I've just restored my 98' Kona Caldera, but I left the fork like it was since it seemed to work smoothly enough. Considering I would like to not mess with a fork (like everybody), even if I've done some time in the past with some other spring fork with success, after some rides I feel some play of the tubes inside, especially under front braking. It's not super severe, I tried to make a video but it's invisible by eye, it's probably 1/4 mm of play and not so easy to replicate. It seems a minor issue but this doesn't give me too much confidence in some trails and in some high speed descend, so what should I really do? Is this supposed to work like this since it's an old technology, or it's not working correctly? When it compress it's not super smooth, but I would not even call it grindy... So I don't really know what to do. Do you know if there is any oil inside this model, or some guides to refeer?
After your suggestions I decided to take a look... Honestly they were quite easy to disassemble, I think this is an example of a good build fork (no talking about the performance here), it's light (1.5kg) and easy to maintain, inside it was pristine, no sign of dirt anywhere, which for a 22 year fork is just amazing (I don't know how it has been used, I bought the bike some months ago from a guy who doesn't really know something about). I discovered the origin of play, is here supposed to be a foam seal?
Since I'm cheap, I decided to make ones from a foam package which seems surprisingly similar to the kind of foam you find in the forks.
This seems to have solved the play problem, just for info mine mesures 1cm height and 3.5mm width (with a +/- 0.5mm margin, not really precise). I cut the length while I was putting in place, so I don't really know. The nice thing is that this foam made the fork less pogo-stick feel, and more proper actually by adding a little bit of rebound. Never tried an High-end fork, so can't really compare, but it works better. At the time of the disassembly I was expecting no oil, but surprisingly there was very little oil, so little I tough it was put here by mistake because on the web it was impossible to find any info about that. For now I just put some teflon grease and it seems to work better than before, do you think is that safe to use? Would oil make it work better? Which oil I should use? I should also replace at least one elastomer, take a look here...
Where to buy a proper replacement without braking the bank? I don 't really want to use in hard trails, but I can find a cheap replacement I would be happier.