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Moonraking an old Towa 60mm

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#1 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 11:39 AM

My first "real" refractor and, despite its age, tack sharp:

 

a late-60's-circa Towa 60/900.  Classic peak-America backyard Apollo-Program-Era stuff.  Halcyon days.  Enviable cars rolling off the assembly lines in Dearborn.  Two Steves messing around with soldering guns and plywood in a Palo Alto garage.  Carl Sagan wearing corduroy blazers in Pasadena.  Vinyl not needing a hipster "revival" — because it's the best and only choice.  A time that will be remembered as our Periclean age, immediately preceding the inflection point into the Long Decline and Fall.

 

When I exhumed it in my garage, the ferrous parts were rust-freckled and the tripod fuzzed with mold. 

 

A pampered C90 is my go-to, a doted-on C8 my DSO drill — I am telescope-contented.  Yet I felt sympathy for the beleaguered Towa and as I stared, unsolicited memories of Moonraker refractors floated into my head — and an idea was born.

 

Quick trip to the hardware store plus approximately forty work-hours . . .

 

towa-600-001.jpg

 

Rebuilt, after finer sanding and polish —amazingly still collimated.

 

towa-600-02.jpg

 

towa-600-03.jpg

 

Needs: an excellent alt-az mount and tripod.  For reasons no one can explain to me, photographic versions of these are about 1000x more user friendly than their telescopic counterparts.  Go-to telescopes are ideally paired with Marchioni Tiltall 4602s — but somewhere midway through the polishing I changed my mind and settled on wood.  Problem is I have no idea what suitable alternatives are out there.  The research begins.  Suggestions?  My goal is go-to simplicity (and visual handsomeness).

 

Also needs: metal focuser knobs for the rack-and-pinion.  Thinking of forcing a pair of GSO's despite all their disclaimers saying "ONLY FOR GSO CRAYFORDS," etc.

 

Quirky little side-project — hope you all enjoy.


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#2 Stellar1

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:09 PM

I think that looks so steampunk, love it, now you have my gears turning, may take sand paper to my 115 Eon, make it shiny.


Edited by Stellar1, 27 June 2020 - 12:13 PM.

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#3 Kasmos

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:40 PM

I don't think it's a Towa. It's construction looks more like SYW  or Royal Astro which would explain the good performance . It's has that raised badge bump on the focuser that's on 'Space Scopes'. They were original sold at the Akron Stores in CA.

 

Here's a thread on one:

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-60mm-x-910mm/

 

Tons more pages and info on them here:

 

https://www.cloudyni...60mm-refractor/


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#4 Matty S

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:48 PM

Very cool! I think there's plenty of these old 60mm scopes hanging about to have a bit of fun modding them like you did.

I'm not really a fan of 60mm scopes in general, even if the optics are good (except perhaps Zeiss, Swarovski, Brandon, and other exquisite or historical rarities), <80mm is just not enough aperture to satisfy my curiousity of the heavens.

The Tiltall is my goto for heavy stuff because it can handle a lot. I got one a few decades ago to hold my LF cameras, used it later to hold my smaller scopes and finally retired it and bought a new one that I am considering adding a Stellarvue M2 on it to mount my SV102.

Hope to see a pic of your setup when complete!wink.gif



#5 Russell Smith

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:58 PM

Looks RAO. 1960 seems too new, IMHO


Edited by Russell Smith, 27 June 2020 - 01:01 PM.


#6 Van Do9:3

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 01:49 PM

That is sweet. I have wanted to take a classic done to bare metal. Reminiscent of Mayflower or Selsi. Plastic focuser wheels reminds me of Hyscore. 


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#7 bill7342

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 01:56 PM

Is the focuser knob metal? It looks like bakelite in the photo. There can't be many makers that used bakelite.


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#8 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:07 PM

I think that looks so steampunk, love it, now you have my gears turning, may take sand paper to my 115 Eon, make it shiny.

As a first step I recommend a few passes of Goof Off Graffiti Remover with a scrub brush to loosen the paint.  It's ordinary Goof Off blended with an adhesive so it won't spill away from your work areas (it's also spray-on).  If you have old school methylene chloride "paint stripper" around, that might even work better (ONLY use it outdoors)— but honestly I really liked the cling/adhesive aspect of the Graffiti Remover.

 

A couple of other things you might want:

 

toothbrushes and small wire brushes for those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

 

(A lot of) rags and old t-shirts for miscellaneous wiping and polishing.

 

The real wow moment comes after you've finished your fine sanding (1500) and apply Metal Polish.  I like the Blue Magic brand.  It'll have to be occasionally re-applied but it seals as well as polishes.


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#9 Thomas_M44

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:08 PM

My first "real" refractor and, despite its age, tack sharp:

 

a late-60's-circa Towa 60/900.  Classic peak-America backyard Apollo-Program-Era stuff.  Halcyon days.  Enviable cars rolling off the assembly lines in Dearborn.  Two Steves messing around with soldering guns and plywood in a Palo Alto garage.  Carl Sagan wearing corduroy blazers in Pasadena.  Vinyl not needing a hipster "revival" — because it's the best and only choice.  A time that will be remembered as our Periclean age, immediately preceding the inflection point into the Long Decline and Fall.

