Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

1967 Astronomical Equipment, Luton, 6-inch Newtonian reflector

  • Please log in to reply
38 replies to this topic

#1 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 14 February 2024 - 07:55 AM

Here is an image of my 1967 vintage 6-inch Newtonian, made by Astronomical Equipment of Luton.

 

6 inch AE scope
 

I have spent days trying to get the photo as similar as possible to that in the catalogue, which I still have, but it’s not possible to get an exact match. There seems to have been an element of hand-building in each one manufactured.

 

AE Catalogue P5

 

I didn’t have the motor-drive option or setting circles and have added a worm drive much later, in the early 2000’s, when I did a full refurbishment, including returning the paintwork to the original Hammerite blue and gold. There are also some black bits and brass fittings. The finder was originally white with a chrome tube for the eyepiece, but that corroded badly so I painted it black.

 

It’s still fully functional but has a few drawbacks which prevent regular use:

  1. it’s really heavy.
  2. there’s no motor drive and it vibrates annoyingly after every manual movement to keep objects in view.
  3. the open structure makes it susceptible to glare from any light in general direction of the line of sight of the eyepiece, as a result of its open construction.
  4. The draw tube has the old R.A.S. thread, practically unknown these days. The supplied eyepieces are of rather poor quality by today’s standards. Modern ones can be used but my adapter is very short.

Also collimation is really tricky, but luckily that is a relatively rare ordeal.

 

Cheers,

Richard


Edited by Richard Francis, 14 February 2024 - 08:15 AM.

  • deSitter, tim53, siriusandthepup and 24 others like this

#2 DrBB

DrBB

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: 06 May 2023

Posted 14 February 2024 - 08:28 AM

Wow. That open construction certainly makes it beautiful as a design object, but what were they thinking? Bet it looks nice standing in a mid-century Danish-modern living room! smirk.gif 

 

Beautiful work on the refurbishment, to be sure--a very striking piece!


Edited by DrBB, 14 February 2024 - 08:29 AM.

  • Richard Francis likes this

#3 gstrumol

gstrumol

    Skylab

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,136
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2022
  • Loc: north of Detroit, Michigan USA

Posted 14 February 2024 - 08:45 AM

A gorgeous instrument, and you've done a fantastic job reproducing the catalog photo! waytogo.gif One tiny adjustment: move slightly to the right and up, and move the second counterweight closer to the first so you can see the rod (like in their photo). wink.gif

 

Definitely a showcase piece!


  • Richard Francis likes this

#4 therealdmt

therealdmt

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 3,212
  • Joined: 05 Mar 2015
  • Loc: 35° N

Posted 14 February 2024 - 09:07 AM

Wow, looks great.

 

For the glare issue, it seems a removable shroud (on for use, off for display) for the OTA would be worth the effort to make or maybe have made.

 

Where do you keep it? Is it out where people can see it, like a display piece ?


  • Richard Francis likes this

#5 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 14 February 2024 - 09:35 AM

Thanks for all the comments !

 

I used to drool over the adverts from AE in the Journal of the BAA, until I managed to persuade my Dad to buy me one for my birthday in 1967.

 

I did try to ameliorate the various problems, including a shroud against glare, and filling the tubes with dry sand (for which I added plumbing fitting to seal the ends), but that didn't help much. I also tried to add bracing, which I've since removed.

 

It is indeed on display (with the mirrors covered) -- it's hard to hide and is in the entrance hall of the house, as it was in our previous house in The Netherlands. Here's a photo made by the real-estate agent in 2014.

 

DSC 0375

 

Our current entrance is a bit more busy, but it's there.

 

For Gary: One tiny adjustment: move slightly to the right and up, and move the second counterweight closer to the first so you can see the rod (like in their photo).

 

There's only one counterweight. The black thing is the worm gear I added. My many attempts to reproduce it included overlaying each new effort with transparency on the original. The angles are all the same but te perspectives is a bit different. I did do some calculations of the original point of view based on the different foreshortening of the top frame and the frame just above the mirror, but I may have made an error.

