Early fiber splicing machines used brass gears and ceramic v-groove. Quality that lasts to this day. With proper cleaning and regular oiling, these machines remain dependable and reliable.
As prices began to drop, brass gears were replaced with nylon. Not as robust as brass; but with a good scrub and silicone grease coating, these machines remain dependable and reliable.
As competition heated up and clones hit the market, plastic gearing and plastic v-grooves have become the norm. 18 months is about the lifespan of this gearing, shorter if stored in high temperature. Exercise these machines regularly to avoid “flat spots” or sprocket seize. Be aware gearing is not available outside the OEM and there are no oils or greases for plastic.
Find a vintage machine or direct drive design for use on those Southern summer jobs.