Rega planar 3 bearing and oil

I recently reoiled my rega planar 3 bearing. It had oil in it, and on the shaft of the subplatter, and the turntable had no obvious problems, but I figured it was probably due for it's 3000 mile change, and besides, I like to tinker !
I removed the ball, inspected and thoroughly cleaned all surfaces using isopropyl alcohol, and then added a few drops of castrol hypoid gear oil (as recommended by rega) and checked that the new oil was drawn to the very top of the subplatter shaft.

To my amazement this has resulted in a considerable improvement in the sound of the turntable. Gone is any hint of glassiness or sibilance in the high frequencies, that used to make the deck sound very very similar to my CD player. The sound is just as detailed but beautifully smooth. I wasn't expecting anything like this ... but for $4 of oil (and I have quite a bit left over :-)) I'm very happy.

So any brave owners with old rega decks try changing the oil ... you might be very pleasantly surprised.

On a related issue I noticed that some high-end decks come with ceramic or saphire bearings, of very high tolerance. I have found that can supply such bearings for around $4. Can anyone think of a negative impact of trying a high-precision bearing in the Rega ? Should I stick with steel ? There is an aftermarket subplatter for sale at music direct that uses a ruby bearing.
My Rega 3 does happen to need oil.
Can I ask you where does one obtain castrol hypoid gear oil?
Pepboys, autozone, some grocery store etc etc

Hypoid gear oil (80w) is put into manual transmissions. I got the information to use hypoid gear oil from a former Rega dealer on another forum, and it does make perfect sense.

A manual transmission is hardened steel with brass synchro rings, and must be lubricated against high pressure metal-metal contact. Gear oil is a high-viscosity oil loaded with sulphur (and probably other stuff) to give it good lubrication properties under high loads. The rega bearing is a deep brass hole into which a steel spindle is inserted, riding on a small steel ballbearing.

The problem is that you have to buy a quart of the stuff, and think you probably only require 2-3 drops. Try not to miss the bearing well as it stinks and it's tricky to clean off the plinth. A dropper would be handy.

Rega dealers will also sell oil for reasonable money, but I have no reason to be anywhere near one, so I just picked up the castrol on my regular visit to the auto store.
At the risk of being pedantic here is Rega's official recommendation for lubrication.> Cleaning Hub/Bearing
> 1. Undo hub nut and remove washer. Remove hub/bearing from turntable. As the brass bearing bush is designed to fit tightly in the plinth, gentle tapping on the base of the bearing bush with a plastic hammer may be necessary. (We advise that this is not done in front of the customer!)
> 2. Slowly withdraw the hub from the brass bearing bush, (if the hub is pulled out quickly the ball bearing may inadvertently be sucked out and lost). Remove ball bearing by turning the bearing bush upside down and tapping sharply.
> 3. It is important that both the hub spindle and the inside of the bearing bush are cleaned and degreased thoroughly. This is best done using a solvent cleaner containing 1.1.1. trichloroethane which is available from R.S Components Ltd. A small amount of this can be poured into the bearing bush, and with a finger placed over the hole, shaken thoroughly and poured out. To clean the spindle apply the solvent to a piece of lint-free cloth or kitchen paper. Wipe both spindle and the ball bearing with same and replace.
> 4. Fit the hub back into the bearing bush and spin to check that it is running freely. If its not, return complete assembly to Rega
> 5. If all is well, remove hub from bearing bush then tilt the bearing bush and place two drops of Comma Hypoid EP80, Castrol EPX80w/90 or Shell Spirax EP90, as recommended, in the position as illustrated. Do not use more than two drops.
> 6. With the bush still tilted, slide hub (without twisting) back into bearing bush. This method should ensure a release passage for trapped air.
> 7. Spin hub to evenly distribute oil and refit into turntable. Replace washer and tighten nut firmly, using an adjustable spanner or Rega tool, to approximately 5Nm, (a full explanation of this torque can be found on Explanation of torque)
> It is essential that the recommended oil is used as any other lubricant will break down under pressure, causing wear. It is available from most car accessory shops or from Rega, free of charge.
> Degreasing: RS Components stock a solvent cleaner containing 1.1.1. trichloroethane which is suitable for degreasing the hub/bearing assembly and lift lower assembly. Please note warning on solvent tin
Thanks Stefan. If you don't want to remove the bearing housing from the plinth then a small magnetic screwdriver can be used to remove the bearing from the well.
For $4 I'll take a punt on a silicon nitride grade 5 bearing and see if it makes any difference. It's only a small part of the bearing assembly, but the fun of trying is worth the $4 admission. If I hear any difference I'll post back.
Where does one go about finding the upgradable bearings? I can't seem to find them.
A bearing company that sells small bearings.They can be oredered online,make sure you get the correct size and you only need one.
Boca bearings sells them.

