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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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starman876
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Reged: 04/28/08

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Re: UNITRON new [Re: greju]
      #5426012 - 09/17/12 06:42 PM

Red paint applied at the factory. Was told they aligned the lens with the use of a flourescent light. Have no clue how they did that. anyone here know??? Afterwards they put on the red lyptol.

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madeline
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: starman876]
      #5426071 - 09/17/12 07:28 PM

I heard that the red paint was applied so that if you messed with the lenses you would void the warrenty.

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clintwhitman
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: madeline]
      #5426920 - 09/18/12 09:05 AM Attachment (19 downloads)

My 152c GREEN #5029 from 1972 was from the first owner and had the factory wrapping on all the parts. It had been used 3 times when I received it. Dan Schechter also has a 160 in about the same condition, mint from the original owner, No paint on the lens retaining stop screws, 90% of the unitron you see and out of all the ones I have personally worked on had any paint on the set screws. Most of the time in the photos I see it looks like a drunk applied the paint. Not very indicative of a master optician! Barry G of D&G called me and we spent hours on the phone talking about dating Unitron objectives. He has been sent 100s of them over the years. Between us we came up with the same conclusions about dates based on Italic / Straight lettering, the lack of lettering, screw configurations and the 100mm vers 102mm questions. the red paint issue was discussed and Barry said it was very rare that he saw it and figured like me that it was a fad that a few people did to their telescopes. Barry Simmons 60mm is the earliest Italic lettered scope I have ever seen and all the Unitron I have see that were pre 1958 had no plastic knobs or wing nuts on them. All nickel plated brass parts.

Edited by clintwhitman (09/18/12 09:18 AM)


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madeline
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5426991 - 09/18/12 09:47 AM

Clint, very informative information. Thanks

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BarrySimon615
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5427577 - 09/18/12 02:47 PM Attachment (23 downloads)

Quote:

No paint on the lens retaining stop screws, 90% of the unitron you see and out of all the ones I have personally worked on had any paint on the set screws. Most of the time in the photos I see it looks like a drunk applied the paint. Not very indicative of a master optician! Barry G of D&G called me and we spent hours on the phone talking about dating Unitron objectives. He has been sent 100s of them over the years. Between us we came up with the same conclusions about dates based on Italic / Straight lettering, the lack of lettering, screw configurations and the 100mm vers 102mm questions. the red paint issue was discussed and Barry said it was very rare that he saw it and figured like me that it was a fad that a few people did to their telescopes. Barry Simon's 60mm is the earliest Italic lettered scope I have ever seen and all the Unitron I have see that were pre 1958 had no plastic knobs or wing nuts on them. All nickel plated brass parts.




Clint, I have to disagree about the conclusion of Barry from D&G that the red paint on the front flange retaining ring on Unitron 60 mm scopes was a fad that (more than a few) owners did. I do have to agree however that when I first saw this on the 60 mm #114 that I have (that dates from the early 60's) that my impression was that it looked cheezy and unprofessional. It certainly was not on my later #128 equatorial 60 mm Unitron purchased in 1986. Since then I have seen numerous photos of earlier Unitron 60 mm scopes with the red paint. I have never seen it on larger Unitron scopes including various 75mm and 102 mm Unitrons that I have either owned or seen. The Company 7 chronicle of Unitron's history does discuss the red paint issue and they do say that it was applied when the scopes were built to check on whether the objective cells were tampered with. I believe the term used is "anit-tampering paint" or something similar. It makes sense, it looks bad, and it sure has raised questions.

Regarding Unitron's history and moves, it is an interesting story. From the 1951/1952 beginnings when United Trading Company acquired the rights to market Nihon Seiko telescopes in the United States (eventually called Unitron) the company has been in 6 different locations (highly likely only 5 when complete telescopes, as we knew them, were available. The company is now in it's 6th location.

The locations have been:

204-206 Milk Street, Boston, MASS from the 1951/52 beginnings (probably earlier in the pre Unitron days) as United Trading Company, United Scientific Company and Unitron Instrument Company. Moved from here in about 1960 based upon the best info I have.

