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Unitron History Project

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#26 terraclarke

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:07 AM

It is interesting that one of the most well known classic brand names should have such an elusive history. Pursuit of answers to the many questions and ambiguities we have, as well as sifting fact from myth, when it comes to the mythos of Unitron is well worth the time and effort. Unitron/Polarex unlike other brands, kept an almost identical appearance across models throughout the history of the product line. Moreover, model numbers remained basically the same, though sometimes different on either side of the pond (Europe and America). Only subtle changes in the model's appearance appeared and disappeared, (such as lettering style) and these changes now appear to be not nearly early as consistent chronologically as was once thought. This coupled with the lack of serial numbers makes the product much more difficult to track and to date, compared to brands such as Sears, Tasco, and Monolux. I wonder if this was intentional in order to reflect the timeless and enduring quality of Unitron as compared to other brands.

 

Solving the mystery, unraveling this elusive history, and presenting it in a accessible and enduring manner is certainly a noble and most worthwhile project. As a Unitron aficionado from way back, if my help is needed, I am most willing to do what I can. I am much looking forward to the fruition of this project.

 

Thank you Dave.


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#27 combatdad

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:18 AM

Thanks, Terra.  Will call on you if/when I need your assistance.  My research to date has lead to many threads to pull.  Cooperation has been very good.  I am hopeful something productive will come of all this...but in time.  This is NOT going to be a next month project.  But I enjoy this type of work...so sit back and enjoy the ride!   :)

 

Dave 

 

Note:  Community input is going to be needed after the web-site is on-line to populate information on the various models; and source/contact information is still always welcome at: UnitronHistory2014@gmail.com


Edited by combatdad, 05 September 2014 - 09:44 AM.

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#28 choran

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 05:04 PM

It's a very worthwhile project.  It will be a little tough, one reason being that parts, while slightly different in appearance, were largely interchangeable.  Over the years, original parts of some of these (and on the mounts) were switched out with parts from other scopes, potentially adding a bit to the confusion.  Little things, like the Mickey Mouse ear wing nuts on the tripods come in a couple of configurations, likewise the small washers/shims used on the bolts holding the legs on the mount, get lost and are replaced with others.  Even the leg thickness varied from one 114 to another, sometimes by only a 1/16th or so, but other times by more.  I believe there are a couple of minor variations in the tripod tray on the small alt/az models as well. There were also changes in the alt/az mounts themselves, though subtle, in the way that the mount separated into two pieces, top from base.  I have one that used a flat round plate which screwed in using a spanner wrench, and another that didn't even have threading for this part, but instead used a set screw to hold the top and bottom of the mount together.  Dating all this stuff will be a real chore, but I'm glad somebody's undertaking it.  Good luck to you!


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#29 combatdad

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 07:41 PM

Dating the variations in the specific models was my third unstated objective of this project.  Unstated because I'm still working out a means to collect data via the web-site such that it can conveniently support the analysis.  Fat chance most of you classic collector experts are all saying to yourselves... :grin: !  From a purist perspective the only valid way for this to work is to collect data on only those completely original and dated models...which are probably few and far between.  What complicates this is what we already suspect...in any given year there could be multiple suppliers building to a specific standard that resulted in minor variations.  More to come on this topic in the future...   

 

Dave

 

 


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#30 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:35 PM

Dave, you've inspired me to use the data I've gathered to maybe take on a Royal Astro Optical History this winter.  Since RAO is still in business (planetariums, anyway), there may still be documents and/or former workers still around.  OTOH, they sold their scopes under so many brands, sorting & dating is definitely a challenge!


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#31 combatdad

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:48 PM

Sounds like a great Winter project....me thinks I'll be working on mine for MANY Winters!  By the way, in my past life I used to score BUFF's (and other flying things) at LaJunta Bomb Plot.  Worked the 1974 and 1976 Bomb Comps.

