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Starting thinking about getting a classic refractor

Refractor Classic
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#1 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 05:22 PM

I currently have a 102mm f/6.5 and really love it. I’m starting to think that the natural complement to it is a much slower scope ideally an f/15. I am not looking to buy immediately, maybe in the next 6 or 9 months. I know that 102 achros seem relatively uncommon, I was thinking about a Japanese 60 or 80mm, maybe a 100mm from the 60s or 70s. I’m open to .965s even though what I currently own is all 1.25”.  Any advice is appreciated, budget would ideally be less than $300, but open to going higher if needed maybe up to $700, but $500 and below is preferred.


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#2 petert913

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 05:47 PM

The Tasco 7TE models are great 60mm scopes.  I have one with Royal Optics and the contrast and sharpness are superb.  Paid $175 for it in like-new condition.   I got a diagonal with 0.965" on male end and 1.25" on female, so I can run my standard eyepieces.

L503IOgl.jpg


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#3 mtminnesota

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 06:12 PM

How about a new made-in-Japan 80mm f/15, for about $500 plus shipping?  It got extremely good test results, it's a very high quality telescope.  This is the only place you can buy them outside Japan:

 

https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html


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#4 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 06:19 PM

How about a new made-in-Japan 80mm f/15, for about $500 plus shipping?  It got extremely good test results, it's a very high quality telescope.  This is the only place you can buy them outside Japan:

 

https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

That’s certainly an interesting thought as I could easily throw that on my alt az mount and use it with StarSense which would be fun.


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#5 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 07:28 PM

classic      can be an affliction   have a few   love em

they play well with modern scopes    a nice mix sometimes I have a classic and a modern out


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#6 Garyth64

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 07:29 PM

Other choices can be a Sears 6339a, or a Tasco 10TE.  Those scopes have excellent 76mm x 1200mm lenses made by RAO.

 

Depending on condition could be picked up for about 200 to 350.

 

Also, for a little more money see if you can find a 60mm Swift 839, or a Swift 831, a 77mm x 1000 mm.  Their lenses are excellent too.


Edited by Garyth64, 28 February 2021 - 07:33 PM.

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#7 Bowlerhat

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 07:32 PM

A RAO 76 wouldn't hurt and it has been discussed a lot. But If you want practicality, the modern scopetech 80 maxi is a good choice.



#8 pdxmoon

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 07:39 PM

Don't forget you can also easily mount a classic 60mm on a modern mount. I use rings and a dove and mount my Tascos this way (I use a Porta II).

 

But if you are going to have ONE classic scope, I'd advocate you to get a Unitron 114. In my experience it is the easiest Unitron to find, and, the machining on those scopes and mounts are not be believed. I mean, a 114 Unitron mount from the late 50s or early 60s is a work of art. Not to mention the superb optics.

 

These come up for sale regularly. One was just in the marketplace (which I bought). I now have four Unitrons, and although I may soon sell the 140 because I'm getting old and it's getting big for me to use, the 60, 50 and 62mm Unitrons are staying.


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#9 deepwoods1

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:31 PM

How about a new made-in-Japan 80mm f/15, for about $500 plus shipping?  It got extremely good test results, it's a very high quality telescope.  This is the only place you can buy them outside Japan:

 

https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

Those focus knobs look very Vixen-like. 



#10 deepwoods1

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:33 PM

There are soooooooo many options. 


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#11 Bomber Bob

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:37 PM

I currently have a 102mm f/6.5 and really love it. I’m starting to think that the natural complement to it is a much slower scope ideally an f/15. I am not looking to buy immediately, maybe in the next 6 or 9 months. I know that 102 achros seem relatively uncommon, I was thinking about a Japanese 60 or 80mm, maybe a 100mm from the 60s or 70s. I’m open to .965s even though what I currently own is all 1.25”.  Any advice is appreciated, budget would ideally be less than $300, but open to going higher if needed maybe up to $700, but $500 and below is preferred.

The 1960s Tasco Model 7TE (or TE-5) shows up fairly often on CN and/or the auction sites -- it's a 60mm F15 from Astro Optical (JP) -- and an Iconic Classic.  The AO or SYW (Yamamoto) 76x1200 (F16) refractors also come in under $300, and many are branded SEARS or Mayflower or... LOTS of other brands.  The Towa 305 (60mm) or 339 (80mm) are common, but... optical quality is nowhere near as consistent as AO -- most of these are from the mid-70s to 1980s...

 

I've found the 1980s Celestron (Vixen JP) C80 F11 & C102 F10 refractors Excellent / Outstanding:

 

Celestron C-80P S21 - Mizar SP (RS Full).jpg C102 - First Setup S01 (Mizar - FULL Right Side).jpg

 

I got each OTA for about $100.  Mine share a vintage Mizar Super Polaris; but, the Celestron (Vixen) Polaris, Super Polaris, & Great Polaris EQ mounts run $150 to $350.  With patience, and careful shopping, you could put together a kit for $300 or less.


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#12 Bomber Bob

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:48 PM

If you want a Big Classic Refractor, I bought my original & Outstanding 1950s Edmund 4" F15 right here on CN for $600:

 

Edmund 4 - OTA Done (Mounted) S04.jpg

 

The Edmund made one of my favorite Saturn photos:

 

Edmund 4 - Saturn 20170707V06AS12.jpg

 

I paid way more than that for my 1964 Sears Model 6336, but it's mint condition & 100% complete:

 

Sears 6336 S020 - First Assembly FULL RS.jpg

 

(The 6336 is one of those Outstanding re-branded Astro Optical 76x1200 refractors.)

 

Age, Rarity, Condition, & Completeness are big factors in Classic Scope pricing...


Edited by Bomber Bob, 28 February 2021 - 09:49 PM.

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#13 ccwemyss

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 10:15 PM

Right now there is a Nikon (Nippon Kogaku) 65mm and a Mayflower 80mm in the classifieds. 

 

https://www.cloudyni...ogaku-65-x-980/

https://www.cloudyni...-eyepieces-etc/

 

The Mayflower probably has APL optics, which are generally quite good. The Nikon optics are likely to be excellent.

 

Any of the Astro-Optical scopes that people have mentioned (branded Tasco, Sears, etc.) will have excellent optics. The Unitron mounts are a real pleasure to use, but their optics varied in quality, so you should test before buying. One of my favorite classic combinations is an 80mm ATCO with HOC optics, on a Unitron 142 mount. When it's not on loan, the Unitron 128 is a very handy grab and go 60mm. 

 

Some of these are easier to adapt to 1.25" eyepieces than others, and those tend to provide nicer views than most of the 0.965s (there are some other threads where people identify 0.965 eyepieces that especially stand out, but those can take patience to find).

 

Chip W.



#14 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 10:29 PM

If you want a Big Classic Refractor, I bought my original & Outstanding 1950s Edmund 4" F15 right here on CN for $600:

 

attachicon.gifEdmund 4 - OTA Done (Mounted) S04.jpg

 

The Edmund made one of my favorite Saturn photos:

 

attachicon.gifEdmund 4 - Saturn 20170707V06AS12.jpg

 

I paid way more than that for my 1964 Sears Model 6336, but it's mint condition & 100% complete:

 

attachicon.gifSears 6336 S020 - First Assembly FULL RS.jpg

 

(The 6336 is one of those Outstanding re-branded Astro Optical 76x1200 refractors.)

 

Age, Rarity, Condition, & Completeness are big factors in Classic Scope pricing...

The Edmund looks awesome, the mid-sized and large refractors are always a treat.


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#15 Bomber Bob

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 10:55 PM

The Edmund looks awesome, the mid-sized and large refractors are always a treat.

