What to use for lube

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
If lubes don't work, I'd take the strings off and check if the Bigsby "free falls" When you lift it and drop it in place. It should face no resistance when it falls. Maybe it's a bit out of alignment or may need a shim. Just a thought.
That's the plan. Just waiting on the Tune It to arrive and then the Bigsby will get a thorough inspection, including removal and disassembly. If there is any friction or resistance at all, it will get attended to.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Oct 18, 2015
12,057
Germany
I use Tri-Flow for the slots in my guitar`s nut. This stuff is incredible. A super-lubricant.
But I would not use it on my Bigsby because I would fear that it would catch-up dust or dirt.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
I use Tri-Flow for the slots in my guitar`s nut. This stuff is incredible. A super-lubricant.
But I would not use it on my Bigsby because I would fear that it would catch-up dust or dirt.

I looked into that one and it appears to be silicone based, or at least it contains silicone. General consencus is that it is very good and generally safe except that it reacts with lacquer. My tele has a lacquer finish so I'm reluctant to use it on the Bigsby. As you say, probably fine for the nut though. One that seems highly touted is lanolin, from sheeps wool, but I have some for use as a skin moisturizer and it feels very sticky. This stuff that I have on order, 'Tune It,' is supposed to be very safe for all guitar materials. I'm going to remove the Bigsby today and check for warpage or any friction.
 

dswo

Gretschie
Apr 8, 2017
105
East Carolina
For surf music only:

rsqh6x6x.jpg
 

jvin248

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
153
Near Detroit
.

The problem with oils and greases is that they accumulate dirt, dust, and grit. Then your nicely oiled contact points end up with more friction than if you had used nothing.

Dry graphite door lock 'lube', a powder, may be the best option.

That's what I use in nut slots.

Then I put a little in the door locks while I have it out.

.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
IMG_20220122_143615410_HDR.jpg IMG_20220122_145714413_HDR.jpg Problem solved; I think. I took the Bigsby apart and spent a couple hours pouring alcohol into the berings where the axle runs through. (The axel cannot be removed without taking the pins out.) When I installed the Bigsby the first time I did this same thing as there was sticky grease on everything; it was a brand new. This time, once again quite a bit of old grease came out. It involved pouring in a little alcohol, then wiping what runs through, getting as close to the bearings as possible. I used my fingernail and paper towels. The pohto shows what came out; multiply that by two as I used both sides of the paper towels. As I was reinstalling the Bigsby arm, I noticed a scratch on the inside of the coupling that fits on the axle. Clearly there was friction at that location. You can see the scratch in the picture. I filed and sanded the area that was rubbing against the bearing to get the necessary clearance and reassembled.

All set...but not. When I tightened the horseshoe to the guitar, it caused friction on the axle. I attributed this to warping of the horseshoe due to uneven tension from the four mounting screws. I played with the little felt shims and even tried mounting it without the felts; same problem. Then I noticed that the scratch that I had sanded out was back, or rather a new one. So, more sanding and experimenting with the realitive tightness of the mounting screws and shims, adding a tiny piece of foam on one side of the Bigsby. Finally I noticed that the coupling holding the arm to the axle was not a great fit, being slightly oversized and relying on the hex screw to hold it stable. I assume this causes the coupling to cant off at a slight angle, perhaps causing it to rub against the bearing in one area. Regardless, filing away some of the material where the coupling was rubbing against the bearing did the trick. I guess sand casting is maybe not so accurate. As cool and old school as it is, I personally wouldn't mind if they used a CNC machine for that part.

I'm about to go to the practice room and run 'er up the flagpole, so fingers crossed. As far as the grease goes, it mast have contributed to the problem as it was very sticky and dirty. For you guys who say no to lubing the Bigsby, this is a pretty good argument in your favor. If you're in the UK though, that would be in your 'favour.'
 

