I have a question about mount payloads for your consideration. Manufacturers (in my case Celestron as I have its AVX mount rated at 30 pounds payload) advertise payload capacities. I've read some opine in forums that the payload 'limit' is not a limit that will lead to breakdown, but more of an operational stability limit. In other words, if you load your mount over its marked payload limit, you won't have as stable a system, but you won't necessarily damage your mount either. Of course if you way overload (e.g., say 2-3 times the limit) then you'll likely do some damage.
However, let's say I will only be doing visual observing. Could I load my AVX mount with a 35 pounds scope (assuming proper balancing) and not worry that I'm 5 pounds over the posted limit? I understand it won't be as steady as if I were 5-10 ponds under the limit, but if I'm careful to always balance the load well, should I expect the mount to fail significantly sooner or not?
I've read in some forums (e.g., related to NexStar 8SE mounts) that although Celestron rates the mount at just 12 lbs payload, there are folks who have consistently loaded it to nearly 20 well-balanced pounds and run it that way for up to 10 years without a repair. Thus, I wonder if for visual work I could run a roughly 35 pound load on my AVX (rated for 30) without worry of the mount failing any time soon? Yes, I'll have longer settling down times after an adjustment, but will the mount fail significantly sooner?
I'll be interested to hear folks' thoughts, particularly those with some actual experience of overloading a mount (any mount). I've no doubt I'll get a lot of theoretical answers too ;-) Just keep in mind that this is about visual astronomy NOT astrophotography which I know brings in a whole other list of considerations.