Just go 17 if you get one. I'll let you know how I like the Nitty Gritty because as I said before, it seems almost too good to be true price wise.
My dealer has a Loricraft and that thing is pretty amazing, but at the price of my turntable I'm not planning on getting one anytime soon.
Yeah, a good cleaning is essential for older records, even new ones sometimes. I'm thinking about getting the VPI 16.5 or 17. My audiophile neighbor Fred has a fully automatic one, probably one of the best money can buy, from England, and I've cleaned several of my records on his and now I have to get one eventually.