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Brandon 130 F8

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#1 immonacan

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 09:55 PM

Hi All, It's been quite a long while since I visited here. Just thought I would talk a bit about my Brandon 130, since I noticed no other posts discussing one, after searching. I think, soon enough.. it might qualify as a topic in the vintage refractor section. I purchased it in 1990, and believe I'm the 2nd owner (possibly third.. can't remember). It has a custom cherry heavy duty tripod, with an Alt -Az (Dob style) mount, made by Carlino Woodcraft. I've read Larry's excellent scope reviews here, and maybe he will see this thread, and chime in.. and say "hey".. lol.
I ungraded the Unitron focuser, to a Feathertouch.. as the original was always a bit cumbersome, even when using the JMI motofocus. No such problems with the feathertouch, and it was well worth the upgrade.
I've done many an observation on the outer planets, including Jupiter events / transits, Mars apparitions, and of course, Saturn. Lunar viewing near the terminator and eclipses, never disappointed. Transit of Venus, and Solar sunspots and several partial eclipses.
Was able to transport the scope, to dark sky locations in both PA (Cherry Springs SP), and NY (Adirondacks).. for some outstanding deep sky observing.
I use the Brandon bohemoth 40mm widefield eyepiece, as well as Televue 24 Panoptic, 13 and 9mm Naglers, and a 5mm Tak, for planetary work.
The color correction of the Christen triplet lens, is very good. I don't think it can match the newer EDF refractors, but could compete at everything, but the highest magnifications on the brightest objects, with it's Starfire optics. I had the privilege... of comparing those views, on Jupiter.. and on a few other brighter targets. I walked away, still feeling good about the Brandon.
I'll confess.. that I don't get out use it, as much as I would like. I also have a Televue Ranger, that is my travel / birding scope. In the past, I've owned several large Dobs, and Schmidt Cass. I'm pretty much been a refractor guy, since having to move to the suburbs.
Next year, I'll be retiring and moving to Asia (Philippines, my wife's country ). I made a pine carry trunk for the tube, with custom cut foam, brass hardware and corners. Not sure, at this time.. if I'll be taking it with me, or selling it. For the first couple years I'll be renting near the city, before building a place out in the countryside, up in the higher central mountains. Can't say yet.. how much I'll use it... or be able to use it there, if I decide to ship it over with me.
From what I understand, there were only 100 of these Brandon 130s produced by Vernonscope.

#2 Erik Bakker

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 02:00 AM

A beautiful scope with great heritage. Be careful to say goodbye to a good old friend. As soon as you have a house under reasonable skies, you'll want that scope under the stars and continue where you left in the US under the stars. No other scope will do that quite like what you have now, and definitely at a much higher price than what you would sell the 130 for.

Just my 2 cents.

#3 NHRob

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 06:55 AM

We'd love to see some pics of the scope if you can.

Thx,
Rob

#4 BarrySimon615

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 07:09 AM

I had a Brandon 130 f/8. I purchased it and it's baby brother, the Brandon 94 mm f/6.7 at the same time. Both were used and came from the same owner. (I sold the Brandon 130 about 10 years ago because I was simply not using it that much.

In respect to good looks, nothing beats the Brandon 130; it is a great looking scope! Optically it was very nice and was the reason I sold my Unitron 4" f/15 as the Brandon simply blew it away both in terms of correction of chromatic aberration and the ability to handle higher powers. Having said that I believe that more modern scopes such as another previously owned scope, the TAK TSA 102, does outclass the Brandon in every category. With it's better light thru-put (for it's size) the magnitude reach of the 130 is not that much better than the TSA 102.

I do miss the Brandon 130, and I think you can consider it a classic now. Hopefully you did not have to modify the focuser end of the tube in upgrading the focuser. Less than 100 were made, I think the number might be closer to 50. That fact will see the selling price of these scopes going up as time goes by.

Here is a photo of the one that I owned for 12 years.

Barry Simon

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#5 immonacan

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:06 AM

Thanks for the replies, and happy to get some feedback.
Erik, I'm thinking exactly what you have commented. I've been at the point of almost selling it, several times.. but have resisted. Even during a period of extended unemployment and a divorce.. it stayed with me. I don't think I'd ever replace this scope, for the looks and the price. If there is anyway I can get it shipped and secured during our moving process.. I'm going to do it. I'm a bit concerned, about the tropical humidity.. effecting the tripod and case, moving it from a temperate climate. The tube and optics, should be fine. I had a guitar, I brought from the Pinas to here (NY), and it warped like a banana. Hoping the reverse (NY to the Pinas move)... will not be the same, for any wooden items. I'm adding a whole lot of humidity, instead of a dryer colder climate for storage. It might be.. a non factor.
Rob, I'll put up an older picture of the scope, at my former residence.. and then take a few more, in the near future... of the scope with the feathertouch focuser modification. In the older picture I'm attaching (not the greatest photo)... the color is a bit washed out, by the flash and lighting conditions. The actual color of the scope, is the same as the Brandons in Barry's photo, in this thread.

Posted Image

Barry, I've read you posts elsewhere, and remember you were a proud owner of this scope.. and always admired the pictures of your baby blue Brandons and mount.
The feathertouch modification was a snap, and took about 15 minutes, with everything needed, provided.. and great customer support. I can put the Brandon back to it's original Unitron focuser state.. in about the same amount of time, if ever needed. The focuser, almost caused me to sell the scope. Rougher than desired motion (the shakes), while fine tuning focus , observing the planets.. was annoying. I experienced the difference and a dramatic improvement.. while using a fellow observer's AP EDF refractor, in PA. When I had the opportunity to use another amateur's feathertouch focuser.. I knew I Had to make the upgrade . The Brandon is a joy to use, now. The difference in fine tune focusing at higher mag, was enormous.

#6 t.r.

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:15 AM

Beautiful Brandon! I missed an opportunity to buy one of these in the Syracuse area years back. That wasn't yours by any chance around 2004-'05? I have the orignal Vernonscope brochures for both the 94 and 130 scopes. Had them when I was a young buck, dreaming of owning these fantastic triplet refractors. Almost went for the 94mm, then lusted after the AP 120 doublet(remember that one), but settled on the TV Genesis on a special deal from Adorama on closeout when TV moved to the SDF lens. Even early on, I knew I was a refractor man. Ahhh, the good old days, these pics bring back the wonderlust of my youth! :grin:
Larry of Lockport made that mount? I had no idea he had a wood shop. I'm in need of this dob style alt/az for a large refractor idea...I'll have to call him.

#7 immonacan

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:51 AM

Thank You, t.r.
No, the scope you saw in Syracuse, was not mine (formerly Larry's). I have the same brochures, with Don Yiere's daughter standing next to the scopes. I almost ordered the same (I think) AP scope, just before coming across the Brandon. Was it called the Star12 ED by any chance ?
Yes, Larry made the mount.. and a wonderful smooth heavy duty one, I might add. That was at least 23 years ago, and not sure what he's doing now, or if he still makes them. If you do call him, please tell him Bill in Rochester said "Hey !", and I still have the Brandon and the mount. Larry had just recently received a 152mm AP refractor, at the time I purchased the Brandon from him.
Also included in my Brandon purchase, was an equatorial head for the tripod, that I found far less enjoyable to use, than the custom Alt - Az mount.

#8 t.r.

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:32 AM

Rochester? Are you a member of ASRAS, the Farrish Observatory in Ionia? Yes, the AP scope was the Star12ED and sold for around $2000 back in the early '90s!

#9 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:43 AM

Thank You, t.r.
No, the scope you saw in Syracuse, was not mine (formerly Larry's). I have the same brochures, with Don Yiere's daughter standing next to the scopes. I almost ordered the same (I think) AP scope, just before coming across the Brandon. Was it called the Star12 ED by any chance ?


Different animal. The Star12 ED (and even more rare Star130) were doublets with one ED element. The Christen lenses used in the Brandons were triplets, and I believe they pre-dated the ED glass models. My 94 Brandon had decent color correction in-focus, with yellow/green outside focus and magenta inside (might have been the other way around, it was some time ago). The Star12 has much better correction.

I was surprised to read that 100 of the Brandon 130s were made, they hardly ever come up for sale.

#10 immonacan

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 11:33 AM

t.r... No I'm not an active member of ASRAS. I went to a couple meetings as a guest. Real nice folks, but I'm just not a clubsy kind of guy.
I was a whisker away from getting the Star12 ED .. but ended up with a lot more (in my price range) buying the Brandon. The AP 130s, were always out of my price range.. and still are.

Jeff, I was not very clear about it in my post, but did realize the difference between the AP Star ED, and the Brandon triplet lens. It is very interesting to hear, that the color correction was better in the Star12 ED. Hope you enjoyed owning the Brandon 94. That was another scope, I was very close to purchasing, new. I've only seen a few Brandon 130s.. over years, come up for sale (Barry's being one). There were a couple on Ebay, but were questionable.. on one of them even being a Brandon. I remember reading about it, on a thread in a Yahoo group, pertaining to the Brandons.


#11 Scott99

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 11:55 AM

wow, thanks for the pictures, looks like a great scope. I owned one of Larry's magificent cherry tripods for a long time. I wish I had gotten the alt-az head as well, it looks great, mine didn't have a counterweight.

