I am a newbie and just picked up a used Celestron Firstscope 114EQ for $90. I'm trying to get into the hobby for a minimum cost to try it out, then maybe pick up a nicer scope later. My first look through this scope is promising. However, with this being a used scope, it was missing the counterweight shaft and weights when I got it. I've been researching a ton and trying to figure out how to use this, but one thing I'm wondering is, do I NEED the counterweights? I'm pretty sure I need them if I want to polar align the mount, because it falls down when I have it in a rough alignment right now.
However... I have been able to manually adjust/point the scope and it seems to be working OK at the moment, just not really taking advantage of the EQ mount. Below is a quick pic of my scope, I'll try to get a better pic of the mount but I'm pretty sure it's an EQ-2 from the descriptions I've read.
I think I've figured out that I need a 12mm smooth shaft, likely with an M10 thread. I can't find anything used that fits the bill without spending at least $40-$50. Right now, the cheapest option looks to be buying a second used scope and using components from that. If not that, I'll probably try to find some M10 threaded rod and make my own counterweight shaft and counterweights. I'm guessing I could do that in the $10-$20 range.
First real question: will I do any damage to the mount if the scope isn't balanced?
Second question: without any drive motors, is there a large benefit to polar align a scope? Or should I just keep manually pointing it at targets without worrying about polar alignment?
Thanks for the help!