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Fire @ Van Slyke Instruments

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#1 Matthew Ota

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:41 PM

Any astronomers waiting on parts from Van Slyke instruments (VSI): Paul's digital machine shop was destroyed in Colorado's Black Forest Fire. It probably cannot be rebuilt, signaling the probable end to one popular manufacturer of astronomical accessories.

Van Slyke Instruments

#2 rmollise

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:00 PM

That's a shame. I never dreamed of purchasing any of their exquisite (and expensive) accessories, but I always enjoyed their ads... :(

#3 okieav8r

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:16 PM

What a terrible thing to hear of. I too have always admired the products that Paul made. This is a good lesson to those who are lax about attending to their insurance needs. I wish Paul the best and hope he can find a way to get back to doing what he obviously loves to do, even though it may not be at the level he was doing it at before the fire.

#4 don clement

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:29 PM

Sorry for your loss Mr. Van Slyke. As one who has been threatened and repeatedly evacuated due to Wildland fires coming as close as across the street, the last fire taking out 160 homes in our small mountain community, I know the feeling of just being threatened with the loss of my home and shop. We also did not know for two weeks if our home and shop had not burned.

Sincerely,
Don Clement

#5 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 03:15 PM

"I will say that VSI's machine shop was very underinsured (a small fraction of it's value) and can not be rebuilt from the ashes. This is my fault for not increasing my coverage over the years as my facility machining capabilities grew."


Should be a lesson there for all of us.. Don't under-insure your property. weather it be for fire, flood, wind, tsunami, acts of nature, etc.. You never know...

#6 desertlens

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 03:28 PM

...very sorry to hear this... thanks to the OP. VSI has been a source of many daydreams. I will miss them.

#7 DaveJ

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:21 PM

...very sorry to hear this... thanks to the OP. VSI has been a source of many daydreams. I will miss them.


Our astronomy club purchased one of his large Toad Loader focusers four years ago. What a beautiful piece of hardware. This is terrible news!

#8 Bryguy

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 05:00 PM

I've always dreamt of owning one of VSI's turrets. I hope things work out for Paul and he can at some time rebuild what he has lost. Prayers and thoughts are with you Paul!

#9 HowardK

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:31 PM

I own one of Paul's sliders and have to say the quality is in the Rolls Royce league.

I wish you all the very best Paul.

#10 Alph

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 03:40 PM

Should be a lesson there for all of us.. Don't under-insure your property. weather it be for fire, flood, wind, tsunami, acts of nature, etc.. You never know...


You did not mention earthquake. I suppose you are not ensured then :(

#11 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 08:23 PM

Should be a lesson there for all of us.. Don't under-insure your property. weather it be for fire, flood, wind, tsunami, acts of nature, etc.. You never know...


You did not mention earthquake. I suppose you are not ensured then :(


acts of nature, etc


That kind of makes it all inclusive.

#12 EFT

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 11:12 AM

This is very sad in deed. A beautiful shop, equipment and products lost. What a financial nightmare. I hope that he can get things back up and going. I would hate to see us lose another great small astro business.

#13 bilgebay

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 02:32 PM

That's very sad!

#14 GeneT

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 03:05 PM

Truly sad. When we visited Colorado last year, a forest ranger said that the Pine Beetles had infected more than half of all the trees in Colorado. This is also true for many forests throughout the Rocky Mountain West. One cause is that the winters have not been cold enough. Also, amount of rainfall has dropped, so the trees are not as robust as they should be. The forest ranger said there is no cure, or solution to the problem. He said that you can treat trees to kill the Pine Beetle, but each tree would need several injections. There is no way to treat the vast numbers of trees so infected. You could thin out the forrests by taking out the diseased trees, but again the number of trees is too vast.

He said that the entire Rocky Mountain west is a time bomb, with forest fires continuing to raise havoc.

Truly sad!

#15 Aquatone

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 03:46 PM

Good grief! That is just heart breaking. I own both small and large sliders, various adapters, and also a zerotator that I use constantly. They all have that "hewn out of a solid ingot" heft to them, and are somewhat over-engineered in the best possible way. I only hope Paul can recover from this as he filled an important niche.

Chris

#16 Ron359

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 04:58 PM

Truly sad. When we visited Colorado last year, a forest ranger said that the Pine Beetles had infected more than half of all the trees in Colorado. This is also true for many forests throughout the Rocky Mountain West. One cause is that the winters have not been cold enough. Also, amount of rainfall has dropped, so the trees are not as robust as they should be. The forest ranger said there is no cure, or solution to the problem. He said that you can treat trees to kill the Pine Beetle, but each tree would need several injections. There is no way to treat the vast numbers of trees so infected. You could thin out the forrests by taking out the diseased trees, but again the number of trees is too vast.

