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DavePlatt

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  1. Hey, DizRotus - I've copied the messages I posted back in 2013 when I was working on my variation of the Williamson peel formula, and I'm planning to lightly HTML-ize them and put them up in a page on my personal Web server. May I have your permission to place a copy of the PDF file of the Audio Amateur articles on my server, and link directly to it from the page I create?
  2. More experiments this weekend. I made up a batch of Williamson's "peel" and tested it on two records... and I think I can say that I'm sold! This mix definitely has benefits over TiteBond II. I made up a small batch, sticking pretty close to Williamson's published formula. 150 ml of cold distilled water in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, weighed out and stirred in 20 grams of Elvanol, put the cup in a saucepan half-full of water and brought the water to a simmer over a gas stove. Stirred the mixture until the Elvanol suspension dissolved (it does take quite a while), then added 4 ml of vegetable glycerine and 1/2 ml of 50% benzalkonium chloride solution (wetting agent and anti-static). Took it off the heat, added 20 ml of technical-grade isopropyl alcohol... and felt like Charlie Brown when he touched the little Christmas tree and it wilted. The solution immediately turned stringy and white... like I'd dropped raw egg whites into boiling water. I think this was mostly due to temperature shock (and, possibly, PVA is less soluble in alcohol than in water?). I stirred the alcohol in well, put the container back in the saucepan double-boiler, and re-heated and kept stirring, and eventually almost all of the stringy white semi-solid dissolved back into solution again... I picked out the last couple of bits. Next time I'll pre-measure the alcohol into a bottle and sit it in a pan of hot water to warm up first, and will stir it into the mixture more slowly. Once the solution was clear and consistent I added enough distilled water to bring it up to 200 ml, stirred well, and called it soup. Anyhow, what I ended up with is a plastic squeeze bottle full of a clear syrupy liquid. It becomes a gel if cooled to around 50 degrees, and liquifies again at 70. I've tested it on two 10" LPs from the 1956 RCA Victor Encyclopedia of Jazz series. Disc 1 was pretty cruddy, and I applied the peel solution with no pre-treatment at all. In a warm room, with a small fan blowing on it, it dried within an hour or so, and peeled off easily. Side 2 was a bit more complex to peel - the film tended to "shred" into strands if I tried to peel it off "along the radius". Pulling it up in a circular motion ("with the grooves") seems to work better. I may have brushed on too thin a layer? I did the second LP today... and that's when I discovered that the syrup had gelled in the cold garage overnight. I went ahead and applied it as a gel, and it seemed to go into the grooves well enough when brushed... I ended with a thicker film, though, which required a couple of hours to dry. Peeled off beautifully once it dried. I had decided to try pre-scrubbing LP #2 before applying the "facial"... wet each side with a capful of the BKC750 solution I'd made up, and brushed along-the-grooves with a piece of soft-bristle painting pad, then wiped and vacuumed dry and applied the "facial". The results seem very promising. I think the second disc turned out quieter than the first, due to the detergent pre-scrub... seems like a good idea to get as much of the superficial gunk, and any greasy fingerprints off of the disc surface before using the "facial". The PVA film can't adhere to dirt if it can't get down to it through an upper layer of dirt, I suppose. I was very pleased to note that neither LP exhibited any sign of static electricity, either when I peeled off the film, or at any later time. Nada, none, zip. This is a stark contrast to a TiteBond II peel, which generates vast amounts of separation charge. After I peeled off the film, I held one of the smaller wisps of thin film down towards the record. If I brought it over to the black rubber "work mat" I use when cleaning my records (an old Sound Guard mat), the little tendril of film would bent to point towards the nearest part of the mat... there was enough static charge to attract it. The LPs, though... the film just floats above the vinyl and shows no sign of being attracted or repelled. I can't give any hard numbers on static charge (I don't have a working electrometer) but even in a dry, cold garage there's no sign of crackling, and no sense of electricity if I hold the LP up near my cheek. I think that the benzalkonium chloride is doing what I had hoped it would... it's pretending that it's Cyastat :-) Compared to TiteBond II, the Williamson PVA film is much more flexible and elastic. It seems to hold together nicely, even when it's so thin that a TiteBond II film would tear and fracture into flakes. It definitely releases from the vinyl more easily... in fact, when I fan-dried one LP side in a warm room, I could see that the PVA film was starting to "self-release" from a few of the individual grooves as it dried out, just as TiteBond Extend is reported to do. So, I think the effort of brewing up the Williamson formula is worthwhile (although collecting the ingredients is definitely a pain!). TiteBond II is easily available, not expensive, and it does work well as a record "peel"... but the Williamson formula peels more easily, and adding an anti-static ingredient makes it a superior solution! And, I learned something new, when I was playing tracks of the jazz LPs to see how they sounded. Up until today, I had simply never known that there even was a "clean" version of "Barnacle Bill the Sailor"!