 

Dave


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#32 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 09:23 PM

Cool!  Been to LaJunta many times... too bad you weren't there when LTC Anderson was the Site Commander...  Really great guy, and my former DON.  Not bragging, but I had the single best conventional bomb at the UTTR during Bomb Comp '89 -- got to shake Gen Chain's hand!  Those were the days...



#33 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 09:27 PM

Speaking of Unitrons, this $30 128 package has to be the Deal Of The Decade!!

 

http://www.cloudynig...e/#entry6196812



#34 combatdad

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 07:13 AM

A couple of things I'm working on and need some input on.  The first is a conversion chart for the various Polarex, Unitron, and other's models.  I have catalogs for the Polarex and Unitron, but not much on Weltblick for example.  The second area has to do with model variations that I discussed earlier.  Would appreciate input from the experts on what the more significant ones are (i.e., metal vs plastic knobs, lettering, dust caps...).  Terra, you might want to take this one on.  I'm hoping to have some kind of survey questionnaire built into the web-site to deal with this. PM or use my UnitronHistory2014@gmail.com email.  Thanks!

 

Dave


Edited by combatdad, 06 September 2014 - 08:50 AM.

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#35 combatdad

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 09:15 AM

Some interesting discoveries if you haven't seen, will be on the web-site:

 

Some of the history of the 6" Unitron at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center in Texas:

http://texashistory....5343/m1/1/zoom/

 

 

An outdated clip about a possible discovery of a 6" Unitron by the Texas Astronomical Society:
https://archive.org/...an_Sept2011_ATM

 

Dave


Edited by combatdad, 06 September 2014 - 09:34 AM.

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#36 Preston Smith

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:18 AM

Hi Dave!

 

A truly noble endeavor! Please let me know if you want information on the elusive 50mm Unitron Satellite Telescope from 1958 to 1965 to include in your project.  If you do then I wll dig up all the info I have on it.  If not, then just let me know so I can focus my time on other endeavors.  

 

Best Regards,

 

Preston

 

image.jpg


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#37 combatdad

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:36 AM

Preston, most certainly!  And also your Model 160...history as well as photos would be greatly appreciated.  Pls use the UnitronHistory2014@gmail.com address. Thanks.

 

Dave

 

Note:  The history of your Model 160 is unique...and most welcome!  :)


Edited by combatdad, 06 September 2014 - 12:09 PM.


#38 Preston Smith

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:49 AM

OK Dave,

 

I'll need a few weeks as I recently started a new job.

 

Best Regards,

 

Preston



#39 combatdad

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 09:29 AM

Found another location of one of the early 6" Unitrons...Ege University Observatory, Ismir, Turkey, sometime around 1965...that has apparently moved on since then...

 

http://en.wikipedia....ity_Observatory

 

Dave


Edited by combatdad, 07 September 2014 - 09:44 AM.


#40 combatdad

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 07:06 AM

Wikipedia identified this Observatory as the location of a 5 inch Unitron (13cm) used for lunar and solar observing.  Don't suppose we have an CNer near there to check this out?  The Wiki input was last modified in Feb 13 so it is relatively current; however the specs on the Unitron aren't correct for a 5 inch.

 

Dave

 

http://en.wikipedia....cha_Observatory


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#41 starman876

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 10:10 AM

I am impressed with your progress so far



#42 combatdad

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 11:00 AM

Thanks, Johann.  It's been great fun so far.  I have also located a number of 4 inch Unitrons at several observatories/museums (Boothe Memorial Park and Museum, Custer Observatory, Haggart Observatory) which I may want to confirm and document at some time.  My next milestone wrt the history is my meeting with Martin Cohen, Company Seven, this Friday.  I found him very open and friendly when I contacted him.  He is very dedicated to preserving the history of the classic telescopes.  I'm hoping we can collaborate on this history.  I am also in search of Larry Fine's family members.

 

The web-site is coming along, but still a work in progress.  It currently has sections for the History, Articles, Interviews, Catalogs, Models, Documents, and a Forum (for user discussion).  The Models section is intended to highlight the history including photographs of some personal telescope for each Unitron, Polarex, and other model.  I'm hoping to get scopes with some known and unique history.  I am still working on a section that will collect data for the model variations that were discussed earlier in this thread.

