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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5785391 - 04/08/13 07:56 AM

And the last 4" Unitron with the weight drive sold for $6000 and it was sold very quickly. That was a steal.

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terraclarke
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5785575 - 04/08/13 10:23 AM

All I can say is that all of this makes me continue to be very happy with my classic telescopes and I feel that I got them all (including the Unitrons) for what I consider to be very fair prices. In particular, there are three of you here in this that have helped me a great deal in assembling my collection and all I can say is again, humbly, thank you very much. And I again thank several others on here as well who have very generously helped me with a few hard to find odds and ends.

Terra


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BarrySimon615
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5785776 - 04/08/13 11:47 AM Attachment (7 downloads)

FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!

Unitron Poll Results

Ok, I just finished writing and posting my analysis, comments and results over on the UnitronTelescopes Yahoo Group. So it is time to put that information here.

FYI - Clint, check your spelling of Unitron, on the thread you started.

I have closed the poll effective at 9 am CDT this morning. As of that time we had a total of 99 votes in the poll.

Let me review what the objective of the poll was, what we were voting about, and just what we were voting on:

The purpose of the poll is to get an idea of just what the current (i.e. - April, 2013) selling prices should be (as a guide) to members of this group (UnitronTelescopes Yahoo Group), right here, right now based upon (recent) buying and selling experiences and (possibly) what everyone knows to be recent prices from transactions monitored. Hopefully those that participated had this experience or knowledge. I did not want anyone voting who had no experience, or worse yet, were trying to manipulate the poll by entering price information either higher or lower than what they had hard evidence to prove..

We voted on just 4 models of Unitron telescopes. I know there are a number more, but the poll is limited to 25 selections. I do now regret not including another upper price tier choice in each category as I could have done that within the 25 selections I had. I also regret not spreading out the price brackets for both the Unitron #142 75 mm equatorial and the Unitron #152 102 mm equatorial a bit more. Retrospectively I would have started the #142 at the same lower price range, but I would have also expanded each bracket and had one more. The #142 bracket should have been: $600 to $900, $901 to $1200, $1201 to $1500, $1501 to $1800, $1801 to $2100, and "above $2100". Likewise the #152 should have been: $1400 to $1800, $1801 to $2200, $2201 to $2600, $2601 to $3000, $3001 to $3400, and "above $3400".

There was some, let's call it: dissent in some arenas about the poll brackets being low, centered on these two. I have taken supporting data into consideration and I have to agree. One thing that the results you will see and the comments that I consider tell me is that:

1) Unitrons, some models in particular, are highly collectable, duh!

2) Collectability purchasers dictate price, pity the user who just wants a nice scope at a reasonable price.

As I said, we voted on 4 models only, the #114, 60 mm alt-azimuth, the #142, 75 mm equatorial, the #152, 102 mm equatorial, and the 500 series, 127 mm equatorial.

Results of the poll are driven by rarity of the scopes in question. Retail prices, when available were driven by rarity/demand of the scopes in question. (Why else would you have a basic doubling in price in moving from the #142 3" scope to the #152 4" scope, and then a tripling in price in moving from the 4" to the 5" in 1972, and then to a quintupling in price between the 4" to the 5" by the mid-1980's?)

So here are the results, with comments -

Most (15 voters) place the #114 in the $300 to $400 bracket. 8 voters place the #114 in the $401 to $500 bracket, and the #114 gets 1 vote each in the other 3 brackets. Assuming that we give a mid bracket dollar amount to each vote and multiply all brackets out and divide by the total # of votes, we get $401.00. I interpret this to mean that $401 would be, given today's market a reasonable expectation as a buying or selling price for a very good to excellent condition Model #114 that is complete. I am very mindful of the fact that age of the scope, additional accessories, missing or broken parts, cost of shipping, etc., etc., etc. can and will change all of this. Time will change this too and time in respect to this may be only a few months. Still and all $401.00 based upon scopes I have seen bought and sold recently does appear to be a good benchmark. I do not argue with the poll result here at all. This is a commonly available scope and the bunching of votes at the lower end of the brackets do confirm that.