 

It's also obvious that the tripod legs were welded by hand to the plate which supports the equatorial head, without a precise jig for positioning. I was unable to get them in the same position as the photo and the polar axis at the right viewing angle simultaneously.

 

Cheers,

Richard


  • R Botero, Terra Nova, rcwolpert and 3 others like this

#6 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 14 February 2024 - 10:46 AM

I was a bit confusing in talking of the focuser thread. The helical focuser has an R.A.S. thread, but it came with three 0.965" Japanese (Swift) eyepieces: a 26mm Kellner, a 12mm Kellner and a 6mm Triplane. I also had a Swift 4 position eyepiece turret, which itself had a Vixen thread. So the only adapter I had from R.A.S. was a big knurled brass R.A.S. to Vixen adapter.

 

See the photo below, which misses the adapter.

 

Eyepieces.jpg

 

The turret was difficult to use: its offset weight meant the helical focuser would not keep its position, so I had to jam the focuser in the fully in position. That meant I could only focus by moving the entire secondary and focuser unit up and down the tube, with fine tuning by moving the eyepieces in the turret. Not very practical !

 

When I came to refurbishing, the turret had pretty well disintegrated anyway so I ordered some custom adapters: R.A.S. to 1-1/4"; 1-1/4" to 0.965", and R.A.S. to T-mount for use with a camera (which I never did use). It's the first two of these, used together, which are holding the 26 mm Kellner in the photo I posted earlier.

 

Cheers,

Richard


Edited by Richard Francis, 14 February 2024 - 10:47 AM.

  • tim53, R Botero and therealdmt like this

#7 Terra Nova

Terra Nova

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 30,811
  • Joined: 29 May 2012
  • Loc: There’s Trouble in River City!

Posted 14 February 2024 - 10:53 AM

What a curious and unique instrument! I’ve never seen one before but I have seen several older ATM Newtonians built along similar open-tube designs. Thanks for sharing!


  • deSitter and Richard Francis like this

#8 Kokatha man

Kokatha man

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 17,910
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2009
  • Loc: "cooker-ta man" downunda...

Posted 14 February 2024 - 06:46 PM

What a curious and unique instrument! I’ve never seen one before but I have seen several older ATM Newtonians built along similar open-tube designs. Thanks for sharing!

Yes, I agree.


  • Richard Francis likes this

#9 R Botero

R Botero

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • -----
  • Posts: 5,285
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Kent, England

Posted 15 February 2024 - 05:33 AM

Excellent looking scope and mount Richard! cool.gif  I once had a 10” f/4 Newtonian (close aluminium tube) by AE mounted on a Vixen Super Polaris and a Rob Miller tripod.  The optics were extremely good.  I wish I hadn't sold it.

Then a few years ago I bought another 10" AE instrument, this may be your scope's big brother, their Class C mount.  It's still work in progress as I have not been able to restore it:

 

IMG_20240215_110630_(1133_x_850_pixel).jpg

Roberto


Edited by R Botero, 15 February 2024 - 06:10 AM.

  • Richard Francis likes this

#10 R Botero

R Botero

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • -----
  • Posts: 5,285
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Kent, England

Posted 15 February 2024 - 06:08 AM

IMG_20240215_105914_(1080_x_1300_pixel).jpg


  • Richard Francis, Terra Nova and davidc135 like this

#11 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 15 February 2024 - 07:22 AM

Wow Roberto, that would have been my dream scope at the time I bought the 6". It is indeed the big brother -- I'll scan the relevant pages from the catalogue and put them up here.

 

But it looks like there's quite a lot of work to do -- including finding or fabricating a more representative tripod !  But it will be worth it !

 

The optics of these AE scopes were all excellent, made by or under the responsibility of Jim Hysom, who with his brother Rob (responsible for the mechanics) set up Astronomical Equipment in 1966.

