The platter was easily removed using the instructions attached at the bottom of this post. The instructions were found here: http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=28935
The pictures below of my VPI 16.5 illustrate the platter removal process
Figure 1. VPI 16.5 platter.
Figure 2. VPI 16.5 platter with center portion of cork mat removed.
Figure 3. VPI 16.5 motor spindle.
Figure 4. VPI 16.5 platter off, top view. The platter is made of melamine covered MDF with a glued-on cork mat.
Figure 5. VPI 16.5 platter off, bottom view.