The Vactrola - a DIY RCM

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by mfrench, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    My DIY RCM based on a VPI wand and an antique Victor Victrola cabinet.
    I built it around 2007'ish.
    I call it the Vactrola

    Some of you have seen it on other forums. I've never done a highlighted write up on it before. I've only ever posted a couple of pictures of it in other threads. Here is the more comprehensive writeup of the build, as follows:

    Victor Victrola cabinet, c. 1924
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Previously gutted of any TT and horn;
    [​IMG]


    You can see the doors are barely hanging on their hinges (they're propped against each other in these pics and look more solid than they were. They were literally falling off). There was a complete blue enamel splatter all over the entire cabinet from someone that didn't cover it while painting the house. The right front leg was 95% broken off at the curve.

    The left lid was permanently affixed with nails and glue at the factory.
    I carefully cut the lid off to make it a two bay/two platter cleaner.
    This pic was taken while I was test fitting my vacuum, a ShoVac Wet/Dry 2.5 gal model (because it fit and was cheap).
    [​IMG]


    Cabinet after finish, and showing the wood work to fit the platters and VPI mechanism. The VPI mechanism required an elevated platform to reach the proper "VSA" (Vertical Sucking Angle);
    [​IMG]

    Reassembled and ready:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The left platter is manually turned, and is my wet cleaning side. The right side is powered by a 6rpm motor, directly coupled to the platter spindle for pure turning torque. I had to devise a new thrust bearing arrangement to make this work. I originally installed computer LED's that I'd soldered to some RCA connectors. The LED's proved to be too weak, and burned out. So I revised this thought and mounted a more centered single automotive dashboard map light (a flex neck thing from my truck).
    I used a blank wood wall switch plate to mount my motor and vacuum switches to.
    Because I cut the left lid away from its permanently closed attitude, I had to give it a hinge, and, a lid prop, and match the opened lids so that they looked like they were originally made to both be opened. I roughly matched the OE lid prop with some brass stock.

    cleaning platter:
    [​IMG]
    vacuum platter:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    The guts:

    vacuum cabinet:
    [​IMG]

    motor mount:
    [​IMG]
    The device in the foreground is some sort of motor reversing switch. The motor came to me as a free garbage find many years ago, and was awaiting a use. I didn't want to take the box off (some electrical circuitry involved), so I left the switch box intact.

    [​IMG]
    To hook up the VPI wand, I went to Home Despot and purchased a length of flexible plastic hose. It fits the OD of the VPI wand flange, and made an easy hookup. The VPI flange and the vacuum hose were the same OD, and wouldn't fit together. This plastic pipe fit over both, perfectly, and was an ideal interface. THe fit is snug enough to not require any additional need for connectors:
    [​IMG]

    Motor cabinet and GFCI ciruitry:
    [​IMG]
    My house is old, and does not have GFCI's. So I opted to install one within the cabinet, as I was going to be using two motors, and exposure to standing water (cleaning solution). So for safety sake, I installed this GFCI circuit.
     
  3. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,674
    Location:
    Napa County, Calif
    I love the idea - excellent :)

    BUT, I really want that cabinet for a small stereo for my upstairs bedroom to match my wifes antiques in that room. I have the pieces for the audio equipment. I just can't find a good cab with lines like that :(
     
  4. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    I've been looking around trying to find another Victrola cabinet to build a 78/mono playback console with. I have a 1953 Presto TT that would look right at home in the cabinet. Get a small mono integrated tube amp, and a full range speaker and make it into a modern old school 78 spinner.
    It'll come,....
     
  5. Shackman55

    Shackman55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,612
    Location:
    Western NC
    Practically brought tears to my eyes, seeing such wonderful work. Restoring/re-purposing what likely would have become landfill, saving it and giving it new life. BTW would you mind cleaning a couple albums for me??? Actually I am curious about one thing, how much fluid really winds up in the vacuum? Serious question. Does one have have to empty it periodically? Or does it just evaporate. Just one of those things that keeps me up late at nite.
    Really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  6. DC

    DC "Manhattan Boy" Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,410
    Location:
    Seminole Hills, Michigan
    I've said this before, but that is absolutely the best DIY RCM I have ever seen - bravo!
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    many thanks.
    I hope its not too redundant. I've never actually posted about it in a dedicated thread like this. I've just posted the same couple of pics here and there in a few threads in a couple of forums. I thought people might like the below the hood shots and mechanical works views, and a bit more background.
    It would be interesting to know of its real player life, and what it played. Its cleaned a thousand 78's, and, that many LP's now, so its still active in its music life.
    I do appreciate the kind words.

    Oh yeah,... Those new born baby pic shots make it look all nice and shiny. After a few years and a couple of thousand cycles, its looking a bit more well worn around the edges.
     
