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Need some help with "old Questar"

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#1 troberts

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 08:45 PM

Need some help from those who know "anything" more about vintage equipment than I do.

Because of the dispersal of a family estate, my wife recently came into possession of a Questar 3.5.

It is serial number 6-QTZ-2601 and we have done some on line research work to confirm that it was manufactured in 1966. Interestingly, we believe it is an early Questar Duplex. Consequently, the traditional star map and moon map are not etched into the optical barrel and sun shade which seems to be what we can confirm on line.

The scope was bought by my wife's uncle who was a WWII POW and purchased it when he came home stateside but passed away very soon after buying it. His brother (i.e., my wife's father) took possession of it but had no interest in astronomy and now forty plus years later it comes out of a closet in what can only be described as "original show room" condition. It showed up in our house recently and I nearly fell over when I realized what she had brought home.

I have already written to Questar to get as much additional information on this particular scope (e.g., lens coating, original purchaser, which we believe was my wife uncle, etc.). We suspect it does not have any service records since it has been stored away for over 40 plus years.

I am by no means qualified to assess the true condition or value of this instrument but as an infrequent casual astronomer my impression is that this scope and everything associated with it are in a pristine state (e.g., the eyepieces, off axis sun filter, leather case including the interior velveteen lining, the supplementary vinyl case sheath that goes over the leather case and even the original instruction manual).

We are not interested in selling it because of family sentimental value but we do want to get it reputably appraised. I have done some on line searching and admit I am very confused. I realize that older Questars have held their own in terms of price, but the very few that I have been able to find on the market seem to be priced all over the board and largely dependent on the general condition.

So my question is where do we start to get a realistic assessment of the condition and relative value of this scope?

Thanks.

#2 mgwhittle

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:10 PM

Welcome to CN!

Repost this or get a moderator to move this to the "Classic Telescopes" discussion forum.....you will get plenty of help in there. It's the forum just one above where you have posted this.

#3 MikeBOKC

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:26 PM

There is also a Questar-specific forum further down the board. Many veteran Questar owners there!

#4 MikeBOKC

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:31 PM

Also you might contact Fred Bieler, the founder and owner of Astronomics, the telescope dealer that owns and sponsors this site. He has long been an authorized Questar dealer and owns several Questars himself and would likely be a trove of information on your scope. You can call then toll free at the number you will find elsewhere on this site or by searching for Astronomics, which is in Norman, Oklahoma.

#5 troberts

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:47 PM

Thanks. I am literally brand new to the site. How do I get a moderator to repost my inquiry, and as far as contacting Fred Bieler, I will start there. Thanks.

#6 Brian Risley

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:37 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights.

I had this moved to the Questar forum for you. Hopefully you will get some excellent information here.

If you haven't read the Terms of Service, I recommend you do so. Mods have green names, admins are in red.
Just click on their name and go down the page and send a PM to one of us if you have any questions about the site.

Brian Risley Questar Forum Moderator Team

#7 Erik Bakker

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:21 AM

Welcome to the Questar family on CloudyNights!

What a wonderful heirloom you and your wife have in your possession now.

Your Questar has a quartz mirror as indicated by QTZ in the serial number. It's optics should be outstanding.

If you look into the scope from the front, you can see the primary mirror in the back. If that is still evenly silvery with no (brownish) discolorations around the outer edge, it's mirror coatings are still in fine condition. If stored dry, they will last forever.

Questar's Jim Reichert can supply you with all available info on your scope. He is very helpful. I suggest you call him for the quickest answering of your questions. They are not the e-mail kind of company. Goes with the heritage :)

To appreciate what a Questar can do, just go out under the stars tonight and have a look at the moon. Here is a small tutorial in case the instruction booklet got lost:

You can easily get anything into view with the built in finder. There are 2 levers on the back of your Q, one of the is for the finder, the other for a 1.5-2x boost in magnification. Start with your lowest magnification eyepiece (the biggest) and play with those levers to get familiar with their function. Then center the noon in the finder, flick the lever to obtain the mani scope's view and focus the image with the knurled knob and hold your breath. You will be rewarded with a stunning image of the moon :bow:

Saturn is low in the south-west and could be a nice next step on your tour. There is a wealth of info on the internet where to find it.

All the best.

#8 troberts

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:58 AM

Thanks Brian for reposting to the Questar page.
Also thanks Erik for the insights and the lead to Jim Reichert

#9 Panotaker

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 08:04 AM

I'm no expert on Questars, but I do know that they don't make the cool leather case you have any more or the vinyl cover for it. So if you are going to keep the scope and use it, I would buy a new case for it and put up the old one so it stays in excellent shape. I bought an old 1959 Questar last year. The scope looked in excellent condition, but it was no longer tracking do to lack of use. So that would be the first thing that I would check. Point it at something at the wall and plug it in and see if it tracks. My RA knob only moved the scope in one direction, it should move it in both directions. I ended up sending my scope back to the factory to have it fixed and now it is as good as new. It might be a good idea to have yours checked out at the factory, even though it looks new. They will go through it with a fine tooth comb and make sure that it is clean inside and out. While at the factory, I had a tripod socket added to mine and I also bought a new eyepiece holder so I can use modern eyepieces. My dew shield was too loose and it would slide right off, so they fixed that too.

