It has taken a good deal longer than I expected but finally she is finished. I have no rings at the moment, hard to come by for a 5" diameter tube for some reason, however a pair of Parallax rings from the US are on order and so first light is going to be a while yet. The chap from whom I bought the scope found it in an auction house, described as " Huge vintage telescope", in a very sorry condition as you can see. The internal baffles were broken and rattling about inside, but some glue, a few extra dowels, black paint, and with a wrap around of stiff card with flocking on the inside soon fixed that. The tube had the usual stuff inside, lots of detritus, dead spiders etc, but the vacuum made short work of that and a long paint brush, and flocking finished it off. The focuser was the biggest challenge because apart from the hideous black paint, the pinion spindle was bent as can be seen. This I straightened whilst holding my breath, because a failure here would have been a disaster, a replacement being hard if not impossible to find. Once all the paint was scraped away it was just a long but very enjoyable polishing job in my garage/ workshop with an electric drill, mops , and polishing soap. I have always preferred rack and pinion focusers and this one is still beautifully firm and true with no slop whatsoever. The brass eyepiece holder with the RAS thread was made for me by Barry at Beacon Hill Telescopes.
The aluminium lens cell was also polished even though most of it cannot be seen, but I could not help myself once I got going. The inside was painted with matt black paint and then taken back to Es Reid for assembly. The tube was away for nearly a month, not least because we took a nine day holiday in Scotland and the Orkney Islands after I dropped it off. Finding the correct colour or should I say the closest was not too bad. The powder coating company MD had a few swatches sprayed for me in the colours I selected but none were close enough, so he gave me another book of colours from which I picked RAL 5024. This one of course he did not stock, but he got his buyer to ring a few powder suppliers and managed to buy 1kg for £15 !! ( it is common to have to buy a whole carton of the stuff as a minimum, so I was very grateful for his help ).
The dew shield is a 300mm piece of plastic ducting pipe sourced on the internet at a cost of less than a tenner posted. It was a 6" nominal bore but I felt sure it would fit and it did. By the time I had flocked the inside it still did but is a ' good ' fit . The outside I sprayed with several coats of etch primer and the top coat with an aerosol cellulose RAL 5024 60% gloss. If you catch the light it shows a shade or two different but it is good enough for me. The end cap is still in the pipe line but is going to be a Scottish shortbread biscuit tin lid which I have found, sprayed to the same spec as the dew shield.
The final assembly took place in Es Reid's workshop. I have been fortunate that Es lives just a 35 minute drive from me so my visits this summer have been frequent, and great fun. Always one to two hours duration with tea and biscuits thrown in and a lot of great stories, and banter. He was quite delighted when he saw the lens cell, scruffy as it was, because it was possible that the lens was one that he himself made. Unfortunately he could find no date or inscription inside the cell, something which he always did, and so , in his words, " It might be one of Uncle Jim's " Jim Hysom the proprietor of AE Luton Ltd.
Es started work at AE in 1972, so my scope is earlier than that . When I arrived with the scope, Es was delighted with the colour which he said was very close to the original . I was pressed into service as apprentice assistant once it was set up on his optical bench, and it was soon pronounced in perfect collimation and a very fine lens !
It has been extremely rewarding bringing this beautiful refractor back to its former glory and all the more so on discovering that it was made by one of this countries foremost telescope makers, just 20 miles down the road from where I lived and grew up. At the time this left the factory, it was a scope that I dreamed of owning without any hope of doing so. It was the size and type of scope that I saw on The Sky at Night, owned by legendary observers.