  8. koseltri

    koseltri Super Member

    Messages:
    1,522
    Location:
    Salem, OR USA
    My DIY RCM is still using a seperate 1 gal shop-vac until I mount the Dirt Devil handheld motor inside the box. I have never found any moisture in the vacuum, and I'm generous with the fluid. I've decided to splash out for the VPI wand also. mfrench, Vactrola is the best name ever. :banana: Considered a custom logo to match the original?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  9. DougMac

    DougMac Super Member

    Messages:
    3,875
    Location:
    Juliette, GA
    Fluid Retention

    I built a DIY record cleaner based on the VPI arm. I use a canister vac bought from GW for $5. I built a fluid reservoir consisting of a Radio Shack hobby box and a mason jar. It's mounted directly under the arm, with a pipe that extends half way down the jar, which is attached to the bottom of the hobby box. The vacuum hose is mounted on the side of the hobby box, so water is pulled into the jar with little or none sent to the vacuum.

    I rarely have to empty the jar, although I guess I shoud after every use. Normally, the waste water in the jar evaporates between uses.
     
  10. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Quantity of solution/liquid in vac?
    I've had a series of massive cleaning efforts that extended over the course of several days. In total, I accumulated a couple of small jigger shot glasses of fluid in the tank during the heaviest peak of it. Hardly enough to be able to pour out; but enough to sponge out and be able to wring out in the sink.

    Vactrola is just too natural for the name to pass up. It still cracks me up.
    A friend of mine, a graphic artist, was suggesting having the dog redrawn to be licking the record clean, and had suggested making another applique with the name changed to have the A in it. But it never materialized, mostly at my end, because I do not have a quality camera, nor know how to use one.
     
  11. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    11,674
    Location:
    Napa County, Calif
    I like it - especially the dog licking part :)
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,105
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    Can you post pics of the jar/hobby box or point to a thread with pics if they already exist? Sounds like a useful combo for others contemplating their own machines.
     
  13. Arkay

    Arkay Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    19,966
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    That thing is just inspired (and inspiring!)... it has to be the best-looking RCM I've ever seen.; no question that it has the highest WAF, too. Assuming the original case could not have been restored in its original form, this is a great job of re-purposing. The level of "over-engineering" and attention to detail inherent in the wet-and-dry dual platters, big shop vac, large and high-torque motor, and the safety factor of the added GFCI are impressive.

    Just one question: with two platters like that, do you ever have issues with drips/spills when moving the record from the "wet" side to the "dry" side? :scratch2: ... Maybe a single-platter approach has its advantages?

    Anyway, that's a fantastic job. Thanks for sharing the description and pics! :thmbsp:
     
  14. spartanmanor

    spartanmanor Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    19,970
    Location:
    Arlington, Virginia
    Great job. The Victrola looked pretty rough to begin with so nice re-purposing.
     
  15. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,408
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    thank you, and thanks again, guys!
    to your question; two platters:

    I flood the record from the run-out groove to the outer edge with a 3" foam paint brush. I inevitably end up with slop rolling outward as soon as I begin cleaning. I clean with a MoFi rubber/velvet brush for vinyl, and a soak-softened boar hair fingernail brush for 78's. My wet side is literally that, wet.
    If I were to turn the record to vertical, it would be quite a mess everywhere. So they're kept flat, horizontal, in the transfer from the wet side to the vac side. When they're vacuuming, I go back and clean the wet platter off, and ready it for the opposite side cleaning. When I'm allowing the solution to soak on the opposite side, I clean the vac platter, and so on, and so on,...
    So, ultimately, I've always got a freshly cleaned surface to put a record down on.
    The finish is 4x coats of water-borne polyurethane that I sprayed on with a proper regulated pressure air spray rig. It can handle the drenching that I give it.

    I also made a record weight to hold the LP's down when vacuuming, absolutely crucial, and, necessary (shellacs are like anchors and don't need this).
    base of weight:
    [​IMG]
    copper plumbing cap, filled with a spool of lead-free solder, melted with plumbers torch. I scribed from multiple locations to achieve the center point for drilling the spindle relief.

    fancy dressings, made from graduated rings of 1/8" of oak finish plywood scraps, and cork coffee coasters:
    [​IMG]

    on the vacu-platter:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  16. DougMac

    DougMac Super Member

    Messages:
    3,875
    Location:
    Juliette, GA
    Photo

    Will post tonight, US eastern time.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. DougMac

    DougMac Super Member

    Messages:
    3,875
    Location:
    Juliette, GA
    Diy rcm

    OK, here you go. The first photo shows the suction system. Notice the ice cream churn motor. I epoxied the churn top to the bottom of the platter:

    [​IMG]

    Now, here's the RCM tucked in underneath my home theater rack. The front of the rack is flush with the wall in the home theater. It has a door to keep out noise/heat. This is in an 8x10 storage closet:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the RCM slid out and ready for use. The tubes that fit the VPI wand holder are custom made:

    [​IMG]

    A closeup:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. dodog

    dodog Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,105
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    VERY nice. Thanks DougMac!
     
  19. Big Bill

    Big Bill Summertime Rolls.....

    Messages:
    2,579
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC.
    Bravo!

    Very nice work! :thmbsp:
     
  20. DC

    DC "Manhattan Boy" Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,410
    Location:
    Seminole Hills, Michigan
    Great, Doug! very nice ...

    I'll figure out how to direct a link to a specific post in a thread (I forgot) and add you to the list.
     

Share This Page