MadKaw

Gretschie
Apr 17, 2020
131
Michigan, USA
Don't know enough about Bigsbys to address them specifically, but for difficult lubing situations I have used G96 gun treatment for many years.
Long story:
I bought a can but as I was very fussy about my competition guns it just sat on the shelf. Around that time I was also doing a lot of work with my tractor and every time I'd have to change an implement I'd have to break the balls on the 3-point free. It took something like Break-free and a 4-foot-long breaker bar to free them up... I figured what the hey, can't hurt, right? So I took that can of G96 out there and sprayed the 3-point... still needed the breaker bar, but... here's the kicker... 6 months later the balls on the 3-point would spin like a roulette wheel.
So I started using it on my guns and lots of other stuff. Never gums, doesn't attract dirt, it's as close to a miracle as I expect to ever see.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
G96 Gun Treatment.....I'll look into it. Thanks for the tip. After I got everything reassembled and settled in, I thought the problem was solved, and it was for about 20 minutes. Then the Bigsby started to bind up again asnd make noise. Once I determined that it was not a squeaky spring I found the source in the azle/bearing section. then I read about adjusting the four mounting screws for even tension on the horseshoe. Tried many times and everything looks great, but when I tune it back up, the friction and noise in the axle bearing assemble returns. I even tried additional foam under the horseshoe and no amount of tinkering with the mounting screw makes any difference. besides, the axle and tension bar are aligned perfectly. The tension roller spins freely like a top. The only thing left is some lube in the bearings but I'm waiting on that.

I've never had this problem with a Bigsby, ever, and the one on the other Tele works perfectly. I'm starting to think that maybe I just got a bad B5. If I knew for sure the horseshoe was fine, I might spring for those swanky Callaham upgrages; new axle, tension roller, and arm coupling bracket, but that's probably as much as a new B5.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
Can't hurt to give it a try Tony. The whole day and evening was spent working on this thing. I do think I got a bad one, but I've learned quite a bit and have it working reasonably well. Those three little felt pads on the underside of the horseshoe? They are important in adjusting the tension between the four mounting screws. The potential it there to create binding in the axle/bearing mechanism. Slight differences in downward pressure affect the alignment of the axle and tension roller and if one corner of the horseshoe is too tight, warping can occur and cause binding. Callaham mentions this in one of their videod and I found another online YouTube video where it is actually demonstrated. Now I've experienced it myself; I had no idea. I still have some slight friction (binding?) in the axle, but it's not too bad; just not 100% as it should be. Maybe some lube will do the trick.

After seeing how large the tolerances are, I think I'll order a new Callaham axle and arm coupling bracket.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
UPDATE: The store emailed me today and said that the lube I ordered is out of stock; this was after they said they shipped. So I bought a can of 3 in 1 oil; it didn't help. But... I removed the arm and bracket that rotates the main shaft once again and saw that the coupling was still rubbing against the bearing that the main shaft rotates inside. After filing away more material and reassembling the arm finally seems to return to its original position after use. This happened before but began rubbing again after about 20 minutes of use. I noticed that the hex screw that holds the coupling bracket (arm bracket?) to the shaft loosens up. This allows the bracket to cant off at a slight angle as it does not fit snugly over the shaft to begin with. This results in it rubbing against the bearing. I'm wondering if whoever is overseeing manufacturing now is getting the main shaft somewhere else. The bearings are stamped 'Made in USA' but the shaft???? Something is not right in terms of the fit. The next time I change strings on the other Tele with the old B5 I'll check to see how the fit is between the shaft and arm bracket, then I'll know if there has been a change in tolerances. This is a brand new B5, and I've never encountered this before.
 

journeyman

Synchromatic
Aug 20, 2009
541
Toronto, Ontario
Well, it worked great for about a half an hour, then the shaft started to bind again. there is clearance getween the shaft bearing and the arm bracket, so that problem has been solved, but why soes the main shaft start binding. I played with the tension between the four mounting screws, main shaft and tension shaft are in line....I'm totally stumped.It must be the shaft or one or both bearings. the only way to remove the main shaft is to remove the pins and I don't know if I have the ability or the tools to drill string holes in the shaft. has anyone here done this?
 


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