 

cheers,

Richard


  • R Botero likes this

#12 R Botero

R Botero

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • -----
  • Posts: 5,285
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Kent, England

Posted 15 February 2024 - 09:05 AM

Thank you Richard waytogo.gif  This mirror is marked "Terry Wickett 4019" on its back and Mr Wickett confirmed he owned it from new in 1973 to the 1980s. I don't know if he made the mirror or just signed it.  I think it's changed owner at least twice since then.  I may pick your brains on the paint when I eventually come around to restoring it.  Yours looks fantastic!

 

Roberto



#13 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 15 February 2024 - 12:32 PM

I think the name might have been the customer rather than the maker. Mine was marked with the focal length (in inches) but it has been re-aluminised a few times since then, and it's disappeared.

 

Regarding paint, I have read that AE scopes were all (or mostly) painted with "Hammerite" paint, and it seems silver was a common colour. But mine was very definitely the blue and gold colours it now carries. Luckily there are not many colour choices with Hammerite smile.gif

 

I had some interesting times restoring it. for example, I had lent it to a friend for a period and he left it outdoors next to his jacuzzi (and this was in The Netherlands with all the inclement weather there). When I got it back one of the structural tubes had a dog-leg bend in the lower segment. It was, of course, impossible to get it straightened so had to be replaced. It's an imperial size (5/8") which doesn't exist in NL. But I managed to find one on a visit to my son at university in Leicester. It's also there that I found the replacement imperial size nuts and bolts, for the ones which had rusted too far.

 

I also found the source of the original bearings ("plumber blocks") which were, amazingly, still in production, and bought new ones.

 

Cheers,

Richard


  • R Botero likes this

#14 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 15 February 2024 - 01:07 PM

Roberto, here are a set of pages from the catalogue which you might find interesting. I've been a bit delayed as I've been all afternoon mentoring a very bright 13-year old in using Arduino's, with a bit of physics, electronics and English thrown in.

 

I've included the price list page, where you'll see that the bits I can see (scope, circles and C-type mount, no tripod) come to 222.50 GBP in 1967. That's 4,840.00 GBP in 2024 money.

 

Catalogue 01
 
Catalogue 02
 
Catalogue 03
 
Catalogue 04
 
Catalogue 05
 
Catalogue 06
 
Catalogue 07

 

Cheers,

Richard

Attached Thumbnails

  • Catalogue_01.jpg

  • davidmcgo, R Botero, rcwolpert and 1 other like this

#15 R Botero

R Botero

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • -----
  • Posts: 5,285
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Kent, England

Posted 16 February 2024 - 02:50 AM

Gold dust Richard! :waytogo: :bow:

Roberto
  • Richard Francis likes this

#16 Joe Cepleur

Joe Cepleur

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,529
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Dark North Woods

Posted 16 February 2024 - 09:46 AM

It is just exquisitely, exquisitely, exquisitely, exquisitely beautiful. It reminds me of the cut-away Questar, except that you can use it! A conceptual telescope, giving everyone X-ray vision, as well as views of distant worlds.

In the photographs, the right ascension axis has what looks to be a large worm on it, but it faces perpendicular to the direction that would turn the mount in right ascension, and the spacing is too wide for that job anyway. What does it do?

And, out of curiosity; I don't want you to feel I'm sniping you. Hammerite is not sold in the United States, so I know nothing about it, other than that it sounds wonderful. Is it possible that the original paint was not Hammerite? Hammerite's Web site says it has "25 years of experience" in making paints. Maybe that is under new owners?

https://www.hammerite.com
  • Richard Francis likes this

#17 Kokatha man

Kokatha man

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 17,910
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2009
  • Loc: "cooker-ta man" downunda...

Posted 16 February 2024 - 06:36 PM

Interesting Joe - here's something I pulled from the internet. (Hammerite is sold in Oz and I've use it a few times over the years)

 

<"When was Hammerite paint invented?

