Which VPI LP Cleaning Machine?

A number of people on this site, that I have developed a great deal of respect for, have advised the purchase of a VPI LP cleaning machine. I'm going to take their advise. Assuming that I can afford either one, but don't like to spend money needlessly, I would like help in deciding which to buy. Thanks.
I think that the most commonly used and recommended one is probably the 16.5 model. The key to buying one of these at a good price is to either shop around the net for a used one or wait till a big vinyl dealer ( like Music Direct, etc... ) has a sale on brand new or "demo" models. Biding my time and playing my cards right, I was able to snag a brand new sealed unit for $325 from an authorized dealer. Deals ARE out there, you just have to look around. Sean
I have a question about the 16.5 model. I have seen a few 16.5s for sale, where the seller mentions that it has some stainless steel collector or container. Is this a difference between various VPI LP models (like the 16 and 16.5) or is this something that has changed over the years within the 16.5?

If this is something that has changed in the 16.5 model over the years, is it really important that I select a model with one? If so, where do I tell the seller to look for it?
I was in the market for either machine and was more inclined to get the VPI 17. An analog dealer in Northern California who sells both units told me that the VPI 17 Record Cleaning Machine is a bit more problematic than the 16.5. He recommended the 16.5 over the 17. I just purchased a new 16.5 from Audio Advisor and am completely satisfied with it.
ss pan is new design that lasts longer than the corroding pan of the original. it is a good feature cause you don't want fluid leaking. my unit is a 16.5 and has performed flawlessly for well over a year and 300 + cleanings.
Having been, well, screwed, early on when I was a novice on the VPI's, here are some differences.

The VPI 16 has not been made in over 15 years. It had the vacuum tube attached to the lid and did not have a reservoir for fluid - it just was sucked into the base for evaporation.

Some 16's were upraged to 16.5's - different lid, with the vacuum tube mounted on the deck, and a plastic reservoir (later ss) mounted under the deck to hold fluid (mostly grime). In addition, some 16.5's were made that have a 16 model plate on the back. Folks at VPI explained to me that the very earliest 16.5's used the 16 name plates that were left over in stock at the time.

I don't know too many specific about the 17, only that I would like to have one and they are about 3X the price of a 16.5. A friend that I know has no problems with his and can clean many records in one sitting. I can personally attest that the 16.5 will get HOT after doing about 6-7 records. Push it too far and it WILL shut down. I am thinking of modifiying my 16.5 to include a small fan.

Sean is right, shop around for deals and, if not doing business with a verifiable dealer - check out the condition carefully before buying................
I recommend a VPI 16.5 machine and also Galen Carol Audio (gcaudio.com) as a dealer. Both have performed flawlessly for me. The cleaning tube on the machine is grossly overpriced. It used to sell for over $ 20 when it probably cost maybe 50 cents to make. Therefore, it is advantageous to make the tubes last longer by "dry cleaning" the record first with a HUNT EDA brush (or equivalent). The cleaning solution too is quite expensive especially if you do a lot of cleaning but you can make your own for less than $ 5 (distilled water + isopropyl alcohol +photoflo)which will last for hundreds of cleaning.

Enjoy !!!

I had lots of trouble with a 16 for the reason discussed above--no reservoir--and it literally fell apart. I switched to a 17. It performed flawlessly for over 10 years, and then I sold it to a friend (who had minor repairs made) and bought another one for myself to last the next 20 years. Maybe the 16.5 is an improvement over the 16 (I have no real knowledge about this), but the 17 is truly a class act and vastly superior to the 16.
I'm fairly new to analog, but I bought a 16.5 about 3 weeks ago and all I can say is WOW! I didn't get as good a deal as Sean, mine was $440 delivered from Music Direct. I also use the Hunt brush for dry cleanings. All I can say right now is I never realized analog sounded so d@mn good. It definitely is better than cd. I haven't decided yet about SACD versus analog, but the bottom line is, get the cleaning machine today! 16.5 or 17 I don't know how much a difference it makes, but I DO know that the 16.5 cleans LP's like nobody's business. Highly recommended.
who cleans more than one or two records at a time? clean a record/listen, clean another/listen. if you are doing production buy a production machine, if you are a listener buy a 16.5 do it manually and be happy. take the other 1k and invest in a cartridge or some vinyl or a set of blow up dolls.
The 16.5 I have works fine. The platter does get dirty and so you need to clean it occasionally. I use a brush and hose attached to a home canister vacuum to do this. Also, just after you switch off the unit's suction pump, manually lift the suction arm off the record before the suction pump completely stops. Doing this helps remove the final bit of residue on the record that you might otherwise see.
I've been waiting for a used 17F for nearly two years on Audiogon to replace my Nitty Gritty 1.5fi. After missing nearly 5 listings I finally gave up and bought one from Elusivedisc which is only $125 more than the last one that I missed. It came last week and I was totally blown away by its ease and efficiency. The result is nothing short of outstanding. A class of its own. Now I simply regret that I didn't get it sooner and want to kick myself for buying the new Nitty Gritty just to save a few bucks.

