Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by onwardjames, Dec 31, 2014.
Ultrasonic does not shake records or anything else for that matter.
So is a Ultra Sonic cleaning advisable? Dont hear much talk about that technique.
If so I have one of these.
Just typing in the word "ultrasonic" in this site's search feature, clicking "search titles only" and unchecking "this forum only" brought 14 threads.
My method (used on 1000+ LPs): spray both sides with Blue Windex, wipe both sides with a piece of folded Bounty in a counterclockwise motion, hold LP vertically over sink and spray both sides with 91% isopropanol, spray-rinse liberally both sides with distilled water, place LP vertically in a suitable rack, let air-dry (an hour or less depending on room humidity). Done this for years with NO problems!
Vinyl is thougher than most of you think! Throw it in a landfill for a century or two, dig it up, give it a good cleaning and, presto, good to go! Try that with your digital music on hard drives!
With so many methods out there I wasn't sure what I wanted for under $500. I ended up with a 3 record manual ultrasonic cleaner and record doctor vac system. I bought a 3 record vinyl stack manual spindle added a washer, 3 neodinium? Magnets, and another washer. I then put another washer on a
magnet bar. I had a broken picture frame so cut and glued that to rest on top of the ultrasonic cleaner. I marked the spindle so I know where I'm at when it's time to rotate the spindle on the ultrasonic. After they're done on the ultrasonic they get spun on the record doctor to dry and any last clean up.
Haven't read the whole thread, but I'm having tons of success with gluing using Titebond II with a 5% water dilution. Just picked up a $2 copy of Talking Book instead of a VG for $5, glued it, and it looks better than the VG. Besides, I've only got to glue them once and then clean normally after that.
I've tried both Titebond, and Titebond II, with result similar to a lot of those that other people have posted. One of them releases more easily from the surface than the other, but (if I recall correctly) the price of easy release is a much larger amount of static electricity when you peel it off. The triboelectric effect generates a very impressive crackling.
In addition to the glue-peel, I've been using a Record Doctor II for a couple of decades... usually with a homebrew mixture of distilled water, isopropyl, and a bit of Triton or a similar lab-grade detergent (just enough to improve wetting). On dusty and lightly-dirty records this works pretty well.
Over the decades, I'd repeatedly read about the "Williamson" film-peel, which was apparently first developed by some archivists at the BBC, and popularized in Audio Amateur magazine by Reg Williamson in a two-part article back in 1981. I believe it's the original inspiration for the "glue peel".
The Williamson formula uses polyvinyl alcohol (the DuPont brand name is Elvanol), mixed with distilled water and heated until it dissolves. Optional ingredients that are commonly added include a bit of surfactant (typically Kodak Photo-Flo) as a wetting agent, some glycerine to make the film more flexible, and some alcohol to speed drying and inhibit gelling. Williamson also recommended pre-treating the records with an antistatic agent (Cyastat SN or Armostat 900, about .5% in distilled water) to eliminate "static cling" (one treatment was probably good for a lifetime, he said).
Most of the ingredients for this "peel" aren't hard to come by... but the antistatics are a problem. They're usually sold only in industrial quantities - getting a homebrewer's quantity is difficult. Old Colony Sound Labs used to sell Williamson-peel kits which included the necessary ingredients, but that's long in the past.
So, I decided to look around for a substitute... and after some research I found one that seems to be a real winner.
More precisely, benzalkonium chloride (the active ingredient in Bactine and some other medical "scrubs"). It's in the same general chemical family as a lot of the commercial antistatics, and has been used as such in a number of applications. It's got a good reputation for compatibility with vinyl. It acts as an effective surfactant, so you don't need Photo-Flo or another wetting agent. And, you can buy it in concentrated form (50%), by the pint, from commercial aquarium-supply dealers (a BK solution is used as a disinfectant for dip nets). The concentrate needs to treated cautiously (it's corrosive and eye-damaging in these concentrations).
So, I tried it, and have been very pleased with the results.
My trial recipe: 150 ml of cold distilled water, placed in a heat-proof measuring cup. Weigh and mix in 20 grams of Elvanol, stir well, place cup in a saucepan half-full of water on the stove, heat gently and continue to stir until the Elvanol all dissolves. Add 4 ml of vegetable glycerine (food-grade, from a health-food store) and 1/2 ml of 50% benzalkonium chloride. Stir to mix well. Place 20 ml of technical-grade isopropyl alcohol in a container, seal, drop it into a pan of hot water and wait for the alcohol to warm up (do NOT try to heat any alcohol directly - fire hazard!), then slowly stir the warmed alcohol into the warm solution. Slowly add-and-stir enough additional distilled water to bring it up to 200 ml total, then let it cool and transfer the resulting syrup into a plastic squeeze-bottle for storage and use. If it's kept tightly capped it will remain good for several months. It may tend to gel over time, but can be re-liquified by gentle warming.
This stuff applies very easily at room temperature (it gels at about 50F; can be used even in gel form but it goes on more easily when warmer), spreads out nicely, and wets the record grooves beautifully. It seems to dry faster than Titebond II. It will often self-release from the grooves as it dries. The film is pliable, somewhat stretchy, peels easily, and doesn't leave angular bits of hard stuff on the record surface if it happens to tear or break when you peel it off.
