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My first classic refractor- Early Unitron 114

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#26 Jbslus2

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 02:18 PM

The scope looks great. Just a word of caution on how you have it setup, without the metal brace that connects the tripod legs to together and keeps them from spreading apart. I have seen a number of scope fall over and become damaged when  all of sudden one of the legs spreads open  when someone touches the scope the wrong way or friction is lost between the end of the leg and the ground and then the scope hits the ground. It maybe the  reason why the scope has damage to the tube.

 

                   - Dave 

Thank you for the heads up on that. I was wondering about that myself. I noticed that the later Unitron tripods came with spreaders. Does anyone know if these earlier tripods had any sort of bracing? Any tips for “non-invasive” modifications for keeping it steady? Obviously I’d like to keep it as close to original as possible. 



#27 Kasmos

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 02:37 PM

Thank you for the heads up on that. I was wondering about that myself. I noticed that the later Unitron tripods came with spreaders. Does anyone know if these earlier tripods had any sort of bracing? Any tips for “non-invasive” modifications for keeping it steady? Obviously I’d like to keep it as close to original as possible. 

I'm sure they all originally came with metal spreaders. Terra's '55 has them.

Not the best photo but you can see them here on my circa'57-'58 114.

I'll try to get you a better photo.

May-Uni.jpg

The little metal leg stops have a little screw or rivet on their tops that the metal straps attach to.

The straps have a hole with an elongated slot that holds them in place.

 

I'd think they would be hard to find but fairly easy to make. In the meantime you can use a chain.


Edited by Kasmos, 01 October 2020 - 02:56 PM.

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#28 Jbslus2

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 04:54 PM

...The little metal leg stops have a little screw or rivet on their tops that the metal straps attach to.

The straps have a hole with an elongated slot that holds them in place.

 

I'd think they would be hard to find but fairly easy to make. In the meantime you can use a chain.

So actually mine don’t have those attachment points on top of the leg stops. Mine are just horizontal bars with nothing to attach to. I guess that’s why I was confused as to how everyone was using even chains. I could probably adapt a vertical piece to fit between a nut and the leg and then use that if there’s room.  Here’s a photo of mine:

 

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Edited by Jbslus2, 01 October 2020 - 04:56 PM.

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#29 Terra Nova

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 05:10 PM

I think some of the real early ones may have had chains. The earliest spreaders are the simple three metal struts held together with one center screw. Mine is like that and my struts are attached with screws whose heads protrude above the tops of the wooden legs, so it is even before that little attachment brackets were introduced. By The late 1950s there was a little shallow metal plate in the center of the spreader. Then, around the time that they switched from block to italic lettering, they introduced the cool cloverleaf spreaders on the 114s and 128s.


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#30 Jbslus2

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 05:32 PM

I think some of the real early ones may have had chains. The earliest spreaders are the simple three metal struts held together with one center screw. Mine is like that and my struts are attached with screws whose heads protrude above the tops of the wooden legs, so it is even before that little attachment brackets were introduced. By The late 1950s there was a little shallow metal plate in the center of the spreader. Then, around the time that they switched from block to italic lettering, they introduced the cool cloverleaf spreaders on the 114s and 128s.

Just so I understand, on yours there's a vertical screw in the wood that sits just behind the horizontal metal leg stop?  I don't see any attachment point for a spreader or chain on mine or evidence that anything has been removed.  Unless I'm missing something, which is more than possible.



#31 PawPaw

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 05:34 PM

Here are pics of both versions.  The chain one is from a model 760 circa 1962-66 and the solid metal version is from a early model 128 likely from 1955-57.  

 

Don

 

 

 

 

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#32 Terra Nova

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 06:15 PM

Just so I understand, on yours there's a vertical screw in the wood that sits just behind the horizontal metal leg stop?  I don't see any attachment point for a spreader or chain on mine or evidence that anything has been removed.  Unless I'm missing something, which is more than possible.

The spreader strut has a keyhole punched into it. And like I said, there is a flat head screw or brad in the top of each leg around the center of its cross-section and It sticks up maybe a quarter-inch. The round hole part of the keyhole is slightly bigger than the head of the screw or brad and the slot part of the keyhole is slightly wider than the post of the brad. So it just fits through and locks in. It’s simple but effective.


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#33 Jbslus2

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 07:58 PM

Thanks for the info everyone. Has anyone heard of a version without any mechanism for chain or spreader support? I’m still trying to figure out if my leg stops are original and they really did design it initially without bracing? The nuts on mine look similar to Don’s chain version but of course my leg stop is very basic. It certainly ‘feels’ original. 

 

Not a huge deal obviously but just trying to learn all I can about it.


Edited by Jbslus2, 01 October 2020 - 08:17 PM.


