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Restoring an Old Star-Liner Equatorial Mount


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Restoring an Old Star-Liner Equatorial Mount

(the restoration process can

be viewed at: https://youtu.be/CusD8MXkoSc)

 

Introduction:

I have owned a large Star-Liner Equatorial Mount with 2 inch axes for over 50 years and in that time it has held a homemade 8 inch f/7 Newtonian, a homemade12.5 inch f/8 Newtonian, a 14 inch SC, a 6 inch refractor, an ATM 10 inch true Cassegrain.  Here a few examples of scopes on my Star-Liner mount used for viewing the night sky from our property in SE Pennsylvania:

  

 

 

Currently my Star-Liner holds a massive12 ½ inch true Cassegrain made by Parallax.  Despite its weight, the Cassegrain does not stress the weight capability of the Star-Liner mount.  Even with a reasonable wind, the hefty Star-Liner offers comfortable and steady visual tracking views of celestial objects.  Between the scope’s rings and the counter weights on the DEC axis, balance is incredibility easy and accurate and the sliding weight on the upper end of the Cassegrain makes balancing with 2 inch diagonal and heavy two inch eyepieces a cinch.

I have a deep fondness for the reliability, simplicity and ridged stability characteristics of my 50 year old Star-Liner mount. So, when another Star-Liner mount became available, I jumped at it and basically I rescued it from becoming Dumpster Food.  My “new” Star-Liner is smaller than my original one and has only   1 ¾ axes instead of 2 inches.  On arrival, it had no pier, or counter weights, or setting circles or a Hurst motor for the clock drive.  So the task ahead included restoring the Star-Liner and building a pier, new setting circles, counter weights, adding a Hurst motor to the clock drive, etc. 

Star-Liner Restoration:

My “new” Star-Liner was shipped from Arizona and so it has acquired the name of my “Arizona Star-Liner”.  It was shipped in a wooden chip box shown here.

The mount arrive in February 2021 in a sturdy shipping container and was removed for inspection and plans were developed for restoring the mount.  The axes were badly corroded and would need a thorough cleaning followed by polishing and smoothing out rough spots on each axis.

 

The first step involved taking the Arizona Star-Liner apart as shown here with both axes now polished. One of the ball bearings on the RA axis was corroded and unusable and had to be replaced.  Pressing out the old bearing and pressing in the new bearing produced considerable anxiety as I had some fear the bearings aluminum housing might crack.  All components were cleaned and parts requiring lubrication were lubricated with silicone grease. 

Since the mount came with one unusable setting circle,  I made setting circles out of an Aluminum  10 inch OD disk ½ inches thick which I bored with a centered 1 ¾ inch hole in both the RA and DEC setting circles so each would fit onto each corresponding axis.   The boring of the 1 ¾ hole is shown next.

 

I also wrote a computer program to generate the numbering pattern for the setting circles, and pasted the patterns onto the 10 inch disk. For smooth rotation of the setting circles during coordinate selection, the region centered around the 1 ¾  inch bore is  covered with a Teflon surface.  For pointing to the coordinate on the setting circle, the possible use of a laser diode pointer is being developed instead of the traditional mechanical sharp edge pointer. The details of the setting circle computer program is available here.

 

Next, I made counter weights to slip onto the DEC axis.  The counter weights were made from an automobile’s brake rotor.  It seemed natural to use rotors used on a Saturn car since the purpose of the system under construction is for astronomy.  Each Saturn brake rotor weighs 9 pounds and they can be stacked on one another and bolted together to make nearly any desirable total weight in 9 pound increments.  The center of the master counter weight is welded to a 1 ¾ inch ID cylinder to fit on the DEC axis.

 

Using a 5 foot long cylinder with a 6 inch OD and a 5 ¾ ID and a 12 inch long base cylinder with a 6 inch ID, I assembled a pier with sturdy 2 inch wide angle iron legs ¼ inch thick to hold the Arizona Star-Liner mount.  The base legs were welded to the 12 inch long cylinder

The base legs of the pier were equipped with pneumatic tires for portability on our property. Each leg weighs 22.8 pounds and the 5 foot long steel cylinder pier weighs about 40 pounds.  The outer span of fixed wheels, i.e., non-steering wheels, is 56 in., and the outer span of the steering wheels is 24 inches. My pier’s total weight with wheels is about 125 pounds. The legs are removable for transportation.  As a last step, the legs and 5 foot pier were painted a flat black.

