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Questar Design Change History

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#1 Optics Patent

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:48 AM

As I'm accumulating information on this interesting subject, I realize I still lack some information, so this thread will hopefully collect more information and corrections. I have used the stale "inventory" spreadsheet from the Yahoo group, and have added to it with info from current Ebay listings, CN and AM ads, and historical AM and CN ads (still in progress at my leisure).  I'm answering little questions like: "When did they switch from the threaded leg hole plugs to the flat caps?"  Years are used for readability, and may be approximate.  This will probably end up as a history of design changes, but for now I'll just go topic by topic.  Feel free to comment on which changes you like, or speculate on the reasons.

 

  • 1955  Mirror bracket change from a fragile cantilevered version to the box-like bridge we have today. 
  • 1956  "*Questar" logo replaces red and blue "Pepsi" badges. 
  • ???  Barrel and dew shield changed from original blue to purple. 
  • 1959  Star diagonal replaces Amici prism (choice may have been offered for a time).  Moon map orientation reflects view through scope.
  • 1961  Change in focal length and F-number from 1070mm, f12 to 1280mm, f14, with some production of 1156mm.  (Source: Company 7)
  • 1963  Logo changed from "*Questar" to "QUESTAR". 
  • 1964  "Wide field."  Reduced restriction of the field of view for photography.  Many changes, especially to center tube.  Promoted as:  "Twenty-one major changes in the control-box assembly permit a much wider photographic field of view…exposures are two f-numbers faster"
  • ???  Axial port enlarged from the 0.95" size of the eyepiece holder threads (still unchanged all these years) to a much larger 1.2" port.  Company 7 puts this at "late 1960s."
  • ???  Axial port slightly enlarged (~0.010" larger). 
  • 1966  Duplex introduced (using modern Field Model introduced in 1964).
  • 1967  Modern leather case replaces English leather. 
  • 1967  Broadband coating option introduced.
  • 1967  Cervit option replaces Quartz. 
  • 1968  Finder filter introduced.
  • 1972  Change from Konig/Erfle to Brandon. 
  • 1973-74  "Mushroom" Brandon eyepieces included.
  • 1974-75  Skinny leg tips changed to fat on fixed legs. 
  • 1976-77  Skinny center leg tip chanced to fat.
  • 1979-80  "Questar" eyepieces included.
  • 1980  Zerodur option introduced.
  • 1981  Push-in legs changed to screw-in. 
  • 1981  "QUESTAR" logo badges changed to "QUESTAR®"
  • 1985  Vinyl case first offered.
  • 1985-88  Threaded leg hole plug changed to flat.    Need info on scopes between 8944 and 9597 to narrow this.
  • 1990??  Powerguide I introduced.
  • 1996  Powerguide II introduced.
  • 2000-04??  Dew shield and barrel changed from shiny purple to matte "frosty" blue.
  • 2000  50th Anniversary model introduced.

Unknowns:

  • ??? Dew shield changed from bright/lighter purple to dark purple.  1970s?  Or not a real change but simply variations in colors or gradual evolution - even some fading?  Comparing a 1968 to 1983 of mine.
  • ???  Star chart and moon map changed from etched and filled to painted.  1970s?
  • ???  Logo badges changed from etched and filled to screen printed.
  • ???  Logo badges changed from flat to domed.
  • ???  Lens cap changed from synthetic insert in metal ring to all metal with bright trim.
  • ???  Lens cap changed from bright trim to all black.
  • ???  Axial cap chamfer mostly eliminated.
  • ???  Control knobs changed from hollow (very early) to solid.
  • ???  Focus knob changed from larger flanged to modern.
  • ???  Control knob groove design changes.
  • ???  Base plate changed from Synthane to aluminum.
  • ???  Duplex mount added orientation spike adjacent to thumbscrew.  (1980s)

This is a work in progress and contributions and data points are requested.


Edited by Optics Patent, 13 June 2017 - 10:01 AM.

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#2 Optics Patent

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:08 AM

Aside from those who prize collectability over practicality, and those who prize newness over traditional aesthetics there is a sweet spot in this timeline:

 

Early enough to have the earlier look I prefer (purple tubes, threaded caps, bright-trimmed lens cap, slim leg tips, etc.)

 

Late enough to have modern optics.

