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1960's Telescope Restoration Part 3 - by Herb Lapp

In this part of the article Herb continues with the restoration of the telescopes and tells us more about his experience working and Edmunds Scientifics.

Part 1 of this article is here

 

Part 2 ended showing the completed spray painting on the 4” base and equatorial axes.

The telescope pedestal base

 

Edmund used the same pedestal for both the 6” and 4-1/4” scopes. You can see there wasn’t much beef put into the right ascension and declination axes. But the mirror is much lighter as is the tube so it worked very well for me years ago. Now being more discriminating I may have a different opinion after it’s assembled and field tested. But it’s going to my neighbor for him and his kids as a started scope. It will be hundreds of times better than the children’s first refractors made by Meade, etc.


After the wedding our oldest grandson, Ryan Shaffer and attending a funeral in Long Branch, NJ I was able to get back to work on the restoration project. The next step was assembling the 4” mount sans counter weight which has gotten lost in all our house moves over the years. It could be buried somewhere in my stuff a little like the ending of the first Spielberg-Lucas Raider’s movie, the Lost Ark when the federal government warehouse guy rolled the ark into some cavernous warehouse to be lost forever!

The warehouse of things

 

Anyway my new friends at Bressler’s Towing who painted the telescope tubes will help me by allowing access to their junk pile for a suitable counter weight. I haven’t seen any on any of the used telescope web sites for sale.


Did some internet digging and found an image of an old Edmund’s catalog showing the 4-1/4” scope. This brings back wonderful memories and look at the price! Now in today’s monetary rates that would be extremely expensive but to me back then it was out of reach to buy the scope new, hence the reason why I brought the parts a few at a time and selected “scratch and dent” parts (a term I never heard of back then).1 This was a later catalog than when I purchased the parts since they upgraded the focuser from the slip-friction one to using the same rack and pinion focuser used on the 6” scope.

(Note 85 dollars in 1965 adjusted for inflation to 2016 would be 650 dollars)

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Back to the work. Here’s the assembled 4” scope pedestal mount sans counterweight.

 

The equatorial mouint without counterweight

 

While I’m writing this my next step is to sand and spray paint the axes for the 6” equatorial (the pedestal mount has been sprayed).
Yesterday the tubes were painted and allowed to harden and dry over night which you see here hanging in the spray booth. To keep the costs low I told them just spray them using whatever spray you are then working on. They have built and are finishing a huge tractor towing rig and were painting the safety related parts with a special color, a very light green with a strong dose of yellow mixed in. This paint is special in that it cost about $800 a gallon! They charged me $79


which was mostly ½ hour labor and a few pennies for the paint! I love the color. Yes I would never have selected it before hand as it’s too avant-garde for my conservative tastes but allowing them to select the color based on their work schedule was super. When these are used for observing at star parties with other scopes I know no other scope in the world has tubes painted like this. The paint is hard and clear like one sees on the very best truck bodies. I couldn’t have asked for a better job or fairer price. Mike one of their paint craftsmen helped me carry the dried tubes to the car as seen below.

 

The painted telescope tubes

 

The tubes hanging in the paint booth drying along with the large trucks parts, one shown here that were the prime objective of Bressler’s work that they allowed me to piggy back on.

 

The painter with the tubes

 

Several of their guys had a hand in the project which they got all fired up about. They learned a lot asking me questions not everyday do they get a crazy dreamer like me to cross their paths.
Mike’s colleague, Chris asked me, “How far can you see? Can it see a mile?” I never was asked that before and it hit me. First off it’s a very natural question and since it was asked sincerely I made sure I didn’t laugh…no not at Chris but the honesty he displayed in asking it. The answer is a tough one. I tried telling him I really don’t know. What I think of in how far I’m seeing is to think of how far back in time we are looking with our closet nearby star, Alpha Centuri being 4.2 light years away. We are really looking back into the history of the universe.


I got their personal contact info and made them promise to come over when the scopes are completed with their kids, nephews, nieces to the house for an evening star party to look at the universe. That’s a promise I’m looking forward to keeping. These guys were neat! They were truly professional, highly skilled, intelligent and capable. They design and build heavy equipment in their brains with no blue prints it was so impressive. Thanks Guys!


The before and after…..

Before

 

After

 

Mike in the paint shop photo. If anyone ever wondered what makes a true professional
tradesman tick just look at the smile on Mike’s face. Yes in a way he’s my poster guy here but he really represents what I saw among all the guys working at this shop.

1970's telescope advertisement

 

Before I close Part 3, let me share an image of the 6” Edmund scope from an old catalog. At that time this was a $250 scope. I think this was published just a bit before Celestron started mass producing their Schmitt-Cassegrain scopes and other scope manufactures got serious about improving the quality of their offerings. Most moved their work off-shore as we well know and Edmunds slowly lost the market. The quality of their home grow simple American engineering and manufacturing as well as the prices they needed to charge led them down the path so many other American companies traveled and are still struggling with today.


Next will be completing the restoration of the 6” mount and then it’s off to working with the optics. I have a challenge in the focuser for the 6” will be a modern upgrade and I don’t know what that will do to being able to focus when the mirrors are installed. I hope it all will fall within the focusing range so I don’t have to drill more holes in the newly painted tubes.


Yesterday I made a trip to my local Mennonite dry goods store called Goods in Lancaster County. They usually have items that even Lowe’s or HD have and their prices are so much better. I purchased felt for the tube mount so we don’t scratch up the beautiful paint job. I first got sent to the dressmaking cloth department (as Amish and Mennonite ladies sew their own dresses) and was shown felt for making warm clothing. When I told the young lady what I needed she looked at me oddly, a look I often experience in there. But I visited the hardware section and was able to get some self adhesive felt that will work very well. So all that is before us and I am looking forward to this last stage so we’re getting closer to being able to put these oldie but goodie scopes back into service. Part 4 will be next.

To be continued....


 

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