  3. I did some initial (crude and simple) experiments - results are interesting, and as far as I can tell they're good. I made up a liter of BKC750 (benzalkonium chloride solution in distilled water, 1:750 - about 2.5 CCs of 50% concentrate in a liter of water). This is the usual "stock solution" dilution used for simple medical purposes (disinfecting small wounds, pre-surgical skin scrub, etc.). One manufacturer's data sheet says that this concentration has enough detergent power to remove dirt, oils, and loose dead skin cells during a "scrub". The solution is colorless, foams slightly when shaken, has a slippery "feel" between the fingers, and (not surprisingly) smells like Bactine. I got out a garage-sale LP that I cleaned a few weeks ago with a Titebond II "peel" and had played and digitized. Placed a few drops of distilled water on the surface... the drops "beaded up" significantly, and when I brushed one aside it left much of the area it had been sitting quite dry... it hadn't "wet" the surface effectively. A few drops of the BKC750 solution behaved differently. They sat "lower and wider" on the record surface, and if I tried to brush one to the side it simply smeared out, leaving the original area wet. I observed one undisturbed drop after a few minutes, and saw that there appeared to be a very thin layer of moisture "wicking out" along the grooves for several millimeters. I poured about a half-capful of the solution on the surface, and wiped it around the album with a clean cloth. Excellent coverage of the grooves, with some slight appearance of a fine, short-lived foam if I brushed vigorously. There was some tendency of thinner areas of the liquid to "pull back" from the flat, ungrooved portion of the lead-out area, but not from any of the grooves. I wiped most of the solution off after a minute or so, using a clean paper towel, and then vacuumed the surface with my Record Doctor to remove the remainder and dry the surface. I played and digitized one side of the album, using the same setup as before. There was no sense or sound of static electricity or discharge, either before playing (after vacuuming) or after play when I took the LP off of the platter mat. I remember that the record had crackled quite merrily when I had peeled the Titebond II off! To my ears, the digitized data doesn't sound any different than the previous capture. I fired up Audacity and compared portions of the audio waveform, and a sonogram, between the "pre-BKC" and "post-BKC" captures. Many of the remaining low-level ticks on the LP are essentially identical on the sonogram. Each capture has a few low-level ticks that the other does not; I didn't see any substantial trend in favor of either. Looking at the sonograms and waveforms, it appears that the broad-spectrum background noise level on the "post-BKC" capture is slightly less than on the "pre-BKC" capture. Running the FFT analysis on a quiet passage seemed to show that the post-BKC track was several dB quieter. I don't know whether this is due to the additional "wash and wipe" I performed, or to anti-static or other action of the BKC remaining on the surface, or due to the fact that the "post-BKC" play may have benefited from some some "stylus cleaning" of the groove by the "pre-BKC" playback, or something else. Initial conclusions: (1) This concentration of BKC (about .15%) acts as effective wetting agent for distilled water on LP vinyl; (2) it may have enough detergent action to serve as an effective groove "pre-scrub" to loosen accumulated contaminants, and (3) it may be serving as an effective anti-static agent. Next experiments: [A] see if I can "provoke" static on this treated LP (gotta find a piece of silk to rub it with), and mix up a batch of Williamson's "peel" formula with roughly this concentration of BKC in the mix, try a few peels, and see how it works. It will be interesting to see whether enough BKC remains on the LP surface after a "peel" treatment, to serve as an effective anti-static treatment. Shouldn't need much... just a mono-molecular layer.
