Giving Lube a Chance: Playtest Reports

Discussion in 'Strings' started by corners, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. corners

    corners Legend

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    In response to the TW Professor's most recent paper, the results of which suggest that it is string wear and resulting increase of interstring friction that is primarily responsible for copoly strings "going dead," there is renewed interest in using lubrication to "revive" strings.

    This is not a new idea. In fact, the way in which copoly strings generate more spin - the sideways sliding and snap back of the main strings - was first discovered after some researchers in Japan applied lubrication to strings way back in 2005. If you haven't heard and seen that story: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-new-physics-of-tennis/308339/

    For a deeper look at the effects of lubrication on string performance, check out this great paper by the TW Professor from 2011. The Professor found that as strings become worn and notched through play that their spin potential is reduced. But when lubrication is applied spin potential is "revived," and in some cases becomes greater even than when the strings were new. This paper is also very relevant right now because many players are trying Wilson's new Spin Effect racquets. This paper includes experiments on 16x10 pattern racquets that provide very useful information for players struggling to make the Steams a viable match-day racquet rather than just a novelty string-eating device.

    So this thread is for reports from the TT Community on their experiences with lubrication. As with any playtest reports, please provide as much information about the racquet, the strings, the string pattern, the string tension, and your playing style and level as possible. Lab tests have shown that spin generation varies a great deal, even with the same string, depending on the tension, string pattern and swing speed. So if you include this information other posters can better learn from your experience and use it to plan their own experiments.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
    #1
  2. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    Awesome title....:)
     
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  3. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I didn't notice any increased spin or refreshening of the strings with the 'hand cream' Black Magic / ZX string job.
     
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  4. kaiser

    kaiser Semi-Pro

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    Applied 'ArmorAll' (basically silicon oil) to my full poly stringbeds an number of times. Feels slightly better but not hugely so. But then, compared to most posters here I am not very sensitive to small changes in racket and string setup. For example, I don't feel a mind-boggling difference between a fresh and a well-used full poly stringbed. Guess I'm just not good enough...
     
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  5. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    "Honey, I need to use some lube so I can test it and bang away a few with the guys..."
     
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  6. sm01

    sm01 Rookie

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    I've been using silicon spray (3M brand) on my RPM Blast 18 strings strung in the mid 40#s in my head microgel prestige pros for quite a while and just recently switched to a cheap hand lotion after reading about that here. The lubricant does not damage the strings as far as I can tell, and I perceive that its use maintains the consistency of the spin. I don't think that it improves it from the strings when new, because I think that they come lubed from the factory, it just helps maintain more consistent sliding action and thus the spin characteristics, IMHO.
     
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  7. S&V Specialist

    S&V Specialist Rookie

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    I use any wax-based hand lotion. I find it to improve feel, spin, sound, and smell of the stringbed without leaving marks on the balls.
     
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  8. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=449082&highlight=ptfe

    Above is a thread covering a PTFE and silicone experiment that I did. Silicone didn't seem to do much. PTFE worked but has health concerns so I didn't press forward with it.

    I now use baby oil not so much to lube my poly crosses since I can't see that lasting long but to soften the gut mains which seem to become dry and frayed with use. The baby seems to restore their spring.
     
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  9. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Same experience with silicone. No big deal.

    PTFE on the other hand worked but does bad things to your body. Not worth it.
     
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  10. corners

    corners Legend

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    Silicone sprays may lay down too thin a coating that then rubs off too quickly.

    The original string lubricant, Mira-Fit from Japan, which was shown to restore the spin potential or notched and worm syngut and natural gut strings, is a silicone-based cream. It works the best out of the things I've tried. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available outside of Japan.
     
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  11. Sander001

    Sander001 Hall of Fame

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    Yonex 001 Midsize was strung with Volkl Cyclone 18 @ 60lbs in October with perhaps 6-8hrs of use: Applied some cocoa body lotion and played with it a few days ago and it played quite nicely...for about 20-30 minutes. Then it seemed that i lost some spin.
    Didn't bring the lotion with me, i should have. Next time i will and i'll re-apply during some changeovers. Fast and easy to apply.
    I will avoid using this racquet for drills so it will last to see if lotion application will be useful indefinitely.
     
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  12. mike84

    mike84 Semi-Pro

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    so any hand lotion will work?

    want to try it with big hitter black.
     
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  13. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    In the TW paper quoted above it states that the spin effect of the lubricant is reversed if the tension is too low.

    So the problem may be that by the time people start using the product the tension in their strings is too low to benefit from the effect.

    Although this was only shown for the extremely wide string pattern, the reason for the lessened topspin is the interesting part.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
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  14. Old Chemist

    Old Chemist Rookie

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    I also use Armor All. It's a water-based emulsion of silicone and wax -- not messy -- just spray on and wipe off excess. I apply it when I restring my racquet and usually again after 3-4 h of play. I find it reduces notching and extends the strings playability.