66 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MASS from about 1960 to 1976. The instruction folder from my early 60's #114 has the Needham Street address and "Unitron" is in the slanted italics style as is the engraving on this early 60's objective retaining flange. My scope was, from the information I have, a retirement gift and appeared to be very lightly used, and likely pretty much just a display piece. This gives me more confidence that the red paint was factory applied, not end user applied.

In 1975 Unitron was purchased by Ehrenreich Photo Optical and moved in 1976 to a new home on Long Island, NY (all 4 of the last locations are all on Long Island, each move being between 4 miles and 20 miles to new locations.) The first new location on Long Island was to 101 Crossways Park in West Woodbury which I think was the location of Ehrenreich Photo Optical. This location is just a few miles north of the Long Island Expressway/Interstate 485. Unitron was in this location for about 4 or 5 years and then moved about 4 miles south (to the other side of the Long Island Expressway) in about 1980.

The new location was at 175 Express Street in Plainview, NY. While at this location, Ehrenreich Photo Optical was acquired by Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) in 1981. In effect, Unitron was a subsidiary of Nikon.

In 1986, the management of what was operating as Unitron, Inc., bought Unitron and took it independent of Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) and moved the company again. The new location was located at 170 Wilbur Place in Bohemia, New York, and about 20 miles east of the old location, but still on the south side of the Long Island Expressway. Management was seeing the rapid erosion of their telescope business. They invested more time in microscopes and other scientific instrumentation and accessories. The telescope business became known as the "Leisure Products Division". Prices rose and technology in the form of apo telescopes in more compact packages passed Unitron by. While prices had risen over the years, for many years the prices were realistic based upon inflation but starting in about 1980 the prices of Unitron scopes began to outstrip the inflation rate and this coupled with the new competition from shorter, faster and better corrected apo scopes essentially drove Unitron out of the telescope business. By the early 90's none of the scopes that we had known for years, the #114, #128, #140, #142, #145, #150, #152 and #160 and others were available. For awhile Unitron marketed some small generic refractors that look like so many others, only distinguishable by labeling and paint.

At some point in time, I don't know when, Unitron moved again, this time about 10 miles north of the Bohemia location to Commack, NY (north side of the Long Island Expressway). Their current on-line catalog only lists a few small brass presentation telescopes, about the only thing left from the past is the name.

Here is a comparison shot of two Unitron 60 mm objectives and cells. The painted one is my Unitron #114 built in the early 60's, complete with red paint. The other one with collimatable ears is a photo of my #128 equatorial purchased in 1986. Note that the foil air spacing tabs were larger in the later scope and were often not applied too carefully, look at the top one. The #114 alt-azimuth 60's did not come with the collimatable cells (with ears). Even after the collimatable cells were in widespread use by the early 70's, the #114's retained the simpler cell type until the end of their production in the early 90's.

Barry Simon


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madeline
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Re: UNITRON [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5427585 - 09/18/12 02:54 PM

Barry, quick question, is that red paint any clue as to dating these?

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BarrySimon615
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: madeline]
      #5427621 - 09/18/12 03:17 PM

As I said, my 1986 #128 (equatorial 60 mm) did not have the red paint, the earlier 1961/62 model #114 does. Catalog photos are not very helpful as they are often just "tease" photos just showing a portion of a tube and mount. Often the same photos were used for years, even decades, so the photo itself was not representative as to what you might get.

I believe that you have to look at a lot of things collectively to date a Unitron and only then you may just be confident to get within a few years. The very best thing to have is an original sales invoice. That will at least tell you it had to have been made/assembled at sometime before the sale.

Looking at hardware all of these indicators are important:

tube material (brass or aluminum)

cell type

focuser and objective retaining flange engraving

focuser knobs

mount altitude screw

setting circles

cradle knobs

type of wood and color of stain on tripod legs

coatings on objective

strap and labeling on case

accessories provided - eyepieces, Unihex, etc.