#34 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 08:18 PM

You can easily put a chain on it

 you could also make a wooden  leg spreader  eyepiece  tray

Mine is  a 3 inch but you get the idea on the safety chains installed by previous owner

 below see pics of the Unitron 140 on the Unitron 142 mount

 

 

Edit   

 and  spend some time going through some of this great thread.

 

Look for   the tripod wooden leg spreader posts   obviously  you have the nice Unitron tripod

 

 

https://www.cloudyni...lescopes/page-5

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Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 02 October 2020 - 10:21 AM.

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#35 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 08:35 PM

140     alt az tripod also had the metal leg spreaders

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Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 02 October 2020 - 06:14 AM.

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#36 ccwemyss

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 10:14 PM

I have a very early one that also lacks the spreader brackets. That's also how the tripod on my very early 142 works too. This argues for one of the first years of Unitron 114 production for this scope -- a rare bird!

 

As long as it's not on a hard, slick surface, the pointed tips dig in and keep the tripod stable. I never bother with the spreader for any of the other loaner scopes when I have them on grass. It only makes it harder to level the tripod. 

 

I was just building a bracket for the tripod I'm using with the cobbled-together 114 Frankentron. A piece of 1" aluminum angle stock, cut to mimic the other two, and bent open at slightly more than 90*. But I still haven't put in a screw for the spreader. 

 

Chip W. 


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#37 Kasmos

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 04:41 AM

I have a very early one that also lacks the spreader brackets. That's also how the tripod on my very early 142 works too. This argues for one of the first years of Unitron 114 production for this scope -- a rare bird!

 

As long as it's not on a hard, slick surface, the pointed tips dig in and keep the tripod stable. I never bother with the spreader for any of the other loaner scopes when I have them on grass. It only makes it harder to level the tripod. 

 

I was just building a bracket for the tripod I'm using with the cobbled-together 114 Frankentron. A piece of 1" aluminum angle stock, cut to mimic the other two, and bent open at slightly more than 90*. But I still haven't put in a screw for the spreader. 

 

Chip W. 

While it's an older 114 it can't be an extremely early ('51-'54), model since it has the tube clamp type of mount that was annouced in August of '55.

 

I know we can't always trust the catalogs, but the '56 catalog shows it without a spreader and once again with that weird (prototype?), three ring tube clamp. 

56 Unitron 114 crop.jpg

This and Jbslus' scope seems to suggest that the spreader came along a little after they were sending them out with the new mount. It might also explain his having the older finder.

 

The question might be, is his a standard for what a late year '55 model looks like? If so, that might push Terra's into '56 since hers has a spreader and a later style finder? The problem with this statement is that there's a very good chance, that like the mount, most of the changes we see didn't exactly coincide with the begining of each year. Because of this, if there's no dated paper work, I've always thought that all we can do is assign an estimate to a particular scope's age.

 

BTW, I noticed, like Keith's fixed saddle '54 (?) , Jbslus' has a red label in the lid of the box top. At some point they changed to blue with, I believe, a production or lot #.


Edited by Kasmos, 02 October 2020 - 04:44 AM.

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#38 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 07:51 AM

I got my 114 from the estate of the original owner. He made a number of minor Mr. Fixit improvements, like adding a heavy leather handles to both cases, an additional heavy latch on the tripod case, a wooden brace inside the ota case for several additional accessories that he ordered like Unitron orthoscopic eyepieces, etc. I wonder if he could have ordered the brace and put the screws in the tops of the lower leg members himself? It’s obvious he was concerned with safety with the handles, case latches, etc.


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#39 PawPaw

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 08:16 AM

I just noticed that Unitron's 1956 catalog:   http://www.unitronhi...956-Catalog.pdf

Page 2 Shows  the Alt-Az mounts, model 114, 127 and 140 with no leg braces.  It does show the model 150 with the wooden brace.  

 

If you look at Unitron's 1958 catalog:  http://www.unitronhi...1958Catalog.pdf

Page 3 Shows the Alt-Az mounts, model 115, 127 and 140 with the metal brace and still shows the model 150 with the wooden brace. 

 

So as Kamos pointed out you cannot always trust the catalogs but in this case you can make a strong argument the very early smaller mounts came with no spreader. 

Also note the equitorial models 128  and 142 show no spreader in the 56 catalog but in the 59 catalog the 128 has the metal brace and the 142 has a wooden brace.

 

Don


Edited by PawPaw, 02 October 2020 - 08:23 AM.

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#40 Tiredeyes

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 08:54 AM

My early 127 (2 bolt saddle instead of rings) has a tripod that looks like the one in post #28 - a straight bar to hold the leg straight and no connection point for a spreader.  Since I usually use this on a hard surface, I added a screw and safety chain to keep things stable.

 

My early 128 (2 bolt saddle instead of rings) has a similar tripod, although an earlier owner had added a hook to each leg for a safety chain.


