Back in 1988, optician John Gregory recruited about 8-pairs of amateur Astronomers for this unique project. They all purchased 10" (at least I think it was 10") pairs of exotic lens blanks. From what I remember, John and the group would meet at a convient location for all of them and under the guidance of John, would grind and polish these blanks to become (F/10 I think) semi-apo lenses which they would also mount in a cell, build a tube assembly and a mount of their choice.
The whole idea was to get amateurs who normally not take on such a daunting task, and complete a great refractor in time for the great opposition of Mars in October 1988. Because they bought so many blanks, John was able to get a lower price than if you would only purchase 1 set.
I would to know if anyone remembers this or better yet was involved in the project?