Where exactly do I add oil to VPI classic motor

I believe it is time to lubricate my VPI classic 1 motor. The owners manual says to add 1 drop of 40 weight motor oil below the brass piece. It doesn't give any more specifics than that. Can someone that has done this please explain to me how to do so in a bit more detail? I can't see the brass piece in question. Do I need to remove the motor cover to do this. It doesn't say to remove it in the VPI manual. I can hear an audible noise coming from the motor that I didn't hear or notice before. It is almost like a clicking sound but not quite that loud. I can't hear the noise through my speakers during playback but, I just want to make sure the motor is lubricated properly and not risk damaging it. Thank you.
Andy, some VPI motors have an external brass collar toward the base of the motor spindle. The collar is secured to the spindle with a set screw. If yours doesn't have this, simply remove the plastic belt-drive pulley(some models are press-fit; some have a set screw through the pulley that must first be loosened), and drip oil down the spindle into the motor bearing.
I use a wooden toothpick onto which I have placed a small bead of oil at the end and just work this into the side of the spindle at the interface at the top of the bearing while the motor is turning. You can see the oil work its way into the bearing; a little goes a long way. You will also know when you have lubricated it correctly and sufficiently as any residual noise will drop to silence. I do this on my Aries 2 motor annually and it has worked like a charm for over ten years.
Do NOT remove or loosen anything! VPI's instructions leave a lot to be desired to be sure, but putting a drop of oil into the motor does NOT entail removing or unscrewing any hardware.

"Below" the brass piece means putting a drop of oil toward the bottom of the pulley shaft. The gravity will do the rest. The challenge is to get the job done cleanly as there is very little space between the brass piece and the pulley the piece surrounds. (Btw, the new Classics now come with a different pulley and have much more space between the brass piece and the pulley, doubtless in response to many customer complaints about the difficulty with lubricating the motor. I'm just not sure why it took Harry that long to address this.)

The best way to accomplish the task without getting any oil on the brass piece, or the pulley, is to use a syringe and a needle. The next best thing is a dropper you can buy at a local Rite Aid or Duane Reade. Unfortunately, the dropper's tip is too thick to actually insert it in the space so you'll have to put a drop of oil in the space at the bottom of the pulley, and let the gravity do the rest, and clean up any oil residue off the brass piece.

Lastly, lubricating the motor may not eliminate the noise. My motor also makes a very low "swooshing" sound even though is lubricated well. Because the motor pulley is exposed, dust and small particles make their way into the motor. As the oil is drying up, it may also cause the motor to make low level noise. It does not seem to be affecting the performance of the table, or the speed stability, but of course I still find it annoying. Mike told me the best medicine for this is to play a lot of records. I'm still not sure whether he was serious or facetious...
The noise I am hearing isn't a wooshing sound. It is a ticking or a knocking sound. The sound isn't loud. I can only hear it when the room is really quiet. It reminds me of the sound of a self winding watch escapement. Just a very slight tick every revolution of the motor. I will try to use a syringe to get oil through the very small gap. I think I do see a brass piece below the pulley. I don't see how it would be possible to get oil below the brass piece. As far as I know, I put a single drop of oil on the spindle where it meets the brass piece. Is this correct? The gap is barely big enough to fit a needle through. I am pretty sure my table was made last year. It does have the rounded corners on the plinth.
The "brass piece" is not inside the plinth, which you seem to think. It is the flat, round plate that is screwed into the plinth that surrounds the pulley. It is on top of the plinth, and is fixed by four hex socket screws. "Below the brass piece" simply means applying oil at the bottom of the pulley shaft, which spatially is below the brass plate/piece (think "inside" the brass piece). The problem is, of course, that the space between the brass piece and the pulley is so narrow it's virtually impossible to apply oil without getting some of it on the brass. You definitely do not want to get any oil on the plastic part of the pulley for obvious reasons. That's why I recommend using a needle.

