Author Topic: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks  (Read 1279 times)

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Offline jackrabbit

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PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 18:58:40 »
This is a warning to newcomers or reminder to the rest of us that not all switches need to be lubed and/or filmed to get the best performance out of them. I waited until my third batch of gateron silent inks to confirm this before posting, so I'm sure this isn't a fluke batch.

TL;DR: gat silent inks do not take well to lube or films. I find they are smoother with only the spring lubed, and unfilmed.

disclaimer: they are "fine" lubed. I am being very nitpicky here. The key is to type on them stock for a few days first. If you type on them for a few minutes brand new and then lube them sparingly, they feel much better at first. But after a few days of typing, stock/dry ones settle in and outstrip any lube job I have tried. I encourage you to try it for yourself if you decide to get a batch and have a hotswap board you can test this with.

Now, since any logical person would wonder if my lubing technique is the problem, or if there are better films out there than the ones I used, I can offer this: I've lubed non-silent gat black inks, tangies, silent alpacas, and cherry silent reds, all with both 205g0 and 3204. I have added Jinra THICC films, both the regular thickness and resized (thinner) versions, as well as tried lubing all those switches in different places (stems only, housing only, both, legs, no legs, springs, etc.)...I like experimenting with switches. I have gotten very familiar with tinkering with switches, and I know the difference between lube jobs I like and ones I don't like. This case with the gateron silent inks is definitely an outlier. All of those other switches have taken well to both lube and films. Some were not improved much by films, some were a lot. Different lubing amounts have yielded different levels of "buttery" vs. "fast glide", but all were improvements over stock, in my opinion.

The lube problem: When I lubed gateron silent inks, they felt great for a few hours, then became slightly worse. They started having more friction--a very slight resistance that wasn't consistent, and a stuttering/skipping feeling during the stroke. I figured I must have done a bad job lubing, so I got another batch of them (months later, after lubing other switches and getting familiar with it). After trying different combinations, I found using the smallest amount of lube I could, and only lubing the stem rails and springs with 3204 felt very good, so I proceeded to lube the rest of my batch like that and start using them. I loved them for a couple of days, but then the same thing happened and they became noticeably worse. This was not a big difference, mind--I am really nitpicky, having worked on various musical instruments over the years and being keyed in on the smoothness of things like switches and valves--I'll bet a lot of people who lubed their gat silent inks still like them just fine. But I bought a third batch of them just to verify what I felt, and sure enough, the new stock batch, after typing on them for a day or two and letting them settle in, are definitely smoother than any I have lubed. I lubed the springs to get rid of ping/crunch, and left them otherwise dry, and they are clearly the best ones I have.

I have not had this problem with other silent switches. There is something particular about the gat silent ink rails/dampening pads/housing that makes it so that any lube on the rails or rail housing eventually settles in a way that worsens their smoothness.

The filming problem: while trying to figure out the lubing issue, I also noticed that a lot of the filmed silent inks have another problem: if you press the switch down all the way with any sideways pressure, you can feel the edge of the stem slip underneath something and catch on the way up. when typing fast I notice it on switches I press with my ring and pinky fingers most often. I have tried examining the inside of the switch to see what parts are slipping where, but I have not been able to figure that out. If anyone knows or can find out, it may be an important finding. All I know is that in repeated tests, I have found this:

  • when I have no films in the switch, i can press the stem all the way down and wiggle it around without it slipping into any gaps or catching on anything,
  • when I have a thin film in the switch, at the bottom of the press when wiggling sideways there is some part of the stem that slips under the edge of something else and has to "slip back out" before coming up,
  • and the problem is magnified with thicker films, which is evidence that films create a small gap somewhere in the switch housing, or lift the top of the housing enough relative to the stem at the bottom of its stroke, that the stem has some space available to slip into that it shouldn't.

