OK, thanks for the kind responses.....
I am just a bit confused at this point......everything I have researched tells me that this lift was made by Rega, and countless comparisons from images along with the maintenance info on VinylEngine confirms this as accurate. When I contacted NAS, Penny Jones sent me a reply that contradicts all this:
Thank you for your enquiry.
The lift/lower device will need replacing.
You must not use any grease / oil and there is no way to 'tighten' up the movement.
Sometimes heat / cold can effect these devices.
Please contact our distributor for the US, they should be able to help you.
Contact: Audio Encounter Solutions (aka Hollywood Sound, Florida).
I hope the above is of help to you.
With kind regards
Nottingham Analogue Studio"
So, where does this leave me? Rega even spells out that there IS a grease: "Re-grease using only Rega supplied lift-lower grease..." More digging reveals that this is actually pure silicon oil 300K cst. Maybe my old, original lift would indeed have been salvageable had I known this.....
After disassembling the new one, I found.....you guessed it, that sticky silicon stuff in the piston/cylinder. While Rega directs one to "completely fill the groove in the piston," there was only a very, very tiny amount of it in the groove. I carefully removed what was in the groove and applied it to the piston before re-assembling and the lift now drops somewhat slower, so that should be an indicator that there was too little applied from the manufacturer to begin with?
I am still waiting on the aforementioned return call from Hollywood Sounds, although they told me originally that they did not believe these could be fixed and that a new one was the only way to remedy the situation. I would have been plenty happy to spring for a new one provided it worked correctly, but getting one that drops faster than it should kind of sours me on this "deal." I'm in hopes that a small amount of the 300K cst will be all that is required to get it to drop in the fashion one might expect, slowly and accurately. Will keep everyone posted as I see this has been an issue for more than just myself.