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#26 mikey cee

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 10:52 AM

I too hit this same dilemma when removing my objective from my Tasco 20TE. I thought well if this lens doesn't unscrew how in the hell did they get those nuts onto those countersunk screws? Duh.... :brick: Mike

#27 madeline

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 11:16 AM

Thanks, that's a big help and thanks to everybody for their feedback on this.

#28 akman1955

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 05:28 PM

:grin:mikey, in that case they use very long mechanical hands..he he, from the focuser end..ha ha. it takes some practice..he he :tonofbricks:

#29 BarrySimon615

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:05 AM

dated 1971. I bet yours is around that time frame.

Gerald is probably close, the break when Italic lettering started seems to be around 1966 forward. Very nice find, I think these have some very nice optics and are very easy on the eyes. Great scope!!
(aveman


Sorry for jumping into this so late - I was practicing the "Revolution" life style in the Texas Hill Country since last Wednesday.

The Unitron #114 that I have dates from 1961/62 and it too has "Italic" lettering instead of straight lettering. So, at least in some scopes, the angled lettering dates back to the early 60's. There are so many clues to date a Unitron but sometimes a completed scope may incorporate upgrades or replacement of broken parts or even a kind of "use what we find in inventory" philosophy to put a scope together, that it is hard to pinpoint these things. (How do you say "Oh look we found a box of objective cells made 8 years ago pushed way back on the warehouse shelf!" in Japanese?)

Some of the scopes are truly "Frankentrons" for a number of reasons. About the best we can do is get fairly close based on all the clues. In your case, I would say anywhere from the mid 60's to the mid 70's based upon all that you have shown.

Here is a photo of the objective end of my Unitron #114 that dates from 1961/62. In a second picture I will show the finder which looks a bit different.

Barry Simon

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#30 BarrySimon615

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:15 AM

Finder from a 1961/62 vintage Unitron #114 60 mm alt-azimuth refractor.

Barry Simon

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#31 mikey cee

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:16 AM

:grin:mikey, in that case they use very long mechanical hands..he he, from the focuser end..ha ha. it takes some practice..he he :tonofbricks:

John so that's why the back of my flint element is scratched and dinged up so bad! :thinking: :thinking: Thanks bud. Mike

#32 starman876

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:10 PM

That is correct. To clean the flint element you take a stick and put a cloth on it and push the stick through the focuser and clean the back element. Sometimes people rub to hard and the stick wears through the cloth and scratches the lens. This always happens when people use a hardwood. It is best to use a soft wood like pine when doing this. There have been some fools who have used all thread to do this and that really messes the lens up. If no soft wood dowels are available use soft aluminum. Make sure you use a clean linen cloth soaked in windex. :slap:

#33 madeline

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:17 PM

:smashpc: :foreheadslap: :rofl2: :rofl2: :rofl2: :rofl2:

#34 greju

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:50 PM

Did you get it apart yet?

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#35 greju

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:55 PM

Still wonder why they used so many different lens cell mounting adaptors? Lens as received. :grin:

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#36 greju

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:00 PM

Clint, do you still think the red paint was not applied at the manufacturer? :question:

#37 Bonco

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:48 PM

Finder from a 1961/62 vintage Unitron #114 60 mm alt-azimuth refractor.

Barry Simon

Barry, I've seen adds from the 50's thru the 80's and have never seen an objective lens on the finder like yours on the 114 or model 128. You sure your's is not modified?
My 90's vintage 128 finder looks just like the ads decades ago. Bill

#38 madeline

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:59 PM

Yes, got it apart and did a little cleaning on just the back and front of the lens. I'm not going to take it apart any more than that for now, it does not look that bad.

#39 starman876

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:51 PM

I have one with a lens like that. I think I even have an extra cell with that type of arrangement. I think those were experiments that Unitron never made to many of. Wonder if like rare coins that makes them more valuable :lol:

#40 madeline

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:04 PM

Starman, interesting, can you post a pic.

#41 starman876

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 05:42 PM

Red paint applied at the factory. Was told they aligned the lens with the use of a flourescent light. Have no clue how they did that. anyone here know??? Afterwards they put on the red lyptol.

#42 madeline

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:28 PM

I heard that the red paint was applied so that if you messed with the lenses you would void the warrenty.

#43 clintwhitman

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:05 AM

My 152c GREEN #5029 from 1972 was from the first owner and had the factory wrapping on all the parts. It had been used 3 times when I received it. Dan Schechter also has a 160 in about the same condition, mint from the original owner, No paint on the lens retaining stop screws, 90% of the unitron you see and out of all the ones I have personally worked on had any paint on the set screws. Most of the time in the photos I see it looks like a drunk applied the paint. Not very indicative of a master optician! Barry G of D&G called me and we spent hours on the phone talking about dating Unitron objectives. He has been sent 100s of them over the years. Between us we came up with the same conclusions about dates based on Italic / Straight lettering, the lack of lettering, screw configurations and the 100mm vers 102mm questions. the red paint issue was discussed and Barry said it was very rare that he saw it and figured like me that it was a fad that a few people did to their telescopes. Barry Simmons 60mm is the earliest Italic lettered scope I have ever seen and all the Unitron I have see that were pre 1958 had no plastic knobs or wing nuts on them. All nickel plated brass parts.

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#44 madeline

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:47 AM

Clint, very informative information. Thanks

#45 BarrySimon615

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:47 PM

No paint on the lens retaining stop screws, 90% of the unitron you see and out of all the ones I have personally worked on had any paint on the set screws. Most of the time in the photos I see it looks like a drunk applied the paint. Not very indicative of a master optician! Barry G of D&G called me and we spent hours on the phone talking about dating Unitron objectives. He has been sent 100s of them over the years. Between us we came up with the same conclusions about dates based on Italic / Straight lettering, the lack of lettering, screw configurations and the 100mm vers 102mm questions. the red paint issue was discussed and Barry said it was very rare that he saw it and figured like me that it was a fad that a few people did to their telescopes. Barry Simon's 60mm is the earliest Italic lettered scope I have ever seen and all the Unitron I have see that were pre 1958 had no plastic knobs or wing nuts on them. All nickel plated brass parts.


Clint, I have to disagree about the conclusion of Barry from D&G that the red paint on the front flange retaining ring on Unitron 60 mm scopes was a fad that (more than a few) owners did. I do have to agree however that when I first saw this on the 60 mm #114 that I have (that dates from the early 60's) that my impression was that it looked cheezy and unprofessional. It certainly was not on my later #128 equatorial 60 mm Unitron purchased in 1986. Since then I have seen numerous photos of earlier Unitron 60 mm scopes with the red paint. I have never seen it on larger Unitron scopes including various 75mm and 102 mm Unitrons that I have either owned or seen. The Company 7 chronicle of Unitron's history does discuss the red paint issue and they do say that it was applied when the scopes were built to check on whether the objective cells were tampered with. I believe the term used is "anit-tampering paint" or something similar. It makes sense, it looks bad, and it sure has raised questions.

Regarding Unitron's history and moves, it is an interesting story. From the 1951/1952 beginnings when United Trading Company acquired the rights to market Nihon Seiko telescopes in the United States (eventually called Unitron) the company has been in 6 different locations (highly likely only 5 when complete telescopes, as we knew them, were available. The company is now in it's 6th location.

The locations have been:

204-206 Milk Street, Boston, MASS from the 1951/52 beginnings (probably earlier in the pre Unitron days) as United Trading Company, United Scientific Company and Unitron Instrument Company. Moved from here in about 1960 based upon the best info I have.

66 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MASS from about 1960 to 1976. The instruction folder from my early 60's #114 has the Needham Street address and "Unitron" is in the slanted italics style as is the engraving on this early 60's objective retaining flange. My scope was, from the information I have, a retirement gift and appeared to be very lightly used, and likely pretty much just a display piece. This gives me more confidence that the red paint was factory applied, not end user applied.

In 1975 Unitron was purchased by Ehrenreich Photo Optical and moved in 1976 to a new home on Long Island, NY (all 4 of the last locations are all on Long Island, each move being between 4 miles and 20 miles to new locations.) The first new location on Long Island was to 101 Crossways Park in West Woodbury which I think was the location of Ehrenreich Photo Optical. This location is just a few miles north of the Long Island Expressway/Interstate 485. Unitron was in this location for about 4 or 5 years and then moved about 4 miles south (to the other side of the Long Island Expressway) in about 1980.

The new location was at 175 Express Street in Plainview, NY. While at this location, Ehrenreich Photo Optical was acquired by Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) in 1981. In effect, Unitron was a subsidiary of Nikon.

