Greetings All -
It's the month of May, and the flowers are popping out here in the Arizona desert. Seems appropriate to put the Mayflowers with the May Flowers:
Just getting this one back on its feet after I "rescued" it off of an OfferUp post. It had been sitting unclaimed for over a month, the pictures showing parts all jumbled in its box, maybe a bent focuser pinion shaft, no pictures of optics, etc. The first picture on the post wasn't even of an 815, but of some other unidentifiable scope on an alt-az mount. But I was drawn to its gray and white colors, and had never owned a classic refractor. I was eventually in the seller's neighborhood, and arranged a meeting, thinking that if the objective wasn't in too bad a shape that I'd maybe take on a new restoration project.
Appropriately for a Mayflower, we met at a plant nursery. The seller said she got it as a cast-off from an Uncle, and had no idea what to do with it, thinking maybe she'd put it on display, but didn't even know how to assemble it.
Opening the box, it was apparent that the scope had taken a pretty bad fall. The focuser shaft was indeed bent, badly enough that it wouldn't turn. Focuser assembly was knocked off true. Dew shield was dented and scuffed up, badly enough that it was now cross-threaded on the lens cell. Porro prism was broken, with the front end of it still sitting in the draw tube. Yikes. Did this thing fall out of a moving pickup? But the tube wasn't dented, just a few paint chips. And none of the major parts appeared to be missing. So holding my breath, I looked down the tube...
The objective was pristine -- clean, clear, no chips. Hardly even any dust! Three foil spacers sitting exactly where they should be. Worried that the banged up dew shield had also distorted the lens cell and pinched the optics, I shook it a bit, and heard a welcome clunking sound -- still some play! Looking further, all the mount and tripod parts were indeed there, and all appeared to be in good usable condition. Just some elbow grease and it ought to be back up and running. So the seller got $40 from me (score!), and seemed happy it was going to someone who knew what to do with it.
So, I got it home, ordered a Parks hybrid diagonal, and started to sort out the details. Focuser shaft came back with clamps, wood blocks and brute force (and nervous sweat...). Focuser assembly trued up fairly easily. Had to add washers under the screws to keep it true -- you can see that in the image. The mount's gears got a cleaning and a single drop of machine oil. Both axes move very smoothly. Dew shield is still waiting -- it's cross-threaded and I don't want to wreck the aluminum lens cell by forcing it off. Quick trip to Ace Hardware for a few bits and bobs, and it's up and running.
First light was an informal session one early dusk with the first quarter moon hanging up around zenith. The new Parks diagonal and my trusty old 26mm Meade Super Plossl (Japan) went in the focuser. Immediately I set a personal record -- earliest observation of a satellite. One went right across my field of view against the Moon. I'd never seen one in as bright a sky before. Tracked it for a few moments, then back to the Moon. Eventually, in went the 10mm Orion Ultrascopic, with views just as pleasant. No reason to push it too much. Poor transparency. Competing with high thin clouds. Seeing is nothing to write home about. But on subsequent outings with calmer skies, I've seen a nice symmetric Airy disk at high power.
And maybe someday I'll see a similarly forgotten 816 for sale...