How do their Crayfords compare?
From motoring media, I have read some really rubbish bearings come out of China, and IIRC Canada & other countries ban import of products from certain makers & outlets since road safety is affected by bearings mashing up etc.
I am sure makers like Moonlite & SI who rely on reputation, would buy proven quality bearings though. ES92 + 4× 2" Powermate + AP Maxbright diagonal as a load, what would you choose, Crayford or r&p?
I personally am done with crayfords.
I don't know if feather touch continues to make crayfords. Think I may have seen them on the website but I would not have paid much attention because I was totally focused on R&P.
I had a stellarview telescope with lomo optics a nice overbuilt triplet apo. It had the feather touch rack and pinion. It had very little focus travel and was unsuited for solar viewing. And in fact I think my friend sold it to me because he found the same focuser to be inadequate for astrophotography, in terms of focus travel.
In addition it was a heavy build which is a thing that I might admire under most conditions but for putting it up on top of my c14 it posed a number of issues. The c14 and the refractor just went over some threshold of manageability and I did not think I could safely balance the telescope with that lomo tank up on top.
When I got my CFF 92 mm one of the reasons I wanted to get a 92 mm was because I wanted a triplet but I wanted to keep the weight down. CFF allows you to set the specifications for the focuser you want and so I went for a 3.5-in feather touch with a lot of focus travel. I think it is something on the order of 180 mm.
Although moonlite probably has been using decent bearings the fact is I've cracked a few. This comes from the natural but highly unfortunate habit of grabbing the telescope by the focus tube when you want to move it to another part of the sky. That is going to crack your moonlight bearings. The substitute bearings I got had very high specifications but I don't know the specifications of moonlights bearings and so there's not much to say on this point. Plus after I've spent an hour or two researching bearings and then going through the hassle of replacing them on the moonlight focuser it is kind of like getting traffic tickets for speeding eventually you decide the game is not worth the candle and you reduce your speed. what that means for a refractor is that you begin to think that grabbing your scope by the focus tube is a real bad idea, which it is.
However it is a sloppy operational procedure which you can do with a feather touch just fine because they are that strong.
As for how your should upgrade I don't have much to say. As you can see there were multiple considerations with the l o m o refractor and had I gotten it a rack and pinion focuser with a longer draw tube my weight problems would have gotten worse not better. so it was time to realize that putting money into that refractor was not going to allow it to do what I wanted it to do.
If you think you're going to get into astrophotography and solar observing then it might be worth your money to get a feather touch. And in particular if you have multiple scopes you might just want to get one feather touch focuser and a whole bunch of adapters for different tubes.
eventually you have to decide whether in fact the refractor that you happen to have today is in fact a forever refractor. You can save significant money by getting a moonlight or a Chinese aftermarket focuser. As time goes by you may discover that the telescope has not just one but several limitations and that it is time to move on to something else.
Of course nothing prevents you from keeping the OEM focuser and when the time comes to sell your scope put it back on. Then you can keep the moonlight or the feather touch and put it on the next scope if the fit is right or you can sell them independently.
But you do need to be alert to the fact that if you stay in hobby your needs and requirements of a telescope may change. When I bought my Daystar quark H alpha equipment for solar viewing I thought I was dropping a couple of grand to make my refractor able to look at the sun. Well I do have refractors that can use that equipment. But what I also discovered was that I had to refractors that absolutely could not use that equipment. One was the vixen with the moonlight focuser. They're the problem was that the focuser could not handle the load. The problem with the lomo was that the focus are probably could have handled the load but did not have the travel to allow me to reach focus.
So venturing into H alpha viewing had the unexpected impact of making not one but two refractors obsolete at least as far as I was concerned. You're observing may take you in some direction that you do not anticipate today and the same thing may happen to you.