As a new Questar owner, you need to post a picture of your scope, we all want to see it.

#10 troberts

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 12:18 PM

Thanks for for these suggestions. I was thinking about getting the scope back to Questar to do a once over. Frankly, I am a bit intimidated to actually consider using it. As I stated in my opening post, I am only a casual and infrequent astronomer and using the Questar for casual observations seems like a bit of an over kill and besides, I know I would be concerned about causing any undo wear to the Questar. I have a Meade ETX-80AT that is suitable for my purposes and don't mind if it gets used or abused.

Regarding the request to provide a photo, I have attached to this post a photo of the Questar along with the peripherals that we have acquired. If anyone has any further information regarding this era of scopes, please respond.

Thanks again to all that have provided information so far.

Attached Files



#11 ColoHank

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 03:09 PM

There's no reason to be intimidated. Questars may look precious, but they're made to be used. Mine has been exposed to the rigors of frequent public outreach events for years and has experienced absolutely no ill-effects. Enjoy!

#12 troberts

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 04:40 PM

Thanks for that reassurance about using the scope.

We will likely use it as time goes on, but for right now we are trying to compile as much information as we can about the scope itself, rather than directing our energies in the use of the scope.

This may sound like a silly or nostalgic reason, but part of our research has to do with gaining historical insights as to why my wife's uncle may have purchased this scope, versus other scopes which would have been more modestly priced and available during this time period. There is a lot of lost history about this man following his return stateside from being a POW during WWII's Batann Death March.

Enough of the personal story. I do have a few other questions if anyone out there can answer them or at least provide some intelligent guesses.

If my internet research skills are reliable, it appears that the first Duplex was made in 1966 and starts with serial number X-XX- 2597. This one is 6-QTZ-2601. Simple logic suggests that this scope is therefore is the fourth produced Duplex. Does this make sense?

My next question has to do with the absence of the standard Moon on the barrel and Star Map on the dew tube. I have been searching the internet but have been unsuccessful in determining if this was an "option" that was introduced with the Duplex model or started earlier with the Deluxe Model. Does anyone have any insights in this regard?

Last and perhaps meaningless to this Questar, there is an object that is in the foreground of the photo I have posted, that is baffling to us. It may not be relevant or directly related to the scope itself, but we did find it contained in the storage case. It is a plastic or bake-lite arm like device that has a circular opening on one end and what looks like an early Velcro "hook and loop" tab at the opposite end. It may have been placed there for safe keeping years ago and have nothing directly to do with the scope, but we are not sure. Does anyone have any ideas?

#13 LarryV

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:08 PM

Troberts,
Welcome to the Questar Forum. You have a truly beautiful 'scope-- the plastic and velcro piece is part of the Questar counterweight. The missing part is a wide strip of leaded material about 18" long and 4-5" wide which wraps arount the front of the barrel to balance the tube when cameras are attached to the axial port at the Eyepiece end. The eyepiece holder goes through the hole, and the velcro attaches th matching velcro in the leaded counterweight.
Incidentally, you have the highly desired "Mystic Purple" color that all vintage Q's were painted, in those days.
Hope this helps, :jump:

LarryV
Q 3.5"-50th Anniv.
Q-3.5"-1971

#14 Billydee

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 08:59 PM

Troberts,

Erick Bakker has the right idea, you need to call Jim Reichert at Questar (800)247-9607. He will be able to tell you the exact date your Q was made and he can change the records to name you as the current owner. He is a very nice person and his dad worked at Questar when your unit was made.

I do not think you own a Duplex because a Duplex would have DP in the serial number. The Duplex allows you to remove the OTA from the base and use it as a Field model (screw is on the bottom of the OTA). Your serial number is 6-QTZ-2601 and that makes it a Standard Q 3.5 with a Quartz mirror. The Quartz mirror is the best mirror that Questar makes and it costs many extra dollars. This makes it very special and a collector would really want it for this option. You also show a camera adapter and part of a counter weight system (the black item with the hole in it)(the rest of the counter weight is a heavy white rubber like item to wrap aroung the OTA to offset the weight of a camera when attached to the rear of the OTA.

You own a special Q 3.5 and you need to use it and enjoy it. I am sure your wife's uncle would want it to be used.

Luck, Bill

#15 troberts

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 10:45 PM

I want to thank everyone so far for the insights you all have provided. I did get a confirmation email back from Questar and they stated it is a Duplex and was manufactured on May 16, 1966. Since we live about 1 1/2 hours from New Hope (home office for Questar) I am trying to set up an appointment to take the scope there and have them make an assessment of it's actual condition and what refurbishment, if any, they might suggest. I will keep all appraised once I get more info. I will also try to reach out to Jim Reichart personally.

I am still trying to find out if the abscense of the moon map and star chart was an optional choice back in 1966, since my initial understanding was that all Questars were produced with this feature until much later in the 1960's, at least according to internet accounts of Questar history.