 

This is roughly the era of Gemini and Apollo.  Post 1964, pre-1975.  Personal preferences will vary at the later margin.  Some might look for a 1965-67 model like I just found with a modern scope in an English leather case, easily equipped with an updated eyepiece holder for Brandon eyepieces. 

 

My 1966 is too early if you want Broadband coatings, but I like knowing that I can dismantle and send the optics off to be re-coated for a couple hundred dollars - not possible with Broadband that requires the optics to be replaced as I understand - and those early years of Broadband being considered shorter-lived - even those on my 1992 are failed (purchased inexpensively in that condition).

 

The 1981 change to screw-in legs requiring less precision in manufacturing is the end of an era of wonderfully impractical design.  Smart re-engineering, but end of an era.  The addition of the ® trademark symbol to the badge is about this era, and serves as a watershed indicator.  (This inclusion is correct trademark use but is not legally necessary in the opinion of this patent and trademark attorney - I would advise laser marking base plates with trademark info in addition to serial numbers and other information).

 

And if I ran Questar, I'd find a supplier who could replicate all the old badges, and make these available to enable servicing and restoration. I'd also have the supplier of the RA ring produce blue discs for the fork hub cover even though that has always been red.  I'd also produce in purple for those who wished to match older RA rings.


Edited by Optics Patent, 13 June 2017 - 10:02 AM.

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#3 Panotaker

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:56 AM

My 1959 dew shield is a much lighter color purple than my 1979 dark purple dew shield. Since my 1959 has a correct image prism, the Moon map is not reversed like later model Questars that have a reversed view prism. So when I look at the Moon through the eyepiece of my 1959 model, and then look at the Moon map on the Questar, the craters are correct left and right on the map. On my 1979 model, it has a reverse view prism, so the Moon map on my 1979 Questar is reversed. So I guess that makes the Moon map on my 1959 questar pretty rare. The star map on the 1959 Questar is not reversed, it's exactly the same as the 79 model except the 59 model is a lighter purple. I don't know why they didn't reverse the star map too. 

 

My 79 model has the fat rubber tips on the legs. I prefer the fat tips over the skinny tips. My 59 model didn't have a threaded center tripod hole. I had one added when I sent it in for service. It was pretty cheap to add it, and I can now mount my 59 model to any tripod. 


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#4 ehallspqr

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 01:03 PM

Great research and resulting list.

There was a change to dew shield/barrel color, purple to gloss dark blue in the late 80's - early 90's sometime. My 93 has this color and the dark blue setting ring. Also a question about the current leather case upgrade. Is the current leather case still made in UK?



#5 Optics Patent

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 01:39 PM

Is the current leather case still made in UK?

My understanding is that everything has been made in the US, with specific exceptions like the pre-Brandon eyepieces, and the pre-1967 leather case.  So I'm pretty sure that the modern case is US made.

If I ran Questar (the title of an article I've been working on for posting later) I'd offer upscale cases.  Basic is a Pelican style with fitted interior.  Then a partner like Coach or preferably Louis Vuitton or Prada, etc.  Yes, they would be thousands of dollars each for the cases, but it would be part of my effort to restore the "must have" cachet of the products, so they be the playthings of bank Presidents and talk-show hosts like in the heyday.  I'd also use modern machining capabilities to offer superficially different designs, by designers like architect Phillipe Stark, top car designers (e.g. Porsche Edition), knife designers like Allan Elishewitz, "art-car" editions, and customization options for anodizing color, polished surfaces, colors of badges.  Perhaps an open source or competition approach.  I'd offer retro editions duplicating earliest offerings and thus stock all the needed parts for servicing of vintage editions, like Ford does for Mustangs.


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#6 JHollJr

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 04:51 PM

My 1959 dew shield is a much lighter color purple than my 1979 dark purple dew shield. Since my 1959 has a correct image prism, the Moon map is not reversed like later model Questars that have a reversed view prism. So when I look at the Moon through the eyepiece of my 1959 model, and then look at the Moon map on the Questar, the craters are correct left and right on the map. On my 1979 model, it has a reverse view prism, so the Moon map on my 1979 Questar is reversed. So I guess that makes the Moon map on my 1959 questar pretty rare. The star map on the 1959 Questar is not reversed, it's exactly the same as the 79 model except the 59 model is a lighter purple. I don't know why they didn't reverse the star map too. 