About Hammerite - The Metal Paint Specialist | Hammerite UK
The name first appeared in 1962, when Allen Forster developed a hammered paint for use in electrical insulation. But Hammerite first appeared in the format we know today in 1984. It was launched to the UK DIY market as a single-pack, air-drying, corrosion-resistant coating for iron and steel.
">

 

What I find interesting in this is that when I was a lad I sold one of my motorcycles to a work-mate after it went up in flames here in Adelaide...he repainted the tank with what I am sure he called "gold hammertone" and that was back in 1966/7...

 

My quick search discovers that there are other hammertone paints (also called "hammer paint" or "hammered paint") and not all are rust preventative...the suspended particles give the paint a metallic or iridescent appearance...

 

Maybe it was a "hammertone" paint and not "Hammerite"..? confused1.gif  

 

ps: but there is a gold Hammerite..! (probably a gold "hammertone" though also! lol.gif )

 

pps: Richard's scope is a 1967 job so my wafflings might be completely irrelevant..! :lol:


Edited by Kokatha man, 16 February 2024 - 06:40 PM.

  • Richard Francis likes this

#18 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 17 February 2024 - 07:25 PM

Joe, thanks for the very kind words! After I restored it my wise wife decided, that as it looks like a contemporary work of art, it should take a prominent place inside the house (where it now is) and I should buy a modern scope to use instead ! Hurray ! I won on both fronts ;-)

 

I haven't fully understood your comment about the worm on the RA axis so I'm going to think about it and make an annotated image.

 

Concerning Hammerite, Kokatha man found the same reference I did. But in any case I'm old enough to remember that the stuff was around at that time. When we uncrated the scope I was surprised at the colours and the finish (which as you will agree, didn't look like that in the catalogue) but immediately recognised it as Hammerite. it was quite common even in rural Wales where I was living (or maybe *because* it was rural).

 

In the restoration I replaced the bearings on the axes (I found the original supplier of these so-called plumber-blocks). I ordered 4 new ones. A couple of days ago, while I was looking for something else in the barn, I noticed that the originals were on a shelf. I've just been to get one of them, in its untouched paint since the days the scope arrived, and took a photo of it next to the replacement, painted in Hammerite.

 

They look pretty similar to me !

 

IMG_5560.jpg


Edited by Richard Francis, 17 February 2024 - 07:26 PM.

  • R Botero likes this

#19 CHASLX200

CHASLX200

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 37,386
  • Joined: 29 Sep 2007
  • Loc: Tampa area Florida

Posted 17 February 2024 - 07:31 PM

Luton was a planet with plants that ruled the planet on a episode of SPACE1999.



#20 Kokatha man

Kokatha man

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 17,910
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2009
  • Loc: "cooker-ta man" downunda...

Posted 17 February 2024 - 07:42 PM

...I suspect I'm a tad older than you Richard - by my birthday in 1967 I had been working for several years and my Dad wasn't giving me those sort of presents - best I'd got back then was a card...and via Mum! grin.gif

 

Still not sure about "Hammerite" versus "hammertone" after some more thinking: Hammerite was a specific anti-rust paint and gold Hammerite appears to be a latter colour option from the references I found...but a moot point really, you have a lovely looking scope (that could've done with a secondary-end shroud imo) and I'm looking forward to my old mate Roberto finishing his 10" with (possibly) similar livery! waytogo.gif


  • R Botero and Richard Francis like this

#21 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 17 February 2024 - 08:18 PM

Kokatha man, you're probably right: I was born in 1952.

 

This generous present was the result of a bit of miscalculation by my Dad: when I passed the 11-plus exam (at age 11, obviously) he gave me a half share in the small sailing dinghy we already had (all my friends got new bikes). He had bought it second hand for 100 GBP many years before. I was sailing it anyway, so nothing changed. Then it was moved to a parking spot at the end of the garden and stayed there for several years until he sold it.