    I am also experimenting with Babolat string savers which I believe are made of teflon -- might be something to consider for those who don't like to spray or apply creams to their strings.
     
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  15. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    silicone based creams? Astroglide qualifies:<)
     
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  16. mixedmedia

    mixedmedia Professional

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    I definitely agree with this. Simple, cheap, and effective. Btw, if you don't want the scent, mineral oil is the same thing.
     
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  17. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Just sprayed a load of 3-in-1 PTFE based spray onto a used Black Magic / ZX stringjob. This stuff absolutely stinks. Probably sprayed too much on because it collects around the string intersections like the webbed parts of ducks feet. Waving the racquet around forcefully seemed to get rid of the excess. Will let it dry overnight and see how it plays.
     
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  18. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I used the silicone spray in our locker room one time right before my opponent came in. He came in and was like "What the heck is that smell?".
     
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  19. corners

    corners Legend

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    Yeah, good point. If the tension is too low, lubricating the intersections results in the mains sliding too far out of line and then not having time to snap back and generate extra spin. And that study would suggest that the more open the pattern the bigger a problem this would be. On the other hand, people using open patterns should be stringing at higher tensions anyway.

    But definitely, if lubing your old stringjob does not revive its spin potential this might indicate that your strings have simply lost too much tension to be functional. And how much tension loss is too much? I think this really depends on swingspeed, and to a less extent the speed of the shots you face. If one's swing is rather slow then lower tensions would be welcome because you'd still be able to get those mains sliding and stretching sideways. For faster swings, you'd want the mains a bit stiffer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
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  20. corners

    corners Legend

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    Cool. Look forward to hearing how it goes.
     
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  21. jason586

    jason586 Rookie

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    My experiences with lotion are good with full BM and BM crossed with PS Classic in a 16x19 Vantage 95. I don't normally start applying lotion until a stringjob is about 15 hours old and the mains are nearly 1/3 notched through. The lotion definitely makes the bed softer, more controllable, and very playable for me (I play 4.0+ mostly baseline game with heavy topspin). After the lotion, I have more control of the ball again but with less power from the deader stringbed which I do not mind as I sometimes play with Kevlar mains.
    I would say it does not help with the transfer of shock/vibration to the arm though as the only time I ever get shoulder pain is with dead poly, and the lotion makes no difference with the shoulder pain even though the playing characteristics are better. I carry a small lotion in my bag, and it takes me about a minute to put it on the crosses for both sides of the racquet and to move the mains back forth. The effect seems to last about 2 hours.
    I tried the red can of silicone spray from Wal-M, and the effect was minimal (not as good as lotion). What effect I saw only seemed to last about 30 minutes the few times I tried it.

    Next time I string a new full poly string job, I'll try lotion every 2 hours from the start just to see if I can tell any difference on newer strings.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013
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  22. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Two crucial points about lubing your racquet:

    1. Never let your significant other see you do it. He or she may get jealous.

    2. Never talk to your racquet while lubing it...for obvious reasons.

    :)
     
    #22
  23. Rjtennis

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    It doesn't mean you are not good enough to tell the differences. Some are just more sensitive than others.
     
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  24. Muppet

    Muppet Hall of Fame

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    I'm very good at feeling what's happening with my equipment and making improvements in them, but I can't construct a point to save my life.
     
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  25. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    PTFE spray definitely rejuvenates the spin potential of an old string job - in my my case a Black Magic / ZX hybrid, though it doesn't restore all of the playability or 100% of the consistency of the strings when you take into account tension loss, wear on the strings etc.

    The effect lasts for maybe a set or so. Stringbed also feels slightly softer, probably as a result of the strings sliding more easily. At times, there's probably more spin than a fresh stringjob, but a fresh stringjob feels better and is more playable overall in terms of consistency and control.

    Not sure whether I used too much spray, but the balls seemed to be messed up slightly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  26. The Meat

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    I've read that i's a dry lubricant. Does it dry into a powder or waxy coating?
     
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  27. corners

    corners Legend

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    An effective lube should mitigate or even erase the effects of notching, string wear, etc., for a time. But the other side of "going dead", tension loss, well, nothing can be done about that.

    A Japanese study found that when the mains slide freely dwell time is increased and shock reduced. This might be the most important use of lube. When fresh, poly mains slide and snap back freely, which reduces the shock of stringbed and makes them feel much softer than they really are. But as they get worn, scuffed, dented and notched they stop sliding freely and then we feel the true, arm-busting stiffness of poly. So lubing them should not only restore spin potential, somewhat, but also reduce shock.