In 1986, the management of what was operating as Unitron, Inc., bought Unitron and took it independent of Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) and moved the company again. The new location was located at 170 Wilbur Place in Bohemia, New York, and about 20 miles east of the old location, but still on the south side of the Long Island Expressway. Management was seeing the rapid erosion of their telescope business. They invested more time in microscopes and other scientific instrumentation and accessories. The telescope business became known as the "Leisure Products Division". Prices rose and technology in the form of apo telescopes in more compact packages passed Unitron by. While prices had risen over the years, for many years the prices were realistic based upon inflation but starting in about 1980 the prices of Unitron scopes began to outstrip the inflation rate and this coupled with the new competition from shorter, faster and better corrected apo scopes essentially drove Unitron out of the telescope business. By the early 90's none of the scopes that we had known for years, the #114, #128, #140, #142, #145, #150, #152 and #160 and others were available. For awhile Unitron marketed some small generic refractors that look like so many others, only distinguishable by labeling and paint.

At some point in time, I don't know when, Unitron moved again, this time about 10 miles north of the Bohemia location to Commack, NY (north side of the Long Island Expressway). Their current on-line catalog only lists a few small brass presentation telescopes, about the only thing left from the past is the name. :bawling:

Here is a comparison shot of two Unitron 60 mm objectives and cells. The painted one is my Unitron #114 built in the early 60's, complete with red paint. The other one with collimatable ears is a photo of my #128 equatorial purchased in 1986. Note that the foil air spacing tabs were larger in the later scope and were often not applied too carefully, look at the top one. The #114 alt-azimuth 60's did not come with the collimatable cells (with ears). Even after the collimatable cells were in widespread use by the early 70's, the #114's retained the simpler cell type until the end of their production in the early 90's.

Barry Simon

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#46 madeline

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:54 PM

Barry, quick question, is that red paint any clue as to dating these?

#47 BarrySimon615

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:17 PM

As I said, my 1986 #128 (equatorial 60 mm) did not have the red paint, the earlier 1961/62 model #114 does. Catalog photos are not very helpful as they are often just "tease" photos just showing a portion of a tube and mount. Often the same photos were used for years, even decades, so the photo itself was not representative as to what you might get.

I believe that you have to look at a lot of things collectively to date a Unitron and only then you may just be confident to get within a few years. The very best thing to have is an original sales invoice. That will at least tell you it had to have been made/assembled at sometime before the sale.

Looking at hardware all of these indicators are important:

tube material (brass or aluminum)

cell type

focuser and objective retaining flange engraving

focuser knobs

mount altitude screw

setting circles

cradle knobs

type of wood and color of stain on tripod legs

coatings on objective

strap and labeling on case

accessories provided - eyepieces, Unihex, etc.

Labeling on motor if available

appearance of RA gear

shape, size and placement of foil spacers separating objective elements

extrusions on the mount

instruction manual

etc, etc.

and all compared to as many photos you can find as possible compared to discriptive data given with those photos.

I am only comfortable taking a stab at a date within about 4 or 5 years unless of course there is that original sales invoice which will really help.

Barry Simon

#48 greju

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:32 PM

Got to think this red paint was applied at the factory. You see just to many of them and they all have the same shade of red paint haphazardly applied. If the owner was going to apply this paint you would think they would use a little more finesse.
Barry, notice that one of the pictures Steve G. put up in this thread is a 75mm. with the red paint applied. Maybe the "drunk accidently did one of those. :grin:
I still have got to think this is an early one made before the "ears" were used. It is definately used for collimation but because of it's weight was probably re-engineered to just include the "ears".
Since Barry's 114 from the early sixties has the italic lettering I wonder how far back this practice originated?

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#49 BarrySimon615

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 04:55 PM

In the absence of any informational history from Unitron, one other possibility for the red paint exists:

Perhaps a major dealer of Unitron scopes, lets say RVR Optical where I got several of mine, fine tuned collimation on the scopes that came thru his shop and he then applied the red paint as a way to help prevent collimation from slipping and to determine if anyone tampered with collimation. I can only remember seeing the red paint on "pre-ear" objective cell assemblies. Maybe the 60 mm was known for shifting collimation, who knows. Just a theory. This theory can only be proven if the "red paint" Unitrons could all be traced back to the same dealer.

Barry Simon

#50 tomchris

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 05:29 PM

Alot of interesting information given here. My Model 114 has no red paint. I've always wondered about it as I used to have another that did. I thought initially I had a tampered one (as madeline suggests with the warranty comment). Barry's comment about different parts from different years being used rings all the more true with restorations currently being done via various parts from different years being bought on line. Anyway, I've learned a lot from this forum thread. :)






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