At the end of the day, it's just a sobering reminder of something that makes a lot of sense when you take a step back: it is easy to get so into the idea of filming and lubing switches to make them better that we assume (incorrectly) that all switches will benefit from this. Switches are, however, designed to work without modification. Even though most switches are improved by fixing imperfect fitment tolerances or by adding expensive lube that manufacturers wouldn't add themselves due to cost or manufacturing/supply limitations, modding switches can have unintended negative consequences because the switch designers did not test for performance defects with those upgrades in mind. We are experimenting when we mod switches, and the fact that these two common mods (filming and lubing) tend to improve the vast majority of switches is convenient, but not a guarantee. Gateron silent inks are amazing switches right out of the box, and lubing the springs makes them as perfect as they can get. They need to not have their top housing lifted to prevent parts from slipping around, and that's about it. If you've made it this far, thank you for reading, and I'd love to hear what you have to say about this.
"I like my keyboards thunderous and my plates stiff." -Maledicted

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 21:13:52 »
Thanks for pointing this out.

Regular Gateron Inks are often considered as being the linears that don't necessarily need to be lubed/filmed out-of-the-box.

So it's not surprising that stock Silent Inks break in okay.

Offline jackrabbit

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 21:55:55 »
That was definitely the case with my black inks, they were great out of the box. High-end linears are definitely on another level of smoothness than any silent switch though. Silent inks are great, but will never be as frictionless as black inks or tangies, for example. They are far smoother than cherry silent reds, and have less spring/leaf noise than silent alpacas, so with some lube on the spring and some break in time, they are easily my favorite silent linear so far.
"I like my keyboards thunderous and my plates stiff." -Maledicted

Offline Leslieann

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 05 January 2021, 22:06:26 »
The film issue sounds like what you suspect, the housing is now taller and snagging.

As for the lube getting worse, this sounds like a classic case of incompatible lubes being mixed. Running them through a sonic cleaner prior to lubing would probably result in a fantastic switch. I expect this to become more and more of an issue as manufacturers step up the lube game.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline jackrabbit

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 06 January 2021, 01:14:41 »
I didn't think silent inks had any factory lube on them, but if there is then that could be it! I checked around just now and can't find any answer on whether they come pre-lubed from the factory, but they looked very dry when I held the stems up to a light when I worked on them. The factory lube on tangies and alpacas was easy to see by comparison, so I would be surprised if the inks had any lube. I could be wrong though.

I only know of sonic baths from instrument repair, we used them to clean trumpet parts, but those machines were not cheap. What kind of places do people take their switch parts to get sonically cleaned? I might try that on the silent inks.
"I like my keyboards thunderous and my plates stiff." -Maledicted

Offline Leslieann

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 06 January 2021, 03:03:33 »
Pretty much every (decent?) switch has some lube it's only a matter of type and how much they bothered to use.

You can get a small ultra sonic cleaner for under $50, it's the larger and more optioned out models that get expensive. A jewelry shop could probably do it, as could an electronics repair shop, however the latter are few and far between these days.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline Rika

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 06 January 2021, 05:35:20 »
Pretty much every (decent?) switch has some lube it's only a matter of type and how much they bothered to use.

You can get a small ultra sonic cleaner for under $50, it's the larger and more optioned out models that get expensive. A jewelry shop could probably do it, as could an electronics repair shop, however the latter are few and far between these days.
I was under the impression of the reverse usually as if you purchase such a switch you probably want to do it yourself, although I suppose cleaning each switch isn't that bad for someone at that level.

Would help if there were a list of some kind of which switches have factory lube (so I don't end up the same soon) as I was looking at black inks aswell

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Offline Leslieann

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 06 January 2021, 22:29:40 »
I was under the impression of the reverse usually as if you purchase such a switch you probably want to do it yourself, although I suppose cleaning each switch isn't that bad for someone at that level.

Would help if there were a list of some kind of which switches have factory lube (so I don't end up the same soon) as I was looking at black inks aswell
Cherry, Alps, Zeal and most boutique switches are all pre-lubed. 
I'm fairly certain my Kailh Purple Pros were, my Box switches had a very obvious amount on on the clicker.
My Gaterons and Otemus don't look like it but if you wipe the Gaterons it appears they are. I didn't pull the Outemu to double check.

A thin layer of grease wouldn't be obvious and it would be the barest minimum, if there's enough to be obvious they used too much and that means they lost money. Most would be silicone but they could be using something even cheaper.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline jackrabbit

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 07 January 2021, 12:08:53 »
You can get a small ultra sonic cleaner for under $50

My urge to tinker is intensified.
"I like my keyboards thunderous and my plates stiff." -Maledicted

Offline Rika

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  • Location: Southern England
Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 07 January 2021, 13:54:25 »
I was under the impression of the reverse usually as if you purchase such a switch you probably want to do it yourself, although I suppose cleaning each switch isn't that bad for someone at that level.