  4. I've made some progress putting together my own set of supplies for some experimenting. After some back-and-forth (literally) with a vendor, I've received a pint of benzalkonium chloride concentrate (50%)... they accidentally shipped me a full gallon (and charged me accordingly) and it took a few days to arrange an exchange. I'm going to try various concentrations of this, as an anti-static agent and as a pre-wash detergent/surfactant, and try to figure out what concentrations are adequate to provide anti-static protection for a record and to act as a surfactant. If this works out, it should serve as both a wetting agent and as an anti-static component for the "peel". For what it's worth, the usual starting dilution for medical use of BK is 1:750, or just over .1% - a little goes a long way (and I should note that what I bought is "technical grade" BK, not USP medical grade!) Vegetable glycerine wasn't terribly easy to find, locally. None of the drugstore chains I tried, seem to carry it these days... not enough demand to merit giving it shelf-space, I guess. I eventually found a bottle of food-grade glycerine in the skin-care section at Whole Foods, and the price wasn't terrible. An 8-ounce bottle will be enough to make plenty of facial peel, at Williamson's recommended rate (10 ml glycerine per 500 ml of liquid, or about 2%). I've been wondering... Williamson recommended two different types of alcohol for his mixtures. For the straight-up antistatic spray he recommended using isopropyl alcohol (50%, in distilled water). For the "peel" he suggested using up to 10% of "denatured" alcohol - his wording strongly suggests he's referring to ethanol, and the editor's comments suggest a bottle of vodka as being the least expensive source. I've seen one other article on record cleaning/care which specifically recommends against using ethanol for vinyl records, on the grounds that it's harder on the vinyl than isopropyl. Does anyone know whether there's any specific reason not to use isopropyl alcohol in the "peel" mixture? Incompatibility with PVA? Anything like that?
  5. Mustang guy: I have a feeling that the "facial peel", and the "clean by playing with a stylus" cleaning methods are rather complementary... they'll do different things, to different sorts of contamination in different parts of the groove. Playing the groove with a stylus (after applying an anti-static treatment) would tend to scrape out many particles from the groove. I don't think it's a panacea, though. The stylus won't actually contact the entire groove wall (both conical and elliptical styli have a fairly narrow contact region, part way up the groove wall) and small particles above or below the contact zone wouldn't be touched. If you were to "clean" by playing several times with a conical stylus, and were then to "play for listening" using a stylus with a different contact pattern, you might find that the cleaning passes had missed much of the dust and grit which your play stylus will then "hear". As I understand it, it's the more exotic "line contact" styli (micro-line, micro-ridge, Shibata) which actually have a contact shape that closely resembles the original cutting heat, and thus would "clean out" most of the groove during a play. Also... the contact between stylus and groove wall is not a gentle one, and there's a great deal of pressure directed against the groove wall... which could tend to push dust particles into the groove wall and not knock them away. The facial peel... well, if it's applied as theory suggests (with a wetting agent to break the surface tension), it should tend to "encapsulate" the upper portions of whatever contaminant particles it contacts. When dried and removed, there would be a tug-of-war between the peel (the PVA's adhesion to or encapsulation of the contaminant), and whatever forces are holding the particle in place against the vinyl (static electricity, mechanical, etc.). Which party wins, will depend on the details of the particle in question. The advantage of the peel is that it should be able to get down into every portion of the groove... and so its cleaning benefits will apply to whatever stylus shape you use to play the LP afterwards. In my own brief tests of record peeling, I've been very impressed. Even without a staticide in the mix, and using Titebond II (which is notorious for generating static when peeled off), there seems to be very little dirt or gunk remaining after the peel and then an alcohol/water wipe and vaccuming. Most of the (few) occasional pops and ticks which remain, seem to be from scratches rather than dirt. I haven't had the opportunity yet to play one of these cleaned discs several times and see if the remaining noise level decreases. Wouldn't surprise me at all if this happened, though.
