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Vinyl Flat Temperature Question

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by rain_king, Nov 15, 2021.

  1. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    To make a long story short: I recently bought a Vinyl Flat with the heating pouch, and I am concerned that the pouch may not be getting hot enough. Without the flattener in the pouch I was able to get it up to 135 or so (only when measured in a certain part of the pouch though), but with the flattener in it hovers around 127 on the "high" setting.

    This is technically within the recommended range of 125-150, but I am seeing people on here talk about their pouches getting up to 170-180, so it's clear that mine is on the low side.

    Anyone have experience with a low-temperature pouch? I don't mind waiting several hours if it gets results, but I'm worried it may not ever get hot enough to do anything.
     
    CBackley likes this.
  2. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    I suppose if you are able to measure 135 at some point, you can also just use time to get there. Enough mass, and it will take a while to heat, and to cool. You can let the heat build by folding a blanket up, and then folding the pouch into a blanket taco.
     
  3. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Mars Hotel
    Low heat, longer time works best. High heat will damage some records.
     
    Wayne Nielson, PATB and rain_king like this.
  4. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Yeah I get the sense that low heat is the safest way to go (for obvious reasons) but I'm concerned that for certain warps on certain records, the bare minimum of heat won't be enough.

    If there's one thing I've learned from reading through the Vinyl Flat threads here, it's that there are many different variables that can make a difference, from vinyl thickness and composition to type of warp to heat level and time in the pouch. So if my pouch is only just touching the low end of the spectrum for temperature, I may be missing out on some of the capability that a hotter pouch would get.

    A few people seem to have never had much success with the Vinyl Flat and I'm wondering if perhaps theirs just never get hot enough?
     
  5. PATB

    PATB Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    As @F1nut noted, low heating VF pouches are the best. I believe (I can no longer find my notes) mine is also low-heating. I cook dished or warped records in the pouch for 10 hours. Sometimes, it needs a second run of 10 hours. No biggie as I use a mechanical timer.

    The key here is to get comfortable with your particular pouch. You need to be patient and take notes (what record, how long, result), at least in the beginning. Start with 3 hours, then 6, etc. At some point, you will find a cooking time that works best for most records for your pouch. Mine is 10 hours, but I started with 3, then 6, then 10.
     
    cwitt1980, F1nut and rain_king like this.
  6. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    One of the challenges is that when a record is made, it is pressed out of a biscuit - literally a biscuit-shaped blob of plastic, that is in no way uniform in composition. It's been kneaded and folded into a label-sized blob, and then put under the pressure of the record press between the stampers until it cools.

    [​IMG]

    That pressing and cooling locks in a lot of random stresses, polymeric molecules stretched more in one direction, etc. Attempts to re-flatten with heat will instead often see wavy shrinking as the frozen state of the heterogeneous elastomeric material is relaxed.

    See the different amounts of material spread out from the center of pressing.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Alright that makes me feel a bit better. I'm curious, do you think yours is as low as mine? Mine tops out at around 127 while a record is in there, and that's the hottest part of the pouch.

    I am hoping people with experience can tell me exactly what kinds of temperature readings they've gotten with successful flattenings.
     
  8. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    So what are you saying exactly? That flattening using heat ultimately won't work? I was actually skeptical of the Vinyl Flat idea at first because it seemed like it must be doing damage somewhere, but there are so many good reviews on here that I bit the bullet and got one.
     
  9. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    - make the best recording of your LP that you can first, because it is equally likely to result in failure as success. Even if flattened, you might get swishy groove noise from having pushed down on the ridge surrounding the cut groove.
     
    cwitt1980 likes this.
  10. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I might be one of those whose pouches were on the higher side of the equation. I thus have cooked a few records, a couple of them rare and valuable. I no longer use the pouch, period - it has cost me too much in ruined records already.

    I now leave a record in there for two weeks per side, with no heat at all. The only addition - I use 1" carpenter's clamps around the perimeter of the disc, a dozen in total, for extra pressure.

    The results are not always as good as using it with heat, but mostly acceptable, and always risk-free. If you disagree with that assessment - wait until you "cook" a $250 record (I did).
     
    CBackley and harby like this.
  11. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Well, these forums are full of people who have used the product successfully over the past ~10 years, and I've only seen a handful of real complaints. And if anything, people on here are going to err on the side of over-sensitivity to damage, I think.

    Are you basing your statements on experience with the Vinyl Flat, or is it just that in principle, it's risky?
     
    Greyrat likes this.
  12. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Good to know. I don't have too many $250 records in my collection, and to be honest I think I'd be afraid to try anything to "fix" them anyway.
     
  13. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    I've used my own technique - granite slabs instead of thin metal, long times heating and cooling. It's seems there's no predicting the results even with the same procedure - something about the randomness of vinyl pressing. Might also have to do with the type of warp - with ripples, you're actually forcing the disc to shrink back to become flat. Like cleaning techniques and tape baking, it's all experimental even though you are buying someone's hardware store "product".

