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Helping my school with a telescope, advice appreciated

  1. Jul 17, 2013 #1

    jim hardy

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    My local high school has a telescope that has sat unused for at least a decade.

    I play poker with the principal and have an opportunity to assist getting it back into usability.

    Visited it this morning
    doesn't appear to need much
    it's a 12.5 inch Newtonian in about six foot tube on equatorial mount with clock drive
    in a domed silo adjacent the school
    mirror looks good - fortunately it was parked pointing down so hasn't accumulated dust
    I replaced the dust cover

    the motorized observatory dome rotates okay but vertical door doesn't move - probably a simple electrical problem i'll look at early tomorrow morning before it gets too hot in there

    A box with probably a dozen expensive looking Meade 2" eyepieces (one is a 40mm ultra wide angle with a glass lens probably a full inch across) and a camera adapter but no camera,
    and a solar filter

    So my immediate questions are

    I just plan to fix and lube motors for door and dome,

    brush out the dust in tube

    inspect clock drive, clean it and the drive gears on mount
    align mount for our latitude
    see if I can find Saturn one evening next week

    Any pointers?
    Would you guys remove the main mirror and diagonal before dusting out the tube? I'm inclined to
    I muddled through an alignment on my 4" can probably stumble through this "Real" 'scope
    right now I do see my eye smack dab in middle when sight down focuser with no eyepiece so she's not bad now...

    Would you guys lube the eyepiece rack&pinion? With what - silicone grease , plain grease, Vaseline,,,,, i'm afraid of vapors getting on the optics is that a worry ? Same for mount drive gears ??

    I guess you can tell i'm excited.....

    Pointers to a guiding article would be appreciated.
    I guess i'll re-up subscription to Sky and Telescope...

    Also in the basement is an ancient looking brass telescope perhaps 4 feet long
    with name engraved in script
    F Fritsch
    K K Hof Universtats Optiks
    Wien Alserstrasse 17
    it sits on a solid brass equatorial mount with brass reduction gears & handwheels
    sadly the kids have swiped the eyepieces
    I quick google turned up nothing on it - is it familiar to anyone?

    Anyhow - please wish me luck. I feel like this is an opportunity to learn a lot more about an old hobby, with a very nice piece of equipment.

    Pointers to informative articles at low but not quite zero expertise level would be appreciated.


    old jim
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2013 #2


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    Good luck Jim! This sounds like a great adventure. Wish I could help you with advice, but I'll leave that to the astronomy pros...
  4. Jul 18, 2013 #3
    That old scope sounds very interesting, you may want to see if the people at the Antique telescope society can be of more assistance in figuring out that mystery. From what I was able to look up that would simply appear to be the address of the owner who worked at the optics university in Vienna. More interesting is the name, Fritsch, there were some gents in Austria in the late 1800s making scopes of various sizes, my knowledge on the subject is pretty much Google (nil) but I did find some possible leads. I found a picture that may or may not be related. If it is real it probably belongs in a museum. The address indicates the Optics school in the University of Vienna. The KK Hof seems to be some sort of exporter licensing. These links assume I am on the right track.


    On KK Hof (google translated):

    Antique scopes:

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  5. Jul 18, 2013 #4

    jim hardy

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    Thanks guys

    dome and door working now. One needs that ventilation this time of year.

    I took apart and cleaned the little 2" refractor (pre?)finder

    and am working now on the the 4" reflector finder .
    Somebody before me has scratched the mirror. But a wash and distilled water rinse (per the Sky & Telescope article ) has it I think quite useable. Mud dauber wasps had built in the tube and somebody before me removed the worst of it but far from all . I suspect that's when the mirror got scratched.
    All four diagonal-spider to tube mounting bolts are broken, it was held in place by good fortune. Will fashion a fix, probably just make new ones .

    I didn't do anything with main 'scope beyond lookiing so far.
    Main 12" mirror looks good from peering down the tube. Fortunately the mud-daubers didn't build in there like they did in the finder. It has a sticker on back says it's coated with a hard coating called "Beral" to facilitate cleaning and recommends a product called "MIR O LEN " with a name Clausing of Skokie Il. I hope he's still in business.. I will approach that task, if it is necessary, with great caution. Hopefully it'll be okay as is.

    Thanks for the interest , fellows.

    That Fritsch telescope is I believe authentic, Thanks for the links. It's on a cast iron pedestal weighing a couple hundred pounds. The mount looks to be missing a few worm gears, but the big brass wheels and gears are a sight to make a home shop machinist's day. I doubt we'll do much with it.

    old jim
  6. Jul 19, 2013 #5

    If not hopefully you can pull enough details on those product via data sheets, WHMMIS or alternate resource to infer their applications. Unfortunately I can't help much in this thread other than as a fellow technical industry jack of all trades tech. Much like you are from what I've seen on the engineering forums.
  7. Jul 19, 2013 #6


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    The mirrors may need recoated after sitting idle for such a long time. I would not worry about an isolated scratch or two. They will have negligible effect on performance if simply ignored. Apparently this scope is designed for wide field views. The best performing eyepieces should be in the 25mm plus range.
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