Sorry, lance; I didn't read the whole thread, and this was probably suggested already; but if you're having problems shooting at really low temps, I'd suggest a small warming blanket (12V), or some warming packs. Even the RED at $17500 needs those for low temp recording, and that doesn't even have a TAPE!!
Keeping equipment warm with such measures is not really uncommon, and not dependent on the price of the equipment.
If your Sony 8mm cams did perform where some other equipment doesn't it might not be so much a failure of the other equipment, but speaks to a neat design/feature of the Sony's.