08 July 2012

Project "DIY Vacuum Record Cleaning Machine"

i've always had a problem with dirty vinyl records and I know that playing records with all the muck in the grooves will eventually ruin both the record and the stylus of the player.

there are actually specialized vinyl record cleaners available commercially but they range from the simple Spin Clean machine that costs $200SGD (http://www.spincleanrecordwasher.com/) to the extravagant Nitty Gritty that costs anywhere from $600SGD to $1700SGD (http://www.nittygrittyinc.com/).

i don't have enough dough to spare for either and thus i decided to see if i could make my own machine and went down to the nearby Salvation Army thrift store and got a used vacuum cleaner to salvage the vacuum motor.

the machine case is made of 12mm Perspex which is slightly overqualified for this project (i would've used wood) but that was all that was available to work at that moment because there was some lying around. it adds the 'cool factor' of being able to see everything in operation when the motor is turned on though!

my father very kindly took my very crude and simple design and upgraded it. he drew the design up in AUTOCAD and used a CNC router to precision cut the case of the machine and i had the simple job of putting it all together with screws.

the platter and clamp is also made out of the same perspex. the spindle was machined using a lathe and attached to a simple ball bearing. the clamp works well to turn the record but unfortunately it is too light to do its job during the vacuuming phase and i have to turn the record manually by hand at the edges while vacuuming. i glued on hardened felt to the platter as well as clamp to give it some grip on the record when turning it.

the vacuum motor is fixed in the middle of the case and made to be as airtight as possible for the best possible vacuum efficiency. the exhaust side of the case has grilles cut into the perspex for the air to exit. the motor speed was found to be too powerful for this application and a motor speed control card was added to limit the power of the motor in operation.

a glass jar is placed at the intake with two holes cut on the top and some water is added to the jar so that any dirt and dust will settle in the water without going into the vacuum motor. there was no need for an exhaust pipe that extends to the mouth of the vacuum motor as the motor is strong enough to suck in air just by placing the jar in the compartment in front of the motor.

the side of the record cleaning machine is held by two clips and lined with rubber gaskets. this is so that it will be easy to remove the jar for cleaning without having a need to unscrew the supports.

the side of the machine also features an adjustable bleed air port. this was put in in anticipation of the motor being too strong and this sliding port would allow me to adjust the power of the motor. but with the addition of the motor control card this port is actually quite redundant now.

the vacuum nozzle is made using simple PVC pipes. a 3mm slot was cut into the pipe and lined with high quality velvet. 

the record cleaning fluid is also DIY, made with 3 parts deionised water, 1 part isopropyl alcohol and 1 drop of dishwashing fluid. the brush is a good quality wet cleaning brush with sturdy nylon bristles to get the grit and muck out of the grooves and the vacuum will suck that all away.

if you ever intend to make one of these, it will be best if you get a smaller motor or one that has a controllable speed. the motor speed control card was only added after the initial design and if i knew it was going to be included i would have made the box a lot smaller than it is now (40cm x 25cm x 25cm).


  1. buen trabajo.. muy impecable!!1 te felicito..

  2. Great dad and son project. Im going to build mine too!

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  5. what strength of motor would you recommend?

  6. Hi, Great work. Where did you source the velvet from? What adhesive did you use to glue it to the pvc? Thanks.