Hopefully, your motor noise will disappear after the lube job. Mine didn't. It's possible that I applied too much oil, but Mike acknowledged that dirt, dust, and drying oil is likely to cause low level noise in the pulley. Let us know how it goes.
Ok, I understand now. My "brass piece" is powder coated black on my table. There is no brass to be seen. They should have referred to this "piece" as the motor cover and that would have saved me alot of confusion. I will use the syringe method as was suggested by actusreus as I cant see any other way to apply oil without making a mess. Thank you actusreus for helping me to understand this better. It was a big help.

I have found the brass piece that was mentioned in the instructions. It is a brass collar on the shaft that is hidden beneath the pulley. You cannot see it with the pulley installed. I will write out step by step below what I have done to lubricate my VPI motor.

* You will need a syringe with a 23 guage needle or smaller. *

I'm not sure how it is in your state but, where I live they sell syringes at most agricultural stores like tractor supply or southern states. You may also check with veterinary supply clinics. Some people have said syringes are hard to get where they live.

You will also need 40wt. oil for the motor and and an allen wrench to remove the set screws from the pulley.

I used mobil 1 full synthetic 40wt. motor oil. Not 10w-40. Just pure 40wt.

Step by step:

1. Remove belt from pulley.
2. Remove three set screws from the pulley and set aside
3. Remove pulley from shaft and set aside.

Now the brass piece VPI speaks of in the manual is shown.
It is the brass collar on the shaft that sets the height of the pulley. There is no need to remove it or alter it's height. There will be a small gap underneath the brass collar. This is where the needle will slide in.

4. Fill syringe with a very small amount of 40wt. oil.
5. Insert tip of syringe into the gap under the brass collar.
6. dispense a single drop of oil under the brass collar next to the shaft. Try to get the tip of the needle as close to the shaft as possible.
7. Turn the motor on and let it run for a bit to circulate the oil.

* after I applied the single drop of oil and let motor run for a bit, I still had a bit of a ticking sound present. I did add another drop of oil and it solved the problem. My motor must have been really dry. VPI says to use a single drop of oil so, use your own judgement on this one. I assume no responsibility but, it worked in my case. You can also mess up your speed stability if you add to much oil. I wouldn't go more than two drops at the most. I checked my speed stability afterwards and it is still correct.

Now just put your pulley back on and replace the set screws and belt. Make sure you do press the pulley down against the brass collar like it was when you took it off.

That's it. This has eliminated the motor noise that I had previously. Now spin some records and enjoy.


The motor and pulley are precision parts that are assembled by people who do this for a living. I'm not sure where you go this information, but I think it's a mistake and a big risk to be disassembling precision parts to put a drop of oil on them, which can be done without it. The manual speaks of no dismantling or removing any parts to lubricate the motor. As much as VPI manuals could be written better, I have no doubt they would not instruct the owner to simply "use 1 drop of 40-weight motor oil below the brass piece" if it required removing the pulley and looking for a mysterious brass piece hidden inside. I think it's foolish to do what you did, but I guess it's your equipment and you can do as you please. However, advising others to do it is a disservice to them.
I can respect your opinion and am greatful for the suggestions. I wasn't trying to discredit you or start an argument. With regard to removing the pulley, it is quite simple to do. It is only press fit onto the shaft. The tolerance is so tight between the shaft and pulley you really can't install it wrong. As long as it sits down on the brass collar. If you do a google search on lubricating VPI motors you will see it mentioned elsewhere to remove the pulley.

I did try to do as you suggested with the syringe at first. The gap between the bottom of my pulley and motor housing was so small I couldn't even get the needle through. In my case the pulley had to be removed as others have done. It could be our tables are manufactured a bit differently. This method did solve all of my motor noise. It is dead quiet now. I also strobe checked my speed and it is correct as well.

In any case, I think we both agree that VPI should be more specific in the owners manual about this and not contribute to the confusion by only having one single sentence that says to put a drop of oil below the brass piece. In my opinion, I believe the brass collar on the shaft is the brass piece that the manual refers to. This makes sense as the shaft enters the motor directly under the brass collar. I just wanted to post my experience and what worked for me.
The pulley sits on top of the brass collar, correct? Why do you need to take off the pulley to get under the brass collar?

I have a VPI rim drive and I just pull up on the pulley to expose the motor shaft just below the brass collar and apply a drop using a needle and I am done. I don't even remove the drive belts.