 

My 79 model has the fat rubber tips on the legs. I prefer the fat tips over the skinny tips. My 59 model didn't have a threaded center tripod hole. I had one added when I sent it in for service. It was pretty cheap to add it, and I can now mount my 59 model to any tripod. 

I'm not sure what you mean by "Moon map on my 1979 Questar is reversed" Mine which is a 1980 states on the moon map in italics "This is the classical moon map inverted view as seen with an axial eyepiece alone, without prism". I find the map pretty useless and have actually never used it.



#7 Panotaker

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 06:14 PM

I might not explained myself correctly, so here is a picture of both scopes. The 59 is on the left, and the 79 is on the right.

165638933.jpg

 

Here is a picture of both dew shields. The lighter purple scope on the left is the 59 model, and the dark purple scope on the right is the 79 model. To me, the 59 model, with the lighter purple dew shield, is much better looking, but that is just a personal taste. It could be because I got that one first.

165638935.jpg


Edited by Panotaker, 12 June 2017 - 06:15 PM.

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#8 JamesMStephens

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 09:14 PM

I have a 1975 Duplex, it has the star map on the dewshield, but no Moon map. And I like it.



#9 Davin12345

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:17 PM

I stumbled across my Questar at a garage sale. I'm not sure of the age, maybe some of you could help me. It is light blue/grey base with a dark blue tube and dew shield. A 6x30 finder. It came to me with aluminum adapters that are used to accept 1.25 eye pieces, alas they are a clamp on adapter. The wooden box it is in has tongue and groove corners. Inside is a metal semi circular piece that lines up with the threaded holes on the bottom of the base and one leg. On the top of the base under the scope is the Q with a T intersecting a square inside the Q. On the leg of the Q is a 4. Could this be one of a few that were made for special orders in small number. Any information would be appreciated.



#10 Optics Patent

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 10:50 PM

Davin, that doesn't sound like a Questar. You can compare the photos above, or post photos.

#11 Davin12345

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:10 PM

Thank you Messinger, I will have to continue my research.



#12 sqrlman

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 03:33 AM

I stumbled across my Questar at a garage sale. I'm not sure of the age, maybe some of you could help me. It is light blue/grey base with a dark blue tube and dew shield. A 6x30 finder. It came to me with aluminum adapters that are used to accept 1.25 eye pieces, alas they are a clamp on adapter. The wooden box it is in has tongue and groove corners. Inside is a metal semi circular piece that lines up with the threaded holes on the bottom of the base and one leg. On the top of the base under the scope is the Q with a T intersecting a square inside the Q. On the leg of the Q is a 4. Could this be one of a few that were made for special orders in small number. Any information would be appreciated.

You have a Quantum 4. Made by Optical Techniques Inc. Google it and read about it on the Company 7 website.

 

Steve



#13 Optics Patent

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 06:43 AM

 The lighter purple scope on the left is the 59 model, and the dark purple scope on the right is the 79 model. To me, the 59 model, with the lighter purple dew shield, is much better looking, but that is just a personal taste. It could be because I got that one first.

I also vastly prefer the early lighter models.  Especially those that display the prismatic "flame" in bright light.  The etched are also preferred.  Note in the photos below that they are not in chrono sequence in all photos.

I also observe that the 1983 has more of a maroon tone, with a darker blue printing that I find less satisfying.  The flame effect in the 1966 seduces, but the color of the 1968 is deeper (the 66 being less saturated) as illustrated at the bottom portions in the third photo.

 

IMG 2267
 
IMG 2268
 
IMG 2269
 
IMG 2270

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#14 JMKarian

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 07:05 AM

Ben,

May the flame of your "Q Passion" always burn bright  - and indeed it is contagious.  Thanks for sharing!

 

John


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#15 JHollJr

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 07:13 AM

Just want to say that this has been very interesting. My 1980 looks like the 1983. I guess no surprise there.


Edited by JHollJr, 13 June 2017 - 04:07 PM.


#16 Optics Patent

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 10:33 AM

Speaking of star charts, has anyone ever experienced the benefits of luminous star dots?  Mine are all enough half-lives old so as to be effectively dead.



#17 JamesMStephens

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:10 PM

This is an interesting thread, I wonder if anyone has a timeline of Questar Standard (and/or Duplex) prices.



#18 Optics Patent

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:21 PM

There is a spreadsheet in the files at the Yahoo Questar group with exactly that info.  Good luck signing up and finding it.

