands, I would guess that interest was low. Now the remaining stock is on sale? Fishy. Changing to a new cork mat for cleaned sides and switching armwands works so well I just was never tempted to try this thing beyond the initial excitement. If Harry thought this was a good idea I'm sure he would have done it long ago. When VPI markets such a device I'll take a second look.
You guys are amazing. "Suspect"? You have to be kidding me. "On sale"? Get real, every retailer has sale prices on all their stock right now.

Markd51, you certainly are being blunt, but you have no experience to support your concluding assertion, which is simply uninformed and wrong.
"a product that apparently just didn't seem to do what it was supposed to do"

Sonofjim, if you choose not to try the wand because you have concerns or reservations, or because you there is inconsistent experience being reported, I respect that. But to suggest there is something "fishy" I find outrageous.

The Vortex wand does do what it was designed to do, and for a number of us it is doing that supremely well. As I've reported here, I use the wand and it does exactly what Lloyd Walker says it does. Oldvinyl uses the wand. Sbank uses the wand. We've all reported our positive experiences in this thread. Another audio acquaintance I know has sold his Loricraft and gone back to using his original VPI 16.5 because with the addition of the Vortex wand he's now getting better results from the VPI.

Madfloyd has not found the wand to to meet his expectations, but at least he has actually tried it and posted about his direct experiences. I value his contribution because it is based in experience, even if different than mine. (Lloyd Walker offers a money back guarantee on all of his products, so I trust that Madfloyd will send it back for a refund.)

The Vortex wand is working here exactly as intended and designed, it is just as adjustable "to any thickness of vinyl" as the stock tube, and it significantly improves the results I'm getting from my VPI HW-17 based on my comparative listening.

I'm sorry, I just find the preceding two posts insulting. I hope those of you who know me in this forum through my contributions will recognize I am out "of character" here, and I apologize. But this is too much. End of rant.