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Ultrasonic Cleaning - Process needs tweaking to improve results


Dr.Funk
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Hi Guys,

I am looking for some guidance from members who have had success with ultrasonic cleaners.

I have bought a kit from Vevor ( https://vevor.com.au/products/vevor-ultrasonic-vinyl-record-cleaner-vinyl-ultrasonic-cleaning-machine-6l-kno?_pos=1&_sid=5ee200840&_ss=r  ) and so far, I have cleaned about ten albums.

This is my cleaning process, any thoughts of how I can improve the end result would be appreciated.

The tank has been filled with 4 litres of distilled water, to which was added 15 – 20 drops of

Tergi-kleen. I chose this particular detergent/surfactant as it is endorsed by the American Library of Congress, who clean all the nations historical records and audio tapes.

In the Vevor advert it states that the motor for rotating the vinyl records rotates at 720 degrees per min, which as we know is 2 revolutions per minute. I had read that this was the best speed, or thereabouts, as any faster and the speed creates a wake in front of the record, pushing the cleaning bubbles away from the leading edge. Using a stopwatch, I discovered that the 24-volt transformer actually span the record at 11.5 revs per minute. I tried various other power packs of various voltages to reduce the speed. I only got it down to 8 revs by this method. Purchasing some components from Jaycar and Altronics, I made a speed controller and got the revs to exactly 2.

I also read that a temperature of 20C with a time of 15 minutes was best practice.

Before starting the first clean I degassed the mixture by running the ultrasonics for 30 minutes, I have read that you only do this once per fresh tank of fluid mixture.

Once the cleaning cycle has finished the record looks immaculate and obviously wet.

I am cleaning two records at a time with at least 30mm between each disc.

I remove the records and stand them vertically in a rack. Then I attach the record label protectors.

After they are attached, I use a pressure pack filled with clean distilled water to spray rinse both sides of the record. The sleek clean surface now has water beads all over it. I give this a shake and then using clean microfiber cloths remove the excess water. Then I let them air dry before placing them in new pvc sleeves.

I find when I play the record for the first time, the cleanliness is obvious, any slight pops are removed using a Zerostat gun. However, within a few minutes of play, the cartridge is clumped with, for want of a better word, fluff; which quickly degrades the sound, until removed. Then it repeats for every track.

If I use a carbon fibre brush on the record first, nothing is removed, implying the ‘fluff’ maybe still at the bottom of the groove?

I have not read in forums of anyone else experiencing this build up of gunk after cleaning.

Could this be detergent remnants or something else?

Thanks in advance.

Andy

LP Label Protectors.jpg

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I’ve had similar fluff experiences when using most types of cloth, try the cleaning process without the water spraying and microfibre wipe down.

Edited by awayward
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I did think the fluff could be coming from the cloths. I tried brand new one's straight out of a sealed packet and a batch washed in the washing machine with no additives. Same results.

I am not sure that the cloths are the cause 100%, but obviously, if I take away that process I will know either way.

 

I am happy to try without a rinse, although Tergi-Kleen's instructions state to rinse off the detergent.

In their instructions for manual cleaning, they talk about using paint pads (good quality ones), gently wiping the cleaning solution in the direction of the grooves, dislodging deep seated contaminants. I had thought additionally using a carbon fibre brush against the spinning record, during the ultrasonic clean, on the side that is exiting the water; thereby pushing said contaminants back into the tank, instead of up the record on the down side. I am not sure if this additional process is necessary if the ultrasonic waves are doing their job.

Thank you for your response.

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I have none of those issues, so here's how I use mine and the gear used.

Along with the surfactant I use 250 ml lab-grade isopropyl alcohol/6 litres lab-grade water.

I never clean more than one record per cycle—8 minutes at 30°C.

No rinse.

Suck the water off with an wet/dry vacuum via a special nozzle. (Imagine a cylinder that fits the vacuum hose, and is as long as the grooves are wide. The far end is sealed, there is a slit along the length 1 cm wide. The whole cylinder, both inside and outside is covered with very thin (1 mm), firm foam, and that covered with a velvet-like cloth—that is continuous around through the slit.)

The record with label protectors on is placed horizontally on a small stand with a hole for the knob and rotated twice around with the slot on the nozzle on the radius of the grooves and sucking like mad. Turn the record over and repeat for side 2. The record is dry in about 30-40 seconds total.

 

Pic of the extras:1187066690_USextras.thumb.jpg.6cc0fa2061c4824fc54d0b19cfd5bda1.jpg

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Thanks for your reply.