 

Meanwhile, here are some prices for the basic Standard model at periodic intervals, around their introduction:

 

1954  $795

1955  $995

1967  $1065

1970  $1140

1976  $1415

1980  $1680
1985  $2483

1990  $3080

1995  $3475

2000  $3995

2010  $4250

2016  $4995

 

 

1956  Early Field Model without control box $495
1964  Modern Field Model $795

1970  $865

2016  $3495

 

1966  Duplex $1275

1980  $1870

1990  $3325

2000  $4295

2016  $5350


Edited by Optics Patent, 26 July 2017 - 07:17 AM.

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#19 Optics Patent

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 07:23 AM

I see that sometime between the 1989 catalog and 1995 catalog (1992?) the declination knob lost the groove that divided the knurling into two bands.  June 1992 S&T ad may show new ungrooved design.

 

Also note that Questar's business health over later years may be evidenced by their advertising in Sky and Telescope:

  • 11-1990 - Celestron takes over inside cover.
  • 6-1993 - No Questar ad for first time since 1954.
  • 5-1993 - half-page ad.
  • 10-1993 - last ad for several years.
  • 7-1996 - letter to editor from Questar management re Ch. 11 bankruptcy.
  • 4-1997 - first ad (1/4 page) in 3-1/2 years.
  • 9-2002 - first full page ad (for Ti 7) in more than a decade?

The 1990s were not good to Questar, but thankfully they survived.


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#20 Chris Lord

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:43 PM

I see that sometime between the 1989 catalog and 1995 catalog (1992?) the declination knob lost the groove that divided the knurling into two bands. June 1992 S&T ad may show new ungrooved design.

Also note that Questar's business health over later years may be evidenced by their advertising in Sky and Telescope:

  • 11-1990 - Celestron takes over inside cover.
  • 6-1993 - No Questar ad for first time since 1954.
  • 5-1993 - half-page ad.
  • 10-1993 - last ad for several years.
  • 7-1996 - letter to editor from Questar management re Ch. 11 bankruptcy.
  • 4-1997 - first ad (1/4 page) in 3-1/2 years.
  • 9-2002 - first full page ad (for Ti 7) in more than a decade?
The 1990s were not good to Questar, but thankfully they survived.


#21 Chris Lord

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:44 PM

I see that sometime between the 1989 catalog and 1995 catalog (1992?) the declination knob lost the groove that divided the knurling into two bands. June 1992 S&T ad may show new ungrooved design.

Also note that Questar's business health over later years may be evidenced by their advertising in Sky and Telescope:

  • 11-1990 - Celestron takes over inside cover.
  • 6-1993 - No Questar ad for first time since 1954.
  • 5-1993 - half-page ad.
  • 10-1993 - last ad for several years.
  • 7-1996 - letter to editor from Questar management re Ch. 11 bankruptcy.
  • 4-1997 - first ad (1/4 page) in 3-1/2 years.
  • 9-2002 - first full page ad (for Ti 7) in more than a decade?
The 1990s were not good to Questar, but thankfully they survived.


#22 Chris Lord

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:48 PM

Question is how did Questar avoid bankruptcy?
And is it a coincidence Ch.11 July 1996 was applied for a few months before Peggy Braymer's death?
Was it due to her insistence on running the company as her husband did prior to his death in 1965?
Chris Lord

#23 Chris Lord

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 03:24 PM

A history of Questar and the people involved would make a splendid book.
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#24 Optics Patent

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 06:35 AM

Question is how did Questar avoid bankruptcy?
And is it a coincidence Ch.11 July 1996 was applied for a few months before Peggy Braymer's death?
Was it due to her insistence on running the company as her husband did prior to his death in 1965?
Chris Lord

I don't know all the facts in this case but "bankruptcy" often does not mean the end or liquidation of the business, but is a legal process for reorganizing debts to keep a business afloat and to pay off at least some of the debt.  Creditors may be partially or wholly left holding the bag, but the business stays alive and more get paid off, sometimes.



#25 Chris Lord

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 07:59 AM

Well quite, that's the purpose of filing for Ch.11. However that wasn't my question. My question is, how did the company end up having to file for Ch.11 a few months before Peggy Braymer, the chairwoman, died?
Was it because she insisted on running the company as her late husband had run it?
Chris Lord


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