Recently I acquired a nifty classic Tinsley Telescope mount. It came in pieces I had to assemble. I loved doing that! It also came with a telescope. So, through several iterations I ended up with three Tinsley telescopes. Two had been through a restoration process and one was mostly original. Even though the restorations were very nice, I value the original one the most. I decided to strip the paint from one of the restored scopes and reveal the lovely brass so that it would fit nicely on the equatorial mount. The thing is beautiful, in my eyes. It needs a tripod of its own. Right now it sits on a tripod I made for Unitron 4 inch scopes. Eventually, it will probably have one of its own.
Here are some pictures. There is a video about the mount itself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUK8mLjWqHs
Tinsley Equatorial Mount
Right Ascension Drive
Declination Setting Circle
Right Ascenscion Setting Circle
Three Tinsleys, the middle one is nearly all original
I became addicted to Unitrons many years ago when I bought a 50mm Unitron 105 scope at a flea market. I discovered the joys of small aperture with that scope, observing double stars and the moon.
Unitron 105 50mm refractor
These scopes are oblivious to seeing, always delivering perfect diffraction patterns around stars. Because of the small aperture the airy disks are relatively large which make it much easier to see the color difference in the double stars that have a large enough separation to be split with this aperture. I’ll never forget the appearance of Eta Casseopea in that scope. Beautiful!
One of my favorite Unitrons is the often overlooked Unitron 131C. It offers large enough aperture to see great detail on the Moon and planets, is relatively insensitive to seeing, has plenty of focal length so you can use comfortable eyepieces. To top it off the scope is one hand portable on its mount! I am lucky enough to own two of the superb green lens versions. They are optically perfect, even with the presence of the folding mirrors. I would compare them with any Zeiss of similar aperture.
Unitron 131C 75mm f/15 folded refractor
My ultimate favorite is the 160. Wow, what a package. It is like having an observatory in the back yard, and is about as difficult to move. I seldom set it up because the task is so arduous. But it is a stunning sight and the performance matches its appearance.
Unitron 160 4 inch f/15 refractor
At last, after many years of wanting a Questar, I finally own one. Now I know what all the hyperbole was about and am guilty of going over the top myself when describing mine. It is simply the best telescope I own on several levels. Don’t get me wrong; a bigger aperture scope will out perform my little Questar. But, as any Questar owner will tell you, it is impossible to get more performance in any other similar sized scope. Pound for pound, it is the most bang for the buck. And it is astounding to hold a small piece of sheer perfection in your hand.
It seems to me that a Questar demands a fine mount. The scope actually performs well on a nice Bogen Tripod and the Questar folks sell an elegant mount (for a lot of money). But, as an amateur machinist, I wanted to make my own. I wanted a suitable tripod and wedge befitting a Questar, so I modified a wonderful little Celestron CG4 tripod and made a carefully crafted pier and wedge to go on top.
You can see my Questar and its mount at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5wmX1QYvZU
I recently posted a couple of videos about classic Tinsley telescopes.
The smaller scope in this picture is a Tinsley 3 inch. Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtQRkQebbKk . I had to repair the mount as shown in the video but otherwise the scope is all original.
The larger scope in the picture is a Tinsley 4 inch refractor. It is nearly a complete superficial restoration. The basic scope, focuser and objective are all original, as is the wonderful mount. All the paint is new and the finder is a replica I made. Please watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmz_Wg58iVw .
Here are some shots of making the replica finder rings on the 4 inch for those interested in machining.
Here are pictures of a couple of Duetrons. A Duetron is a device that allows two people to look through the same telescope at the same time. It was an accessory available from the Unitron company for many years during the 1950′s through the 90′s. The most common version was designed for .965″ eyepieces. A more rare version was designed for 1.25″ eyepieces. Here they are pictured next to each other. The one on the left in the bottom picture is the more common .965″ version. Note that the 1.25″ version is designed to go into a 1.25″ focuser while the .965″ was designed to fit into a Unitron draw tube.
I recently completed the restoration of the Unitron Weight drive and it is now fully functional. If you have been following the story click here Gear Boxes. If you want to start from the beginning click here Weight Drive Restoration.
I recently acquired a broken and incomplete Unitron Weight Drive and restored the missing three ball governor. The replicated drive is on the right in this picture.
Unitron Weight Drive and Replica
For all the details see Restoration of a Unitron Weight Driven Clock Drive .
I have always wanted to own an Alvan Clark telescope. Unfortunately they are beyond my range. So, when I recently completed my first lens, I decided to create a scratch-built mount and tube assembly to house it and I wanted the completed telescope to look a lot like an Alvan Clark. This 3 1/2″ f/15 telescope is not an attempt to create a perfect replica in all respects, though many features of the telescope are intended to be nearly identical to an Alvan Clark. Maybe it should be called an “Homage Alvan Clark Telescope”.
I made virtually everything you see in the picture. The only exceptions are some small screws and bolts and the finder lenses. It was a long and difficult process described on this page: Making The Alvan Clark Replica Telescope. This scope is certainly not an Alvan Clark but it looks great, works well and I made it with my own hands.
To me the function of this telescope is of minor importance. This is more like a beautiful mechanical sculpture intended to have a permanent place in my living room or study. Despite that, it would be offensive to me if this showpiece did not perform its basic duties under the night sky, and it does that well. When I am using this telescope it is easy to imagine that I have traveled back in time over 100 years.
I have made a couple of Youtube videos about the scope here: Alvan Clark Replica Tour and Alvan Clark Replica Teardown
I recently posted a video of this beautiful 80mm “GOTO Kogaku” telescope.
The reason for the use of “GOTO Kogaku” (rather than simply “Goto” is to disambiguate this from the very common computerized “Go To” Telescopes that proliferate everywhere. There is no computer with this telescope other than the user’s brain. If you are searching for “GOTO” brand telescopes you may wish to try the term “GOTO Kogaku”. The video is at http://youtu.be/uoQs326-h00 .
Please check it out!
Take a look at this picture. Guess which Unitron altaz mount is bigger
They appear to be about the same size because, of course, I used a trick of perspective. The one on the left is for a three inch telescope and the one on the right is for a much larger 4 inch. I have often been confused by pictures of these mounts because it is nearly impossible to tell them apart without a sense of scale. Here are the same two mounts seen right next to each other. (Sorry, I switched them from left to right). You can now see that the mount for the 4 inch is much larger, more massive and stronger.
Here are three mounts next to each other. The one on the far left is for a 60mm scope, though I have seen three inch scopes mounted on it.
For more views of Unitron altaz mounts with their associated telescopes onboard please check out my YouTube Video at http://youtu.be/ETlMv-KLEVM .