Moving on to the #142 3" equatorial, the voting shifts with more votes registered in the higher brackets. As I said above, I should have had 1 more price bracket here and the range within each bracket should have been $300, not $200. The #142 represents a "sweet spot" in the Unitron line up - reasonable size at an affordable cost. The voting in this bracket broke out as follows:

$600 to $800 - just two votes, really a steal at this price

$801 to $1000 - 3 votes (still low)

$1001 to $1200 - 6 votes

$1201 to $1400 - 9 votes

more than $1400 - 7 votes (note this is the price bracket that I selected) In another discussion thread, 2 scopes were submitted with proof as to selling for approx. $2300, one of these included a new non-Unitron motor drive which sell for $300 plus as well as a catalog which is highly collectable. This then drops the price of that scope to below $2000.00 when you take those items out. Another respected Unitron guy (CW) has stated that he believes the $1600 to $2000 range is appropriate for a very good to excellent Model #142. I believe it, and the poll tends (but not quite) to confirm it. Based upon the mathematical acrobatics that I did like in the #114 paragraph above, the poll results would set a reasonable price for the #142 at $1218.00. Documentation would tend to indicate that this is about $500 to $600 too low. As demand is high the higher bidding auction participants would keep the price up closer to the $1800 to $2000 threshold.

The price that a #142 will sell for really graphically illustrates that this scope has crossed over into the "collectable arena". Those truly interested in using a good scope and not into such a scope purely for it's collectability will have moved on to greener and more affordable pastures long before they would be willing to plunk down $2000 for a 3" achromat as nice as a 3" Unitron might be.

Our next scope, the #152 equatorial, yields results similar to the #142, the prices are just pushed up to another level. With the #152 we really get into an atmosphere where the major buyers and sellers are true Unitron fans. They have the money and they want the scope. An image of Gollum from the Ring Trilogy pops into my head - "My Precious!"

Anyway the #152 which was $899.00 back in 1972 and then up to $1433 in 1981, $1895 in 1985 and then took a massive jump in 1986 to $3500 (no bull, I can scan a copy of Price List No. LP160 for anyone who would want it). (Note: at least in part, the reason for the demise of Unitron refractors as we knew them.) Back in 1986, Unitrons were not high demand, they were just expensive with a capital "E" and price increases were running well ahead of the inflation rate. Apply an inflation calculator to that $3500 price and you will get a staggering figure in 2013 dollars. In a way, the price paid for a 4" Unitron today is reasonable considering the inflation rate and their rarity.

The poll results are as follows:

$1400 to $1700 - 2 votes

$1701 to $2000 - 4 votes

$2001 to $2300 - 5 votes

$2301 to $2600 - 5 votes

more than $2600 - 10 votes

As previously stated I should have had a $400 price range in each bracket plus an additional bracket, this would have take us to a "more than $3400 option" which would have been more in keeping with what is actually current prices transacted. Applied the "math wizard" to the votes above yields an average price of $2346.00 which as Clint Whitman has said, not exactly in these words - "sell it for that and let me know where to mail the check!" Clint feels based upon his research that the current market supports 4" #152 equatorials in very good to excellent condition being purchased and sold in the $3000.00 to $3500.00 range. Considering the inflation rate and the fact that $3500.00 was the MSRP back in 1986, that seems fair to me. (I sold my #152, which had been upgraded to #155 status for $2800.00 back in about 2001.

Okay, here is the Big Boy, which in truth was the catalyst for this little exercise, the 5" 127 mm f/16 monster. I have seen one of these in person - "Thanks Jim Craft!". We are in rare country here, it is a large and beautiful scope with what looks like a #152 mount on steroids (I believe a #152 set up weighs in at 100 lbs/45 kg, and the 5" on a tripod tops the scale at 275 lbs/125 kg)

In 1972 a 5" equatorial Unitron listed at $2800 and in 1987 the price was up to about $13200.00, almost 5 times as much and outstripping the inflation rate. That $13,200 price tag was also almost 4 times as much as it's 4" brother. $9,700.00 more for just an additional inch of aperture and a lot more hernias! Still and all some were sold and they were and are beautifully impressive telescopes. If only I had an appropriate dome mounted on the roof of my house I would film my own Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie using that telescope as a centerpiece. Cue the aliens!

In the poll the voting broke out like this -

$10,000 to $12,500 - 5 votes (lot's of luck!)

$12,501 to $15,000 - 8 votes (most votes were here and some will sell for this price. Any defect or missing parts and this seems to be the price range to shoot for

$15,001 to $17,500 - 4 votes

$17,501 to $20,000 - 3 votes (gotta be in great condition and most likey one that can be observatory mounted on a pedestal)

more that $20,000 - no votes. This kind of surprised me. I see a vision of "Mrs. Caveman" with a rolling pin in her hand and stomping her foot on the ground. Even a Caveman has his limits! Just teasing Clint! Applying the Math Wizard to the poll results and we get a average poll price of $14,375.00. I wonder how that would fly if that sum were to disappear from the family savings account?