This Questar forum sight has been extremely helpful and I want to thank each of you for taking your time to correspond and provide the insights that you have and for providing your support to an otherwise neophyte in this matter.

#16 Erik Bakker

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:46 AM

Your picture confirms that your Q is a Duplex. When introduced , they where only available in mystic blue, no starcharts, just like the Questar 7 used to have. Due to demand, Questar eventually made a version available with the starchart, IIRC for a few dollars more. Jim Reichert can easily give you the details on this. Since the Duplex has less space available on the tube and a shorter dewcap than the original Q 3 1/2, they had to "shrink" the star map and moon map so they would fit. But this shrunken star/moon map does not go all the way around the tube. So while the aluminum sheet which the charts are on is an exact fit around the tube, a significant part of it is not covered by stars or the moon. Thus it doesn't look quite as nice on close inspection as the Questar 3 1/2 Standard, where the stars and moon are all around the tube with no blank (blue/purple) space.

#17 Billydee

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 07:36 PM

Rroberts,

I am glad you have a true Duplex and find it interesting that the DP is not in the serial number of the early ones. When you remove the OTA from the base does the serial number on the attachment part of the OTA (bottom) match the serial number on the bottom of the base?

Thanks, Bill

#18 Billydee

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 07:36 PM

Rroberts,

I am glad you have a true Duplex and find it interesting that the DP is not in the serial number of the early ones. When you remove the OTA from the base does the serial number on the attachment part of the OTA (bottom) match the serial number on the bottom of the base?

Thanks, Bill

#19 pogobbler

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:10 PM

Don't you dare be afraid to use it! If you take reasonable care, it shouldn't "age" much from use-- and it sounds as if it'd be fairly light use, anyway, and you're not planning on selling it, anyway, so you don't need to worry so much about hurting the value of it. Keep in mind, though they can be trashed, of course, the Questar is a very well made scope that's much less likely to suffer damage from use than, say, the Meade ETX 90 wannabe, with all its plastic (I do admit I have an ETX 90, but if I waited until I could afford a Questar... well, I'd still not have a scope). That aluminum is pretty durable and the optics are about as well protected as can be.

To me, not using a Questar under the stars would be akin to those that buy a car like a Ferrari and then rarely, if ever, drive it. The Questar was meant to be used, the Ferrari was meant to be driven.

#20 troberts

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 06:41 AM

Not to worry Tom, it will eventually get use by us, but as I posted earlier our current efforts are to retrieve as much information as possible for family nostalgic reasons.

I have already spoken to Jim Reichart at Questar and he is searching back through their archive records to see what they have available. Once we get through that, I am making arrangements to take the scope to Questar in order to have them check it out to make sure everything is working properly (e.g., drive gears are properly lubricated, motor insulation isn't cracked, mirror surface is OK, etc.).
Like I stated, the scope has not been used in over 40 years and while stored in a closet, certain things like the noted items can dry out or deteriorate even if just sitting in a closet.
Once we get a clean bill of health from Questar, I am confident that this instrument will find it's way out to our back yard on a clear night.
:-)

#21 troberts

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 10:28 AM

I want to thank everyone for your thoughts and recommendations. We will be taking the scope back to Questar this coming week in order to have it evaluated and refurbished as needed. I have spoken with Jim Reichert several times and will be meeting with him regarding thus acquired family surprise and we were even more elated to
find that Questar had historical letters between my wife's uncle and Questar that were in their archive records, which we will secure from them when we meet face to face. Thank you everyone for all your assistance.

#22 EddWen

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 11:37 AM

Nice !!

#23 Foggy Mesa

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 01:47 PM

I had my 3.5 Duplex (OTA only -"Field Model") out this weekend - Mt. Pinos (8300 ft.) on a Byer's CamTrak Mount.
At that darkness and elevation, galaxies had equivalent resolution to much larger instruments - just not as bright of course. Be sure to get Televue eyepiece adapter so you can use 1 1/4 inch eyepieces with it. I had it serviced once about 15 years ago - I optioned for the sky chart dew shied add-on. This has been my grab and go scope since I inherited mine back in early 80's - have to use it!

#24 Brian Risley

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:27 PM

Welcome Foggy!
Great to hear how well your 3.5 is doing.
Brian

#25 troberts

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 06:35 PM

To all who have offered information, I wish to extend my thanks.
We did meet with Jim Reichert at Questar and got a clean bill of health regarding this inherited family scope.
Since my last post and after securing original purchase records from Questar, we realized that my wife's uncle also had purchased a Linhof tripod and Varitrac. We also came to realize that he had originally purchased the standard Deluxe model, but subsequently had it converted to a Duplex two years later.
We have done more searching through my wife's parents home and have located the Linhof tripod, but not the Variac. I know the Variac has been replaced with the Power Guide system, but was wondering if any one had a photo or can describe what the Variac looked like.
It is possible it is still at my in laws home, but we don't know what we are looking for. Any help would be appreciated.






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