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1978 MEADE 856 8" F6

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#1 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:59 PM

I recently picked up from Craigslist a 1978 (bought by original owner 3/78, maybe one of the first ones?) Meade 856 8" f6 Newt on the legged/pier mount complete with a set of Meade Series 1 Orthos (great EP's), the VariGuide Dual Axis Corrector System 47M, original receipts and the Meade "Bulletin 68", Winter/Spring 1978 General Catalog and 1978 price sheet. Mirrors are excellent, OTA is complete with the 2.4" Photo-Guide Telescope (cute) and in excellent condition having been stored indoors all its life. Mount and pier are not so nice having been stored in the garage but it all works and will clean up OK with some effort.

I have a couple of questions and suggestions:

1) It's missing the "Accessory Shelf". The former owner had fashioned a workable bracket but I would like to get this setup back to original. Anyone have one they would like to part with? (photo below)

2) The bronze bearing (what we used to call an 'Oilite bearing' back in my slot car days) that the worm gear rides in (and is adjusted for backlash) is worn out, the hole is now a slot. I found a nylon bushing that is an excellent fit (with no modification) at my local hardware store. Might be a good (and easy) fix for anyone else working on one of these. (photos below)

3) I hate how the older scopes (and even some newer ones) use metal tipped thumbscrews to hold the secondary/finder scopes in the rings. At the same hardware store I found what they call "thread protectors" that fit snugly on the end of the 3/16" thumbscrews holding the Photo-Guide scope. Fortunately they are white (each size is a different color). You will need enough thread space between the ring and the OTA to account for the thickness of the thread protector though, I didn't have enough to use them on the finder scope (which is fine, that size is orange). (photo below)

4) Anyone know why there are two sets of mounting holes for the mirror cage? Mistake by the person drilling the holes maybe? While it might help to mount the cage higher up for a binoviewer I don't think they had binoviewers in 1978. (photo below)

5) Apparently the rear aluminum trim ring was designed to easily pull off because the mirror cage won't come out unless you do. The original owner had sealed/glued it in with red silcone...that was fun to get off! I think I will file three grooves to allow clearance for the mirror cage ears to clear and glue the ring back on.

6) Are there any serial numbers on these scopes/mounts? I can't find any anywhere.

7) Funny small world story: There is a gold sticker on the bottom of the mirror from the original coating company, Pancro Mirrors, Glendale, CA. According to the company history on their website they did about 30,000 mirrors (coating only, not the grinding) before moving into the movie industry and leaving telescope mirror coating behind. Turns out they moved to Grass Valley, CA (where I live) in 2006, just a few months earlier than our move. When I get the scope back together I am going to take them some photos of it.

I am looking forward to trying this scope, lots of positive buzz about it. It will have a tough time going up against my lowly Orion 8" DOB IntelliScope though, the optics in that scope are really, really good, generally against which I compare the viewing experience with any scope I get. If it exceeds the Orion I will keep the 856, otherwise I will move it on. I will put up a photo of the completed project when I get it done, currenty have the OTA mounted on a CG5, the Meade mount is still in pieces. And it raining...

Tom Duncan

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#2 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:03 PM

The original bronze/Oilite bushing...

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#3 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:04 PM

The nylon bushing in place...

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#4 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:05 PM

And the old and new side by side...

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#5 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:06 PM

The 'thread protectors' on the Photo-Guide scope thumbscrews...

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#6 oddog

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:07 PM

And the extra set of mirror cage mounting holes (filled at the factory with bolts/nuts)...

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#7 tim53

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:36 PM

Welcome to Cloudy nights, Tom!

I worked at Meade assembling and machining parts for the Newtonians from about June 1978 - October 1979.

The early versions of these, at least through 1979, had optics from Coulter, IIRC. Meade didn't have an optical shop until shortly after I left in 79. I had an 826 on loan for a few months during summer 79 to try to take photos with it for possible use in a catalog. Other employees and astrophotographers better known than me were given other scopes to try photography with. I also had an Optical Craftsmen 8" Discoverer at the time, and it blew the doors off the Meade optically. They were comparable mechanically.

The 856 with the guidescope and other nifty accessories was a nice package. I would think that, with the mount cleaned up and adjusted well, the Meade would be more fun to use than a dobsonian. These size scopes are still small and light enough to be reasonably portable, and having a clock drive is a big plus for planetary or other high mag viewing, or even wide field if you're trying to show objects to groups of people at a star party - it's nice not to have to keep recentering objects for people.

The extra mirror mounting holes are for moving the mirror to the forward set so you could reach focus with an SLR camera mounted on the focuser.

That nylon bushing was a great solution to the worn oillite bushing. If you ever want to go back to oillite, I'll bet they're still available, maybe from McMaster-Carr or something similar.

The thread protectors are another great idea. I've seen something like those on some finders before, but never thought to look for them before. Another solution might be to replace the thumbscrews with srews with delrin inserts in the tips, or boring the tips of the thumbscrews you have for a length of delrin or nylon rod, perhaps.

-Tim.

#8 oddog

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:10 PM

Thanks for the input Tim, nothing like getting info from someone who was there.

Of course the extra holes where to accommodate using a camera, I should have realized that, after all the Photo-Guide scope is for hand tracking during photography.

Had first light with the 856 OTA tonight (mounted on a CG5) alongside my Orion 8" DOB, viewing lasted about 45 minutes before the dew soaked everything and I am very pleased. It actually out-performed the Orion, Jupiter's moons where tighter and more detail was visible on the planets cloudy surface. So even though the mirror may be a Coulter it is very good.