    The first time I used lube was about five years ago on a "dead" Alu Power stringjob that came with a used racquet I had bought. They were dead, hard, gave no spin, felt like crap, put balls into the back fence, etc. I put on a silicone-based lube and they felt and played great.
     
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  28. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    The stringbed actually feels higher powered and springier. Not sure whether that's due to tension loss or the PTFE or a combination of both. The stringbed response isn't quite the same as fresh bed. For example, if I take a big rip on a groundstroke, there's power and spin - the trajectory of the ball is higher than with a fresh bed. Slice serves were insane. But if I played anything delicate such as a chipped return, the response from the strings isn't quite how I'd expect. It's almost as if the spin response varies depending on how much you get the get the strings to slide. A slice backhand also doesn't feel quite as controlled for example. A fresh stringbed seems to provide a narrower but more consistent range of responses. A PTFE sprayed stringbed, with used strings, seems to provide a bigger range of responses but a less predictable one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  29. corners

    corners Legend

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    It sounds very much like the differences between a fresh bed of copoly strung at 55 and a fresh bed of copoly strung at 35.

    A good experiment would be to pit a copoly with very good tension stability (4G, Proline X, Tourbite 16L, 17, according to the lab tests) against a copoly with horrible tension stability (Polystar Energy and Turbo are the worst) and see how they both respond to lubing once "dead." (In TWU testing, 4G 16L lost 10.8 pounds and Polystar Energy 17 lost 32.2 pounds! No wonder why everyone says Energy is so "powerful", it loses so much tension that everyone is playing it below 40 pounds.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  30. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    It's not that extreme!

    I'm speculating here but I just wonder whether the effects are because the 'dents' in the string are still there. We know that the strings dent in the intersections over time. The PTFE spray goes mostly over the parts of the strings other than the intersections (as the parts of the string are covered where the strings intersect). If you put enough force through the strings eg. big groundstrokes, you force the mains out of the 'dents' in the crosses, as a result of which they hit the slipper PTFE coated parts of the crosses, thus generating this increased spin. On a less forceful stroke, maybe there's not force to move the strings out of the dents so easily in the same way, which results in a less consistent sliding action compared to when the strings are fresh (when when they're unmarked and undented). I don't see how this type of spray can 'fill' dents. I could be wrong but its a hypothesis...

    Overall, I think its probably worth doing (versus the cost of cutting out and restringing) but I don't think there's anything quite as good or as consistent as a fresh string job.
     
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  31. corners

    corners Legend

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    I agree with you about denting Torres, although I think the mains probably "drag" the lubrication into the dents after a couple hits, even if the spray doesn't get in there initially. And lubrication should make it easier for the main to get out of the dent, but there will still be more friction than with a flat pristine surface. So cross strings that don't dent should be a focus.

    Yeah, nothing like fresh copoly. The pros pick up a fresh stringjob every seven games and we muck around with lubricants.
     
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  32. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
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  33. corners

    corners Legend

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    My only concern would be ball impacts blasting the PTFE particles into breathing distance.

    Most tennis courts: Check
     
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  34. S&V Specialist

    S&V Specialist Rookie

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    Took 3 identical racquets out today. All strung at 57# with Cyber Flash 17. One freshly strung, and two with about 6 hours of wear that were all notched up. I applied PTFE spray to one bed of notched strings and hand lotion to the other. Hand lotion outplayed PTFE spray in every category except for power. Fresh strings (no lube) were better in all categories except spin (power doesn't count because of tension loss.)
    Just my thoughts.
     
    #34
  35. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    In the tw article it says they sprayed the strings and then used a screwdriver to ensure the silicone lubricated the notches by levering the strings away from each other.
     
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  36. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I'm no expert on this but I thought PTFE was only dangerous if its heated to too high a temperature and it gives off fumes? Don't they use this stuff on frying fans where its in contact with food?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
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  37. corners

    corners Legend

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    Yeah, but I think a couple of topspin shots will lever the mains sideways enough to pick up lube from the crosses and drag it back into the intersections. Of course a player could always do this manually if they wanted, but in my experience simply applying to the stringbed and hitting a couple balls works.
     
    #37
  38. corners

    corners Legend

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    You're probably right, but I try to err on the side of being a wimp when it comes to airborne chemicals and particles. I don't want to breathe em even if they are supposed to be non-toxic.
     
    #38
  39. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Further thoughts:

    I resprayed the stringbed for a 2nd time with PTFE spray, this time with a single lighter coat.

    I don't think there's any doubt that PTFE improves the spin from a 'dead' stringbed. But based on my experiments, I don't think a lubricant spray is a miracle cure. It's better than nothing (ie cutting out or continuing to play with 'dead' strings) but I didn't find that I got the same consistency of response from the stringbed as with a freshly strung set of strings.