I'm not sure if the silicon nitride bearing made much improvement. It certainly did not make the magnitude of difference that changing the oil to Mobil SHC634 did (that's a huge upgrade). I'd recommend trying to get hold of a quart of SHC634 and relube the existing bearing before trying a ceramic ball.
I checked out the sight, I have no idea what size bearing is in my Rega Planar 2. When I purchased the table it was missing the bearing. I did not know that it was missing the bearing until I read this post and went to change the oil. If anyone knows what size bearing a Planar 2 would take I would greatly appreciate it.
Tes we should have told you.It is 3/16th of an inch size or the metric eqivalent.Look for a silicone nitride or "ceramic" type.Other boutique companies sell a manufactured "Ruby" bearing as well.The ceramic ball should be fine and is ten times stronger than the normal steel one.This link sells a metal sub-platter for the P2 with a "ruby" ball.
The bearing is 3/16 inch.

From my confirmation email from Boca bearings :

3/16IN-C Si3N4 GR.5 BALLS (Ea.) $3.95

I've been using this bearing for about a year now and played probably several hundred hours on it. It seems fine. Like I mentioned above, not a startling improvement from the steel bearing it replaced (unlike the SHC634 oil).
Hey guys thanks for the info, I am going to try this out. Like you said, for the money it can't hurt to try it out.
Thanks Sean, for all the help. I installed the bearing with the new oil, and I am finally happy with my table. Also, thank you to everyone else.
I stumbled upon this today - as I'm pulling an old Rega deck off the shelf and re-introducing to my system - and *also* recent to performing maintenance on some of my old bicycles... Anyone see where I'm going with this?

3/16" is exactly the bearing size for the *front* wheel of most of the older bikes - 70's and 80's maybe some 90's too. (typically 20 bearings per wheel). The rear wheels typically used 1/4" bearing (18 per wheel).

I pulled out the Rega bearing - compared it to a recently replaced front wheel bearing - and they are really close, but the 3/16" bicycle wheel bearing looks to be a tiny bit larger than the Rega. I couldn't possibly quantify the difference (and it's somehow possible that I don't have an original Rega bearing), but they are slighly different.

For the heck of it, I installed an obviously larger 1/4" bearing (rear wheel) on my table, and it seems to work just as well (while also very slightly changing the tracking angle).

In any event, table sounds good!
Late to the thread reading through it 2 drops, not sure but thinking the housing should be full so the shaft and sides of the housing are lubricated to provide lubrication and isolate the shaft from the housing. I am finding it takes 8 to 9 drops and the fluid just escapes from the top with the subplatter inserted. If not thinking the shaft will be grinding against the housing....
Have been taking a bit of a look around and it appears that Oils containing sulphur compounds are a no no. The sulphur is corrosive towards brass. The Mobil SHC634 Oil that Seandtaylor recommends is also sulphur free but thats all i can say. From Mobil  specs it is designed for use with spiral worm gears , which dont hold onto oil very well. 
Silica Nitride and Tungsten Carbide ball bearings have a much smoother surface than do steel ones, which makes for a quieter turntable.
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