Best of all: no static. At least, none I can detect. There's no crackling when you peel, no tendency of the film (or anything else) to "jump back" to the surface via static attraction, no static noise when I play the LP, and no apparent buildup of anything on the stylus. It seems as if this approach works the way Williamson said that his Cyastat pre-treatment spraying does - it leaves a molecule-thin layer of the anti-static agent on the very surface of the vinyl. Most of the BK remains in the film and is removed as the film is peeled away.
As an additional tweak: 2.5 ml of 50% benzalkonium chloride concentrate, added to a liter of distilled water, makes up a stock solution of about 1:750, which is the concentration used in medical-scrub solutions. My tests show that this acts as an effective detergent, if you want to pre-scrub an LP to get off greasy fingerprints, and it rinses away cleanly. As BK has some antibacterial and antifungal properties, it might be a very good pre-treatment scrub for any LP which has been affected by mildew.
Very VERY cool! Gotta hand it to those BBC engineers.. AND to you for posting such a comprehensive tutorial. When I get back home I'm going to try it out.
Over on another thread, we've been recommending cationic surfactants like benzalkonium chloride for years. Such quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) have a variety of properties making them ideal for record cleaning/treatment and some of the popular commercial formulations actually are starting to include them.
My problem with the wood glue method is that you are subjecting your record to acidic conditions for an extended period of time. I've experimented with the Williamson mix, and my own neutral mask formulations and they work well, but are time consuming. Much more convenient to use a quat containing solution in a traditional wash method that takes minutes (vs. hours or overnight) and is equally if not more effective.
Some great ideas and solutions here. Thanks, everyone!
DavePlatt, should you get inspired and make some large batches of that stuff.......well........I'd trade some green paper for it.
That's excellent news... it means my idea isn't so crazy after all!
I looked up my notes from 2016 and remembered that I had done some measurements on a record to test out the effectiveness of a quat wash. I had cleaned a garage sale record with my Record Doctor and then done a Titebond II peel on it. I digitized a few minutes of it in this condition, then washed it with a capful of the 1:750 solution I had mixed up, wiped, and vacuumed dry, then digitized the same passage again.
Comparison of the two showed no increase in noise or pops and ticks after the second wash... the broadband noise level was several dB lower, according to the Audacity FFT.
So, yeah, if you don't want to go to the trouble of doing a peel to get the most stubborn soil out of the groves, a good wash with a quaternary surfactant followed by a rinse and vacuum seems like a very good alternative. As you say, it is quick and convenient.
It's actually an interesting idea, as I never knew Bactine had a quat in it. I thought it was just a Lidocaine mixture (which is actually the pain relieving active ingredient). The MSDS shows it also contains some oils though (Clove oil, Eucalyptus oil, and Marjoram oil) that I'm not so sure I'd want on my records. There are always pros and cons with household products as they are not engineered for record cleaning.
I found a half bottle of "Discofilm" left over from about 1985 when I left vinyl behind during my move in June. It was hardened into an odd semi-solid hunk. It still had the discofilm smell. I think it's still sold. I didn't find my Discwasher, my Zerostat, or any of my other stuff I used back then. I never had the nerve to use glue instead of Discofilm, which was a lifesaver in some cases where a used record was just too dirty to play. It always amazed me what came out of those grooves.
And reading threads like this reminds me of how happy I was to get out of the vinyl tick and pop hell.
I would grade the "PVA glue" method as an LP restoration process rather than cleaning. It's great for LPs that were mishandled, left out of their sleeves in dust, etc.
However, the ultrasonic bath is a rather fast and efficient method that allows both faces of an LP to be treated at the same time and - depending on your setup - treating more than one LP at a time, up to a realistic 5-6 per bath.
Comparing the two methods, I have to say that one LP that had great music on but also lots of crackle, didn't respond well to wood glue, even a second treatment. However, it cleaned up perfectly with an ultrasonic bath with elevated temperature (35 degrees C) and plenty of olive oil soap. It turned out to clean perfectly, even surface noise was reduced.
I suppose that plain wood glue, as it comes out of the container, is not ready to treat an LP. It is rather viscous and I doubt it goes well into the grooves. I dilute the glue with 10-15% water to make it easier to spread, but the idea of a wetting agent in the mix makes a lot of sense. Alternatively, with more effort, I spread a little amount on a rotating LP and then use a 20mm flat paintbrush to spread it along the groove, to the point it spreads so thin it disappears almost. Then a little more, more spreading, and continue to do that until a full layer is accumulated.
I suppose that before doing this, a wash of the LP with a wetting agent and a surfactant may be beneficial. To increase the wetting by the layer of glue.
But, to summarize, comparing applying wood glue and letting it dry is a process that takes 10min for the application and overnight to dry, so 30 minutes processing of 5 LPs on the ultrasound bath beats it by far.
Dad's got lots of pristine records from the 60s, that's not the ones I clean with the following method.
I've been going though his 14x40 public storage unit in an effort to get it under control. Found 1500 and counting moldy records from yard sales. Gloves and mask moldy.
Option one, throw in trash.
Option two, throw in trash.
Option three, PRESSURE WASH. Yes pressure wash.
I put them on a defective changer with a small exercise weight in the middle and give it a spin with the washer. Blow dry with the fan.
Takes about an hour per 50. Still to long. But they get clean and sound good with no apparent damage.
When they're all done I can exercise option one.
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