That is  a clever setup, I assume you made the drying tube yourself?

Which surfactant are you using?

I assume the isopropyl alcohol is to aid the drying?

Do you 'top' up the isopropyl as it must evaporate from the ultrasonic cleaner with the constant 'boiling bubbles' and heat?

Thanks

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3 hours ago, GregWormald said:

I have none of those issues, so here's how I use mine and the gear used.

Along with the surfactant I use 250 ml lab-grade isopropyl alcohol/6 litres lab-grade water.

 

That fraction is good to know Greg.  My understanding was ... no more than 5% IPA in a US tank - for fear of an explosion - so you've confirmed that.  :thumb:

 

3 hours ago, GregWormald said:

I never clean more than one record per cycle—8 minutes at 30°C.

 

Why did you set upon 8 mins - rather than say 10 mins?

 

And why do you limit the temp to 30 deg (instead of say 40 deg)?

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr
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18 hours ago, andyr said:

Why did you set upon 8 mins - rather than say 10 mins?

 

And why do you limit the temp to 30 deg (instead of say 40 deg)?

 

Andy

 

All those settings were the recommendation of the guy who put the whole kit together. I have tried some variations, including double cleaning, long cleaning, different temperatures, etc. without noticing any change in the results so I've just stuck with his recommendations. 

 

He lives close by and we talked at length about his research into cleaning LPs and ultrasonic cleaning in general. He loaned me a machine for a month to let me have a try. I was so impressed with the results that I bought the machine!

 

One thing he was strong on, and I have found support for online, is the warning about reduced cleaning when overloading the machine with too many records. There is a fair amount of information about surface area vs the number and quality of transducers that supports this.

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12 minutes ago, GregWormald said:

All those settings were the recommendation of the guy who put the whole kit together. I have tried some variations, including double cleaning, long cleaning, different temperatures, etc. without noticing any change in the results so I've just stuck with his recommendations. 

 

He lives close by and we talked at length about his research into cleaning LPs and ultrasonic cleaning in general. He loaned me a machine for a month to let me have a try. I was so impressed with the results that I bought the machine!

 

One thing he was strong on, and I have found support for online, is the warning about reduced cleaning when overloading the machine with too many records. There is a fair amount of information about surface area vs the number and quality of transducers that supports this.

 

Thanks, Greg.  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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I forgot to add that he made up the drying nozzle and was clear that the high suction quick dry eliminated the need for water filtration. The loosening of the dirt was the job of the cleaner and the effective removal of the dirty water/solution stopped it drying back on the record. 

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Do not use a micro fiber cloth to dry the record this will leave debris on the LP.

 

As for the crud on the stylus after playing a cleaned LP, I have also suffered this on some LP's, NOT all. The ones that are worse have been treated with permastat. Some LP's were put the US then played multiple times to get them clean.

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Greg,

Thanks for your reply.

Could you answer the following please.

 

Which surfactant are you using? I ask this because, as you say you are not rinsing it off, I am wondering what it is, because they recommend to rinse of the Tergi-Kleen I am using.

They have an important warning in their instructions, do not use alcohol as it will destroy the cleaning formula.

I assume the isopropyl alcohol is to aid the drying?

Do you 'top' up the isopropyl as it must evaporate from the ultrasonic cleaner with the constant 'boiling bubbles' and heat?

 

Do you leave the solution in your US tank for the next cleaning session, or do you drain it off for use later?

 

Thanks

Andy (Dr.Funk)

 

Warren,

Thank you for your reply.

That is interesting what you say about Permastat, I will have to check how many but I do know that some of them had been treated.

Cheers

Andy (Dr.Funk)

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38 minutes ago, Dr.Funk said:

Greg,

Thanks for your reply.

Could you answer the following please.

 

Which surfactant are you using? I ask this because, as you say you are not rinsing it off, I am wondering what it is, because they recommend to rinse of the Tergi-Kleen I am using.

They have an important warning in their instructions, do not use alcohol as it will destroy the cleaning formula.

I'm using Triton X-100 which I understand is similar to Tergi, but the instructions online say nothing about alcohol or rinsing at all.

38 minutes ago, Dr.Funk said:

I assume the isopropyl alcohol is to aid the drying?

Do you 'top' up the isopropyl as it must evaporate from the ultrasonic cleaner with the constant 'boiling bubbles' and heat?

My understanding is that the isoprop is a cleaner for some of the stubborn dirt. 

Yes, I do top up with a mix of mostly isoprop and water to take care of the differential evaporation.

38 minutes ago, Dr.Funk said:

Do you leave the solution in your US tank for the next cleaning session, or do you drain it off for use later?

 

Thanks

Andy (Dr.Funk)

My tank has a close-fitting top so I leave it in. I reckon that when the water sheeting off the surface starts to look "lumpy" after about 40 LPs or so I discard at that stage. Note—all my records have been cleaned previously, some with multiple products/procedures. I did try to filter the water but the filters all got clogged really quickly with some utterly transparent jelly-like substance and I just gave the whole filter thing a miss. This was before I swapped to Triton so I haven't filtered since then.

 

I mentioned this elsewhere: I had an original pressing of Miles Davis Sketches of Spain that I loved, despite the too many crackles and a moulding noise. After the u-s clean not only were a lot of the crackles gone but the mould noise turned into Miles taking big breaths!

Edited by GregWormald
added clarity
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2 hours ago, Warren Jones said:

Do not use a micro fiber cloth to dry the record this will leave debris on the LP.

Absolutely.

Microfibre cloths actually shed fibres all the time, so much so that the fibres have worked their way into our food, our water, and our bodies. But nobody wants to talk about that!

Edited by GregWormald
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Thanks Greg,

I am glad that you recovered the sound from the Miles Davis album.

 

My beloved vinyl collection (about 800) is in all manner of conditions. All were purchased new by me in the UK before I emigrated. They had been played on my Linn LP12, Ittok arm and my current fully tweaked Gyrodec and SME IV (Lyra Delos cartridge). I believe I have looked after them extremely well as any audiophile would. Standard cleaning with carbon fibre brushes, Zerostat gun and my prized albums have been treated with Permastat.

 

When I emigrated all my system was trapped on a cargo ship, docked in Singapore for at least 6 months. I am told that in this environment all manner of nasties grow within the depths of a vinyl record groove. I read an article that stated this humid environment causes an algae to grow which, in turn, is feasted on my a micro critter, which then dies and leaves behind its shell, glued to the grooves. How true this is I am not sure, but I do know that I have as new albums that sound shite!

 

I have a Half-Speed Mastered copy of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, which I had not played for some 25 years (even then it had been played probably twice in its life). Upon it arriving here, it sounded like the stylus was running over gravel. Over the years I have tried manual cleaning and had friends that have VPI's or Nitty Gritty's give it a go. There has been improvements but nothing really worked well, until US cleaning. There has been a vast improvement with two cleans of around 30 minutes each at 20C. However it is then that I ran into this issue of the fluff on the stylus and the natural deterioration of sound that brings.

 

I am going to write to SDessentials the manufacturer of Tergi-Kleen and see if they have any comment as to whether I can actually skip the rinsing process if I vacuum dry, as you do.

Cheers

Andy (Dr.Funk)

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Good luck mate. That LP saga almost made me cry.:cry:

 

I know all those cleaners were made to clean laboratory glassware and I'd guess that anything that might contaminate lab tests would be a no-no—and they wouldn't be vacuum-cleaning the inside of flasks.

 

I wonder if what SD essentials added to the tergitol may have something to do with their instructions about alcohol too.

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The sad thing was when my system got here, it looked fine. First time I connected it together and turned it on, bang!  Two Michell Engineering Alecto amplifiers blew up, actually caught fire. My home insurance would not pay out because Western Power had not recorded any surges. The shipping insurance refused to pay out because of the time the items were in Singapore. It took me two years and a good lawyer to get any money back. That was 24 years ago and it still grates! But it did send me on a path of exploration and I have a better system now.

Cheers

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When my new phono pre and pre got stalled in Hong Kong recently I crossed my fingers and selfishly hoped that HK/China didn't blow up before they got out.

 

Every time I've moved since moving from NZ in 1977 I've moved the stereo and music myself. With the current speakers weighing in at 130 Kg each I guess I'm not moving again!:D

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130kg, oh wow, that would be a mission, may I ask what they are?

I thought my Impulse H2's were bad enough. I had once thought of buying a speaker made by Electrofluidec's, but they were made of concrete, so I thought better of it. 🤔

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23 hours ago, Dr.Funk said:

130kg, oh wow, that would be a mission, may I ask what they are?

I thought my Impulse H2's were bad enough. I had once thought of buying a speaker made by Electrofluidec's, but they were made of concrete, so I thought better of it. 🤔

130kg, yeah. And they were a real bear to get off the mobile travelling platforms too.

They are the new SGR MT 3.3. (This is an upgrade from their MT 3.2 that hasn't made it to the website yet. A post or two I put out on my trip to them is about halfway down the page here.)

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