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My $20 Meade 826

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#1 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:03 PM

Yesterday I found an ad on Facebook Marketplace for a "Meade telescope 10" Starfinder" for a whopping $20. However, I could tell by the picture that it wasn't a 10" Meade Starfinder EQ, but a Meade 826. No pictures of the mirror, the scope looked dirty, and the counterweight shaft was covered in rust, but it was 30 minutes away and it was $20, so why not? And after contacting the seller, off I went.

 

I was in a hurry, I had to be back for a 4th of July BBQ. So, I didn't do a full inspection or talk too long with the seller. He had it set up in his driveway, and I took a quick peak of the mirror. It was covered in dust and what I feared was fungus. If it was more expensive I would have haggled the price, but for $20 I didn't care, it was worth the price of admission. I also tried moving the RA and DEC axis and they moved, not the ideal smoothness, but not seized, so another good sign. The seller also said the motor hums but he never had it set up enough to tell if it worked or not. Turns out he never looked through it. He had owned it for a few years, but it just sat in his pole barn. No eyepieces to speak of, but he did hand me an envelope with the original instructions and sales receipt in it, cool.

 

I love solid tube OTAs that fit across the back seat of a car. They are just so easy to transport. Unfortunately I didn't have time to even unload the scope when I got home as I went straight to the BBQ. The whole time my mind was thinking about the mirror and what kind of shape it was in. When I did get home I took a little time to do an inspection and clean the tube. 

 

I removed everything from the tube. Thankfully, every nut and bolt moved and I was able to disassemble without using WD-40 or Liquid Wrench. First was the primary mirror. Unfortunately, my fears were realized as I believe what covered it was many blotches of fungus. Not positive on this, what do you think? It sat for the last few years in a pole barn and while it did have a shower cap to keep heavy dust off, moisture still got to it. Hoping that the mirror acquired the fungus recently, but I don't know for sure. Secondary mirror was next and thankfully zero signs of fungus. What I did find was that the secondary holder cracking in multiple places and was dried out. It is plastic and does not appear to have aged well. Thankfully it still held the mirror. The 6x30 finderscope wasn't as lucky, it has a giant clam covering at least a third of the objective. I had planned to remove it anyways, truth be told I am not a fan of straight thru finders, but it is sad that this little objective has gathered it last starlight. I found shattered glass inside the finder tube. The 6x30 finder EP did manage to make it though. The 1.25" focuser is what you would expect considering everything else. A few scratches, very dirty, and the grease is like glue, but the solid metal build means it can be easily restored. I then turned my attention to the tube. Thankfully no dents or holes in it. I hoped that a good buffing of the tube would take care of it, but the paint is chipping away all over the tube so it will be need to be stripped and repainted. Removing the end rings was simple, they are just press fit. I did find "47.7" written under the front end tube and I assumed it was the tube length that is until I decided to measure the tube and it is 50" on the dot. I then assumed 47.7" was the focal length. I did a quick clean, damp sponge with a touch of soap. Lots of stains that would not come out, but I plan to strip and repaint the tube anyways so that's okay.

 

I decided to leave the mirrors alone for the day and tackle them the next day. So while running errand today I picked up a few gallons of distilled water. I use the O.W.L. method for cleaning mirrors https://www.youtube....h?v=9Y8xFnXFVGQ except I don't use tap water and only use distilled. It took a long time and I took it slow, ever so slightly moving my finger tips and flushing the mirror every so often. Thankfully the fungus came off with just the distilled water, a drop of free & clear dish soap, and my fingers. I did add a step of lightly cleaning the mirror with a 1:1 mixture of distilled water and 90% isopropyl alcohol after cleaning off the mirror. This was to kill whatever could be left of the fungus. I then followed that with more soapy water to clean off the alcohol. If it was a lens I would give it a Sun bath, but I don't want to lay a parabolic mirror in the Sun. Overall, the coatings are in good shape for being 41 years old (date on the sales receipt). The center marker did leave a residue that would not come off and I didn't want to mess with it more. Especially because I plan to have it recoated sometime in the next few years anyways. The secondary mirror cleaned up nicely too. Unfortunately the base of the secondary holder, which is cast metal, is also cracking. I do not want to reassemble this scope for the secondary to just drop on the primary. I will probably just purchase a whole new spider, maybe a nice curved one. When the mirrors were drying I noticed 48.0" etched inside the side of the primary. That is the only markings I see on it. Not sure what the 47.7" on the tube means then? I will measure the focal length John Dobson style soon and see what I find.

 

I haven't touched the mount yet. The legs and pier were very dirty and little rusty, but not too bad. I would tackle that next, but my wife, toddler, and I are moving before the end of the Summer and I don't have the time to do a full restore now.

 

I plan to pick up this restore project after our move. I am thinking of making a Dob mount for the OTA so it can go back and forth from EQ to Alt-Az. I may even add a 2" crayford focuser and a curved spider. But for now, I am content with clean mirrors and tube. Overall, hard to beat for $20!