 

So I pointed out that half the proceeds should be mine, and my birthday was coming up, and that's the way it went ;-)

 

Concerning a shroud -- you're dead right. I did make various arrangements at the time, but this evening it hit me again: after all the discussion here I decided to get it out under the stars (well Moon actually as it's first quarter at the moment and bright). I collimated it indoors (it's a real beast to collimate due to the odd support for the secondary) and moved it a short distance outside the front door (not too far as it's heavy and I'm not so carefree as I was in the 60's). So, in trying to get the Moon lined up all I could see was the jolly warm-LED lights of the Christmas decorations we still have in the bush by the front door.

 

After a trip to the observatory to get some black out fabric to wrap around the top, it all worked well. 

 

A surprisingly nice view with the basic 26mm Kellner at 46x (though moved rapidly out of the field as it has no drive). My next step would have been the 12mm Kellner at 100x, but I tried something I had no access to in the old days: a 17.4mm Delos. It was delightful: a magnification of almost 70x and loads of space around the Moon in the wide field.

 

Cheers,

Richard


  • stevep, R Botero and Kokatha man like this

#22 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 18 February 2024 - 04:10 PM

I haven't fully understood your comment about the worm on the RA axis so I'm going to think about it and make an annotated image.

 

Joe, here's the annotated image. I hope it resolves the problem.

 

Cheers,

Richard

 

6 inch AE scope Annotated

  • rcwolpert likes this

#23 Kokatha man

Kokatha man

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 17,910
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2009
  • Loc: "cooker-ta man" downunda...

Posted 18 February 2024 - 05:30 PM

Can the finder scope be relocated on another strut..? Might just be the perspective in the image, but it looks like there might be some contorted positions when targeting at times. confused1.gif

 

Not that this can be unusual, a straight-through finder on the C14 with an EQ mount was horrendous! :(



#24 Richard Francis

Richard Francis

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 05 Feb 2009
  • Loc: South-West France

Posted 18 February 2024 - 05:50 PM

Yes, and in fact it was on a different strut. I moved it to this one for the photo. But you have to remove the top frame to do it. It's only 6 grub screws (and my later addition, the 6 brass plugs at the end of the tubes). But with the risk of loosening too much and dropping one, this is a job better done indoors (of course dropping a grub screw wouldn't be serious if you have spares. But these are 1960's British imperial threads, probably Whitworth, so not readily available).

 

The only constraint is to avoid the two struts which host the focuser, but that can be moved easily by loosening a thumbscrew (hardly visible but it passes in from of the secondary in the photo) and detaching the whole thing. It can also be moved up and down by the same mechanism to adjust focus.

 

The finder block is also a secured with a grub screw so it can be rotated around the strut it's on, and moved up and down too, so, at the extreme, it could be placed also on a focuser strut if it was right up against the top frame, or, well below the focuser.

 

Might just be the perspective in the image, but it looks like there might be some contorted positions when targeting at times. confused1.gif

You hit the nail on the head there ! Last night, trying to find the Moon, the tube was roughly in this position. Not being as bendy as I was as a teenager I was really not able to use the finder, so resorted to getting a stool and sighting along the aluminium tubes. That also worked !


  • Kokatha man likes this

#25 Kokatha man

Kokatha man

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 17,910
  • Joined: 13 Sep 2009
  • Loc: "cooker-ta man" downunda...

Posted 18 February 2024 - 09:01 PM

<"(of course dropping a grub screw wouldn't be serious if you have spares. But these are 1960's British imperial threads, probably Whitworth, so not readily available)">

 

Interesting, we've been "metricised/decimalised" since 1966 and although not as commonly-needed as they once were (speaking as an old motor bike rider) it is still relatively easy to get Whitworth/BSF (and American SAE) threads in many places here. Metric is of course the prevailing type however...

 

Looks like an RACI finder might be an improvement for you btw..! :) 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics