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Rennovating an 8-inch Cooke Part 2

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#1 martinr

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 06:34 PM

You’ve read the start of the story here: https://www.cloudyni...e/#entry9168443

 

It’s August 2017, and after 40 years of memories of an old telescope, I am now unbelievably driving down the M40 motorway (freeway) with the 8” telescope pieces in the back of a car (see photo) – a telescope I used extensively as a teenager, and since it was taken down over 30 years ago, I had often wondered what had happened to it. Now through a random email by chance, timed with a visit to the UK, the remaining pieces are in my car. I glance back looking at it, thinking this is the first time in more than perhaps 70 years that this scope has left the place it stood for less than half that time, before being dismantled.

 

I’m staying for a few day’s at my Dad’s house in Tewkesbury.  Little known story about me is that when I was about 6 years old I came home from elementary school carrying a metal bed frame I had found between school and home. I explained to my Dad it might come in useful someday! Now, nearly 50 years later, I am arriving at his house with three large pieces of metal tubing. I know these will come in useful, but the immediate task is getting the pieces to a place of storage while I can figure out a plan to renovate the instrument. In the few days, I had few options except to make sure I could keep the components secure.

 

I made plans with Mark Turner at Moonraker Telescopes to take the telescope components, and crate and ship to my home in Kansas.

 

An historical aside, I was also interested in a little known amateur astronomer called John Bacon, who was more famous for his aerial photography from hot air balloons in the 1890's. Bacon had been on the 1898 Solar Eclipse expedition with the BAA to India. The book of that expedition is one of my treasured volumes, and inspiration for my own eclipse expeditions. It turns out Bacon was buried near Reading, Berkshire, which was on my way to Mark’s place in Teddington; I was determined to find out where.

 

There’s a story behind tracking down the headstone but I found the church, searched around the graveyard – couldn’t find it, then stood and took a photo just in case I would discover the tombstone later, then looked at the three graves in front of me and one was John Bacon. By accident, I was standing right next to it.

 

John Bacon lived in a small village called Cold Ash, 7 miles from the college where the telescope would be located 43 years after his death.  I wonder if John Bacon knew about the 8” Cooke prior to being used by its original owner, Mr L. M. Partlett, who attended Bradfield College between 1885 and 1888, and who donated the telescope in 1947 to the college. Bacon and his daughter, Gertrude, successfully filmed the 1898 solar eclipse, but the film went missing. However, it’s unlikely, because Bacon died in December 1904, due to becoming ill while walking in wintery conditions to give a talk about astronomy.

However, on finding the grave, I felt it was appropriate to show his biography written by his daughter that I had purchased from an antique book dealer the same day, plus the eyepiece end of the 8” Cooke refractor. (see photo)

 

Moving on – after a short wait, in August 2017, the crate arrives home from the UK with two pieces of a telescope tube, a clock drive, and a bunch of irreplaceable screws, and a corroded and dented 4” J. H. Steward refractor. Mark Turner of Moonraker Telescopes (http://moonrakertelescopes.co.uk/) did an outstanding job with the crate. I was away when it arrived at home – my wife kindly had it placed in the center of the garage. It’s presence had an “Indiana Jones” feel to it! (see photo)

So now having rescued the pieces from a potential scrap heap, I unpacked the crate, and kept them in a safe place.

Below is a view of the heart of the scope, its lens (see photo). It needs work, and I wonder if those rusted bolts will come out. Also, I am missing the critical piece – the central part of the tube that attached to the Dec axis. How long was it, could I get one made, what could I use for a mount? All serious questions, so this was going to be a long project. I wrote to the college once more asking if any other parts had been found.  “No”, came the answer. (read on!)

After more a year of life taking over, in December 2018 I decided it was time to remove the lens from the tube. This took a while, but I built a support table in the garage to place the tube on, and used some gel Evaporust rust remover – non-toxic – and after an hour or so the bolts easily came loose. The lens was placed in a safe dry place inside the house for future careful cleaning. Photographs were taken and bolt positions marked for easily re-attaching in the same orientation.(see photo)

No rush on this part – it will occur once all studies and careful consultations have been made. (I’m in touch with a few experienced telescope folks, but any friendly comments, suggestions and advice are warmly welcomed).

2019 opens with some plans to clean the parts of the telescope, but still their remains the big questions of how to build the mid-section connecting the upper end of the scope to the lower end.

And then, the GOOD NEWS came! Out of the blue in January, the college emailed me to say they had found the remaining mount sections! Did I want them?