I used a 10mm Pentax XW, a 12.5 Meade Series 1 Ortho and a 24mm Panoptic for the tests.

I used my newly acquired Ronchi eyepiece on the two scopes tonight and both showed excellent straight lines. I see what people are talking about when they say the seeing (specifically the lines moving) can make interpreting a Ronchi image difficult but what movement there was was easy to factor out.

Tim, any idea where to look for serial numbers on my rig?

Tom

#9 tim53

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:20 AM

To be honest, I don't remember there ever being any serial numbers on these.

I bought a Coulter 4 1/2" f/12 optics set while I was working at Meade. It was advertised as a planetary kit in S&T. I made an OTA for it using parts from the shop at Meade. It was a very good scope optically. Wish I'd kept it!

-Tim.

#10 Gil V

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:18 AM

Tim53 -

We both worked for telescope companies at the same time!

I'll bet the weather in CA was nicer than the weather in CT.

Why did you leave Meade?

#11 tim53

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 11:20 AM

I left Meade in fall 1979 to take my first job as a geologist. I got laid off that job when the project was cancelled 2 years later. I came back to Meade from about November 1981 until I got laid off around March or April 1982. I went back into geology and struggled for a couple years, and have been in the field since.

The second time at Meade, I worked exclusively on machining parts for the SCTs.

-Tim.

#12 oddog

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:03 PM

Tim, are these bracing chains stock or something the owner put on?

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#13 tim53

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:22 PM

Something the owner put on.

I put similar braces on my Optical Craftsmen mount, only I used conduit instead of chains. It didn't help enough to be worth the mess it made.

-Tim.

#14 oddog

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:47 PM

OK, I thought so. I am refurbishing the mount now that the OTA is finished but I think I will leave the chain setup intact. It certainly makes the setup solid. If the next owner wants to they can take it off and replace the eyes with bolts inorder to get it back to stock configuration.

Tom

#15 Gil V

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 09:09 AM

How big was the plant? How many employees?

#16 orion61

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

I had an 826 from the early 80's optically it was fantastic,
It is amazing how people have been brain washed tilted toward the expensive refractorn and other expensive scopes on the market today.
On Planetary it gave images that would make your chin drop.
it blew away my black C8.
I still have my RV6 Criterion, one of my favorite scopes,
I doubt if I'll ever part with it. I hope your optics are good ones.

#17 oddog

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

I got the mount/tripod cleaned up and it's working fine now. Polished off the rust that was on the counterweight shaft, remounted the DEC motor and put on a new drive O-ring. The DEC motor/VariGuide system is pretty useless for visual use, it is designed for photo-guiding adjustments so it is very slow, but it works. The mount is very smooth. I am not generally a user of GEM mounts as I can't see Polaris from my back deck (where I view from 98% of the time) nor do I astro-image but it seems to work very well. The OTA weighs 22lbs with rings and the mount/tripod handles it fine with its 1" shafts.

My next move is to compare it to my very good orange tube C8 and again to the very good Orion 8" Intelliscope side by side.

At this point I have it up for sale but if those comparisons work to the Meades favor I might have to reconsider. On the other hand it is original and nearly complete, relatively un-molested and the guiding part of I have no use for so maybe even if it is better optically I should move it on. Or try to sell just the mount/tripod. Hmmm, what to do....


Tom Duncan

#18 tim53

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:44 PM

How big was the plant? How many employees?


During that period - 78-79 there were about 10 of us in the shop in back. Maybe close to that in the front offices.

-Tim.

#19 Joe Cepleur

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:57 PM

I put similar braces on my Optical Craftsmen mount, only I used conduit instead of chains. It didn't help enough to be worth the mess it made.



Chain tightened with turnbuckles would be more effective than fixed lengths of conduit. Think of Celestron's early spring steel tripods for the C8.

#20 Calypte

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:36 AM

During the early or mid-'80s I was heading up Sunrise Hwy to Mt. Laguna (San Diego Co., CA) for a night of observing, and I saw a guy with one of these Meade 826s set up in one of the turnouts. Naturally, I stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. It was Alan Hale. I knew his name from something with his name in S&T. This was the same Alan Hale who later discovered Comet Hale-Bopp. Little did either of us know. He was in the Navy at the time, based in S.D.

That bushing with the screw impinging on its lip is very much like Cave's motor drive. The drive on my 8-inch Cave has always worked well. On my 12.5-inch, simply pushing the scope around applied the scope's entire mass to the tiny contact surface between the screw (a hex-head socket screw) and the brass bushing. The screw would rip right through the bushing. A local hardware store that had a big supply of the brass bushings, and I went through a boatload of them. I finally replaced the entire drive with a Byers 9-inch Starmaster.

I knew that Coulter made the early mirrors (a friend of mine worked for Meade in the late-'70s-early-'80s). Somehow I thought they were probably a cut above the usual Coulters. Guess I was wrong.

#21 oddog

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:52 AM

What were you wrong about?

Tom

#22 Calypte

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:07 AM

What were you wrong about?

Tom


> I also had an Optical Craftsmen 8" Discoverer at the
> time, and it blew the doors off the Meade optically.

#23 tim53

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

Hi joe. What was your friends name? We might have overlapped

#24 orion61

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:41 PM

We had one turned into a Dob to loan out to new members to check out for 2 weeks. It had fantastic optics.
I had a Meade LX-5 10" and the 826 Dob blew it away on Planets

#25 Calypte

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:36 AM

Who's "Joe?"






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