Would help if there were a list of some kind of which switches have factory lube (so I don't end up the same soon) as I was looking at black inks aswell
Cherry, Alps, Zeal and most boutique switches are all pre-lubed. 
I'm fairly certain my Kailh Purple Pros were, my Box switches had a very obvious amount on on the clicker.
My Gaterons and Otemus don't look like it but if you wipe the Gaterons it appears they are. I didn't pull the Outemu to double check.

A thin layer of grease wouldn't be obvious and it would be the barest minimum, if there's enough to be obvious they used too much and that means they lost money. Most would be silicone but they could be using something even cheaper.
Hmmm, so for most things outside of running stock you'd have to either use an ultrasonic cleaner or wipe them down with paper towels or the like then, unless you can find confirmation there is none

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Offline mrvco

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 07 January 2021, 17:14:25 »
I lubed Silent Inks w/ 3204 (albeit lightly) and it did help with the bit of spring ping that I was hearing.  I'll have to compare them to a couple un-lubed Silent Inks that I still have left and see if there is any noticeable deg in the lubed ones.

Offline Adqam64

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 07 January 2021, 18:17:17 »
Man, my smart purchase of pre-lubed Silent Inks from mechmarket is starting to seem less smart...

Offline Leslieann

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 07 January 2021, 22:50:33 »
Hmmm, so for most things outside of running stock you'd have to either use an ultrasonic cleaner or wipe them down with paper towels or the like then, unless you can find confirmation there is none
Most people just YOLO it.

Wiping with paper towel...
Have you ever lubed a switch and seen how small and tight those corners are? You will never get rid of all the lube using a paper towel, ESPECIALLY silicone. That stuff is a nightmare to be rid of, it may as well be glitter. I can't imagine how long it would take to completely clean them by hand.

You could disassemble and use electronics cleaner but that brings new issues with it, it's a health hazard and like paper towels and spray lubing it's not guaranteed to get to all the nooks and crannies leaving solvent and contaminated lube to further contaminate your new lube. To me, it should be considered a last resort and only used after you removed as much as you can by hand.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline jackrabbit

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 09 January 2021, 00:33:07 »
Man, my smart purchase of pre-lubed Silent Inks from mechmarket is starting to seem less smart...

I wouldn't worry about it--when I said I was being nitpicky, I REALLY meant it. Lubed and filmed they are still a fantastic switch. I just think they are a tiny bit better without lube on the legs. It also makes more of a difference when you haven't typed on them in a while, within a few minutes of typing most of that initial friction goes away. If you like typing on yours, then you're all set.

The issue I was having with the films might also only affect the kind of films I used.
"I like my keyboards thunderous and my plates stiff." -Maledicted

Offline Adqam64

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 10 January 2021, 16:47:20 »
I wouldn't worry about it--when I said I was being nitpicky, I REALLY meant it. Lubed and filmed they are still a fantastic switch.

Thanks, that's reassuring! 

Offline mrvco

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 12 January 2021, 22:44:20 »
I plugged in an un-lubed Silent Ink to my M60-A w/ lightly lubed Silent Inks (3204) and I really couldn't tell any difference other than hearing the spring ping in the un-lubed switch (which is why I lubed them in the first place).

Offline Leslieann

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 13 January 2021, 07:57:26 »
I plugged in an un-lubed Silent Ink to my M60-A w/ lightly lubed Silent Inks (3204) and I really couldn't tell any difference other than hearing the spring ping in the un-lubed switch (which is why I lubed them in the first place).
Not every switch befits from lube.
Not every spring pings and not every spring stops pinging just because you lubed it (looking at you Cherry and Kailh).

Fun right?
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline mrvco

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Re: PSA: think twice before lubing gateron silent inks
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 14 January 2021, 14:02:00 »
Yep, it didn't take long for me to realize that a/b testing stock and lubed switches first was a good idea before spending the time and effort to lube 60+ switches.