The Spin Clean Record Cleaning Machine (RCM) is where most folks start when considering an RCM. The Spin Clean is not really a “machine” as it has no automation, motors, pumps, vacuums or anything. It’s really just an aid to cleaning records. It is better than nothing though, hands down. It is also the least expensive apparatus for this function there is. The Spin Clean won’t even come close to breaking the bank at just under three digits.
If you have less than 100 records in your collection and don’t plan on adding anymore or adding at a very slow rate and are not ready to make a big investment in a vacuum RCM, then the Spin Clean is worth considering.
As I mentioned, it has no motorized parts and no vacuum. It’s basically a vat with fluid you fill yourself and you turn the record yourself.
Inside the vat there are two roller brushes that lightly rub against the record as you turn it. Don’t worry, they are not harsh in any way and will not harm the record. They are designed for this use.
As for what fluid to put in the vat: Well, the Spin Clean comes with a bottle of their cleaning fluid, but as to how good it is, I don’t know, I’ve never tried it. It certainly won’t harm your records. Basically the Spin Clean fluid’s big function is to encapsulate any dirts that come off the record. It contains what is technically known as a flocculent, more commonly called a coagulant, but that is not quite accurate, but is similar in what happens. Flocculent are chemicals that bind to materials removed from the record in this case and cause them to sink to the bottom of the fluid tank. Basically, it makes the materials heavier than the water surrounding them and sinks them. This same process is used at some point in water treatment plants. The difference between a flocculent and a coagulant is that a coagulant increases the viscosity (thickness) of said fluid as a whole, where as a flocculent is selective and uses binders to weigh down materials.
If you are using the Spin Clean fluid or another proper cleaning fluid concentrate to be diluted in water, please only use distilled water, not tap water, spring water, etc. Other waters contain minerals, chemicals, etc. and you don’t want to use them on your records. You could also use something like the MoFi Superwash, Mo-Fi One Step or AIVS Formula #6 or even the Down With Dirt concentrate diluted to proper ratio in this unit, but they may not be as effective in this method of cleaning, those products do not need rinsing. However, they may also not be cost-effective except for the Down With Dirty concentrate. Vat system RCMs are really meant better for concentrate fluids.
After putting the record through the Spin Clean you need to dry it. The Spin Clean comes with a couple of microfiber lint free cloths to do just that. Some folks like to air dry their records and place them an a rack designed for that either purchased ready-made or DIY. I don’t recommend doing that. Your better off using the cloths. I would also recommend purchasing a few more similar microfiber or some soft, lint free cloths to have on hand as the cloths become more moist in use. (Yes, you can wash the cloths later).
With the exception of the Gem Dandy unit, the rest of the RCMs listed here are mostly vacuum type. That said, there is a difference to be aware of among them. Some of them vacuum the fluids off the record from the bottom and some from the top. There is a bigger convenance and mess factor than in effectiveness. With the units the vacuum from the bottom one must take the record and flip it over to remove the fluid and dirts after using the fluids to clean, such as on the Record Dr or most Nitty Gritty units. Whereas with the units that vacuum from the top with a wand type apparatus such as on the VPI, Okki Nokki, Project, etc. there is no flipping the record to vacuum off the fluids for less mess and more ease in use.
Nitty Gritty Co. of California specializes in high value professional record cleaners. In 1992, KAB received approval to use the precision Lexan top plate -the heart of every Nitty Gritty model in an external vacuum record cleaner of our own design, The KAB EV-1. Now celebrating the 23rd year of production! This apparatus runs south of $200.
Weighing in at under 5 Lbs, the EV-1 offers a significant cost savings over models with a built-in vacuum motor. The latest design EV-1 is fully compatible with all style vacuums including home, shop or in wall types. And the fluid remains inside the EV-1 making it perfectly safe for home style vacuums. (One uses their own vacuum hooked up to the supplied hose).
With the KAB EV-1, you apply the fluid and rotate the records manually. Includes Turner/Label protector, applicator brush and 4 oz of LP fluid . The vacuum energizes the velvet covered vac sweep slot. This action pulls the fluid into the EV1 enclosure where the fluid remains. A series of baffles, venturi air jets and a fabric filter keep any fluid or dirt from reaching your vacuum. A drain plug is provided to empty the EV-1. With the KAB EV-1 you are getting the famous Nitty Gritty record cleaning system only instead of a built-in vacuum, you supply your own outside the unit at far lower cost to the Nitty Gritty branded line. Manual application of fluid and record rotation, save the user a lot of money. Cleans 7, 10 and 12″ records. After cleaning on a KAB EV-1, the record is ready to play or store away. No waiting for the record to “air dry”, only to become contaminated and noisy again.
Improvements include an O ring to protect the labels, a new and improved bearing and stainless steel shaft, and a handle for turning the record.
The manufacture claims that cleaners that touch the LP with the force provided by a vacuum can cause damage by flattening the lands, the delicate area that separates the grooves, distorting the information contained in the grooves. This is false for two reasons, first is that I know of no machine that applies fluids with such force. Second, in order to change the topography of the record so to speak, one must also apply some heat or chemical reaction such as using model glue, lighter fluid, paint thinner, etc. They also claim the inrush of air developed by a vacuum cleaner can dry an amount of the cleaning agent before it is removed leaving a residue behind. The inrush also dries the liquid along with dirt on the pickup tube and can have the effect of sandpaper. This is also just not correct. Vacuuming is done after the fluid has done its work and is ready to be removed and the dirts suspended in it as well.
The GEM Dandy touches the LP with clean water only – not contaminated water from a dip tank. The LP is mounted on a rotating mandrel with protective label covers that repel the water. The Super Solution agent is applied to the LP surface to loosen the contaminants. A jet of water from an orifice is applied to the grooves at an angle that flushes away the debris. The Gem Dandy runs just south of $200
This is probably the messiest system you will find and is really nothing more than a high-powered wash. I don’t know what is in the cleaning solution, it could be some sort of dish soap for all I know. If you do decide on this apparatus, the first thing you need to do is throw out the bottle of record lubricant that comes with it.
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