 

 

Final Product:

The Arizona Star-Liner Equatorial Mount soon proved to be another excellent mount in the Star-Liner series.  Of course, it does not have a GoTo capability, which didn’t exist 50 years ago in amateur telescope mount.  But for someone like me, who grew up finding deep sky objects through star-hopping and setting circles and pure memory of star patterns seen in the eyepiece, a GoTo capability, which I have enjoyed on smaller but less reliable mounts, although admirable, is not a necessity for me.   The incredibly long flawless operation of my first Stat-Liner, purchase around 1970, may be the result of the absence of GoTo slewing.  In the final product, the 5 foot pier places the eyepiece in a comfortable position.  And with Jupiter and Saturn now at a negative declination, I can view those planets very comfortable without a diagonal and without bending my neck.  Making such observations is a joy to experience.  As a reminder, details of the restoration and rebuilding process can be seen at:  https://youtu.be/CusD8MXkoSc.

 

Epilog: Arizona Star-Liner Mount Gallery

Pictures are worth a thousand words as perhaps the following selection shows:

  

 

   


  • BillinBallard, RogerRZ, Jim Curry and 22 others like this


10 Comments

Nice work. Thanks for sharing.
Edgardo

    • 65&Counting likes this
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Rick W Morgan
Jul 02 2021 06:46 PM

Truly an “oldie but goodie,” nice to see that you know how to star-hop and memorize star patterns.  Rick

    • 65&Counting likes this

I heard a story... this goes back years, if anyone in Arizona remembers a Phoenix telescope shop called "Mr Telescope", it was on Camelback Rd & Central. The owner told me Starliner was a Tucson based company, and the owner was known to pay bills late. Well one day the company he contracted out to, to make the castings such as mount parts, got mad at him for not paying a bill and destroyed all the original sand castings for the parts. That became the beginning of the end of Starliner. 

    • SunnyNuss and 65&Counting like this
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jstrandberg
Jul 13 2021 07:50 AM

Fascinating story. Nice that you had the skills to bring this old beauty back to life. I enjoyed the video, too.

    • 65&Counting likes this

I always wondered what happened to Star Liner. Thanks for the story.

    • 65&Counting likes this

I recently purchased an old style German Equatorial mount from an ad on this site. I had Parallax make the rings for it for my 12.5" f/6 OTA with Meade Research Grade optics. The aluminum tube (15" o.d.) was made locally by a sheet metal fabrication company. The remaining challenges are to make the setting circles for which your program in Mathematica will be indispensable. I have posted an ad on here looking for setting circles but I am not too confident the effort will be successful.

 

I also have a 12.5" f/8 Coulter optics OTA on a Cave mount. It would benefit from a taller pier and longer legs than the original.

 

Thank you for your restoration article. Your other videos look interesting as well.

 

Dan Kahraman

    • 65&Counting likes this
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65&Counting
Jul 21 2021 12:30 PM

Thanks for your story!

 

I have a 12.5" f/5.6 Starliner with both drives on the 2" mount I bought new probably about the time StarLiner was on the way out - always performed well and is a nice looking scope - still looks as new.

 

The 2" shaft mount is sturdier than the 1.5" Caves though I'm partial to the 'Cave Look' and have a number of those also.

 

Well Done!

I am beginning to rethink the reliability versus convenience and cost of the new technology GoTo mounts versus the older mounts...At present I have 3 older German Equatorials. One needs very little work, the second one needs new setting circles made. The final one is my first Pacific Instruments GEM which needs an entire replacement to the clock drive worm gear and housing and the declination fESM (Electric Slow Motion) replaced/rebuilt. I purchased it in 1977.

 

 

    • LU1AR likes this
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TransitVanMan
Jul 24 2021 08:39 AM

This is lovely. Thanks for preserving the mount and for sharing the restoration story.

Good piece of precision work!

I had an original C11.  The fork base unfortunately, was not rigidified enough (this was rectified in the Ultima 11 fork) and produced high-amplitude vibrations that pretty much refused to die.  I used a Starliner mount, removed  the RA and attached the sand-cast forks of the 11" to an aluminum block which I mounted on the top of the polar shaft.  It was so solid you could practically hang off it.  The 11" became much more useful while still retaining the attributes of the fork design.



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