They are a treat, but they're also a hassle to set up & take down.  The C102 is about half the weight of the Edmund, I can tote it completely assembled around the yard to dodge trees, and the mount has an accurate battery-powered polar axis drive (all original Mizar).  I have way too many old scopes, so I sold the Edmund, and the new owner is loving it.


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#16 starman876

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 07:41 AM

Do it right the first time and get a Unitron.  You will never be sorry.

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  • unitron 155c.JPG

Edited by starman876, 01 March 2021 - 07:42 AM.

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#17 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:07 AM

Do it right the first time and get a Unitron. You will never be sorry.


Pardon my ignorance, but what is a reasonable price for one?

#18 starman876

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:47 AM

Pardon my ignorance, but what is a reasonable price for one?

depends which model you start with. Most start with a model 114.  60mm with Alt AZ mount.  $300-$400 depending on extras.  The mount is excellent and the optics are also very good.   With most it starts a life long addiction of obtaining more Unitrons.  The equatorial mounts are built really well. 

 

https://www.bing.com...etail&FORM=VIRE

 

 

 A model 128 which is the 60mm equatorial version is around 500-600 dollars.   Very steady movements with the equatorial mount.  

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=pKEyJTG-vyQ


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#19 blakestree

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:47 AM

Do it! Buy a Classic Telescope, and love it. I'd say just get the one you really want most. 



#20 Terra Nova

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:54 AM

You’ve come to a great place. Lots of friendly and knowledgeable folks here to help. I recommend you start with a 60mm. You can definitely find a nice complete kit for under $500. Look for a Tasco 7TE, a Unitron 114, a Swift model 839, a Mayflower model 816, or a Monolux model 4380. Keep an eye out in the CN classifieds or put a want ad in them. Good luck!


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#21 ccwemyss

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 08:58 AM

There are six 60mm Unitrons in the student loaner set, and one 75mm. All of them have optics that are good enough for student use. A couple are comparable to the Astro-Optical scopes. The other five are not as sharp. The mechanics, however, are what make them a pleasure to use, which is why I collected them for the students. A wobbly tripod or poorly made mount will hide quite a difference in optical quality, and result in frustration that keeps the scope from being used. 

 

Chip W. 



#22 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 09:32 AM

Tasco 10te and similar have popped up for sale recently

 

 I like the Tasco 10te's  as very good optics  RAO lens...GEM......A three inch long fellow refractor displays well and performs very well...

 

Second the rec  on Mayflower, Monolux,  NK above


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#23 oldmanastro

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:22 AM

The Sears 2535 (later the 6339) 76mm f/16 with Astro Optical lenses is a great choice. It is the same telescope as the 6336 mentioned earlier in the thread except for the pedestal mount and absence of the smaller finder scope. Optical tube colors may vary depending on the year of manufacture.

 

 

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  • 76mmRefrac.JPG

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#24 pdxmoon

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 01:21 PM

You’ve come to a great place. Lots of friendly and knowledgeable folks here to help. I recommend you start with a 60mm. You can definitely find a nice complete kit for under $500. Look for a Tasco 7TE, a Unitron 114, a Swift model 839, a Mayflower model 816, or a Monolux model 4380. Keep an eye out in the CN classifieds or put a want ad in them. Good luck!

Those are all excellent choices. Between Unitron and Tasco, my experience has been that the mounts for Unitrons continue to be exceptional into our modern age (except for those stupid folding legs, which I put up with but don't care for at all, haha.). Everything else I have ever owned that has been a classic (60mm), I mount on a modern Porta II.

 

I don't have any experience with Swift, Mayflower or Monolux mounts. But I can say with certainty that if you want a classic scope and want that look and want to use the mount as well, between a Tasco and a Unitron there is no comparison. The Unitron will perform, alt-az or eq mounts.


Edited by pdxmoon, 01 March 2021 - 01:22 PM.


#25 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 02:15 PM

I'll put my 2 cents worth in and plug for the Vixen 80L on either the NP or SP/GP mounts. Super optics, super mounts.


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