I've enjoyed a couple of RC's lenses the 80's and early 90's, they were real bargains. Poor light transmission for this lens sounds weird, the AP scopes from that era were usually 96% + transmission.

#12 SteveG

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 12:10 PM

I have the same brochures, with Don Yiere's daughter standing next to the scopes. I almost ordered the same (I think) AP scope, just before coming across the Brandon.


I loved and only dreamed of the Brandon 130. Didn't know the young model was Don's daughter! Seriously, that's a beautiful scope - I would keep it.

Is that a Telrad mounted to that Brandon? Someone get a rope.....

#13 immonacan

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 01:06 PM

[/quote]

Didn't know the young model was Don's daughter! Seriously, that's a beautiful scope - I would keep it.

Is that a Telrad mounted to that Brandon? Someone get a rope..... [/quote]

That's what I was told at a Northeast Astronomy Telescope show, many years back. There looks (to me) like a family resemblance, so I never questioned it (or asked Don).. lol. I am leaning heavily on keeping it, and appreciate you commenting, Steve. It is one of the reasons I started the thread, for feedback.. reminding me of what I have, and getting my lazy butt out, to use it more often.
I didn't drill any holes to mount the Telrad base. Don't plan on removing it, as I learned to like it, during my large Dob using period. I always hated finder scopes. Spent more time finding objects, than observing them.

#14 stevew

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:57 PM

Great report William!
I remember seeing the ads for the Brandon 130.
Great looking scope.
If there is any way possible you should hang on to it.
Store it until you get a place in the in the country side.

If you sell it, you'll probably never see another one.

Steve

#15 russell23

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:30 PM

There were 99 Brandon 130's made. There would have been exactly 100 except that some clown claimed Don sent him an OTA without the lense and threatened to contact S&T if Don didn't send him a lense. So he sent the guy a lense knowing it was a false claim and he ended up with one extra lense cell when the last 130 was made. He showed me the extra cell which was still sitting in a cabinet last year.

Dave

#16 Ira

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:53 AM

I had the Brandon 80mm refractor. Bought it in the mid-'80s. I know it's a totally different beast from the one shown here, but it hooked me on Brandons for the rest of my life. I always wanted the 130mm but never pulled the trigger. I, too, used to gaze longingly at the brochures and dream of owning one. Now I have a nice 130mm APO. Sometimes unrequited love is the best. Don't sell it. You will regret it immediately.

/Ira

#17 immonacan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:49 AM

I agree... about keeping the Brandon. I'm quite certain, I'd have some serious seller's remorse, immediately. Just have to find the right option, to get it shipped overseas. I'm going to use Forex, to ship most of what I'm taking, in boxes.. as it is whatever fits in the box. Used this quite a bit, to ship items to my inlaws. Never any damage or lost boxes. It is not an option though (unfortunately), with the tripod or scope. Tripod won't fit, even when broken down completely. The trunk and tube, likewise.. although I would never risk it. Purchasing a shipping container, and having it packed and insured.. is another option. What concerns me most, is what happens when the container gets there, and it's sitting around in the tropical sun and heat. Not sure if I could even bring the trunk and tube / heavy tripod.. as a checked in item on the airline. Even more risky, as it's a four flight trip, from here. Not to mention, dragging it all through customs.

#18 t.r.

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:27 AM

Perhaps you can just hand carry the lens cell, protected of course, and ship the rest?

#19 wormstar

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 11:18 AM

Maybe you should get the scope it's own seat :)

#20 immonacan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 11:25 AM

For the price they're probably talking, to ship it (almost 9000 miles) Fed Ex insured.. getting it it's own seat, might be cheaper. It would not save me, though.. from carrying a massive case, and hardwood tripod, through an airport and customs. I probably will end up using Fed Ex, for the tripod and case.. while hand carrying the lens cell and eyepieces, as t.r. suggested.

#21 Jeff B

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 01:18 PM

As I understand it, there was a bit of an evolution to the Brandon's 130 lens with it starting out as a "standard" triplet then a Starfire triplet once they became available.

I had an AP 130 F8 standard triplet. It was a wonderful scope in every respect and light weight. A great package. Never should have sold it.

Jeff

#22 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:27 AM

As I understand it, there was a bit of an evolution to the Brandon's 130 lens with it starting out as a "standard" triplet then a Starfire triplet once they became available.

I had an AP 130 F8 standard triplet. It was a wonderful scope in every respect and light weight. A great package. Never should have sold it.

Jeff


:lol: Yes, the past is always littered with astro products we should have never sold.

The timing sounds about right for the Brandon lenses. I was re-reading Thomas Back's "A Brief History of Astro-Physics Lenses" and the Star Fire was the cutting-edge design during those years, with the ED scopes being introduced in 1990.

Interestingly, TMB states that the first Astro-Physics ED scope was the Star12.






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