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#2 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:06 PM

The pictures of the secondary holder reminded me to say this, if you own a Meade 826 you may want to look at your secondary holder and see what shape it is in. I would hate to hear of a secondary holder failing and for the mirror to smash into the primary. Also, I did not get the drive corrector that is stated on the receipt.

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Edited by mfoose, 05 July 2021 - 04:32 PM.

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#3 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:07 PM

Mirrors before and after cleaning. I also realized I forgot to take any pictures of the mount. I will post those later.

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Edited by mfoose, 05 July 2021 - 04:08 PM.

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#4 xvariablestarx

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:10 PM

Good luck with your project of fixing the scope.


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#5 sdedalus83

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:11 PM

The mirrors came out a lot better than my $10 628. Don’t just look at the spider and secondary holder, try flexing and really look for cracks in the spider hub. 


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#6 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:26 PM

Almost forgot the "48.0" etching

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#7 4Texans

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:32 PM

Awesome find! I have a 826 that unfortunately has not seen light in a long time. Definitely bulky and not a quick look scope. However, I keep mine with the thought eventually it will have a proper permanent location to get used more often. Optics and overall build quality are great.

 

Keep us posted and more pics!


Edited by 4Texans, 05 July 2021 - 04:33 PM.

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#8 xvariablestarx

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 04:33 PM

Could you do like John Dobson used to do, and make the secondary spider out of small slats of wood?


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#9 ngc7319_20

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 05:09 PM

Pics of mount?


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#10 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 05:48 PM

Wow!  Congratulations!  That's one of those Festivus Miracle Deals...

 

My 826 came with the curved-vane spider... Hated it!  Unstable, tough to center & level the secondary holder.  I replaced it with a traditional 4-vane (from another 826), and now it cooks -- with gas!


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#11 CHASLX200

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 06:02 PM

Killer deal. My 826 was a 450x killer on the planets.


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#12 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 06:05 PM

Killer deal. My 826 was a 450x killer on the planets.

Mine (yours) maxes out at 400x -- BUT, we haven't had a decent FEB - MAY season since 2016...


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#13 Red Giant

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 06:29 PM

Wow, very nice find Michael!  And for $20 that’s a lot of fun tinkering to be had.  Keep us posted on your progress, and hopefully first light.


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#14 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 06:51 PM

Awesome find! I have a 826 that unfortunately has not seen light in a long time. Definitely bulky and not a quick look scope. However, I keep mine with the thought eventually it will have a proper permanent location to get used more often. Optics and overall build quality are great.

 

Keep us posted and more pics!

The mount is definitely the heaviest part. I do love the fiberlite tube. I am very tempted to make a lightweight Dob mount for quick views and when great seeing is forecasted lug out the EQ.

 

Could you do like John Dobson used to do, and make the secondary spider out of small slats of wood?

HAHA that would be something! I still have the current spider, but I need to look it over. Astrosystems has a nice 4 vane one and Destiny makes some decent curved ones. I have some time to decide.

 

Pics of mount?

Those will be coming in the next few days. I quickly disassembled and cleaned the dirt off of it and stuck it in a corner without taking pics foreheadslap.gif

 

Wow!  Congratulations!  That's one of those Festivus Miracle Deals...

 

My 826 came with the curved-vane spider... Hated it!  Unstable, tough to center & level the secondary holder.  I replaced it with a traditional 4-vane (from another 826), and now it cooks -- with gas!

Thanks Bob! I have read multiple threads about your/Chas's 826. I haven't read a bad thing about the 826's, except for the mount. Curved spiders seem to be loved or hated. I need to do more research before I decide. 

 

Killer deal. My 826 was a 450x killer on the planets.

I wish I had your seeing! I am currently in PA, soon to be NH. Hopefully my mirror will do 450x when excellent seeing sneaks up to New England.

 

Wow, very nice find Michael!  And for $20 that’s a lot of fun tinkering to be had.  Keep us posted on your progress, and hopefully first light.

Thanks! Yea, I didn't expect to buy another scope so soon after the AT102ED, just a few months ago, but this was too good to pass up, even with the impending move. Progress will be slow. I am now focused on making sure everything is cleaned and ready to pack. This should give me plenty to tinker on during cloudy nights, pun intended.


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#15 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 06:59 PM

Sweet find and nice project    keep up the good work


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#16 CHASLX200

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 07:14 PM

The mount is definitely the heaviest part. I do love the fiberlite tube. I am very tempted to make a lightweight Dob mount for quick views and when great seeing is forecasted lug out the EQ.

 

HAHA that would be something! I still have the current spider, but I need to look it over. Astrosystems has a nice 4 vane one and Destiny makes some decent curved ones. I have some time to decide.

 

Those will be coming in the next few days. I quickly disassembled and cleaned the dirt off of it and stuck it in a corner without taking pics foreheadslap.gif

 

Thanks Bob! I have read multiple threads about your/Chas's 826. I haven't read a bad thing about the 826's, except for the mount. Curved spiders seem to be loved or hated. I need to do more research before I decide. 

 

I wish I had your seeing! I am currently in PA, soon to be NH. Hopefully my mirror will do 450x when excellent seeing sneaks up to New England.

