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Information on Sears Discoverer refractors wanted!

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#1 habsburg8

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 05:49 PM

I am in the process of writing another article about classic telescopes, this time centering around Sears and the constellation Cassiopeia. I had intended to write one about Pisces and Nikon (Nippon Kogaku), but will have to put that off until sometime next year.

I know that there is an incredibly long thread about these telescopes on Cloudynights. Can someone please provide me with the link or post it as a reply?

Next, some questions about models #6339-A, #6344 and #6336, marked with D=76.2mm and F=1200mm.

(1) What company in Japan made the #6344 model? Was it SYW? Was it marketed also as an 'Orbit' or 'Scope' brand by other distributors located throughout this country and elsewhere?

(2) Has anyone taken photographs of their Sears 3-inch refractors? I need one each of models no. 6339-A and 6344.

(3) Is the color scheme consistent? In other words, is the #6339-A normally a silver-gray, the #6344 a light blue, and the #6336 sort of a greenish-gray? Did they come in any other hues?

(4) Did Astro Optical in Japan make the #6339-A tripod and #6336 pedestal models? Does anyone have a catalog image showing the particular R number?

(5) In what year did the switchover from the #6339-A (Astro Optical) to the #6344 (SYW?) take place?

(6) In what year did the switchover from the #6344 (SYW) to the #4454 (D=80mm, F=1200mm--a Towa clone) take place?

(7) Is the #6344 as good optically as the #6339-A or #6336? My tests show that the earlier #6339-A (and #6336) is superior.

(8) In what years were the rare Sears Discoverer #6336 pedestal model sold? My initial research shows only catalog images from 1964 and 1965.

Please post your answers here on the discussion forum. Any help by our members is greatly appreciated!

#2 sgorton99

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 06:00 PM

I will answer what I can, I just acquired the #6344 76mm 1 week ago and am still learning about it.

1. Mine is stamped "SYW" under the focuser.
2. Picture is added to this post.
3. Mine is what I would call blue-green.
4. Don't know
5. Don't know
6. Don't know
7. Still trying - the 40 year old .965" EPs are pretty bad.
8. Don't know

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#3 Preston Smith

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:17 PM

I know that there is an incredibly long thread about these telescopes on Cloudynights. Can someone please provide me with the link or post it as a reply?


Here it is John. It may take a few minutes to load....

Sears Refractors from Archived CN

#4 habsburg8

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:37 PM

Fantastic photo! I also have a Sears Discoverer #6344 in my telescope collection. It was purchased locally from an ad on Craigslist and is in nearly mint condition. My collection also holds two separate #6336 pedestal refractors and a single model of the more common #6339-A tripod version. Unfortunately, I have never had one of the gold-colored Tower 3-inch instruments as sold by Sears in the early 1960s.

#5 Preston Smith

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:55 PM

John,

Here's some pics of the 6339 I had:

1. The "Unitron" look

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#6 Preston Smith

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:56 PM

Side shot:

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#7 Preston Smith

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:57 PM

The objective cover:

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#8 Preston Smith

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 10:59 PM

I can send you hi-res photos of the ones posted above if you want them.

A great scope!

#9 habsburg8

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 07:51 AM

Do you happen to have a higher resolution view of your Sears #6344 equatorial refractor that also shows the metal tripod legs and tips on your wooden deck (is the existing image cropped at the bottom)? Same beautiful setting of course!

#10 sgorton99

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 07:55 AM

I can take another picture (weather cooperating) and post. If you PM me your email I can then send you a high resolution attachment of it.

#11 habsburg8

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 07:55 AM

Preston,

Some impressive images of a classic refractor telescope! What is the history surrounding your particular instrument?

#12 clintwhitman

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:02 AM

John here is the tag of #4 6339- A, made by AO I would say its mid to late 1960s Close to mint.

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#13 clintwhitman

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:06 AM

It looks close to the same scope as Prestons. Is his Astro?

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#14 clintwhitman

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:14 AM

The Optics of this particular scope are fantastic. I dont think it was used more than a couple time before I found it. I have only been keeping the mint scopes from RO and the HOCs. The well used scopes, Towas and SYWs I have been donating over the years to the school kids at the outreach observatory. I have two 80mm Towas I am working on to give out.

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#15 clintwhitman

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:32 AM

As to the questions I have no sound awnsers as to the years. I can say that it seems to me after having 20 or 30 of these types of scopes go thru my hands that the the build and optics seem to be better the back in the late 50s and early 1960s, I guess as with all the makers, older is better. The best built and the best optics I have seen to date is a 1960 HOC 72mm Mayflower, But I think it was a prototype or sales model. The darn thing has a brass lens cell. :foreheadslap:

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#16 Preston Smith

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:15 AM

It looks close to the same scope as Prestons. Is his Astro?