Labeling on motor if available

appearance of RA gear

shape, size and placement of foil spacers separating objective elements

extrusions on the mount

instruction manual

etc, etc.

and all compared to as many photos you can find as possible compared to discriptive data given with those photos.

I am only comfortable taking a stab at a date within about 4 or 5 years unless of course there is that original sales invoice which will really help.

Barry Simon


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greju
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5427646 - 09/18/12 03:32 PM Attachment (21 downloads)

Got to think this red paint was applied at the factory. You see just to many of them and they all have the same shade of red paint haphazardly applied. If the owner was going to apply this paint you would think they would use a little more finesse.
Barry, notice that one of the pictures Steve G. put up in this thread is a 75mm. with the red paint applied. Maybe the "drunk accidently did one of those.
I still have got to think this is an early one made before the "ears" were used. It is definately used for collimation but because of it's weight was probably re-engineered to just include the "ears".
Since Barry's 114 from the early sixties has the italic lettering I wonder how far back this practice originated?


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BarrySimon615
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: greju]
      #5427935 - 09/18/12 05:55 PM

In the absence of any informational history from Unitron, one other possibility for the red paint exists:

Perhaps a major dealer of Unitron scopes, lets say RVR Optical where I got several of mine, fine tuned collimation on the scopes that came thru his shop and he then applied the red paint as a way to help prevent collimation from slipping and to determine if anyone tampered with collimation. I can only remember seeing the red paint on "pre-ear" objective cell assemblies. Maybe the 60 mm was known for shifting collimation, who knows. Just a theory. This theory can only be proven if the "red paint" Unitrons could all be traced back to the same dealer.

Barry Simon


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tomchris
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Reged: 12/22/10

Loc: Connecticut, U.S.A.
Re: UNITRON new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5428011 - 09/18/12 06:29 PM

Alot of interesting information given here. My Model 114 has no red paint. I've always wondered about it as I used to have another that did. I thought initially I had a tampered one (as madeline suggests with the warranty comment). Barry's comment about different parts from different years being used rings all the more true with restorations currently being done via various parts from different years being bought on line. Anyway, I've learned a lot from this forum thread.

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greju
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5428019 - 09/18/12 06:32 PM

A possibility but I kinda doubt it. Looks like Roel's in this thread has the red paint and considering his is a Polarex that would seem that red paint was on both sides of the pond. http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4360156/Main/4357726

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greju
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: greju]
      #5428367 - 09/18/12 10:07 PM

I am going to correct myself. Looking at Roel's scope in a different site does not show the paint.

http://www.roelblog.nl/2012/01/nieuwe-telescoop-polarex-75mm-equatoriaal/


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xavier
sage


Reged: 10/31/07

Loc: Belgium
Re: UNITRON new [Re: greju]
      #5428696 - 09/19/12 03:52 AM

About the red paint on the Polarex lenses.
On the 6", 4" and 2,4" lenses from 1957 there is no red paint.

On the 75mm Polarex (with the large focuser) there is red paint.

Tomorrow I'm going to pick up an old 128. According to the sellers photos there is no red paint. I'll ask the seller the age of the scope.

That brings me to an other question: you see 60mm and 62mm lenses. Is there a difference in age?


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clintwhitman
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: BarrySimon615]
      #5428718 - 09/19/12 05:03 AM Attachment (13 downloads)

Quote:

In the absence of any informational history from Unitron, one other possibility for the red paint exists:

Perhaps a major dealer of Unitron scopes, lets say RVR Optical where I got several of mine, fine tuned collimation on the scopes that came thru his shop and he then applied the red paint as a way to help prevent collimation from slipping and to determine if anyone tampered with collimation. I can only remember seeing the red paint on "pre-ear" objective cell assemblies. Maybe the 60 mm was known for shifting collimation, who knows. Just a theory. This theory can only be proven if the "red paint" Unitrons could all be traced back to the same dealer.

Barry Simon



Barry, I tend to agree with the Who knows part.