 

When I exhumed it in my garage, the ferrous parts were rust-freckled and the tripod fuzzed with mold. 

 

A pampered C90 is my go-to, a doted-on C8 my DSO drill — I am telescope-contented.  Yet I felt sympathy for the beleaguered Towa and as I stared, unsolicited memories of Moonraker refractors floated into my head — and an idea was born.

 

Quick trip to the hardware store plus approximately forty work-hours . . .

 

towa-600-001.jpg

 

Rebuilt, after finer sanding and polish —amazingly still collimated.

 

towa-600-02.jpg

 

towa-600-03.jpg

 

Needs: an excellent alt-az mount and tripod.  For reasons no one can explain to me, photographic versions of these are about 1000x more user friendly than their telescopic counterparts.  Go-to telescopes are ideally paired with Marchioni Tiltall 4602s — but somewhere midway through the polishing I changed my mind and settled on wood.  Problem is I have no idea what suitable alternatives are out there.  The research begins.  Suggestions?  My goal is go-to simplicity (and visual handsomeness).

 

Also needs: metal focuser knobs for the rack-and-pinion.  Thinking of forcing a pair of GSO's despite all their disclaimers saying "ONLY FOR GSO CRAYFORDS," etc.

 

Quirky little side-project — hope you all enjoy.

Any good local powder coating businesses?  People who have good reputations for powder coating bicycle frames are the ones to look for.

 

Maybe an unusual color, something different : )



#10 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:13 PM

I don't think it's a Towa. It's construction looks more like SYW  or Royal Astro which would explain the good performance . It's has that raised badge bump on the focuser that's on 'Space Scopes'. They were original sold at the Akron Stores in CA.

 

Here's a thread on one:

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-60mm-x-910mm/

 

Tons more pages and info on them here:

 

https://www.cloudyni...60mm-refractor/

I think you're correct!  Thank you for linking me to these.  The OTA ring (with knurled friction knobs) also matches.  Unfortunately the label had long ago fallen away, and I'm the second owner.  There were a few critical bits missing from the spindly little GEM, otherwise I may have attempted to metallize it too.  A lot of gorgeous machined parts in there — brass and steel.


Edited by serrurier, 27 June 2020 - 02:16 PM.

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#11 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:16 PM

Is the focuser knob metal? It looks like bakelite in the photo. There can't be many makers that used bakelite.

If it's older than I thought, as Kasmos leads me to believe, they may very well be Bakelite.  They're also the only piece on the OTA with ferrous metal screws, gone red with rust.  Debating whether to replace the knobs entirely with metal ones.


Edited by serrurier, 27 June 2020 - 02:17 PM.

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#12 Kasmos

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:20 PM

Aluminum is the New Brass grin.gif



#13 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:20 PM

Any good local powder coating businesses?  People who have good reputations for powder coating bicycle frames are the ones to look for.

 

Maybe an unusual color, something different : )

If I find another rescue-status OTA lying around . . .

 

This one I'm keeping chrome.  For now.



#14 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 02:38 PM

Aluminum is the New Brass grin.gif

Funny you should say that . . . I discovered some beautiful brass elements just beneath the paint.

 

Screen-Shot-2020-06-27-at-12-39-06-PM.pn


Edited by serrurier, 27 June 2020 - 02:40 PM.

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#15 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 04:39 PM

If it's older than I thought, as Kasmos leads me to believe, they may very well be Bakelite.  They're also the only piece on the OTA with ferrous metal screws, gone red with rust.  Debating whether to replace the knobs entirely with metal ones.

The raised area on the focuser (where the label would go), and the fact that the label fell off, make me think you have a 1950s Space Scope 151 or equivalent, with optics made / sourced by ASC (the pre- Astro Optical company).

 

And, looking at your pix, you got the 30mm Zoom eyepiece with the BB's & brass band / clamp.  Again, SS 151 stuff.

 

And, looks like the tube has the 3 pre-drilled holes for the 6x30 finder bracket, such that it lines up with the focuser's center line.

 

Is there engraving / writing on the lens cell??


Edited by Bomber Bob, 27 June 2020 - 04:44 PM.


#16 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:16 PM

The raised area on the focuser (where the label would go), and the fact that the label fell off, make me think you have a 1950s Space Scope 151 or equivalent, with optics made / sourced by ASC (the pre- Astro Optical company).

 

And, looking at your pix, you got the 30mm Zoom eyepiece with the BB's & brass band / clamp.  Again, SS 151 stuff.

 

And, looks like the tube has the 3 pre-drilled holes for the 6x30 finder bracket, such that it lines up with the focuser's center line.

 

Is there engraving / writing on the lens cell??

It's definitely a 30mm zoom — really interesting "locking ring" design.  The little tension pin (BB?) is missing (the leaf spring remains), so I use it at the default setting.