Yes Clint, it's an Astro. I believe all Sears 76mm scopes had Astro Optical Objectives. The 80mm were Towa.

#17 Preston Smith

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:50 AM

Preston,

Some impressive images of a classic refractor telescope! What is the history surrounding your particular instrument?


John,

This scope spawned three threads:

Philadelphia Acquisition of a Vintage Sears Refractor

Servicing a Vintage Sears Telescope Mount

Cleaning Mold / Fungus from a Vintage Telescope Case

#18 PiSigma

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 08:00 PM

Here is what I can add:

1) The plate on the bottom of my 6344 focuser is stamped SYW in a diamond. Gregg (greju) speculated in an earlier thread that SYW was not a manufacturer, just an ‘assembler’. If this is the case I do not know who actually made the parts. Perhaps Galakuma can add some information on this.

2) See below. I can send a higher resolution image if you need one or take another tomorrow in daylight so there are no flash shadows.

3) From all I have seen your color schemes are correct. I haven’t seen any variations other than a pedestal mounted 6339 (which was still black/silver).

4) All the photographs of 6339 and 6336 ID plates that I have seen had the AO identification mark.

5) The 6339 last appears in the Spring/Summer 1969 Sears catalog. The 6344 then appears in the next catalog – Fall/Winter 1969. I don’t know how this relates to what was still in stores at the time. Hey, maybe I should stop in my local Sears and see if they have a 6345 hidden back in the stockroom.

6) The 6344 last appears in the Fall/Winter 1973 catalog. From the research below I’m not sure when the 4454 was first offered.

7) Not sure.

8) Not sure.

The information below was originally posted by Brian G. (user name nytewind1) in another CN post. This was from Sears catalog research he did at UNC Greensboro:

I visited the library at UNC-Greensboro and spent some time in the microfile room. I managed to get the telescope pages from the Sears catalogs from 1966 thru 1976. I made copies of the pages from their old reader and printer and will try to enhance them before sending or posting. The index follows below. It appears that the model 6333 was first offered in 1969 and continued thru 1973. During this range, only 1970-1972 had the 6333 with the wooden tripod, the other years had metal tripods. I'm not sure of the meaning of the beginning part of the catalog numbers but the letter following the model number describes the mount type; L=Equatorial, C= Alt/Az, N=Motorized Equatorial. Hope this helps.

Brian G.

Spring/Summer 1966
4 K 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.95
4 K 6337L 2.4" 900mm 99.95
4 K 6320C 2.4" 700mm 49.95
4 K 6304C 50mm 19.98

Fall/Winter 1966
4 H 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.95
4 H 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.95
4 H 6320C 2.4" 700mm 49.95
4 H 6304C 50mm 24.95

Spring/Summer 1967
4 A 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.98
4 A 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.98
4 A 6320C 2.4" 700mm 49.98
4 A 6307C 2.4" 700mm 39.98
4 A 6304C 50mm 24.98

Fall/Winter 1967
4 G 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.98
4 G 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.98
4 G 6309C 2.4" 700mm 59.98
4 G 6307C 2.4" 700mm 39.98
4 G 6304C 50mm 24.98

Spring/Summer 1968
4 K 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.98
4 K 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.98
4 K 6309C 2.4" 700mm 59.98
4 K 6307C 2.4" 700mm 39.98
4 K 6304C 50mm 24.98

Fall/Winter 1968
4 H 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 H 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 H 6309C 2.4" 700mm 59.99
4 H 6307C 2.4" 700mm 39.99
4 H 6304C 50mm 24.99

Spring/Summer 1969
4 A 6339L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 A 6305L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 A 6309C 2.4" 700mm 59.99
4 A 6307C 2.4" 700mm 39.99
4 A 6304C 50mm 24.99

Fall/Winter 1969
4 G 6344L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 G 6333L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 G 6343C 2.4" 700mm 59.99
4 G 6331C 2.4" 700mm 39.99

Spring/Summer 1970
4 K 6344L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 K 6333L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 K 6343C 2.4" 700mm 59.99
4 K 6331C 2.4" 700mm 39.99

Fall/Winter 1970
4 H 6344L 3" 1200mm 189.99
4 H 6333L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 H 6343C 2.4" 700mm 59.99
4 H 6331C 2.4" 700mm 45.99

Spring/Summer 1971
4 A 6344L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 A 6333L 2.4" 900mm 99.99
4 A 6343C 2.4" 700mm 64.99
4 A 6331C 2.4" 700mm 47.99