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#41 PawPaw

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 10:26 AM

On one of the pages of the 56 and 58 Unitron catalog there is a picture of a lady using a most unusual method for zenith observing.  I always wanted to re-create how the tripod was assembled in that picture.  It came to my mind when reading through this post that this is one method you cannot use the supplied tripod spreaders.  Plus it is helpful for someone with short stature.....such as George here:

 

 

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#42 Jbslus2

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 11:54 AM

On one of the pages of the 56 and 58 Unitron catalog there is a picture of a lady using a most unusual method for zenith observing.  I always wanted to re-create how the tripod was assembled in that picture.  It came to my mind when reading through this post that this is one method you cannot use the supplied tripod spreaders.  Plus it is helpful for someone with short stature.....such as George here:

I just looked that picture up... I’ll definitely be trying that!  

 

Thanks to all for their input on all of these questions. The collective (and individual) knowledge here is very impressive!


Edited by Jbslus2, 03 October 2020 - 02:35 AM.


#43 Kasmos

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 02:26 PM

I got my 114 from the estate of the original owner. He made a number of minor Mr. Fixit improvements, like adding a heavy leather handles to both cases, an additional heavy latch on the tripod case, a wooden brace inside the ota case for several additional accessories that he ordered like Unitron orthoscopic eyepieces, etc. I wonder if he could have ordered the brace and put the screws in the tops of the lower leg members himself? It’s obvious he was concerned with safety with the handles, case latches, etc.

Terra, I find it interesting that your's has the simple bracket with screws in the tops of the legs. You might take a look at those screws and see if they look like the other hardware or something the owner purchased from a hardwrae store. I say this since the small screws and nuts on my tripod have a certain satin like sheen to them that matches the upper studs and bolts. I might be wrong but I have a hunch yours originally came with a spreader making it a transitional model between those that didn't and those with a bracket for the spreader.

 

Lately I've been evaluating as many 114s I could find from the '50s and checking their details. I'm also thinking of doing a dedicated topic on what I've seen so far. If I do it, I'll limit it to 114s since so many here own them and including all Unitrons would be too much info to gather.


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#44 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 03:30 PM

Chris, I just dugout out. They are just plain wood screws of the same degree of shininess as the leg braces. And you can see the wear pattern on the wood from the struts over the years.

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Edited by Terra Nova, 02 October 2020 - 03:32 PM.

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#45 Kasmos

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 03:54 PM

Chris, I just dugout out. They are just plain wood screws of the same degree of shininess as the leg braces. And you can see the wear pattern on the wood from the struts over the years.

Terra, If I'm not mistaken they sure look like the modern and all too common combination screws that can be used with either a Phillips or a Slot-Head screwdriver. (Note how one of the top cuts goes to the edge). If so they aren't original. Their screwed in height also seems a bit on the tall side.

 

Here's an example of what I'm talking about

Combo-Screw.jpg



#46 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 05:01 PM

The old fellow probably added them too. He may have made the spreader as he owned a tool and die works in Dayton. Here is the handle that he added to the OTA case:

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#47 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 05:07 PM

And here’s the handle and latch that he added to the tripod case. He also added those two strips of channeled hardwood. They allow the OTA case to slide ontop of the tripod case. He added several little features inside the OTA case.

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#48 ccwemyss

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 10:07 PM

While it's an older 114 it can't be an extremely early ('51-'54), model since it has the tube clamp type of mount that was annouced in August of '55.

 

 

The question might be, is his a standard for what a late year '55 model looks like? If so, that might push Terra's into '56 since hers has a spreader and a later style finder? The problem with this statement is that there's a very good chance, that like the mount, most of the changes we see didn't exactly coincide with the begining of each year. Because of this, if there's no dated paper work, I've always thought that all we can do is assign an estimate to a particular scope's age.

 

BTW, I noticed, like Keith's fixed saddle '54 (?) , Jbslus' has a red label in the lid of the box top. At some point they changed to blue with, I believe, a production or lot #.

My bad - I was thinking first years of the version with the removable, hinged, saddle, but should have specified that. The fixed saddle scopes were, of course, the earliest 114s. But I don't think that many of these were made with the straight leg brackets that lacked the post for the spreader. 

 

Chip W. 


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#49 DreamWeaver

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 12:07 AM

So actually mine don’t have those attachment points on top of the leg stops. Mine are just horizontal bars with nothing to attach to. I guess that’s why I was confused as to how everyone was using even chains. I could probably adapt a vertical piece to fit between a nut and the leg and then use that if there’s room.  Here’s a photo of mine:

Here’s photos of my recently acquired ‘55-‘56 114.  Mine also has only the horizontal bars with no means to attach a chain or spreader.

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#50 Kasmos

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 02:50 AM

Here’s photos of my recently acquired ‘55-‘56 114.  Mine also has only the horizontal bars with no means to attach a chain or spreader.

waytogo.gif

Another one sold by

Unitron Ashdowne Brothers.jpg

I believe that makes 4.




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