Eminent Technology ET-2 Tonearm Owners

Where are you? What mods have you done ?

I have been using these ET2's for over 9 years now.
I am still figuring them out and learning from them. They can be modified in so many ways. Bruce Thigpen laid down the GENIUS behind this tonearm over 20 years ago. Some of you have owned them for over 20 years !

Tell us your secrets.

New owners – what questions do you have ?

We may even be able to coax Bruce to post here. :^)

There are so many modifications that can be done.

Dressing of the wire with this arm is critical to get optimum sonics along with proper counterweight setup.

Let me start it off.

Please tell us what you have found to be the best wire for the ET-2 tonearm ? One that is pliable/doesn’t crink or curl. Whats the best way of dressing it so it doesn’t impact the arm. Through the spindle - Over the manifold - Below manifold ? What have you come up with ?

Well, after years of procrastination, mounted on three turntables and four spent phono cartridges later. I finally said I’m going to do it. Yes, I decided that it was way past due to clean the gunk out of my ET-2’s manifold. After all, I’ve been running it on an old 30 gal belt-drive shop compressor that sits out in our unconditioned garage through at least 15 hot and muggy Tallahassee spring/summer/fall seasons. For most of this ET-2’s life, I ran the air though whatever gasoline fuel filter I could find at Autozone that would fit on the 3/16" vinyl tubing. I did run a small water trap that never seemed to have any water trapped in it as well as three stages of regulation with the last stage attached to the turntable rack delivering 18 psi to my ET-2. I now run a large water trap and Motorguard filter close to the compressor. I did this after I forgot to drain the compressor this last July. Sheeeh! Lets just say it was a shocker to see water dripping out each end of the manifold/bearing junction! Fast forward to late this afternoon, when I made the executive decision to dissemble the manifold.

Long story short, after removing the manifold and expecting all kinds of crud and corrosion, to my surprise, it looked absolutely spotless inside the manifold housing as well as the inside and outside of the manifold itself. I went ahead and cleaned it with 92% IPA then used 100 psi compressed air through a rubber tipped air-chuck to blow out all 14 manifold air orifices insuring that they all passed air.

Anyway, I think that I got lucky on this one. Also, when you do decide to clean you ET-2’s manifold, be sure to completely follow the procedure shown in the ET-2 manual. Also, be sure to mark the manifold orientation and direction in manifold’s housing so you can reassemble exactly as it was originally. The manual says to use a magic-marker to make the marks, but using IPA to clean the manifold will wash your magic-marker/shapie marks away in a second. A pencil may work better - just be aware. Also, the manual says to use grease on the o-rings, just make sure that you just ever so lightly coat the o-rings with lube. I would think that you don’t want a wad of grease sitting between the manifold and and the manifold housing. Most of all, don’t ever use any tools whatsoever to remove the manifold from its housing. Just press hard, very hard, with you thumb - it will start to move. I bet the guys down on Palmer Street would agree as well.

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I went down to Palmer street today to see the man himself. I was a bit confused about what upgrades would be best for my ET-2 running 18 psi with an 8.5 gram medium-compliance cartridge. I must say, what a great guy he is. As we stood in the ET-2 parts room, he said without hesitation the aluminum joint is a significant and cost effective upgrade. As I gazed into the two boxes containing ET-2 and ET-2.5 bearing spindles I asked what about upgrading to the 2.5 manifold and spindle? He replied that since I’m running 18 psi from a shop compressor I would not notice a difference, On the other hand, If I were using a low pressure pump, it would be a nice upgrade with noticeable improvements.

In the post above I stand corrected. In that post i stated ". . . all 14 manifold air orifices . . ." Bruce told me that there are no orifices, those are 14 screw-in plugs. I then ask how does the compressed air go from the manifold housing through the manifold in order to float the spindle bearing? His answer floored me and its difficult to describe without a diagram as Bruce scratched out on a piece of paper for me, but I will try. He said that an air bearing works best if a small column of air flows some distance from the manifold housing to the area between the inside of the manifold and the spindle bearing. With just an orifice, the distance would only be a couple of millimeters.  I ask how is that done when it appears that each threaded hole is totally plugged with a stainless-steel set screw? The way he does it is that he machines a small amount of material from the protruding edge of the threads in each hole in the manifold. That way a metered amount of air follows a spiral path around the threads between the threaded plug and threads in the manifold hole. The distance around the threads creates the distance needed to enhance the air flow into the area between the manifold and spindle bearing. Obviously it works!

I learned more in that 20 minutes with Bruce about the ET-2 than I learned on my own in the last 15 years of ET-2 ownership. There is so much more to the engineering of the ET-2 than I had ever imagined. I am now totally convinced, that the ET-2/2.5 is by far the most highly engineered and best linear-tracking tonearm ever developed. And that include those very expensive European offerings that gleam with gold plated cladding. If you have an ET-2/2.5 keep it - you have the best. Mine has been three turntables and my guess is that it will be on a fourth one day.  Turntables come and go but the ET-2 stays.

I have to go back to Palmer Street next week to pick up my aluminum wand joint since this batch were not yet out of production as of today. When I go back, I think I'll ask him about the TRW-17. 115db at1Hz! I would really like to hear (or feel) that!

Thanks for the account. I agree about the ET2’s prowess. When you see Bruce again ask him about the procedure you used to try and clean the “capillaries”. Seems to me that the only effective way to do it is to remove those “screw on plugs” and clean them and the orifices that they screw into individually. This is what I did after experiencing stickiness of the bearing. Soaking the plugs in some alcohol left obvious residue at the bottom. It solved the problem.  I would like to know if Bruce feels your method is as effective.  I would like to clean the capillaries again and your method certainly is easier.  Please report back.  Thanks. 

Frogman, I sure that removing each of the set screws is the best way. In my case, as clean as everything looked and the fact that spindle operates smoothly, I felt that pushing high pressure air through each capillary would sufficient. If you listen closely you can hear the compressed air passes through each capillary and into the manifold.  I did have one capillary in which I could not hear the air flow.  With this capillary, I did remove the set screw and inspected the threads with bright light and magnification and saw no contaminates. I then passed compressed air through the capillary hole with the set screw removed. I then replaced the set screw and after that I could again hear compressed air passing through that capillary. 

I would venture to say that just by removing the set screw will dislodge most if not all debris lodged in the capillary threads, but I will run it by Bruce when see him again. 

I did tell him about how my nearly 30 year old ET-2 manifold had never been cleaned and about how I forgot to drain my shop compressor back in July literally pumping water into the manifold.  I then told him that when that when I removed the manifold after that event every thing appeared spotlessly clean.  He ask are you using a filter? Yes, I am. He said its fine and he wasn't at all surprised that is was as still totally clean.    BTW, Bruce no longer uses or supplies the Motorguard filters.  He now supplies and recommends the inexpensive and available at any auto supply, "VW Beatle" type fuel filter.  He says they work great.