The discussion here and elsewhere plus the results tends to reinforce that as much as anything else, Unitrons are collectable, maybe more so than anything else. If you want to use a great telescope at a reasonable price, unfortunately Unitron is not the answer. Let's see a TEC 140 on a Losmandy G11 mount for $8000.00 or a 30 year old 5" Unitron achromat for double that price; decisions, decisions. However if I am a user it would be the TEC on the Losmandy mount.

Let the bricks be thrown where they may!

Your friendly Unitron Group Moderator,

Barry Simon

Edited by BarrySimon615 (04/08/13 12:25 PM)


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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5785864 - 04/08/13 12:29 PM



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AllanDystrup
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5786029 - 04/08/13 01:23 PM

Quote: An image of Gollum from the Ring Trilogy pops into my head - "My Precious!"

Great Work Barry !
Thanks for the effort and result !

And now -- back to astronomy
allan


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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: AllanDystrup]
      #5786161 - 04/08/13 02:33 PM

back to what?????

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AllanDystrup
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5786196 - 04/08/13 03:16 PM

He he, -- You know, "Star light, star bright -- First star I see tonight : I wish I may, I wish I might ..." etc

Ahhh, sorry, I forgot : Cloudy Nights

allan

Edited by AllanDystrup (04/08/13 03:21 PM)


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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: AllanDystrup]
      #5786221 - 04/08/13 03:30 PM

I have not viewed in weeks. maybe soon.

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highertheflyer
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5786819 - 04/08/13 08:47 PM

Thank you Barry for your work and for your dedication.
Let's continue this thread with newer numbers certainly to be found.
Hang in their guy.
Jim

Edited by highertheflyer (04/08/13 08:50 PM)


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AllanDystrup
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5787217 - 04/09/13 01:04 AM

Maybe a small ATM project here -- just need to extend the vertical part of the scope 10^4m, then you're back in business

allan


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AllanDystrup
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5787256 - 04/09/13 01:56 AM

Could be be interesting to see a plot chart with fitted Poisson distribution for each of the scope models, -- ideally with a quality/condition signature for each plot point (eg. below, average, above) ...

A mean value without the statistical standard deviation is not really telling a lot.

Allan


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clintwhitman
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5787441 - 04/09/13 06:25 AM

Barry, Everyone who would like to buy a Unitron wants a 4" 152 and would like to find a mint condition complete scope for $2k or less.
Everyone who Owns a 4" Unitron and never wants to sell it thinks it is worth $4 or $5K

They check the box that applies to their situation.

By the way the UNITORN post was a reply to your post to Johann. LOL


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Napersky
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5787573 - 04/09/13 08:33 AM

Quote:

Barry, Everyone who would like to buy a Unitron wants a 4" 152 and would like to find a mint condition complete scope for $2k or less.
Everyone who Owns a 4" Unitron and never wants to sell it thinks it is worth $4 or $5KThey check the box that applies to their situation.

By the way the UNITORN post was a reply to your post to Johann. LOL





Clint,

I have 4K in my 152 and it is in NO WAY mint! It wasn't perfect, only had a little ding in the lens when I bought it but boy did I abuse it. Broke the original tripod had to buy a 160 tripod to replace it, replaced the focuser as you know.

So with 4k into mine and it's NOT in mint or excellent condition but I am pretty happy with it.

Mark


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Napersky
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5787577 - 04/09/13 08:36 AM

Quote:

And the last 4" Unitron with the weight drive sold for $6000 and it was sold very quickly. That was a steal.




If you search for Weight drives the last sold on Amart a few years ago for somewhere around $2700 alone. So deduct $3,000 from that 160 and you have a 152 or 155 for $3,000! A steal!


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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: Napersky]
      #5787624 - 04/09/13 09:05 AM

The never ending story of what is this Unitron worth. We now have the infamous price guide that looks pretty good, but the more I think about it, maybe the questions should have been answered by people who actually have that model Unitron. So here it goes and please answer only if you have one of the following models.

If you have a 114 what do you think its worth
If you have a 128 what do you think its worth
If you have a 140 what do you think its worth
If you have a 142 what do you think its worth
If you have a 145 what do you think its worth
If you have a 150 what do you think its worth
If you have a 152 what do you think its worth
If you have a 155 what do you think its worth
If you have a 160 what do you think its worth

Not going to ask about larger models because there are only a couple of people that have them.


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Dave M
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: starman876]
      #5787632 - 04/09/13 09:08 AM

My 114, Priceless...

