Intro: Power Wash Your Records Automatically (Almost)
This is an improvement to the Powerwash that uses a commercially available high pressure dental spray.
The spray in my shop sink was too messy as it would ricochet off of the album and soak all my tools at the opposite end of the shop. I started using the Oral Breeze in our bathroom... And that's when the trouble started.
My wife would want to use the tub to take... of all things... a shower. She'd be faced with my equipment strewn all over, plus once, came out with a story of how she had to fight a wildly careening Oral Breeze hose because I'd forget to turn the valve to the off position.
Now, I've re-engineered my design so I can once again retreat to the safety of my shop and wash my records there... In peace. Only this time, both sides will be washed at once, with no mess, an automatic detergent applicator, an easy one-handed turn of the disc and one hand free to do other things while my records get cleaned.
Step 1: What You'll Need:
First, you'll need to construct the simple powerwasher box at:
You won't need to purchase an oral breeze dental spray from www.oralbreeze.com, even though it might be a good idea for personal health reasons.
You will want to make one change from the original instructions. Do NOT mount the bracket that holds the record on the hinge side of the box. mount it on the latch side of the box. attaching the record bracket opposite the hinges allows the cover to close easier. The cover will be closed when you clean your record.
You will also need these additional parts:
1. Two Flexible lawn sprinkler risers. One 12" long and one 18" long.
2. One PVC 3/4" "T" Connector.
3. Two PVC adaptors matching the threads of the risers.
4. Two Lawn sprinkler head adaptors to fit the opposite ends of the risers.
5. Two Lawn sprinkler heads, with an adjustable spray pattern. The brand I used was Rainbird.
6. One rubber gasket sized to fit over one of the PVC adaptors.
7. PVC pipe cement
Unless you plan to use a garden hose to clean your vinyl records outside, you will need a short Washing machine water attachment hose. and a hose-to-pipe adaptor in order to connect your power washer to a threaded faucet in your laundry sink or other convenient point in your water system. Alternately, a snap-fit adaptor on a bathroom sink's faucet would be another possibility.
My shop sink uses a 5/8" hose for high pressure cleaning, so that's where my vinyl record cleaner will be used. Try to keep as large a volume of water possible traveling through the lines at low pressure and low friction all the way up to the spray heads.
Step 2: Plumbing the Box
There are a lot of parts that need to be put together, so the best way I can think of to show this will be to do it with pictures:
The idea behind the power washer is simple. Place two high pressure spray nozzles, capable of spreading a spray pattern that covers the width of the grooves on each side of the record album. Turning the record will bring the entire groove area past the nozzles and the high pressure stream.
The first task will be to set up the plumbing: On to the pictures.
Step 3: The Cover
You'll need to attach the cover, if it isn't already attached. Using a record you do not want, secure it to the mounting bracket. Close the cover and mark it's location. Cut a slot across the cover and test to make sure the record fits without touching when you close the box (think Buster Keeton and you'll get it right:-).
Now, take the entire kababble outside and hook it up to your garden hose. You can see I've added a 90 degree bend to the inlet side and am using the washer hose. With my sink setup, this is what will work best, and I want to test everything before I mess my tools up again.
Lots of spray will come out of the slot, but we're going to open the top anyway. Don't turn the water up too high or you'll be sorry. Adjust the spray heads so the spray just covers the 4" where the grooves of the record are. Slowly turn the pressure up and check if your brackets are strong enough to keep the spray on target. No pics... My camera wasn't going anywhere near that shower.
When you're satisfied, undo the water connection, empty any water our, dry the top off and take it back inside.
Step 4: Removing the Mess
This is the easiest part. Find a soft, flexible, rubber sheet. Your hardware store should have something in stock on a roll. The one I used is only about .020 thick, very flexible, coarse on one side and smooth on the other. I wanted the smooth side touching the record, so that side is facing down.
Remove any ridges on the outside of the cover that might interfere with the rubber. Cut the rubber so it has at least 1" all around the slot and glue it down. I use Liquid Nail. I'm beginning to like that stuff more and more as an alternative to contact cement when neatness, quality or detail aren't the critical factors... Like for this device.
Push the rubber into the adhesive and let it set.