 

Thanks! Yea, I didn't expect to buy another scope so soon after the AT102ED, just a few months ago, but this was too good to pass up, even with the impending move. Progress will be slow. I am now focused on making sure everything is cleaned and ready to pack. This should give me plenty to tinker on during cloudy nights, pun intended.

I think most all 826's were very good over all. This was when Meade was on top of it's game


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#17 mfoose

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 07:39 PM

I think most all 826's were very good over all. This was when Meade was on top of it's game

https://www.cloudyni...6327-meade-826/ post #22, apparently Coulter made the early Meade mirrors. I think mine has a Coulter mirror since the sales receipt is Costa Mesa and its dated '80.


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#18 mfoose

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 06:46 PM

Took out the 826 mount tonight. It is in better shape then I thought. Both axis move freely. There is a light coating of dirt all over it and corrosion on some metal parts like the CW shaft, pier, legs, etc.

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Edited by mfoose, 07 July 2021 - 06:47 PM.

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#19 mfoose

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 06:47 PM

Another angle

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#20 mfoose

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 06:50 PM

Took off the motor cover to see what shape everything was in. I am not sure who thought it was a good idea to put a mounting screw for the motor cover directly behind the latitude adjuster, but I could not fit a screwdriver in that gap. I had to adjust the latitude so it was horizontal and then twist the axis around to finally get to it. Once I got it off I was surprised, not a hint of corrosion. In fact, it looks new beside the OEM grease. I plugged it in and the motor hummed. I took note of where the worm gear was positioned and walked away. When I came back a few minutes later it had indeed moved so the motor works.

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Edited by mfoose, 07 July 2021 - 06:52 PM.

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#21 mfoose

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 07:10 PM

After looking the mount over I realized that this scope is fully functional besides the secondary holder. I just checked the secondary mirror and it is 1.83" across the minor axis. Astrosystems sells a 1.83" secondary holder that uses a 1/4" mounting bolt just like the 826's so it seems like I could simply buy a new secondary holder from them and be good to go. However, with the move on the horizon I am going to wait until my wife and I are at our new place until I purchase one. I wouldn't have time to observe with it anyways between now and then. 

 

With that in mind, the goal now is to finish cleaning various parts and get everything packed away for the move. Once we move and get settled in I will buy the new secondary holder and reassemble for a season of use. I am sure I will be too busy after the move to finish the restore right away, especially with a new job and a now 5 month old. I am also moving further North to New England so cold weather will further delay this restore, since the main things now to do are stripping paint off the OTA and pier and repainting. Probably looking at this scope fully restored by Spring '22. But since the scope will be functional once I get the secondary holder I will be able to use it this upcoming fall and winter. It will look ugly until then, but who cares what it looks like at night?

 

Also, I do have rings for the OTA. They just never made it into any of the pictures.


Edited by mfoose, 07 July 2021 - 07:11 PM.

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#22 mfoose

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 08:40 AM

Posting an update. My family and I successfully moved up to New Hampshire. As you can imagine, this was a chore. Between moving, a new job, and a 7 month old I haven't been able to think about astronomy. 

 

Finally, had a little break in the action and I just ordered a 1.83" secondary from Astrosystems to replace the OEM one that had crumbled. Once it arrives I can install everything (had to break it all down for the move) and put it to use. A full restore will hopefully be Spring 2022.


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#23 tim53

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 08:17 PM

https://www.cloudyni...6327-meade-826/ post #22, apparently Coulter made the early Meade mirrors. I think mine has a Coulter mirror since the sales receipt is Costa Mesa and its dated '80.

That was made just after my first stint at Meade ended (October 1979).  Yes, Coulter made the mirrors until sometime in 81.  I liked working at the Costa Mesa facility.  There were about 10 of us working in the shop.  The later facility in Irvine was a lot bigger, and there were more people working there (and they had their own optical shop).  They made us fill out job cards.  A lot less fun that time around (I was there from about November 1981 to April 1982).  They laid me off the second time, which was the nicest thing they could have done for me.  I went back to being a geologist, initially working in the oil fields of San Joaquin Valley, while consulting at JPL, then hiring on full time at JPL in 1983.

 

I wouldn't exactly call that period of time as Meade being at the top of their game, though.  Not sure when I'd put that.  

 

-Tim.


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#24 mfoose

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 09:40 PM

That was made just after my first stint at Meade ended (October 1979).  Yes, Coulter made the mirrors until sometime in 81.  I liked working at the Costa Mesa facility.  There were about 10 of us working in the shop.  The later facility in Irvine was a lot bigger, and there were more people working there (and they had their own optical shop).  They made us fill out job cards.  A lot less fun that time around (I was there from about November 1981 to April 1982).  They laid me off the second time, which was the nicest thing they could have done for me.  I went back to being a geologist, initially working in the oil fields of San Joaquin Valley, while consulting at JPL, then hiring on full time at JPL in 1983.

 

I wouldn't exactly call that period of time as Meade being at the top of their game, though.  Not sure when I'd put that.  

 

-Tim.

Thanks for verifying Tim! I appreciate all the background info. Very interesting stuff. 


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