The liquid spillage, however, could be a bit tricky if you're not familiar with the machine. However, after using it for about 10 times, you learn how to control liquid flow quickly.
Sayas - If truly pressed I could probably come up with a dozen or so reasons why someone would want to clean more than one or two records at a time and still not find themselves in your "production" category. Just a few are:

Someone with a larger, older record collection who wants to clean them all and doesn't want to spend 5 years to complete the task.

Someone who doesn't want to haul the machine out everytime they listen to a record that hasn't been cleaned one-by-one.

Someone who frequents garage sales and picks up 10-20 Lp's at a crack on most weekends (including a pristine Brubeck "Time Out" last weekend for four bits)!

I happen to fit into all three categories. I bought the 16.5, having resolved myself to cleaning 5-7 LP's every day until my collection of 2,000+ are done. The reason for NOT buying the 17 WAS to save money, given that I have more time than money. And, the $600-odd dollars saved DOES go towards buying more vinyl, having already bought a cartridge. As for your third option, I would suspect that one who trots out so crude and inane a reference as blowup dolls likely has a pair stowed one's bed.

17 is a really nice machine...

I've got an equally large and older collection sitting waiting to be listened to, and the luxury of a room that is convenient and accomodates the machine and also have Time out and yes it is a great recording, i hope your aquisition is in excellent condition.

hope your future cleaner purchase is rewarding!
For what its worth I bought a vpi 17 for a great price last winter and it has been a delight to use. I would strongly recommend it. Fluid cleaning type is another question. I started out using no alcohol but when this lot is done I plan to use some and compare. Good luch
I use Torumat cleaning fluid with great result. However, I would be most grateful if someone can reveal a good secret formula for low-to-medium income audiophiles to buy the chemicals and produce the solution ourselves. After all, how hard can it be???
For many years I have used the following simple solution with very satisfactory results, and, most importantly, no harm across several thousand LPs:

20% Isopropyl Alcohol (91%), with no additives
80% Distilled water
12-20 drops of Kodak PhotoFlow per gallon (to reduce surface adhesion)

Mixing this up is simple: Buy a 1 gallon container of distilled water, pour off a little more than a quart into a separate clean container, then pour 1 quart of isopropyl alcohol into the gallon container, add the PhotoFlow, and top off the gallon container with some of the distilled water you poured off at the outset.

Some people contend that a surfactant should also be added as a "detergent" agent to be effective, but I've yet to find a recommendation with which I've felt comfortable so I've stayed with the formula above. There is also some contrary opinion about the use of the PhotoFlow, but I've not observed any problem in over 15 years. In my experience the PhotoFlow is necessary to get the fluid into the record grooves.

One can work multiple options on how pure should be the alcohol and distilled water. I've always used what I find in the local drug store.

VPI 17 record cleaner still going strong.
Rushton, thanks for your response. I am getting down to my last VPI refill and am going to use your recipe with one addition. 5 drops of tub and tile. This is what was told to me in my current batch of cleaner. Your recipe is identical except the t&t.

enjoy the music!
I have a 16.5 and my brother-in-law has the 17. I have been happy with the 16.5 but since I saw the 17 work a few times I have to admit it is a much better cleaner. Can you justify the cost difference???