Monday, 8 July 2013

A Record Washing Machine for the Vinyl Collector II


When I was staying in the US I did buy almost 1000 vintage first release jazz records. When I did come back to Germany I desperately needed to use a record cleaning machine. I was rethinking the design of the Keith Monks machines and decided that three motors for different tasks and a lot of details can be improved, beside these facts I wanted a more compact design to store it away when not in use. This brought me to the principle of cnc operated machines do work. A linear track for the sucking nozzle and one motor for all moving elements.

Here it can be seen how the angled gear does transmit the platter turns into the linear slide. The ball point lever positions the nozzle to the surface, while it gears the unit into transmission. Underneath there is the brush turned to the camera lens into dripping position, A row of holes opens to the record surface for the cleaning solvent. As well it can be seen the original filament for protection as first version.
Here in upright position the underside of the sliding unit can be seen. The brush with wholes and the felt padded nozzle.

I did use a ac-motor from a garage door with integrated gear box for the turning of the record. With this motor I had a speed of 60 turns per minute and loads of torque. I did use a former winding plate from a Revox tape recorder as platter for the records. The center spindle got a thread inside. I used a linear slide for industrial applications for guiding the nozzle over surface. I did further use a angled gear to transmit the turning of the platter to the advance of the linear slide. So it takes 30 seconds to move the nozzle from the inside groove to the outer rim. At the end of the slide the nozzle will be mechanically lifted off the record.


The Revox platters with laminated rubber discs to introduce the friction to the record and to prevent the label from the solvent




After pumping some solvent to the surface, the brush can be moved sideways and as well forward and backward to introduce the solvent perfectly into the grooves

For the introduction of the cleaning solvent into the grooves I do use the typical goat hair brushes from other cleaning machines underneath the linear slide. It is  mounted around a tubed axis, so it can be turned left and right with a lever. The tube guides the cleaning solvent coming from the pump through a silicone tube. The holder of the brush is perforated to one side, so that the brush in parking position will give way for the solvent over the surface of the record. Pushing the button for 2 seconds will bring the right amount of solvent on to the surface of the record. Turning the brush down and moving the record two turns forwards and two turns backwards will supply the solvent perfectly spread on the first side. After waiting for one minute to soak in I turn the motor on for at least 10 turns of every direction, before I start the sucking process.


The with felt rings improved nozzle is set into advance to suck of all solvent from the lever. This takes 30 seconds till it reaches the outer rim. There the nozzle will be automatically lifted off the record.

After this I push the sliding saddle into the middle of the record at the very left end. In this position I switch the turning motor on again. The lever will be pushed down, as a result the nozzle will be lowered into a perfect close position to the surface ( the nozzle is spring supported to keep contact). In the same act the lever will engage the carriage into the move of the turning motor. The geared transport of the linear slide brings the nozzle within 30 seconds to the outer rim, where it is automatically gets lifted off and disengaged. I open the knurled main screw to lift the whole unit into upright position. Now I can change to the second side of the record and start the whole procedure again.
With my machine I can clean and dry a records at both sides within 4 minutes. They are really clean and dry afterwards. It is working quietly, so quiet that I can proceed it during I listen to my records. I have built it very compact, so that I am able to lock it away, when I don't use it. Other advanced record cleaners are as big as record players, they need to be standing around. Mine is quite heavy (10 kg), but its compact box of 36cm hight, 36cm depth and 24cm width with a solid carrying handle on top. It has all necessary equipment in its lid, like a power cord, micro fiber textile and brushes. It is looking and acting like a professional functional service unit, which I like a lot better than the most "high end chichi".

After cleaning the first side of the record the complete sliding mechanic can be folded up.

Now I do use felt rings at the tip of the nozzle for the record protection. These give a much improved vacuum for the drying process. With the former filament I had a vacuum of -0.2 bar, with the felt rings I get up to -1 bar. So the record will come perfectly dried from the machine.
I use a standard recipe for the cleaning solvent, made from 70% destilled water, 29% isopropanol alcohol and 1% wetting agent. The felt rings are made from 100% woolen felt to prevent statics, but I am actually testing micro fibre pads to replace them. I have to punch them from felt mats, the micro fabrics have a more solid structure and disintegrate not that fast. I am testing a different formed tip, were a micro fiber cloth cover will be fixed with a metal ring.

I actually did built the machine just with a battery drill on top of my kitchen table. So, if I would have had better and more precise opportunities, like a mini lathe or a stand alone drill, the whole machine would have been made with much better precision, but with such archaic methods it is almost not possible. But I tried my best ;-), and it is reasonable made. So it is up to you to improve ...

Read on soon, Volker