21 September 2018 | Chris
I would have loved so much to have been able to award 5 stars to this. I have always felt that the Flextube OTA is a design classic. It is simplicity itself to set up, holds collimation well and Synta tubes normally have decent mirrors which, frankly, will show you all there is to be seen 99 times out of a 100 under turbulent UK skies! And then there is the SW base. Ah, the notorious Skyliner rocker box! SW have been making these for God knows how long and yet to the best of my knowledge they have never attempted to upgrade or modernize the bearings in any way. I hear the argument that it would not be possible to upgrade the basic model and still maintain the low price level, but I believe there is a glaring gap in the market for an affordable 'de-luxe' dob that sits somewhere between the Flextube (circa £500-£800 for the 10" and 12" models) and the custom, hand-built jobs (Lukehurst, Teeter, Obsession, et al) at £2k plus. Most people complain about the azimuth bearing on the SWs, but to me the alt bearings present a far greater problem. The flextubes tend to be slightly top-heavy anyway, and if you have twin finders, for example, heavy eps, cameras etc. you will probably need some form of counterweight, and then the alt movements get really creaky! Literally. There are a number of fairly simple fixes for the az bearings, but for alt it is not so straightforward. One suggested 'simple' fix is to wrap high temp ptfe tape around the alt bearings - I have a reel of this winging its way to me in the post so remains to be seen how effective it is. Failing this a more permanent fix which may be more effective is to replace the plastic bearings with virgin ptfe tube. I have located some of this but it will cost around 50 quid unless I can persuade them to supply me with a shorter length! I for one would happily pay a premium for a flextube design tube on a rocker box with a decent set of bearings!!