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The Optical Craftsmen--Northridge, California

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#1 habsburg8

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:05 PM

There was a recent listing for one of these early model Optical Craftsmen telescopes on Craigslist. They are not that common, so a brief discussion to learn more about them is appropriate.

Many years ago, while looking at the bulletin board of our local Goodwill Store, I noticed a small slip of paper tacked up there. It mentioned that an old 8-inch telescope could be purchased for $300. Intrigued, I contacted the owner and purchased the scope. It turned out to be a vintage Optical Craftsmen 8-inch f/7 reflector, complete with fiberglass tube and beautifully made equatorial mounting. It was made by the Optical Craftsmen when they were located in Northridge, California. The company later relocated to Chatsworth in the same western state.

All of the exposed gears were made of brass. The fit and finish was exquisite, equal to that found on Unitron equipment. Optically it was a real stunner, the mirror testing out at about 1/16 wave or better, extremely smooth and free of zones. Included with the scope was one 10.5mm Telescopics eyepiece with the Saturn logo.

I used the telescope for some time and then sold it to an individual from Spokane, Washington, who drove all the way to Corvallis to buy it from me. Actually, he was purchasing it for a friend, but after getting home and using the telescope he decided to keep it for himself. (He bought his friend another telescope.)

Shown is an older picture from one of my photo albums. I am standing next to the precision made Optical Craftsmen telescope. This should have been one of those "keeper scopes."

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#2 habsburg8

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:08 PM

The equatorial mounting has 1.5-inch axes for added stability. Quite unusual for just an 8-inch telescope!

#3 habsburg8

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:39 PM

Here is a better view of the telescope base. As you can see, the pier legs are very simply constructed. Also obvious is the manual declination slow motion flex cable, an unusual feature not often found on a reflector telescope mounting.

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#4 tim53

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:46 PM

Thanks for posting these. I've never seen an OC that looked like that. All I was aware of are depicted in the catalogs that Robert Provin has on his website.

...where was that mount you posted on the ads thread? :grin:

-Tim.

#5 habsburg8

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:49 PM

I am only aware of the f/7 models, but other focal lengths most certainly were offered by The Optical Craftsmen of Northridge, California. These older telescopes appeal to collectors who like that 1950s look. Individuals favoring Unitron refractors might also want to consider adding one of these beauties to their collection.

#6 habsburg8

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 07:56 PM

Tim,

This is the post that I referred to. Nothing is being advertised since my scope is long gone. If I was in the Detroit area I would not hesitate to grab that mounting as shown on Craigslist.

#7 tim53

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:12 PM

Right. I posted on that thread to see if anyone local to the mount might be interested in "scoping" it out for me.

-Tim.

#8 tim53

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:17 PM

Interesting, it doesn't even look much like the Connoisseur 10" in the early 60's ANRA catalog (when OC was still in Northridge).

Does anyone have an earlier catalog? Or did they advertise in S&T?

-Tim

#9 Lew Chilton

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:29 PM

The mount looks like an O. Magnusson mount to me. Are you sure it's an ANRA/Optical Craftsman mount, Habsburg8?

#10 clamchip

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 09:14 PM

The tube looks familiar OC, but the mounting is real different and very neato.
I have a Optical Craftsmen 8"f6.3 from 1969 and the mirrors are the best I have ever looked through.

Primary is dated 3-69 and signed HATIEN or possibly HATTEN, can't quite make it out. Whoever this was, if employed by OC or not definitely knew how to figure a mirror!

Robert

#11 clamchip

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 09:34 PM

I think you are right Lew:
http://geogdata.csun...1/magnusson.pdf

I've not seen a Magnusson before, nice looking mount. I wonder if OC was using these for a while.
My OC Discoverer has what appears to be a Pacific Instruments mount, could it be they used different suppliers from time to time? or ?

Robert

#12 GeneT

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 10:14 PM

I owned an Optical Craftsman 8 inch F6.3 in the late 60's. It gave me the best views of Jupiter ever. I never collimated it (maybe once or twice) during the two years I owned it. Unfortunately, I sold it.

#13 oldscope guy

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 10:34 PM

Tim,
Speaking of ANRA that's one scope that has escaped me. I have never seen one even a color photo of one. They did the 4 and 6's in the usual mount of the time looking like an Edmund pedestal which a lot of people used BTW. They named the scopes after bright stars Sirius, Canopus, Altair, etc. They also seem boast very low wave front error 1/20 and 1/40 !!!!
They said their mounts were painted Strato Blue and it wasn't a Zonotone color.
Have you or any one else out there seen one or have a color photo?

#14 gnowellsct

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 10:37 PM

Nice mount but it's not Optical Kuhrapsmen

optical craftsmen - sux

Greg N

#15 tim53

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 11:17 PM

Greg:

I woulda saved that one.

-Tim.

#16 gnowellsct

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 11:30 PM

Well the parts are doing great. The mount has a happy home. The un-fixable mirror is a door stop. I've still got the tube and the mirror cell, those work, and have a great mirror in the tube and a new focuser. And the mount works great too!

I'm probably going to ditch the OEM spider and OEM secondary (which I recoated) and put in a curved protostar. When it's all done I'll have a first class Newt.

Greg N

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#17 clamchip

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:41 AM

And to think I actually put this scope up for sale once. Thankfully the high shipping killed every sale, I'm so glad I still have it.
The Discoverer was OC's economy model but nothing economy about the optics showing detail invisible in most of my other scopes.
This is the Discoverer mount, 1" shafts. Looks almost exactly like a Pacific Instruments. I'm not sure if this mount was made by PI for OC exclusively with the small differences or if it was made by OC.

Robert

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#18 clamchip

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:49 AM

This one is Pacific Instruments. Not much different!

Robert

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#19 Fred Ley

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:53 AM

Tim,

I have an OC catalog from 1964 in my collection. It is a ten page catalog. There is an image of an 8-inch model
on the last page, shown below.

#20 habsburg8

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:15 AM

That is definitely an O. Magnusson product, and Sky & Telescope used to show pictures of the same identical mounting. However, the 8-inch telescope that I purchased locally years ago was all original, implying that The Optical Craftsmen used these on some of their finished telescopes.

Regardless, it is a top notch mounting that any amateur astronomer would be proud to own. I notice that the Craigslist scope also has the cradle rings. Does the seller in Detroit own an 8-inch or 10-inch model? Even if he does not have a complete optical assembly the cradle rings have a diameter that will accept standard older Parks fiberglass tubes. Existing Cave Optical, Optical Craftsmen, etc. OTA's should fit into the rings. I also think that a Meade #826 OTA will fit.

#21 habsburg8

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:19 AM

Somebody should ask the seller in Detroit if the telescope's existing fiberglass tube has an identifying metal tag near the focuser. It should say 'Northridge, California" someplace along with the company's name and other pertinent information.

#22 habsburg8

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:24 AM

An image from another reference source showing the same motor drive configuration.

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#23 tim53

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:33 AM

If you check out the Magnusson catalog on Robert Provin's site, you'll see that clock drive is pretty clever, allowing corrections manually while guiding, without a drive corrector. And the RA pointers keep time so you don't have to calculate hour angles. The Optical Craftsmen and Pacific Instruments mounts did the same.

-Tim.

#24 habsburg8

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:35 AM

Tim,

Some of the Northridge, Calif. company's competitors also produced unusual telescopes and mountings. This is a picture of a rare Cleveland Astronomics equatorial, one of only 12 in existence (according to CA's owner and founder Simon Holler). I purchased it locally at a garage sale; it also had a customized 8" Cassegrain OTA along with a rare 1950's Chester Brandon 4-inch folded refractor guidescope (compressed from F/15.5 to F/5.5).

That blue rod is a yardstick. The engraved aluminum RA setting circle is about one foot in diameter. A massive mounting, suitable for observatory emplacement. Long gone, though.

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#25 tim53

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:47 AM

Never seen one of them, either! Very nice.

-Tim.


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