    I've only had a handful of warped discs that simply wouldn't fit in my turntable's gap with the lid down; this warped-from-the-factory concern seems to be mainly with vinyl newer than my collection.
     
  14. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Mars Hotel
    Time and low heat is your friend.

    It's not unusual to have to repeat the process a number of times increasing the time for each one. Patience young grasshopper.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  15. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    OK. I may be in the same boat as you as I don't really buy new vinyl, so I didn't buy the VF out of frustration with new pressings (which seem to be full of defects straight from the plant, from what people say). Rather, I bought it because I find that a lot of the used, vintage records I come across have dish or edge warps and it would be great if there were a reliable way to fix them.

    A while back I found a local record shop whose owner has a VF and he agreed to flatten a warped record for me, and it came out perfect. That sort of inspired my belief in the VF and so rather than pestering him to do more for me (he doesn't offer it as a service and was a bit reluctant to do it--probably doesn't want to be held responsible if it does damage), I decided to buy one and try it out. Anyway, my point is just that I have seen firsthand when it works well, although if it's somewhat random as you say then maybe I just got lucky.
     
  16. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Fair enough, I guess my question is just: how low is low? Obviously below a certain point it won't do anything at all, so I'm just trying to figure out if I'm below that threshold.

    I'm taking readings again now and it's not getting above 125 in the hottest part of the pouch (without the VF in there), on the high setting. I previously got it up to 130-something, but it's not going that high now.
     
  17. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    "Groovy Pouch features stable temperature control" -- Okay, where's that temperature control?

    [​IMG]

    Pure resistance (4-6 ohms)? Put more than 12V into it.

    No temperature control? Wrap it up in a blanket so it doesn't lose 30W of heat as fast as 30W goes in.

    Who wants to take a seam ripper to this 12 volt (3A = 36W) $80 accessory? See if it has repurposed $12.50 13"x12" conductive fabric. See if it has a $6 bulk 20W 30cmx30mm pad. or other misc 12V car blanket or heater elements.
     
  18. merlperl

    merlperl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Mine came with a 3 setting switch (L-M-H) and an oven thermometer. You check the max temp at each setting and there is your temp control.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  19. PATB

    PATB Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    My pouch goes to around 140F after 30 minutes with an empty pouch (i.e., , without the VF in the pouch).
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  20. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Mars Hotel
    Same here.
     
  21. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Mars Hotel
    I suggest you contact VF with your temperature setting/reading question.
     
  22. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often.

    Location:
    Oregon
    I feel like my unit also runs "low".
    100%
    It's even printed in the instructions! No change after 2 hrs.? Lengthen the cycle by 15 minutes each time after that. I've had a lot of success on a variety of records at the 2-1/2 hr. mark with my unit.
    Same.

    The surface that you place your pouch on will likely have an effect on the internal temperature. Carpet runs hot. I use mine on a butcher block style cutting board.
     
    F1nut likes this.
  23. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    If you don't mind my asking, what kind of temperature readings do you get with the empty pouch on each setting? I'm just curious because I have no problem waiting however long it takes to get results, but my concern is that perhaps I got a defective pouch that just isn't going to get hot enough. You say yours runs low but if you're getting results after 2 1/2 hours, that seems like it's getting hotter than others (many people on these forums talk about only getting results after 10+ hours).

    I took the temperature again in the middle-top part of the empty pouch and it was able to reach 150 on the high setting, but measured in other places it won't even get to 120. So there's a lot of variation in terms of different areas of the pouch.
     
  24. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often.

    Location:
    Oregon
    I just began a cycle with it preheating on "high". I let it preheat long enough to listen to 2 sides of an album and after putting the included thermometer into the pouch, in the center and supposed warmest area, it read 136F. I'll try to remember to take a temperature at the end of this 2 hr. cycle to see where the temp is.
    I'll have to get back to you on the temp of the "low" and "medium" settings.
    When I first got my Flat/Pouch combo a few months ago I was dismayed that it struggled to get over 125F because I was reluctant to use it on "high". But "high" is the only setting that gets my unit over 125F so that's what I've always used. I've now had enough successes that I'm stoked on the Flat/Pouch combo and consider it a powerful accessory for a record collector. This thing has ironed out a variety of waves and edge warps to a very satisfying degree.
    If only off-centered records were as easy to fix...
     
    harby likes this.
  25. rain_king

    rain_king Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    OK, it sounds like we're in the same boat. I've been doing more systematic testing today, and I was actually able to get a reading as high as 162 in one place (the middle of the top opening of the pouch). But over the course of an hour or so, the temp went down significantly in that place, to eventually settle in around 143. Measured in another place it got to 150, then fell to 127. Elsewhere it hovers around 140. These are all measurements of the empty pouch without VF inside, with the setting on "high".

    What's weird is that I was testing it out a few days ago, and no matter where I measured it it wouldn't get above 127 or so...so not only is there a lot of variation in heat of different parts of the pouch, there's also variation over time.

    Seriously. I think I am more sensitive than most to off-centeredness, as I find about half the records I buy have at least one side off center (and this is almost all vintage vinyl too, not new records which by all accounts are even worse).
     

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