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Vintage Sears Tower or Discoverer Telescopes

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#101 ngc6475

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 01:51 PM

Great story, Guido! These old scopes are real treasures and it's great to see that they're still appreciated...and used! I am looking forward to your pictures.

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 04:11 PM

Well, here is a picture of my first ever telescope. A Sears 60mm f/11 Scope in altazimuth mount. It came with two eyepieces, a 15mm Huygens and a 4mm special Ramsden, one 2x barlow, a moon filter and a sun filter(I keep this one as a memento). There was also a book by Marvin Riemer The Telescope and the World of Astronomy. It also came with a one year gift subscription to The Review of Popular Astronomy. Remember this one? This was the telescope that started it all for me in astronomy. BTW the finder is achromatic and I still have all the original eyepieces, diagonal and filters. The tray light still works.

Guido

Attached Thumbnails

  • 540958-60mmscope.jpg


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Posted 01 August 2005 - 04:14 PM

Oops, the signs are in spanish because I used the image here for an article in our local society here in PR-USA.
guiso

#104 ngc6475

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 04:32 PM

She's a beauty! Two thumbs way up! :waytogo: :waytogo:

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 05:18 PM

Thank you Walter. The image shows the hibrid diagonal that I use with it to adapt standard 1.25" eyepieces. For my so called yesterday-today observing project I use the original japanese .965" eyepieces and you know what I have found? That experienced eyes see much more than my 13 years old eyes saw back in 65-66. Even with these eyepieces that by the way, were the only eyepieces I knew for a long time. This telescope has not been restored in any way other than keeping it clean. I have found also that mild car wax will do wonders with the finish in these scopes. The crackle paint for the other parts can be obtained in specialty car stores. Its used for engines these days.

Clear Skies!
Guido

#106 moynihan

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 09:29 PM

...The image shows the hibrid diagonal that I use with it to adapt standard 1.25" eyepieces...


Curious; i have been hunting about for one of these, yours looks like a 90 degree mirror version, all i have found for sale is 45 degree prismatic ones. Where did you get yours?

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 10:13 PM

The hybrid is from Orion and is a prism diagonal. No mirror.
It works fine though. I also use it for my 76mm.

#108 cggarr

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 03:44 PM

FYI. Diagrams and Parts Lists are available at “http://www3.sears.com/” for many of the older Sears telescopes. This could be useful in determining if your scope is complete. However, most of the parts are no longer available from Sears.

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 04:17 PM

I looked into the Sears website for the diagrams and found one for my 2.4" but not so for my 3". The 3" is Scope model 2535. It is from 1966. Thank you for the great piece of information.

Guido

#110 rodrake

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 11:21 PM

I've had a few people ask me for copies of the manual for my model 6344 so I've scanned into JPGs and split into two zip files. Enjoy.

Attached Files



#111 rodrake

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 11:23 PM

...the rest...

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 10:25 PM

Rich,

Thank you very much for posting your manual. The 6334 is basically the same as my 2535. The colors are the same. The only differences are the tripod legs (2535 are wood) and the finder plus maybe some details of the equatorial mount. The manual will serve me well. Mine was lost when the telescope spent some years in my friends hand. Again thank you. I will try to get a good image of my 76mm to post here ASAP.

Guido

#113 rodrake

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 08:13 AM

No problem Guido. I've been fortunate to keep pretty much everything intact on this scope. The only missing item is the sun filter which I would never use anyway. I have never precisely pinned down it's age though. I would love to find some old Sears catalogs to see when this model was really sold and at what price. I look forward to seeing some photos of your scope.

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 07:17 PM

Rich, your model is probably very late 60s or early 70s. It is when Sears started to use metal tripod legs.
I have one anecdote that is interesting. After checking out a 76mm Sears in ebay I noticed that someone wrote the seller to indicate that this particular telescope of that model was from a lot that Sears bought from Unitron. According to that comment Unitron was getting rid of that model and Sears bought the remaining stock. I wonder if you have heard about this.\
Another thing is that someone must have adapted a more modern motor drive to this mount. I wonder if those small motors sold by Orion would work.
When I first got my 76mm I did use the sun filter many times ignorant of the dangers involved. I was lucky.
As soon as my son gets my digital camera back here I will take the images.

Best,
Guido

#115 rodrake

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 08:22 AM

I've heard some things here and there that some of the Sears scopes might have been made by Unitron but never anything definite. All mine says is made in Japan. No other identifying markings.

#116 BarrySimon615

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 08:58 AM

The refractors marketed by and labeled for Sears and made in Japan; were not made by or for Unitron and then relabeled for Sears.

In fact Unitron is just the name of the U.S. company that bought the component parts for their scopes from a few manufacturers in Japan and had them either fully assembled or partially assembled in Japan and then shipped to the U.S. for sale. Unitron type scopes designed for sale in Europe and other parts of the world were labeled Polarex. Polarex being a separate company from Unitron as far as we have been able to tell.

Unitron telescopes first became available in the early 1950's thru the United Scientific Company operating out of Boston, Mass. The scopes rapidly evolved thru the 50's so that by the early 60's the established scopes remained essentially unchanged until they died out in the late 90's due to the fact that their prices by that time were outstripping the inflation rate, amateur astronomers were going to shorter, faster and cheaper telescopes, and the Japanese suppliers of many of the components were moving their businesses away from small and moderate sized telescopes to other ventures.