Just for thought, The retaining ring stop screws on a pre ear (Non Collimatable) unitron lens cell. I hate to bring this up again as the last time it really made me lose some respect for a guy on this group but, (Here it goes) These screws have nothing to do with collimating the objective. They only push out on the retaining ring so it will not put to much pressure on the flint and crown and throw off the spacing of the objective. "It is impossible to collimate any objective by shifting the spacing or applying pressure with a lens retaining ring. It is impossible to insert a Cheshire eyepiece into any Unitron refractor and shift the collimation to the correct angle by adjusting the pressure the lens retaining ring places on the objective. This can only be done using either the bolts that hold the lens cell to the tube or with a adjustable lens cell, (Ears).

Other wise why would an idiot spend $600 machining 9" Aluminum bar stock, machining stainless steel stop and adjustment screws, finding just the right size push springs, Then send all these parts out to the anodizer just to perfect the collimation of a his ATM 1960 Jeagers 6" f15 Refractor. Also why would Unitron change their entire design and finally add a cell with Ears and push springs so that their telescope could at last even be collimated? The only way I have ever been able to set the collimation of the three 1950s unitron 4" OTAs I have is to painstakingly square off the end of the tube 1 mm at a time and then reset the lens cell to the end of the tube until the collimation is correct. This is a time consuming labor of love that I do not recommend to anyone but the results are worth the time and what else can a guy do on a Cloudy night?


Caveman

Edited by clintwhitman (09/19/12 05:53 AM)


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clintwhitman
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5428725 - 09/19/12 05:21 AM Attachment (20 downloads)

Here is its sexy end,, 1960s original 6" Unitron Tailpiece

Edited by clintwhitman (09/19/12 05:22 AM)


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javago
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: clintwhitman]
      #5428750 - 09/19/12 05:51 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

I found red paint on many of my Polarex telescopes.(60,75 and 102mm).Even on the more rarer Nihon Seiko telescopes such as the Weltblick and Meridian ones.So a common practice I think.

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clintwhitman
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: javago]
      #5428764 - 09/19/12 06:11 AM Attachment (13 downloads)

Here is a prefect example Javagos retaining ring is not a threaded type, The screws with the red goo on them are to hold the retaining ring on and the lens in, then the small flat head set screws push it out away from the lens so there is no pressure on the objective. Then they lock the retaining ring in place. This allows the lens to be loosely held by the lens cell and that's all. The red goo would keep some folks from tightening the screws down and breaking the objective which is easily done and accounts for many clam shelled objectives you see. But these screws have nothing to do with collimation of the telescope. Now the BIG flat head screws on the lens cell flange those are another story! Where do you guys find these od flat flange adjustable Uni scopes? Interesting
Here is my 1950s 114 purchased from the original owner who had it shipped from Unitron in 1959 with an invoice. No red goo,,, These type have a threaded ring and the three small flat head screws push out on the ring and lock it in place. (non collimatable cell)

Edited by clintwhitman (09/19/12 06:27 AM)


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sgorton99
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Re: UNITRON new [Re: xavier]
      #5428782 - 09/19/12 06:48 AM

Quote:


That brings me to an other question: you see 60mm and 62mm lenses. Is there a difference in age?




I have been told the 62mm indicates a slightly older age (mid-50s?). They are the same size lens as the 60mm, just a variation on how measured w/cell.


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teddyk1
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Reged: 09/11/09

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: UNITRON new [Re: sgorton99]
      #5428880 - 09/19/12 09:00 AM

Another great thread here
This may be another great question to ask the previous owner IF he or she is the original owner whether it came with the painted screws from the factory


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xavier
sage


Reged: 10/31/07

Loc: Belgium
Re: UNITRON new [Re: sgorton99]
      #5429097 - 09/19/12 11:55 AM

Quote:


I have been told the 62mm indicates a slightly older age (mid-50s?). They are the same size lens as the 60mm, just a variation on how measured w/cell.



Thank you for this valuable information


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