 

As I said before this is a long term project....WE should expect to be working on it for at least a year!

 

Dave 

 

 


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#43 starman876

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 02:28 PM

If you need to look at different 4" unitrons let me know.   I have a few :-)


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#44 combatdad

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:06 PM

Has anyone heard the term "Unitron Custom Pro" used in reference to a line of 5,6,8 and 10'' refractors and 8,10 and 12.5" Newtonians?

 

Dave


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#45 terraclarke

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:18 PM

Wikipedia identified this Observatory as the location of a 5 inch Unitron (13cm) used for lunar and solar observing.  Don't suppose we have an CNer near there to check this out?  The Wiki input was last modified in Feb 13 so it is relatively current; however the specs on the Unitron aren't correct for a 5 inch.

 

Dave

 

http://en.wikipedia....cha_Observatory

 

Darn! Had I only known! I was in Java last April when we went to Borneo and Bali. We had a trip to Bandung planned. It would have been an easy detour for our driver. But then, as so often happens, we took a road less travelled. ;) Don't have a plan for going back (any time in the near future anyway).



#46 combatdad

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:35 PM

"Unitron" and Polarex" need to be part of the keyword search for any well-informed traveler!  :)

 

Dave


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#47 combatdad

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 07:19 PM

During a motivational visit today to Will Thornton's to pick up some reference material...and to get some additional photos of his Model 530...he pointed out that there was an article in the February 1974 issue of S&T describing an observatory in Norway that had a 5" Unitron.  I checked my electronic copies of S&T and found the reference to the Sky High Observatory built about 40 miles northeast of Olso by a Carsten A. Deberitz. My further research found that he was also known as a member of "The Beatniks" Band...and this reference: "By next year we hope to have the services of Mr Carsten A. Deberitz from Oslo. His 'Sky High Observatory' is well known among the continental fraternity, and is equipped with no less than three Unitron refractors and as many astrographs." Note: Mr Deberitz passed away in 2006.

 

Ok...CNer's...anyone across the pond have any info on this?  I can't find any other references to the Sky High Observatory.

 

Dave


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#48 AllanDystrup

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 01:41 AM



During a motivational visit today to Will Thornton's to pick up some reference material...and to get some additional photos of his Model 530...he pointed out that there was an article in the February 1974 issue of S&T describing an observatory in Norway that had a 5" Unitron.  I checked my electronic copies of S&T and found the reference to the Sky High Observatory built about 40 miles northeast of Olso by a Carsten A. Deberitz. My further research found that he was also known as a member of "The Beatniks" Band...and this reference: "By next year we hope to have the services of Mr Carsten A. Deberitz from Oslo. His 'Sky High Observatory' is well known among the continental fraternity, and is equipped with no less than three Unitron refractors and as many astrographs." Note: Mr Deberitz passed away in 2006.

 

Ok...CNer's...anyone across the pond have any info on this?  I can't find any other references to the Sky High Observatory.

 

Dave

 

Dave, I've posted this to the Danish Astro-Forum (with some participants from Norway too).

I'll let you know, if there's any response from "over here"...

Allan


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#49 Astrojensen

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:41 AM

There was an article about Sky High Observatory in a mid-70'ies issue of Astronomisk Tidsskrift. If someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll try to dig it out. I'll need to go to the local library and loan it. I'll be heading to a star party next week, so it may be a few weeks before I can go to the library.

 

I do recall there was a 5", with a 3" guidescope and 2.4" finder, as well as a 4" with 2.4" guidescope and 2" finder, both on piers. The observatory was a roll-off roof type, very nicely made. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#50 combatdad

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 05:53 AM

Allan, Thomas...Thanks!  Apparently, Mr Deberitz was a well known amateur astronomer over there.  Hope someone or some organization preserved his equipment.

 

Dave




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