After more than a year of looking for the right Questar Seven, I finally found what just might be the ideal Q7 situation. This thread will tell the story and share pictures as I start my greatest restoration project yet.
It began earlier this week: When emailing with my friend Chris in the UK about a Field model with some cosmetic distress he had for sale, he mentioned that he had a Q7 OTA. I've been looking for a complete mounted Q7 and this was only the OTA, but the price was right ($4000) and I have faith in Chris after buying a nice Field model from him earlier this year. The Seven had what I was looking for: optically and mechanically healthy, and good cosmetic condition with few scratches and a nice unfaded purple barrel. The #484 vintage is fine, and the lack of Broadband desirable because it means that if the coatings ever failed they will be economical to restore.
As I'm wrestling with overseas money transfers (I suggest Transferwise - but you need to trust them with your debit card number or bank login) and Chris is getting ready for packing - because U.S. made goods returning to the United States are eligible for duty-free treatment, these will be properly identified as such - I get an email on Friday afternoon from my Cloudy Nights friend BillyDee: "Ben, You need to jump on this one real quick. Bill."
This was my dream come true. Bill emailed me within 15 minutes of the ad being posted, and I emailed the seller: "I'll take it at your asking price" before finishing reading the ad: The Questar Seven mount I thought I'd spend years searching for...plus an OTA with promising optics, and more (much more!)
I sent four replies to the ad, praying I was the first to reply, and worrying that I'd miss out on a deal I knew was meant for me. Here's why: The Q7 is cosmetically distressed, with some likely mechanical drive problems, and these are exactly the types of projects I love solving - I've done full disassembly base restoration and drive replacement on three Q3.5 models in the past year, and have been inside my share of control boxes too.
My messages to the seller included assuring that I could arrange pickup if needed, and begging that if he had multiple offers, I'd pay a 20% premium over his asking price of $1200. Even if the OTA was useless, I needed that mount! Thankfully, in less than two hours I got an email from the seller asking if I had time to talk. The seller is a genial physician and Dobsonian maker (he has a nice 16") in South Carolina. After he said my reply was the first and that the scope was mine, I gratefully revealed my plans, and excitement to undertake my first Q7 restoration. We switched to Facetime and he gave me a video tour of the whole package.
The optics looked good, except for a small failed area on the mirror coating and some more coating failure at the center hole. It probably performs nicely but could use a recoating. The serial number turns out to be #90, and indicated Cervit material (beware auto-correct of that one!) This is an early model and lacks the switchable Barlow in the control box. The controls all appear to operate smoothly, but the paint on the control box is badly failed. I believe it lacks the dew shield, and there is minor fading of the purple skin - more than I'd like, but not an embarrassment to display I hope. Lens cap is present, but the center knob with logo is missing.
The seller told me that the package was given to him by a friend - presumably being known as a telescope guy who might know what to do with it. It had been stored in an un-airconditioned storage area below a coastal beach house. The mount appears to be in solid condition, but the declination motion is frozen, even after I guided how to unlock it. The fork turns on the RA axis, but the knob doesn't generate any motion. Clearly this needs new drive discs on both axes, and possibly more surgery. The declination indicator wheel is missing some of the black paint to fill in, so that can either be replaced or repainted. Some aluminum knobs might be rough after all the salt air, so I will likely invest in replacements - I predict that parts unique to the Q7 are going to to be pricier than I'm used to (shooters experience something similar when they start handloading 50 BMG ammo - everything costs a lot more!)
The mount lacks the three legs for tabletop display - that might be a tall order to replace, and I'll check if the modern legs Q can supply are compatible with the original base. The 3.5 switched from slip fit to threaded in 1981. But as I was getting my video tour, I kept saying "don't worry about it, it's OK" about any potential defect because I needed that mount most of all, and it looked solid without any serious dents or damage. I suspect the oxidation might not be too deeply pitted, and I can sand it out and achieve a factory polish with lots of elbow grease (4x the surface area of a 3.5).
The seller gently accepted my 20% premium price, and shared more about the package. A big tripod with wedge of a type that Q had sold for years was included, but with naked aluminum instead of the expected black anodize. This alone will be a good restoration project. An original Powerdrive box with all cords. An eyepiece or two. And a little more that I'll reveal after everything arrives safely.
I'll report as I receive this all, and plan the projects. My bench is put away for the rest of the year during some remodeling, so the real work begins in 2018.
This thread is an inspiration on Q7 restoration, and at one time I had hoped to try to acquire that one or one like it, but the owner invested in a new optical set from Q as I recall.
In tribute to the seller, a kind physician with a notably Greek name, and in recognition of one of Questar's early advertising images, this project scope aspires to her nickname: "The Greek Goddess."
Thanks again to BillyDee whose timely tip made this possible. He wrote me that "this is the golden ring on the merry-go-round." I feel the same way.