Today with the weather being in the 50s here in upstate New York, it was a good opportunity to take care of some maintenance while I had the chance, before it became an issue when it really was cold and I wanted to get out and observe.
Everyone who owns an observatory has to do the basics to really get the most use of their hobby. It's a must, so here's what I do to prepare for winters viewing without grief.
Maintenance is a once a year clean of the shutter slide tracks and a relube, I use Mobile EP1 synthetic grease ( it's nearly clear). Great stuff for extreme temps , plus and minus..
Next a check of weather seals, mine are garage door seals that when closed overlapped and provide a weather tight -RAIN tight seal . I then use spray silicone on the outside of these seals which prevents water and ICE from sticking. This makes my shutters smooth operating even in the coldest nights. Sealing tight all the time. This simple trick using silicone spray works very well in hardest of winter conditions.
I then clean and regrease the dome rotation wheels. My dome turns with very little effort as I do this religiously every fall. I also keep the dome base ( steel plate) that the wheels ride on rust free with a scuff pad and a brush of clear grease... EP1 again. Just a very thin layer , then wiped litely to remove excess .
I check the seal around the pier, ( its foam, with a heavy rubber cover). Making certain there are no gaps for mice to sneak in.
I vacuum the rug inside, check the heater ( cheap pumphouse heater 1500 watt) . Reset my clock to my watch and check my battery level.
I clean the solar array with windex, and a spray of silicone keeps the water and ice off ..
Then a walk around outside looking for gaps in the dome, the door . And leave a Chistmas tree air freshener ( new car smell) at the door, and pier base to keep out the mice... so far in 5yrs I have had 1 field mouse..who made a small nest next to the battery charger ,this one got in through a bad pier seal... he ended up in the woods with a toss. Never to return
Now everything is ready, with anticipation of clear crisp nights...
So what do you do for prep for the winter.?