It's ok if you did it differently and ignored my advice. I simply offered what I thought and still think is the correct way to do this job. I don't take it personally as an attempt to discredit. However, the common sense, the manual, and the nature of the task all convince me that you should not be dismantling anything on your own for this purpose. You also assumed that the brass piece the manual speaks of is hidden below the pulley whereas the most plausible (and to me most sensical) answer is that it is the brass collar on top of the plinth around the pulley.

Btw, I don't even know how you removed the tiny screws from the pulley; they don't look like any screw I've seen before, and appear to require a special tool to remove them. That also tells me that this is not a user-serviceable part.

Anyway, the best way to settle this once and for all is to ask VPI directly. Hopefully, it will also prompt them to clarify this in the manual.
Again, I can't speak to specifically to the Classic, but most VPI pulley's are either pressure fitted (older tables) or held in place with a grub screw (newer tables) which requires an allen key to loosen and adjust. Nothing complicated about removing and reinstalling a VPI pulley.
Mine do not look like screws that can be removed with an allen key. If so, it'd be the smallest allen key I've yet to see. They look more like hollow bolts with tiny screws inside that require a very, very small screwdriver of some sort to unscrew them. Regardless, the question is not whether you can do it, but whether you should do it. In my opinion it's completely unnecessary.
That sounds about the right size and there should be three grub screws. You are right that it is not necessary to remove the pulley to lubricate the motor, but you made it sound that by doing so you are upsetting the balance of a Swiss watch.

I know Classic owners who adjust the pulley height to ensure that the belt runs in the groove cut out of the newer platter to help eliminate belt creep. End users have been changing VPI pulleys for years, whether to install a dual 33/45 pulley, or to change the pulley to compensate for a change in platter dimension.

In any event, the only real consensus is how poorly VPI writes their manuals.
The brass collar I am speaking of is hidden below the pulley. The collar is held onto the shaft with a single grub screw. This collar is on the spindle to set the height of the pulley and you cannot see it with the pulley installed.

Taking the pulley off is not that big of a deal in my personal opinion. You simply loosen the grub screws with a regular allen wrench and slide it off. It is a tight tolerance fit so, there isn't any play between the pully and shaft. This means that it is almost impossible to re-install it the wrong way. You slide the pulley back down the shaft and make contact with the brass collar. Then you tighten the three grub screws. It's not that delicate of a process to do. Like I stated earlier, The gap under the pulley was too small to even get a needle through. This is why I had to take it off. There was no other way to get the oil in there. I have had no problems since doing it this way and my motor is silent now.

I agree with you that, if there is enough space under your pulley to pass a needle through, then there is no need to take the pulley off. On your table there was enough room to do this. On mine there was not enough room. I don't think my method is correct and yours is incorrect. Both ways will work to achieve the same end result. I thank you for your suggestions as I would not have thought to use a syringe to apply the oil. Using the syringe was very easy to do and did not make a mess.

There is clearly more than one way to do this. In reality, you don't even need to take the pulley all the way off. You can just slide it up enough to expose the brass collar underneath. Then you can easily slide it back down after you have applied the oil
In view of the analog care and feeding that is necessary to properly mount and allign a phono cartridge, it is remarkable how reluctant some people can be to remove and reinstall a simple VPI pulley and brass collar requiring no more than an allen wrench and a brain stem.
If "feeding" is necessary, you surely should be able to understand the reluctance...

What is remarkable are the lengths to which a neurotic audiophile will go to satisfy his neurosis. Of course applying a drop of oil cannot possibly be that simple; it must entail disassembling, realigning, reinserting, and reinstalling. Otherwise, it could never possibly work. Too simple.

I'll do what I need to do to get the best out of my system, but don't leave common sense behind (as long as I'm sober, admittedly). Too bad that brain stem that is apparently needed to reinstall a pulley cannot be used for applying common sense before you remove it...
In my instance the brass collar below the pulley was too close to the bearing to let the syringe pass through without working blind. In this hobby good eyesight may be more helpful than a brain stem.

BTW, even though the motor was not noisy before I oiled it, I found that sonic performance improved slightly after oiling the motor spindle. This is worthwhile annual maintenance.