He said that the entire Rocky Mountain west is a time bomb, with forest fires continuing to raise havoc.

Truly sad!


The Black Forest has not been affected by pine beetles and authorities think this was a 'man-made' fire and are still investigating. There are several other big wild-fires burning areas of beetle kill though and the Wyoming WUTS star party has been canceled two years in row now because the Forest Service has been using the site for beetle kill and fire fighting. Haze from wild fire smoke is now a constant pestilence on the skies of the west.

#17 Mary B

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 12:37 PM

Smoke haze from the fires has affected things even here in MN.

Sorry to see such a loss, I don't see recovering from that being under-insured.

#18 Mike in Tampa

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 07:24 AM

I had not heard of VSI before this post but after looking at his hex turrets, it looks like the guy is an artist. Very impressive machining. Best wishes for him to make a recovery if that's the direction he wants to go. I can only imagine after such great loss that it may discourage one from wanting to start over from scratch.

#19 smallscopefanLeo

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:38 PM

I am so sorry to hear about this loss. :(

Over the years I have drooled for a fair number of hours while gazing at VSI's engineering art on their website, in threads around here and in S&T ads ... despite the fact that those turrets and focusers would all dwarf any one of my diminutive refractors.
(I like to daydream about deploying personal-observatory-class telescopes at times)

I can't even imagine how frightening, infuriating and sorrowful such a life-altering forest fire can be ...

#20 contedracula

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 04:09 PM

I believe the amateurs astronomers can provide support in these situations.

It 's my point of view and I do not say that someone has mandatory to do it , but if we just give Paul a little help with a small donation could be a very noble act

I've sent email him, I hope reads soon

Thanks
Gianluca

#21 Brian L

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 07:40 AM

I have been lucky enough to own a few of VSI's instruments and I have found them all to be second-to-none. I do not think you will find someone more dedicated to producing quality, and to lose VSI to a fire would be a tragic loss to all who have been fortunate enough to use his products.

There are many online fundraising sites for disaster relief... perhaps the amateur astronomy community can come together to help Paul rebuild- if he's willing and able. Count me in for a donation too.

#22 SteveC

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 08:16 AM

As much as I sympathize, I hardly support being under-insured from a business perspective, especially when there was a strong possibility of this happening. Donations are inappropriate, IMHO.

#23 Brian L

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 08:34 AM

While I agree with you in general, Steve, I am sure that someone as brilliant and capable as Paul Van Slyke can find gainful employment elsewhere and never look back. IMHO, there are few if any outfits out there producing the quality and range of products for amateur astronomers and ATM'ers that VSI offered. With the tide of cheaply manufactured gear from overseas (some good, some not so good), low volume outfits like VSI that emphasize quality face increasing financial pressures. Maybe the cost of sufficient insurance would have put VSI out of business. In any case, I doubt there will be anyone lining up to fill the void that the loss of VSI will leave.

In the past we've bailed out airlines, savings and loans, banks, public utilities, General Motors, and other businesses that failed for one reason or another . I feel a little better about helping to bail out VSI.

P.S. - In the wake of a natural disaster I don't feel that donations are EVER inappropriate. It does no good IMHO to stand over the ashes wagging fingers. You just never know when you will be the one in need. Plenty of people along the Gulf coast thought they were properly insured when Katrina hit- but insurance companies found all sorts of loopholes and interpretations of exclusions in policies to weasel out of paying billions in claims.

#24 ASTERON

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 01:57 AM

I am the proud owner of a VSI Hex Turrent for many years.
It is a piece of engineering art and a precision instrument of heirloom quality.
I also think the astro-community should be supportive of Paul ( Dang, I almost feel the guy is my brother though I haven't even seen him face to face his work is enough for me to indicate a man of exceptional talent and the highest standards).
While I understand posters complaints about the carelessness of a business being underinsured, I don't think this is the time to educate Paul over the smouldering ashes of his workshop.
I'd rather help than preach.
Right after I heard of his disaster I wrote him an e-mail conveing my sympathy and asked him for a rough estimate of how much he would need to restart a basic workshop. My Idea was to organize a Kickstarter campaign to put him back in bussiness. To put my wallet in line with my mouth I pledged to donate $500.00 to such a project.
Unfortunately, he has not responded to my e-mail ( He must be devastated and still mourning his loss, which I fully understand.
My offer stands, as long as he wants to take advantage of it.

The way I see this is, the man deserves a second chance and the international astronomy amateur community deserves high quality products made by a mechanical genius such as Paul.
I also think its not only a matter of money, It is a way to express our appreciation for a man who devoted his life to provide us with devices of uncompromising quality and highest standards.

YMMV

#25 Brian L

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 01:44 PM

I think kickstarter is a great idea. If you hear from Paul, please post an update here. I know he has no internet or phone presently.






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