Friday, September 17, 2010

Restoration of a 60s vintage telescope

I've spent the last week and a half in my basement working on some old junk that I had lying around for a little too long.
The telescope is a Criterion RV-6 that was donated to our club a few years back.  I got a good deal on mirror re-coating about 2 years ago, and had the mirror sent in to Optic Wave Labs for restoration.  The mirror came back looking pretty much new.  It sat in the box for a long time.
I had the idea of turning the old scope int a Dobsonian, but then started taking apart the mount and figured I better see what I can do with that before I mess up this classic old device.
Secondary parts before paint
I took everything apart, sanded, primed and repainted the hardware and the telescope tube. I found some really pretty brass under the tarnish of the focuser.  I had to do some work on the clutch between the RA axis and motor in the scope.  It used a ring of cork between the gears so you can just shove the scope around and let the clutch provide the holding friction once it's stopped.  Kind of a clever idea!  I took a couple tries, and finally used some gasget material from the auto parts store since all the cork I found was too thick.  Everything was taken apart and cleaned up. 
The tube is blue and fits
I got the mount all put together again, and it looks pretty nice.  The tube was repainted and put back together, but I have to shamefully admit that I made a horrible mistake.  The mirror had a small smudge on it, and I wiped it with a soft cloth, but something happened and I smeared off some of the coating.  I nearly cried.  It was along the edge, and I put a lot of time into it already, so I just continued.  I installed all the optics, collimated the best as I could without using a fancy laser tool, and took it out and pointed at the moon in daylight.  Not bad, but I'll see what happens after dark.
Pointed at the moon.
 Lucky me, it was actually clear for a couple nights and tried it out on the moon and Jupiter.
Pretty and functional
Stunning!!  I'm so impressed with the view this thing gives.  Jupiter was sharp, details in the clouds could easily be seen, and the moons appeared as small disks.  Some "x" shaped glare around the bright planet from the secondary support, but that's expected.
Despite being as old as me, I'm very pleased with how this telescope performs.  I'll have to put a webcam on it and see how well it can image Jupiter now that it's at opposition.  Want to see a view?  Come to our next club star party - if we ever manage to have one that isn't a "star party cancellation" which is more common in the last few years.

I hate these finders, but it does work
The last thing a photon sees
Motor plugged in and tracking the moon
$194 was a lot of money back then

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