I couldn’t say no, it was critical to have all the parts together for a proper refurbishment. I could not believe the luck, and the timing. After more than a year wondering how this would come together, and having just begun work on the tube, events took over and somehow made this happen.

 

However, the parts were a LOT heavier than the earlier consignment. Again I contacted Mark Turner at Moonraker telescopes, who very kindly offered to visit the college and come up with an estimate for shipping. The central tube section as there, along with polar and dec. axes, and a cast iron pier!

 

To cut a long story short, and some very heavy work by Mark (who deserves a medal), the parts arrived last Monday. Four crates between 200 and 400 lbs each.

 

So after 18 months of uncertainty and being sure the rest of the scope had gone, it’s all back together, about 30 years after it was dismantled, and left untouched.

 

Attached are pictures as the mount was discovered in early January, and now in a dry, clean and protected environment.

The condition of the setting circle is remarkable – numbers still readable.

 

So next steps are to make a photographic survey of the newly arrived pieces – it will require a hoist to lift them out of the crates, so that will be a while before I do that. One third of the garage is now dedicated to the telescope.

 

So that’s the end of Part 2 – thanks for reading this far – it’s going to be fun to share what happens over the next year or X (where X is an undefined number!)

 

Also in the photos below is a picture of the original scope as set up - the only image I have so far.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_2457-sm.jpg
  • Bacon_headstone&scope-book-s.jpg
  • IMG_2923.JPG
  • lens removal_1-vs.jpg
  • Bradfield_8_inch-vs.jpg
  • 20190111_092555_resized.jpg
  • IMG_9821s.jpg
  • IMG_9826s.jpg
  • Bradfield Scope-s.jpg

Edited by martinr, 07 March 2019 - 10:15 PM.

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#2 jgraham

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 08:56 PM

Wow doesn't begin to cover how cool this is.

 

Enjoy the journey!


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#3 PaulEK

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 12:20 AM

I LIVE for stories like this! This is just amazing.


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#4 licata

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 09:46 AM

Wow is right! I can't wait to watch this progress. Please keep us posted. Great story!


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#5 sbrewster

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 12:59 PM

martinr, what a remarkable, fascinating, and well written story you've posted!  Not to mention the 8-inch Cooke itself, and its restoration in Kansas. Best of luck for your progress.


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#6 R Botero

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 03:03 AM

Great sequel to the first episode! Fantastic that more parts of the original mount have turned up.
Roberto
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#7 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 22 March 2019 - 07:16 AM

It looks like a lot of work and a lot of fun! Best of luck!!!!

 

Rich (RLTYS)


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#8 roscoe

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Posted 25 March 2019 - 09:30 AM

Thank you so much for taking this restoration on!!

The money spent - and to be spent, and the hours spent, and to be spent, are both serious commitments, and I wish you the best in this formidable endeavour!  Blessings upon you for bringing this scope back to life!


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#9 martinr

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Posted 25 March 2019 - 11:08 AM

Thank you so much for taking this restoration on!!

The money spent - and to be spent, and the hours spent, and to be spent, are both serious commitments, and I wish you the best in this formidable endeavour!  Blessings upon you for bringing this scope back to life!

Thanks for your very kind comments - "formidable" has crossed my mind - one careful step at a time. It'll be a treasure for generations I hope.



#10 Geo31

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Posted 25 March 2019 - 12:35 PM

If you haven't already, you should first of all join the Antique Telescope Society.  I would probably not even begin the project without contacting those folks.  They undoubtedly have people who live for helping with this sort of thing.  I should think their help would be invaluable.

 

Good luck.  Your luck so far has been astounding!  I'm really looking forward to following this.


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#11 Paul J

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 04:33 AM

Martin, what a daunting but most worthwhile project you have taken on, can’t wait for your next installment. The first telescope I ever looked through as a teenager was a 6” Cooke refractor located at the Airdrie Observatory (nr Glasgow), I remember being entranced by the clock drive mechanism, quite simply a piece of mechanical art, the following week I went out and bought my first telescope a 6” F8 Franks Newtonian on a manual GEM. Getting back to the 6” Cooke though, I know that the observatory recently had the telescope and drive mechanism refurbished, it could be that they might have some useful contacts for you. Url for the Airdrie Observatory attached.

https://www.airdrieo...y.com/observing

Kind Regards
Paul.

Edited by Paul J, 15 April 2019 - 12:28 PM.

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#12 martinr

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Posted 23 May 2019 - 01:59 PM

Thanks Paul for the great information. My first telescope catalogue was from Charles Frank - I still have the calatlogue!