The 76 mm Sears equatorial refractor as pictured in the post above this one is the scope that brought me back to astronomy in 1978. I bought it used for about $175.00 complete and in perfect condition. It had fantastically good optics with the ability to split the Double-Double with a 28.7 mm RKE eyepiece (42x), a feat I have never duplicated with another telescope. I have also owned numerous Unitrons including the #152 (4" eq.), #145 (3" photo-equatorial), #142 (3" equatorial), #128 (2.4" equatorial) and the #114 (2.4" alt-azimuth). They were all great, well-built scopes with tube assemblies very different from the Sears refractors in terms of component parts and tube diameter (Unitron 2.4" refractors have a larger tube diameter than typical 2.4" refractors) and with a mount that is totally dis-similar to the Sears equatorial mount that is pictured above.

Having said this, I will say again that none of the Unitron scopes as good as they were could beat that Sears 3" in respect to splitting double stars inch per inch. The 3" Sears with it's somewhat unusual mount as pictured and available for just a few years from the late 60's to the early 70's was a great scope. (It was listed for $129.00 on sale in the 1973 Sears catalog.) Sears 3" scopes after the early 70's had an identical mount commonly seen with Tasco, Meade and many other refractors. The 2.4" Sears with the same light blue-gray-green tube assembly and darker blue trim always had the equatorial mount commonly seen with the Tasco and Meade scopes with the black wrinkle finish. While ok, the 2.4" Sears was no different from many other 2.4" scopes available from a variety of sources. I have had a total of 3 of them, bought used on eBAY. I gave one away and sold the other 2 for very reasonable prices.

Hope this info helps,

Barry Simon, Founder and Moderator
UnitronTelescopes Yahoo Group

#117 rodrake

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 09:54 AM

Good info Barry. Thanks! I never realized how good my scope was until I replaced the eyepieces. I got a really nice 12.5mm .965" Celestron Plossl and the views of Saturn were amazing. I've since replaced the eyepiece holder with a Vixen unit that allows me to use a standard 1.25" diagonal. I'm glad I hung onto this scope for all these years.

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 09:33 PM

I guess that Barry's account clears all doubts regarding that comment I read in the ebay post. I do remember Unitrons very well from their wonderful catalogs. It was all I could hope to see of a Unitron back in the 60s. Impressive mounts. A 4" Unitron equatorial refractor was used by John Mallas to compile his extensive catalog of Messier objects and double stars as part of his comprehensive sky survey. I wonder whatever happened to what I consider a historic instrument after Mallas passed away in 75. On my own 76mm Sears refractor I can say that it also splits doubles better than some of my other telescopes. The clean splits are surprising. It is also excellent in showing planetary detail and out of focus images of stars are textbook perfect. All it needs is a good motor drive that fits. This 66 refractor usually impresses more my visitors than all my other scopes including a newer 5" refractor. Sometimes I use the 76mm with a hybrid diagonal from Orion and my Plossls. The images are much better but I lose some correct centering with that hybrid diagonal probably because the prism is not well aligned.
For those of you who have the 76mm with wood tripod legs that end in thats pointed metal cap, you can get a new rubber end cap for the metal cap at an auto parts store. I bought some rubber caps that are used to plud vacuum lines and although they are a tight fit, they do the job.

Best,
Guido Santacana
76mm f/16 Sears (1966)
60mm f/11 Sears (1965)
Criterion RV6 (1970)
ETX 90EC (2002)
Sky View Pro 120mm f/8 (2003)

#119 moynihan

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 08:53 PM

Well, I was just testing my "new" Ebay gotten 60mm/700mm Bluish tube Sears discovery scope with two of the eyepieces it came with. At 117x (6mm) lookin at the Moon. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the image. Sharp, contrastly, and the slightest trace of violet on the rim. The scope sure looked bigger when i was a child though :lol:, And how did i manage to find the things i did, with that finder?
:question:

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 10:01 PM

Sure looked bigger back then. My 76mm looked huge. While comparing drawings of Messier objects that I did back then 40 years ago with drawings of the same objects now using my 60mm with the original eyepieces I find am interesting thing. Experience counts. My 13 years old eyes where not as experienced in discerning detail as my now 52 years old eyes are. It is a nice experiment.

Guido

#121 moynihan

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 10:40 PM

I have seen a sears 60mm 700mm FL scope on the usual little alt-azm fork, but with a white tube, and it says on the focus housing label, "240x" Achromatic coated lense 60mm 700mm, and Japan". What age/variety are these?

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 09:30 PM

Does it say Tower, Scope or Discoverer in the focuser label? I may be wrong but I think that Sears sold the Towers in the 1950s, Scopes are from the 60s and Discoverers came later in the late 60s and 70s.

Guido

#123 moynihan

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 07:59 AM

Does it say Tower, Scope or Discoverer in the focuser label?

It said, "Sears" (and what is in my original post).

#124 moynihan

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 08:09 AM

What is on the label of this white tube one is:
SEARS
240 POWER
ACHROMATIC COATED LENS
F=700mm D=60mm
JAPAN

tubes on scope and finder are white. most fittings and dewshield are black. Black metal tripod tube legs, no light on tray. Solar projection screen has 2 pieces, the white surface, and a black aperture (black metal piece with hole in it). Solar projection holding rod attaches to tube, not draw tube. apparently camw with 6mm and 22mm eyepieces.

#125 ngc6475

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 09:30 AM

The Sears OTAs among the EQ and Alt/AZ setups I have owned or used have been some shade of green. This may indicate an older Sears scope than I have had experience with. Is there a copyright date printed on any documentation included with this scope?


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