  6. Re Staticide and Cyastat SN and benzalkonium chloride and etc. - here's my $.02 worth. I'm not a chemist, just an avid reader of technical stuff. These chemicals all appear to be in the same general family... they are quaternary ammonium compounds. This is a very large family of related materials... different lengths, different side chains and ends. As I understand it, most of these compounds share certain characteristics - they are surface-active agents (surfactants) with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) end and a hydrophilic (water-seeking end). As such, they act as effective detergents and wetting agents. The ones we're interested in are (as far as I can tell) all cationic surfactants. The hydrophobic end is attracted to the vinyl, the hydrophilic end sticks up in the air and attracts atmospheric moisture, and the thin layer of moisture reduces the sheet resistance of the vinyl surface and allows static electricity to drain away. The keys to whether they're useful (or ideal) for our purposes seem to include the following: - Are they effective surface-active agents on vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, PVC)? - Do they form thin films, without building up and clogging the surface? - Are they hydrophilic enough to act as effective anti-static agents? - Are they chemically compatible with vinyl? Is there any risk that their presence will degrade the vinyl? - Are they long-lasting or do they tend to degrade or evaporate? - Are they safe to use? On the latter issue first: both Staticide concentrate, and benzalkonium chloride concentrates, are listed in their MSDS as having a level 3 health rating ("danger"). They are NOT safe for skin or eye contact and can cause severe tissue damage... BK is specifically described as being "corrosive" when in concentrated form. Trust me on this, it's true... some years back I got a drop of a quaternary-ammonium concentrate (mildew killer) on my skin, didn't rinse it off promptly, and ended up with an extremely painful pus-filled blister. From what I can see in the Cyastat SN MSDS, it shares similar hazards. Gloves, eye protection, N100 dust mask, precautions against splashing or getting them on the skin, wash carefully after handling, store safely and properly... do what's necessary, folks. In concentrated form these chemicals are no joke. As to whether they're equally effective as vinyl-surface antistatic agents... I don't know, not having used any of them. My guess is that they're all in the same general category in that regard, as they are "first cousins" chemically. There are probably differences in detail but they might not be relevant in our application. As to chemical compatibility with vinyl... again, I don't know. I did surf around a bit, and found some reassuring information: polyvinyl chloride is described as being highly resistant (effectively inert) to contact with benzalkonium chloride, even in high concentrations (2%). It also appears that polyvinyl alcohol is compatible with benzalkonium chloride... some prescription eye-drops contain both substances (PVA as a thickening agent and BK as a preservative). If the same is true of other, related quaternary ammonium compounds, then Staticide and Cyastat SN might also be quite suitable for adding to the "brew". I did go ahead and order a pint of BK concentrate last week. It arrived last night, but there was a bit of a slip-up - their shipping department sent me (and billed me for) a full gallon of the stuff. That's more than I could plan to use in a lifetime. I called them this morning, they're shipping me a sealed pint and a return label for the gallon. Once it arrives I'm going to try making up a standard dilution of BK (the usual dilution sold for medical purposes is 1:750), and then try this and some successive dilutions on a sacrificial vinyl record to figure out how much it can be diluted and still act as an effective wetting agent and anti-static surface coating. With luck I'll find a range which works well for both purposes. I was thinking, too, that a stronger dilution of BK might work as a very effective "pre-scrub" for really dirty or mildewed records - it's an effective detergent. Scrub with this, rinse well, dry, and then do a facial? I've also been researching an alternative type of anti-static treatment which was alluded to in Williamson's article... Armostat. Armostat includes a whole line of different anti-static materials intended for the plastics trade. Many of them are intended for incorporation into the plastic itself. Williamson mentioned Armostat 900, which as far as I can tell is no longer being manufactured. The closest I could see in their current product line is Armostat 3002, which is a sulfonate (a different class of surfactant). It's described as being 100% soluble in water, and suitable for spraying onto plastic to create an anti-static film. I'm trying to get ahold of a sample.
  7. DizRotus - very interested in getting some of the Cyastat SN, as I haven't been able to find a source for this or similar cationic antistatic surfactants in small quantities. The other materials seem easy enough to locate... a pound of Elvanol 71-30 from ChemicalStore.com would last a lifetime :-) EDIT: Thinking a bit "outside the box" of Williamson's original formula, I wonder whether it might not be possible to do a useful substitution here, and (perhaps) simplify the formula and improve it slightly at the same time. I looked around a bit and found that there is one cationic surfactant which is widely available: benzalkonium chloride, a mixture of quaternary ammonium compounds of different lengths. It has multiple properties which could be useful here: it's an effective surfactant, it has anti-static properties, and it is a very effective biocide (including activity against fungus and mildew). It's the primary ingredient in Bactine. It's possible that a dab of benzalkonium chloride concentrate could substitute both for the Cyastat SN, and the Photo-Flo, in the Williamson "facial" formula, and it might serve well as a simple anti-static treatment when properly diluted in pure water. Since mildew growth on LPs is a common concern, having an anti-static surface film which also inhibits regrowth of mildew might be a very good thing. One company which sells fish pharmaceuticals sells a 50% concentration of benzalkonium chloride, at $22 for a pint. If it were diluted down to the same 0.5% as I see recommended for Cyastat SN applications... well. that's a lot of antistatic spray!
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