    Obviously, there's no remedy for tension loss or the characteristics of the strings changing over time. The spin response isn't entirely consistent and the response of the ball off the strings isn't really the same, particularly in terms of control from the stringbed. I also found that it needs quite a heavy lashing of PTFE for spin to be revived. 3 heavy coats of PTFE were better than a single light coat of PTFE.

    It may work better with a full bed of poly but with the Magic Magic / ZX stringbed I tried it on, there's wasn't really anything to compensate for the Black Magic losing tension and the stringbed becoming more powerful as a result. So although, there's a revival (to an extent) of spin from the stringbed, there's nothing that negates the loss of control from the stringbed as a result of the string(s) losing tension or anything to restore that fresh/crisp feel of a freshly strung stringbed. Playing with this lubed up stringbed this evening (lubed for the 2nd time), I just wasn't getting the same sort of confidence from the stringbed compared to fresh strings. That newspaper story about pros turning up at Wimbledon with secretly lubed up strings, I suspect is probably a myth.

    I think I'm going to try a lubricant again (might as well since I now have a can of this PTFE spray) but next time on a full bed of bed of something, probably Brown Monogut ZX 1.27 (which has good tension maintenance) and see how it performs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #39
  40. treo

    treo Rookie

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    I'm not interested in lubing strings to enhance playing characteristics, I'm more into using it to keep my syn gut mains from breaking quickly when crossed with poly. I want to eliminate the creaking friction sound that causes the mains to notch and break. What I've found to last a whole match is Johnson Paste wax. I push the crosses down to expose the notches on the mains and wipe the wax vertically to get into the notches and then let dry. I'm going to try Volkl Cyclone gear shaped poly crosses so I can get the wax embedded in the strings.
     
    #40
  41. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    Interesting! Never thought of that - will give it a try.

    Thanks!
     
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  42. mark999

    mark999 Rookie

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    been working in plastics for 20 plus years. the best teflon spray for plastics is a product called Mclube Sailkote. available online or in boat stores. comes in liquid or spray can. no danger from teflon unless it's super heated. it's inert at normal temps. work with guys from dupont all the time and that's what they tell me.
     
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  43. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Mark999! Googled it - looks very good.

    Question for you - do you think it would work with a natural Gut/Poly hybrid? Would it affect the gut adversely?
     
    #43
  44. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Played with the Black Magic / ZX hybrid again this evening which has been PTFE lubed up for a 3rd time.

    The lube seems to having less and less effect. Slice serves are still pretty good in terms of the bend that you can put on the trajectory of the serve but everything else is not so good. Stringbed is feeling quite boardy and a bit dead, and I'm not getting consistent ball depth. It's unpredictable what sort of length you get on the ball. Feel from the stringbed doesn't feel that good either.

    I think these strings are knackered and no amount of lube is going to save them. Time to cut them out.
     
    #44
  45. mark999

    mark999 Rookie

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    should be fine on gut and all plastics.
    the other mclube teflon products should be avoided (they are metal mold releases), only sailkote is made for coating plastics.
     
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  46. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    The string loses its resiliency and playability, no lubrication is going to change that. If you string yourself then get a spool of your choice and string at least once a week and quit wasting your time and getting the balls all gunked up because you are a tight ***.

    There is no magic or snake oil that is going to make poly string last a long time. Make the choice go to nat. gut, or a hybrid which keeps its playability a little longer. But if you use all poly then you need to string often, that is all there is to it.
     
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  47. corners

    corners Legend

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    According to TW University's recent paper on "going dead", loss of "resilience" does not appear to be a major factor. "going dead" seems to be a combination of tension loss and increased interstring friction. This thread is a place for people to report on their experiences using lubrication to adress the latter.
     
    #47
  48. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Yes.......for too long we've all been over thinking things too much!

    And, all this jazz about cutting strings out after a week because they are no good for various reasons has us all wasting a lot of $. I have been guilty of this as well....but no more! I am going with gut/poly and will play till it breaks.

    As an aside, a good tennis friend of mine, who won the 5.5 UT league and finished runner up in 6.0- this year, has played with the same poly strings for over a year! He doesn't go out and analyze if his strings have lost half a lb of tension, if the mains are sliding back quite the same, etc. he just goes out and plays and doesn't think about any of this junk! Ill bet tennis is a lot more fun for him too.......
     
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  49. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I've switched to straight baby oil for the gut/poly combo in an effort to make the gut last a little longer. I coat the bed down pretty heavily after each use, then wipe off the excess before using the racquet the next time. It seems to be working well.
     
    #49
  50. v-verb

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    I got my Pro Staff 85 with Klip gut yesterday and used baby (mineral) oil. Worked well, the gut mains were even snapping back!

    And the racquet played amazing. I'm a fan of gut. The balls did get a tad oily though - have to wipe the strings of better:oops:
     
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