Next, take a board to use as a cutting block and rout a straight slot down it's centerline. I used a dremel with a cutting disk. The narrower the slot, the better.
If the rubber sheet you chose is clear, your task will be easier. If not, lay the rubber slot on top of the board and feel for the groove in the cutting block underneath. Once you find it, line it up in the center of the slot and take your knife and carefully slice the sheet, using the slot as a guide to keep your cut perfectly straight. Only cut a half inch further than where your record protrudes from the top.
Use a punch or knife to form small circles at the ends of the slot. This will prevent it from tearing. That's it. You're done.
On mine, no water escapes from the top with the exception of a drop or two coming out of the holes at the end of the rubber slot. It's a simple matter to sit on a stool, turn the disc past the spray heads, listen to music and not worry about rusting my tools or upsetting my wife.
When you're ready to clean a record, set the box up, close the cover and then lay a few drops of detergent along each side of the slot where it meets the record. As you turn it, the disc will pick up the detergent and carry it to where it will be blasted into the grooves by the water. How simple is that?
The number of rotations you'll need to turn the disc will be a matter of how impacted the record is, how fast you turn the disc and your own preferences. At any rate, no matter how many times the disc needs to be turned, it'll be faster than any other deep cleaning method to be sure.
Step 5: Update: a Physics Lesson
I've been experimenting a lot with records lately, so I've been searching for some pretty trashed albums just to see if what I do works. Earlier this week, I picked up a Partridge Family record that came without a cover or dust jacket. Probably played over and over by some pre-teen fan with a hand-me-down record player, this thing should have been delegated to the trash bin decades ago.
Did I revive it? Nope... Too far gone. But I DID improve it with sanding and using the modified power washer.
My first Instructabe about power washing makes use of a small, hand-held sprayer designed to be used orally. The spray is powerful enough to hurt when used at full pressure, but it isn't as powerful as it could be.
This powerwasher is stronger, but it splits the water into 2 streams and fans them out, increasing the volume and reducing it's pressure.
If you've followed me so far, you're probably saying "Hey, wait! doesn't that oral thingie shoot out a much smaller stream, and why doesn't that make it more powerful?"
Good question: There's something else that needs to be accounted for... Friction. The friction of all that water running through the line leading up to the nozzle robs energy from the stream of water aimed at your record. As you can see in the first photo, the Oral Breeze hose is much, much smaller than a 5/8" garden hose. Like the difference between running down a hallway and moving through an attic crawlspace, it's a lot easier for water to move through 6 feet of garden hose than 6 feet of Oral Breeze hose, and there's more of it moving along as well. Water is incompressible, so when it gets to the end and finds itself being pushed through a small hole, the only thing it can do is speed up... And it speeds up a lot.
So... With that in mind, I again modified my record-cleaning box, so I could attack the Partridges with as much power as possible. I'm limited to 60psi at the inlet, so here's how I got as much of that as I could to the record's surface:
The second photo shows an inexpensive garden sprayer I dug out of my shed, which I've modified slightly. First, I've extended the handle by epoxying a scrap piece of plastic onto it. This allows me to hold the sprayer and easily control the amount of water shooting out with one hand. I've also tried to reduce the size of the outlet hole by pounding the sprayer's tip with a hammer. It worked up to a point, and then the aluminum split. This wasn't a complete disaster, since the water stream now spreads slightly, covering more of the grooved surface. Same size hole, different shape... I kind of like that.
I then chose a section of my box above and behind the Rainbird spray head that's inside and drilled a hole, just large enough to allow the tip of my modified sprayer to enter the box. The sprayer is connected to a 5/8" garden hose, which is attached directly to the water line. Friction is at a minimum until it reaches the sprayer's outlet. The water hitting the record is powerful enough to make the disc vibrate in my hand as I rotate it through the slot in the top of the box.
Now, my box will clean 2 sides at a time. And, with a quick switch to a short garden hose, can blast one difficult side with as much pressure as I can produce. If you have a trashed record with imbedded grit, this may be the answer. It worked "somewhat" with the Partridges. Enough so I can at least listen to louder passages without the pops completely hiding the music, but it's still pretty worthless... Of course your milage may vary:)