Tornado Rehab


As a gouge and a scratch or two, and chips along the edges of the acrylic platter make clear, Will Sim's battered VPI Scout turntable shows it's survived some rugged treatment.

A tornado, to be precise.

After the dark clouds had lifted, splintered boards, shredded drywall and insulation and broken furnishings were strewn about. Their home in Dadeville, Alabama, was one of many destroyed by tornadoes the evening of April 27, 2011.

One collapsed wall of the den upended the Scout as well as a Mark Levinson No. 23 amplifier, and a Sonic Frontiers SFL 1 preamplifier. Both were older analog components that Sims acquired from sellers on AudiogoN some seven years earlier.

"Losing the stereo wasn't at the top of the list — we lost pretty much everything. It was at the top of my list, but no one else's," Sims says, wryly.

Enter Acoustic Sounds' audio expert par excellence, Chad Stelly. Not knowing if the Scout was at all repairable, Sims hazarded a call to Acoustic Sounds, hoping for some magic.

"I just called him and said 'I've got this turntable; it's trashed,' and Stelly said 'Send it out. We'll see what we can do.'"

Long story, short, what the storm damaged, it didn't kill. With some cleanup and some parts from VPI, Sim's turntable should serve reliably for a long time to come, Stelly says. A detailed look at the repairs breaks down like this:

Tonearm: 1) Straightened out the finger lift on the headshell 2) Disassembled pieces for sending back to VPI • Tonearm wand signal wires were torn and needed re-wired • Tonearm wand needed its uni-pivot bearing cup relaced and aligned • Tonearm base needed its damaged (sheared) uni-pivot support replaced

Platter: 1) Refurbish and clean bearing well / thrust pad 2) Fill and polish perimeter dings on the acrylic platter with denture acrylic

Plinth (base): 1) General cleaning while leaving the tornado "patina" 2) Polish and clean the inverted platter bearing 3) Repair and re-align the tonearm's termination box. Output RCA connectors were bent from output cables being ripped out. Original parts restored.

AC motor unit: 1) De-burr the top of the drive pulley 2) Disassembled the drive motor for cleaning and re-lube. Reassembled and aligned using an upgraded VPI adjustment collar/bushing

Lastly, as the attached photos show, the Lyra Argo cartridge took a fatal hit. The wall collapse snapped the cantilever and the front support, and tangled up the underside with debris. The cartridge is being replaced with a Concept MC Cartridge - Low Output, by Clearaudio.

As to the fate of his LP collection, between 1,200 and 1,500 albums, Sims says he got lucky. The wall where his record cabinet stood remained intact. And the cabinet was so tightly packed full of albums "they weren't sucked out," he says. He estimates he was able to save about 75 percent of the collection.
"That was the saving grace; I would never have been able to replace all of those. I've been collecting forever," Sims says.

Luckily, no one in Sims' family was hurt. Their family had gone to his parents' house, which has a storm cellar, when they saw severe storms and tornadoes predicted that night for central Alabama.

Their own home had no storm cellar or basement.

"It absolutely picked the house up and set it back down. It was pretty impressive," Sims says. They'd lived there about 10 years.

During the April 2011 outbreak, 62 tornadoes tore through parts of Alabama, killing 248 people, injuring 2,200 victims and damaging or destroying 23,000 homes statewide. The estimated property damage of the storms is at least $1.1 billion, according to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

"I'm excited. It's so cool that (Stelly) is able to repair (the Scout)," says Sims, one of the owners of Sims Foods (makers of Wickles Pickles and Not Yo' Mama's Gourmet Foods).

The family has a new home and to date Sims has replaced his damaged Scout with a new model, along with a Musical Surroundings Phonomena as his phono preamp. Both were purchased at Acoustic Sounds.

Once the old table is fully restored, it will get a place of honor and an occasional workout.

"It'll be a conversation piece, no doubt," says Sims.

Posted by Acoustic Sounds on 06/28/2013 at 1:57 PM | Categories: General