Fall/Winter 1971
4 G 6345N 3.5" 1400mm 399.99
4 G 6344L 3" 1200mm 209.99
4 G 6333L 2.4" 900mm 104.99
4 G 6343C 2.4" 700mm 64.99

Spring/Summer 1972
4 K 6333L 2.4" 900mm 104.99

Fall/Winter 1972
4 H 6345N 3.5" 1400mm 299.99
4 H 6344L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 H 6333L 2.4" 900mm 119.99
4 H 6343C 2.4" 700mm 64.99

Spring/Summer 1973
4 A 6344L 3" 1200mm 199.99
4 A 6335L 2.4" 900mm 117.99

Fall/Winter 1973
4 G 6344L 3" 1200mm 169.99
4 G 6333L 2.4" 900mm 99.99

Spring/Summer 1974
None Listed

Fall/Winter 1974
3 H 4450L 2.4" 900mm 169.99
3 H 4425C 2.4" 700mm 74.99

Spring/Summer 1975
None Listed

Fall/Winter 1975
3 G 4450L 2.4" 900mm 174.99
3 G 4431C 2.4" 700mm 98.99
3 G 4425C 2.4" 700mm 74.99
3 G 4420C 50mm 67.99

Spring/Summer 1976
3 K 4450L 2.4" 900mm 178.99
3 K 4426C 2.4" 700mm 78.99

Fall/Winter 1976
3 H 4451L 2.4" 900mm 178.99
3 H 4431C 2.4" 700mm 119.99
3 H 4426C 2.4" 700mm 78.99
3 H 4420C 50mm 67.99

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#19 greju

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 08:41 PM

To clarify Jons statement, "1) The plate on the bottom of my 6344 focuser is stamped SYW in a diamond. Gregg (greju) speculated in an earlier thread that SYW was not a manufacturer, just an ‘assembler’. If this is the case I do not know who actually made the parts. Perhaps Galakuma can add some information on this."

My statements concerning SYW ( Yamamoto ) came from information from our Japanese friend in an earlier post in this forum, and looking at Royal Astro's R-74 in their catalogue, looks, to me anyways indentical to both the Sears 6339 and it's successor 6345. I believe Royal Astro supplied the parts to SYW to assemble both the Sears 6339 and 6345 but without definitive proof we will probably never know for sure.

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#20 PiSigma

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 08:07 AM

I completely agree that Royal Astro Optical made the 6339 (and 6345). I don't think SYW had any involvement with those two models. But the question here is who made the 6344. There are no manufacturer identification marks on the ID plate. The serial numbers on the 6344 plates are four digits whereas all RAO serial numbers that I have seen are 6 digits. The only ID mark is the SYW on the bottom of the focuser. If SYW mearly assembled the scopes then who actually manufactured the parts?

Most of the parts on the 6344 do not look RAO to me. The 6339 focuser has a draw tube, the 6344 does not. The 6339 counterweight is cone shaped on both ends while the 6344 is almost a perfect cylinder (almost flat on the ends). And the 6344's objective cell doesn't look at all RAO. I could add many more detail differences.

#21 habsburg8

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 11:26 AM

Apparently SYW used two schemes in marking their telescopes. The first was to place a white logo on the top of the focuser, while the second method involved stamping their initials on the small metal rack-and-pinion cover found the underside.

Unfortunately, my Sears #6344 has a small oval sticker placed over the supposed SYW impression. It reads 'PASSED Japan Telescopes Inspection Institute.' I guess that the sales staff at both Sears and SYW decided this inconspicuous location on the telescope was a perfect place to 'hide' the confusing logo.

#22 mikey cee

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 11:31 AM

Steam it off to check underneath then reglue it back on. Mike

#23 Carl Kolchak

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 12:04 PM

Brian said:

I visited the library at UNC-Greensboro and spent some time in the microfile room


Hi Brian,

Here is the home page to most of Sears and Penneys old Christmas catalogs: WishbookWeb dot com. Hope this helps. Sorry I can not add to the discussion about the scopes themselves.

peace & clear skies,

#24 Nemrod

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 12:32 PM

Were the scopes sold at J.C. Penney's the same as the Sears, they seem to look exactly the same, same colors, same wooden legs, wooden boxes, same specs?

#25 habsburg8

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:00 PM

Mike,

Here is an image of the underside of my Sears #6344 focusing mechanism. I have little doubt that the SYW logo can be found directly beneath the small oval 'PASSED' sticker, but to keep the scope in 'as found' condition it should remain intact.

Have other owners of the #6344 physically removed or steamed off and then reglued this particular sticker? If so, did they then find the letters SYW stamped into the metal piece?

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