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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: Dave M]
      #5787645 - 04/09/13 09:16 AM

There you go. Thats what I want to hear

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BarrySimon615
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: Napersky]
      #5787658 - 04/09/13 09:24 AM Attachment (9 downloads)

Given the collectible nature of Unitrons, pricing them out of reach of many with limited budgets, what would be some acceptable substitutes that would, at least partially satisfy those that don't have or cannot justify the funds release for some of us?

Here is my list -

1) The University Optics "Kit" Telescope - an 80 mm short tube f/6.25 (500 mm fl) refractor. This was available from University Optics back in (I think) the very late 80's to the early 90's. Essentially the kit was the unassembled components and an unpainted tube. All you had to do was to screw the objective cell on to the tube, screw the dewshield on to the objective cell and attach the focuser to the tube via 5 small bolts and it was complete if you were ok with an unpainted telescope. Painting, obviously was the biggest component project to the kit. So why is it "Unitron like", or more accurately, made by the same company that made Unitron scopes? The objective cell is virtually identical to the "pre-ear" cells that Unitron had. The telescope tube diameter is an identical diameter to a Unitron 75 mm telescope tube, and more importantly, the 5 attachment holes for the focuser is identical to the attachment holes on a Unitron 75 mm tube. The focuser from one will fit the other perfectly, without any modification. The 3rd reason is the focuser itself - while it is a two inch focuser and a bit more rough cast than a Unitron focuser, the knob assembly is exactly the same as the plastic knobs on the Unitron #152. I cannot prove the source, but I can connect the dots.

2) Telescope Substitute #2 - this one can be one of several telescopes with the awful looking (my opinion, others may like them) objective cells with the large circular connecting flange between the back of the cell and the front of the cell. Later model Celestron 6" f/8 refractors and current model Celestron Omni Series refractors (such as the Omni 120 mm f/8.3) have these. So why is it like Unitron? Well it could be like Unitron if you modify the objective cell. What? Selectively grind down the outer perimeter of that overly done flange and reveal the Unitron "ears" which are there, waiting to be released by the sculptor's tools. Have the front and rear of the objective cell connect where it can connect and remove all that extra mass. These are extremely front heavy telescopes due to the extra mass in those cells, streamlining the cells will give you a better balance point for the tube assembly and a more attractive, more "Unitron like" tube assembly.

3) Find yourself a good Celestron/Vixen SP C102 or SP C80 telescope on a Super Polaris Vixen mount. These scopes, introduced in about the mid 80's are one of several reasons why Unitron went downhill so fast in the late 80's to the early 90's. They offered shorter, but still reasonably long tube assemblies of about 1000 mm focal length with excellent optics (I feel the optics in my SP C102 is at least the equal of what I had in my Unitron #152, and the standard focuser was/is smoother than the Unitron focuser. The Vixen Super Polaris mount is quickly becoming a classic if it is not already there. More functional than a Unitron mount and driven in both axis's. Has hand control and can be used for guided astro-photography. Mine has been a true work horse. These scopes are still available on the used market and the prices have not "yet" gone astronomical. Probably not the case in 5 to 10 years. Not a bad idea to invest in one now.

4) Any one of a number of other classic, well made refractors from the 50's, 60's and 70's with a lesser name that can still be had for a reasonable price. Many of these less well recognized scopes have tube assemblies fully the equal in many cases, and in some cases - better (optical performers) than a Unitron. I will put my Milo 3" f/18.4 up against a Unitron #142 tube assembly any day of the week. I still love that Unitron equatorial mount best though!

Here is a photo of the University Optics kit scope - look at the focuser knobs - same as on the Unitron #152. The University scope is riding on the back of a Brandon 94 which in turn utilizes Unitron #152 identical components - look at the objective cell and look at the focuser.

Barry Simon

Edited by BarrySimon615 (04/09/13 09:26 AM)


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starman876
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5787724 - 04/09/13 10:05 AM

Very good points Barry. Unitrons feeble attempt by making the folded refractor to battle the shorter refractors that were being favored over the longer F15 unitrons was the last ditch attempt to stay competitive. However, by the early 90's the shorter APO's coming out of Japna that were much cheaper than any 4" unitron was the final blow. Then the imports from China was the nails in the coffin. I know they tried to import some scopes from China to see if they could compete. But the quality that they are famous for was not there so they just stopped selling scopes.

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terraclarke
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Re: Establishing Fair Prices for Classic Scopes [Re: Dave M]
      #5787732 - 04/09/13 10:07 AM

I agree with Dave. I love my Unitrons. Each is a one of a kind in my collection and I would not consider selling or replacing them. I am happy with what I paid for them and consider the prices I paid to be quite fair, but to me, they are now part of my permanent collection and are priceless.

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