No ball scopes here. With standard Dobs, I have tried about everything, Sailkote, Turtle Wax, Armor All, dry, various lubes.
What I found that really works, that transforms a sticky scope to a scope with excellent motions, simple bar soap. I wet the soap and rub it over the lamnate's contact surface a few covering the entire surface. I let it dry a few minutes..
This is a standard old time carpentry technique for wooden drawers and the like.
Wow, great idea! I hadn't considered that, but I do get the impression that soap (even gummed-up soap on the ring) would have very good stiction characteristics. I wonder if maybe something like paraffin wax would behave similarly?
The thing with ball scopes like this is that the friction is not really the issue. It's actually OK if there is a fairly high coefficient of friction, because it helps ensure that the scope doesn't "drift" once you have it pointed somewhere. But it's critical that the stiction be as low as possible.
A good example of the movement characteristics I'm looking for, is on the focus knob of my C6 SCT. The knob has quite a bit of friction...it takes quite a bit of force to move it, and and resists moving very fast. However, a light touch will slowly adjust the focus, without any jerking or really any noticeable stiction at all. I presume this is accomplished with a fairly thick, sticky grease on the threads.
Obviously a thick, sticky grease is a no-go for a ball scope for many reasons, but maybe something like bar soap or paraffin wax would be a suitable substitute that wouldn't be as messy?
I don't own a Portaball or any kind of ballscope, so I wont offer any advice in that regards, but one thing I noticed in this whole discourse was your constant and non-altering use of simple green. The common denominator here if you will. quote:"Baseline: sphere and base cleaned with Simple Green" No one else has mentioned it as well. Maybe its the issue, especially since others have had better experience with the same products you said you tried? Something to consider. For the record, lots of folks have tried John Issacs ideas on bar soap and it reportedly has worked well for everyone that has posted.
Simple Green is a very effective degreaser, which is why I have been using it: it strips all the wax and oils off so I have a fresh, clean surface to try another product with. But you're totally right -- it very well could be leaving some kind of residue that I'm not accounting for.
Today I cleaned the sphere with mineral spirits, and found that it removed the old gummed-up RZ-50 *much* better than the Simple Green had been. I then applied a coat of StarBrite wax, let it dry for about half an hour, then buffed it off with a microfiber cloth. While I was at it, I pulled the PTFE tubing out of the base and gave it a good cleaning with mineral spirits.
When I reassembled the scope, I found that the movement was *much* more "slippery" than it has ever been -- even with the RZ-50. However, I'm still not convinced that the stiction has improved.
My heavier PTFE tubing should be arriving tomorrow, so I can experiment with that as well. I'm going to try to avoid applying spray-on film lubricants if I can avoid it, since every time I've done that it eventually gums up in the base.