I bought their 60 mm refractor on a pillar mount - the telescope lived inside the pillar for transport - for a total cost of 12.50 pounds.

Great memories. I should have bought a 6" ! Nice to connect with you



#13 wargrafix

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 07:08 AM

I am really excited to hear about the progress. Imagine when its done...using it as a planetary imager



#14 astronz59

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Posted 16 June 2019 - 06:36 PM

OK, I'll admit I've been salivating ever since I saw this post! Anything more to add? Don't be afraid of that Cooke's boga-city and shear awesomeness! drool5.gif



#15 martinr

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 05:32 PM

Hi everyone - apologies (esp to astronz59!) for the slow replies - I was away in Chile for the eclipse, and now have a medical thing to deal with starting July 18 that will put me out of action on this scope for a few weeks.

 

I guess what I can update is that I have practiced some cleaning techniques on small  brass components of the 4" tube, and that is coming up very nicely. The main 8-inch tube is clean and needs fine polishing - a longer process and in the 100 degree heat we now have, I wish I had done more in the spring!

 

The mount that arrived is huge and very heavy. Actually its immovable at present - if any have ideas of how to lift 200+lbs of complex-shape gear in a garage without re-building the house around it I'd be interested in reading comments.

Kind regards all!


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#16 jcruse64

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 09:17 PM

Anyone you know have a cherry picker/portable engine lift. They can handle a LOT more than 200 lbs, and are on casters.


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#17 martinr

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 10:24 PM

Thanks, I'll investigate!



#18 R Botero

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 01:55 AM

Martin
Use a gantry crane. You can buy them used for not too bad a price.
Roberto
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#19 astronz59

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Posted 26 December 2019 - 09:18 PM

I am hoping that the long silence means that you are well over your medical "thing" and better still, that you are hard out on the Cooke refurbishment. Any updates, perchance?  fingerscrossed.gif



#20 martinr

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 05:32 PM

Hi - it's been too long since I posted about this, and cut a long story short - this month I finally got around to working on the scope after a hiatus, and made nice progress on the upper section of the tube.

 

I am amazing with the progress this week after spending short periods using grades 1500, 2000, and 3000 grit paper, followed by tripoli, white rouge and red rouge polishing.

 

There are deep small pits in the upper section, and I decided instead of needing to remove these, which would entail removing too much metal, they provide some of the character of this very old instrument. I need to clean out the polishing compounds so that's a step for the next week (if anyone has a recommended method for this I'd appreciate hearing about it).

 

Attached are comparison pics of the state of the tube when it was first discovered in the scrap yard and now its amazing appearance.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Bradfield 8-inch.jpg
  • IMG_2928s.jpg
  • IMG_E2963s.jpg

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#21 Kokatha man

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 07:21 PM

...for jewellers, very hot water with a good detergent & a splash of cloudy ammonia works very well for removing white or red rouge polishing compounds - a small scrubbing brush or old toothbrush comes in handy at times for tiny crevices (& your pits) & just make sure you give a nice rinse with hot water: large parts will usually self-dry with a rinse of very hot water.


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#22 oldscope

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Posted 23 February 2020 - 11:57 PM

...for jewellers, very hot water with a good detergent & a splash of cloudy ammonia works very well for removing white or red rouge polishing compounds - a small scrubbing brush or old toothbrush comes in handy at times for tiny crevices (& your pits) & just make sure you give a nice rinse with hot water: large parts will usually self-dry with a rinse of very hot water.

Anything with ammonia is the last thing you want to leave on brass, so extra emphasis on the "make sure you give a nice rinse" part!

 

Bart F.


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#23 Kokatha man

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Posted 24 February 2020 - 01:37 AM

Anything with ammonia is the last thing you want to leave on brass, so extra emphasis on the "make sure you give a nice rinse" part!

 

Bart F.

...that's why I said it Bart! ;)



#24 martinr

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 03:57 PM

Worked through 800 and 1000 grit on the 2nd tube section this weekend. There were 8 screws on one end, which holds the eyepiece section. Each screw is bagged, numbered, and a map made of their locations so each crew returns to the same place. The close-up shows screw location #1, and detail of the tube before the 1000 grit.

Regards to all who are following this!

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_3060Tube2completed_1000grit_CN.jpg
  • IMG_3056_Tube2_screw locationsCN.jpg
  • IMG_3057_Tube2_screw locationMapCN.jpg

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#25 astronz59

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 01:43 AM

Martyn, this is excellent work! Can't wait to see more! waytogo.gif


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