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Questar Restomods

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#1 Gregory Gross

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 05:19 PM

This past Thursday, the New York Times ran an artitle entitled "Vintage Cars With Old Souls, and Touch Screens and A.C." It was an interesting discussion of how some restorers retain the original look of vintage cars but add modern, up-to-the-minute features to make those cars more usable according to today's standards.
 
The article raised some questions in my mind about how desirable or appropriate it is to add modern features to the earliest Questar telescopes (that is, roughly speaking, those scopes dating from 1963 and earlier, or before Questar switched away from the "*Questar" side arm logo to the all-caps "QUESTAR" logo).
 
I know that Lawrence Braymer was not shy about adding improvements to scopes sent in for service. Likewise, one sees a number of Questars with wide field conversions. My own 1962 Questar has such a modification. In the instruction booklets from the 1960s, Questar wrote, "We constantly try to make internal improvements, and whenever possible we design the changes so that they can be applied to earlier instruments." So Questar itself clearly seemed to be driven by the "restomod" spirit.
 
Lately, I've been contemplating what to do with my Q in terms of the extent of work I'd like done to it. If it were a pristine example of the way Questar built their scopes in the 1950s and early 1960s, I don't think I'd touch it. But, as I mentioned, a prior owner already had a wide field conversion done to it. Its optics need major help, too. Keeping with the spirit of its apparent history, I think I'm moving to the feeling that I'd want to do as much as I could to update the scope and bring its optical performance up to the level of being as good as it could be. I suppose this assumes that modern optics are better than the ones that could have been made with the manufacturing techniques of the mid-20th century (this is probably debatable). But this question aside, wouldn't it be neat to have a Questar with all the looks of the early years while, at the same time, having an instrument perform as well as those the company is producing today?
 
So I pose this question for debate and discussion: How appropriate is it to do a "restomod" of an older Questar telescope?
 
Generally speaking, I'd answer this question by saying that, as someone who values the look of those early Questars, I'd tend to be conservative with the extent to which I'd change anything. I love seeing old Questars that are a faithful representation of the time they were built. I'd probably get a bit more aggressive with introducing new improvements to an older Questar only if it was either in terrible shape or if prior owners had already begun the process of introducing these improvements to a particular scope. The one exception to this would probably be those Questars dating from 1954 or '55--that is, those rarest of the rare earliest examples that have value existing in their current condition whatever that may be.
 
What do others think?


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#2 Optics Patent

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:23 PM

I’d add that a pre-64 that is truly original might also be more valuable in that condition than upgraded, unless the upgrade was appropriate to the period. But there’s no shame in making a scope your own.
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