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My Last Classic Scope - Unitron 145C

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#1 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:04 PM

In the last few years, as I’ve gone about obtaining, restoring and using several classic telescopes that I have always wanted to own, one brand on my bucket list just never seemed to come along – an EQ mounted Unitron. They were either too far away, too expensive or in just too rough a condition to go after.

Last year Steve Gorton bought a Unitron 145C here on CN. I regretted not going after it myself and asked him, if he ever decided to sell it, to please give me first shot. Once he found a 4” Unitron he decided the 145C could move on so now it’s mine. It came with the original bill of sale from 1971.

So here it is – My Last Classic Scope. The bucket list is complete for me. No other telescopes need apply.

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#2 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:05 PM

It is very complete and just needed some minor repairs, touch up and a thorough cleaning. The first area I decided to attack was the tripod tray and sliders. The glue had let go on the tray ribs and the original owner decided to bolt them together with some pieces of angled bracket.

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#3 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:05 PM

These had to go and I re-nailed and re-glued the ribs.

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#4 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:06 PM

Then I worked on refilling the extra holes that were drilled to mount the brackets. I used a wood filler from Elmers in a Golden Oak color, sanded it and touched it up with a wood stain marker made by Homax in a color called Early American. Then I applied a single coat of Cabot satin polyurethane. You can still see where the holes were of course but it looks a lot better.

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#5 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:07 PM

Next I went to work on the sliders. The original owner had probably had one of them pop loose or had heard stories of them doing so. So he bent them so they would also wrap around the bottom of the leg pin and bolted them together. They would stay on the leg pin and he did wing nuts where they attach to the tray. I carefully worked them back to their original shape. Left is before, right is after. Two of the slider springs were missing so I fabricated some from some tension springs in 0.026” wire diameter. One of the two shown is an original and one is my copy.

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#6 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:07 PM

On most of my restorations I like to replace all of the hardware with stainless. But I wasn’t going to do that on a Unitron. Almost all of the hardware is nickel plated brass and is pretty unique. But some of the slider hardware was missing so I had to add some hardware store stuff here. The sliders are actually threaded for the screws. The screws go through the arm from the bottom and are left loose so the slider can slide. A jam nut goes on top to keep the screw from loosening. I had to find new nuts and washers for attaching the arms to the tray as the original owner had put wing nuts here.

I individually hand polished all of the original hardware as the nickel finish was starting to show some surface corrosion. Do not go after these with anything very abrasive like sand paper or even Brasso or you will be through to the brass very quickly. I used Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish and it shined most items up like new.

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#7 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

The sliders and arms on mine are yellow zinc plated and were too far gone to polish. Zinc plating doesn’t polish up anyway and is very thin. So I first bead blasted them. The oval parts are the stoppers for the folding legs, which were also yellow zinc and corroded.

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#8 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:09 PM

After plating they were reassembled.

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#9 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:09 PM

Next it was on to the legs. I removed the leg tips, which were really in rough shape. Some of the nails holding them in pried out OK but on most the heads just broke off they were so rusty.

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#10 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:10 PM

Then I bead blasted them along with the bolt, washers and nut that hold the counterweight in the EQ mount box.

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#11 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:11 PM

Clint Whitman had posted that Rustoleum Satin Black, #7777 was an excellent match to Unitron black. So after a coat of Rustoleum primer I applied two coats of that and it is as close a match as you are going to find.

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#12 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:11 PM

The legs were in good shape, the usual scuffs and such. I cleaned them up with Guardsman revitalizing wood polish. I’ve used this before on my Sears 6344 wood case but it is still amazing how well this stuff can make the wood look new again and hide the scuffs. Here is the same leg before and after.

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#13 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:12 PM

And another before and after.

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#14 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:13 PM

Then I re-nailed the tips back on using ¾ x 18 brass plated nails. I didn’t want to use solid brass nails as these tips hold a lot of weight. The brass plated ones would be much stronger. Since several of the nails had broken off I turned the tips a bit so the nails would go in at different spots. I pilot drilled the wood with a 0.039” #61 drill bit so the wood wouldn’t split. I used a nail set to tap them home so I wouldn’t damage the freshly painted tips.

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#15 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:13 PM

The original owner had also put a large spot of white paint on the bottom of one leg. I’m not sure why.

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#16 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:14 PM

I sanded it out as best as I could. There was still a little white in the grain, and gave it a coat of the Cabot polyurethane.

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#17 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

The legs all reassembled with replated stops and cleaned up original hardware.

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#18 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:16 PM

The counterweights were a little scuffed up. But rather than stripping them and ruining the fine wrinkle finish I just dusted them with a light coat of flat black and they look perfect.

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#19 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:16 PM

Next I went after the wooden cases. Here is the EQ mount box before and after Guardsman. The original owner had pried out whatever nails were going into the interior parts that hold the mount, which are also glued of course. I don’t know what these looked like so I installed some 13/32” nickel plated thumb tacks.

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#20 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

And the bottom.

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#21 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:18 PM

All the box hinges had a lot of surface corrosion. 5 of them were from the mount and OTA boxes and the other four were from older Unitron OTA boxes. The newer ones are clear zinc plated where the older ones are nickel.

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#22 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:19 PM

After bead blasting.

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#23 bob midiri

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:19 PM

Jon awesome, you are an amazing classic telescope restorer (if there is such a word). I can't wait to see the rest. bob

#24 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:19 PM

And replated. There are three different manufacturers here. The top one, which is early and originally nickel plated, has an oval logo on the back with “Ant” in the oval. The middle one, which was also nickel plated originally, is stamped N.S.B. and Japan. The third one was originally clear zinc and is stamped Arch Japan.

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#25 PiSigma

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:20 PM

Every little original screw and latch was polished with Mothers. Here are the latches for the EQ mount box, left ones unpolished, right ones polished.

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