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.
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.
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.
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,
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.'"
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
• Tonearm base needed its damaged (sheared) uni-pivot support
Platter: 1) Refurbish and clean bearing well / thrust pad
2) Fill and polish perimeter dings on the acrylic platter with denture
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
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.
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.
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.
absolutely picked the house up and set it back down. It was pretty
impressive," Sims says. They'd lived there about 10 years.
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
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).
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.