 

Does indeed have the finder holes — though I don't remember this ever having any finder at all.  I'd like to install some Telementor-esque gunsight 1:1 finder instead, mostly because I want low profile and metal finish.  However, I'd be content with something a little weird and metal, too, like the lovely little Porro prism sight by Warner & Swasey, circa 1913 (5.2x mag) —

 

H1193-L113887573.jpg

 

and despite the rarity I'd, of course, have to scrub it down to the brass.

 

No writing discernible on the lens cell itself although it looks like a cosmetic ring may have fallen away.  I'll check again.  The only other information that came with the OTA was a half-attached sticker declaring JAPAN and 60 / 900 (not 910).


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#17 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:25 PM

The only other information that came with the OTA was a half-attached sticker declaring JAPAN and 60 / 900 (not 910).

 

Wow!  Yours could be one of the rare circa 1955 OTC-made versions.  That 30mm BB eyepiece is a piece of evidence (and if its glass is still good) a very good "wide field" Kellner.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 27 June 2020 - 05:26 PM.

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#18 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:27 PM

The only other information that came with the OTA was a half-attached sticker declaring JAPAN and 60 / 900 (not 910).

 

Wow!  Yours could be one of the rare circa 1955 OTC-made versions.  That 30mm BB eyepiece is a piece of evidence (and if its glass is still good) a very good "wide field" Kellner.

I'm glad it was in such rough shape or I'd be feeling ultra guilty about now.  Any other clues to check for?



#19 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:31 PM

I'd be content with something a little weird and metal, too, like the lovely little Porro prism sight by Warner & Swasey, circa 1913 (5.2x mag)

 

I made this 40mm right angle finder for my antique Tinsley 6" Cassegrain:

 

TL40 Finder Scope S71 (Complete).jpg

 

I made the brass rings.  The "columns" came from an even older Adelaide platform.  The body is a 35mm Tinsley Saturn spotter.  The lens & cell is an antique 45mm F5 uncoated doublet.

 

The Tinsley's small finder is from another antique surveying tool.


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#20 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:36 PM

I'd be content with something a little weird and metal, too, like the lovely little Porro prism sight by Warner & Swasey, circa 1913 (5.2x mag)

 

I made this 40mm right angle finder for my antique Tinsley 6" Cassegrain:

 

attachicon.gifTL40 Finder Scope S71 (Complete).jpg

 

I made the brass rings.  The "columns" came from an even older Adelaide platform.  The body is a 35mm Tinsley Saturn spotter.  The lens & cell is an antique 45mm F5 uncoated doublet.

 

The Tinsley's small finder is from another antique surveying tool.

Are you flirting with me, sir?

 

That is magnificence made real.


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#21 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:39 PM

I'm glad it was in such rough shape or I'd be feeling ultra guilty about now.  Any other clues to check for?

There may be characters on the lens edge, but you'd have to take the lens out of its cell to see them -- I wouldn't at this point, unless the lens needs a serious cleaning.



#22 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 05:40 PM

Thanks!!

 

I don't want to de-rail your thread, but here's how she looks right now (I'm still restoring her):

 

Tinsley - Progress Check S02 (Assembled).jpg


Edited by Bomber Bob, 27 June 2020 - 05:41 PM.

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#23 serrurier

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 08:10 PM

Thanks!!

 

I don't want to de-rail your thread, but here's how she looks right now (I'm still restoring her):

 

attachicon.gifTinsley - Progress Check S02 (Assembled).jpg

Please, next time, warn us to enter Private Browsing Mode before delivering such optical pornography.

 

Stunning.

 

Reminded of the first time I met the very Pygmalion of Alvan Clark's impossible career — "Leah," kept in immaculate condition at Chabot Science Center in Oakland.  Breathtaking.

 

I'm hoping that cube on the polar axis houses not only gears but a motor drive.


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#24 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 08:36 PM

Leah is STUNNING.  Haven't seen that Classic before -- thanks!

 

My point was gonna be, that you rescued an orphan scope that was probably headed to a dumpster, so have some fun with your restoration.  Lots of creativity on this Forum!

 

Here's how my Tinsley looked when I got it:

 

15CM-CC-P102CN - OTA Before Restoration.jpg

 

It's the only 6" Tinsley Cass in the known universe, which in my mind meant that the restore should be faithful to the original.  But... no standard paint color for these.  So... that baby blue is going to be replaced by Cranberry satin -- really make the brass stand out.

 

***** I meant to add this link to my Tinsley Restore Projecthttps://www.cloudyni...rain-restore/  

 

When you have time, it's about 16 pages of ... stuff.   And growing.  *****


Edited by Bomber Bob, 28 June 2020 - 08:20 AM.

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#25 Garyth64

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 09:11 PM

Go here to see Moon raker scopes:

 

http://moonrakertele...o.uk/index.html

 

Be prepared to be awed.


Edited by Garyth64, 27 June 2020 - 09:12 PM.

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