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Alan64

Wooden Tripod Legs

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About 15 years ago, I acquired a Vixen GPD mount-head and tripod...

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The wood was an ash species, and the tripod produced by KB Systems in the U.S., which is no longer in business.  They had provided wooden tripods for Tele Vue for many years, although I did not get my tripod from same.

In 2005, a fire occurred in our lives, and the mount and tripod were just nigh beginning to burn before the fire was put out.  Over time, the mount-head was discarded, but the legs of the tripod retained, or so I thought.  At one point, my late father had asked for one of the assemblies, and to scavenge for one of his projects.  I can't  remember the answer I gave him, yea or nay.  About three years ago, and some time after my father passed, I went out to the storage and hunted for them.  I found two, after a thorough search, and so for the last three years I thought that I had said yea.

Just a few weeks ago, I went out to the storage to look for a piece of plywood or other, and for a non-astronomical project.  There, on the right,  the two assemblies were, laying on a bench, and just as I had left them years before.  But then, I was looking round to my left, and I saw something familiar peeking out from under pile of refuse and scraps: the third leg...

867564630_Vixenwoodenlegs5.jpg.8489cfce7c075eb6279576daa14fa4bf.jpg

Imagine my surprise, and subsequent joy.  At last, I can do away with these...

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Incidentally, don't those wooden legs look positively dreadful?

Edited by Alan64
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I would give them a sanding, re staining and clear coat, they’d be like new, thank your late dad for not throwing them out. This sounds like they were meant to be, your dad would be smiling if you gave them a good facelift.

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One early morning, whilst it was still dark, I took the two assemblies that were still bound together out round to the other side of the house, away from the bedrooms, and pounded the center-legs out from between the side pieces with a ball-peen hammer and a short block of hardwood.  Locked tight they were...

1641702735_Vixenwoodenlegs2a.jpg.5e88253a328bad3de4a7cbc8622bc5b9.jpg

I then made up a mild home-brew, a solution of dishwashing-liquid and bleach.  With a coarse steel-wool pad, I had at it...

1655544854_Vixenwoodenlegs4a.jpg.3bb5516de0db71d048b45120e85df9f6.jpg

Initially, I thought they were of white oak; no such luck.

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A nice story, and an interesting project ahead Alan.

What sort of wood are they? I still have a similar tripod which came with a Vixen GP mount, still going strong!

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13 minutes ago, Stu said:

A nice story, and an interesting project ahead Alan.

What sort of would are they? I still have a similar tripod which came with a Vixen GP mount, still going strong!

Thanks, Stu.  They are of a species of North American ash, white ash probably.  Ash is practically just as hard and strong as oak, and has been used for tool handles, baseball bats, and bows.

These leg assemblies will support up to an EQ-5, if not an EQ-6, therefore they will be the only tripod-legs I'll ever need.

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The steel(not stainless) tips before...

tips2.jpg.f3490a426a3db7014eabd6a8350ad828.jpg

...and after...

tips3.jpg.e840df04baeac4ad4917e82db7945abb.jpg

Five of the six braces(what I call them) were undamaged, but one had its threaded insert popped out...

braces3b.jpg.86230033a09eabdd39c56112247a1c64.jpg

braces4.jpg.b2e156bcef9b7cbcd12e7a64f94701c0.jpg

The damaged brace was repaired with J-B Weld steel-reinforced epoxy(made in Texas), and also by re-forming the insert...

braces5.jpg.d35e15bb6e297d1a60a8bb6ef263bdb0.jpg

All six braces will get a light surface-sanding and a fresh spritzing of satin-black spray-paint.

The clamping-knobs before...

knobsb.jpg.48fd9d5449cbb2b640cf4ef56b4488e3.jpg

...and after...

knobsba.jpg.da824d3194bae649cc423f185e5e709b.jpg

All I have of the sixth one is the stud.  I may try to make a knob out of it, perhaps with rosewood.  The rust you see in the image above the last is from the threaded inserts of the braces, as the knobs' studs are of stainless-steel...

knobscb.jpg.79e2586c4fea12a3b665aea989a5501d.jpg

Or, I'll get a replacement online, as my local hardware carries only three-spoked of common steel.

Edited by Alan64
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That's a great find and will make a great project.. I do love a wooden tripod build and back story..

Have you seen OSMO Wood Reviver Power Gel.. My timber Guy back here when I asked about silvered timber recommended it.. might be worth a try to see if it brings those Ash legs up even nicer than you've already got them after all these years.

OSMO do some nice clear Stains and varnish type applications also..  I used some of the clear and Red Cedar on one of my projects, came out nicely..

Good luck with the project, will follow with interest!

Ta

Fozzie

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Looking great Alan, it is all coming up very nicely.

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Nice restoration project Alan. It's a great feeling to bring something back to life.

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Thanks all.  Stumbling upon the third leg was just short of a miracle.  In the past I had considered wood or fibreglass legs from a surveyor's tripod, and eventually I would've chosen those, most likely.  There were also these, but I didn't get one when I had the chance, and they're no longer available...

https://astromart.com/images/classifieds/4453/963737-1.jpg

They were of new manufacture, however not nearly as substantial.  Again, I would've gone with those of a surveyor's instead, in the end. 

The set I'm restoring was my third, and is still.  The first and second...

60531932_1st2nd.jpg.6c7ef504a4dbbf79b1ad125c31978a12.jpg

Those were also my first and second telescopes.

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The wood required repairs before I could go any further.  I used solid red-oak and maple, and veneers of white-oak and hickory; also, wood-fillers, made up of rosewood dust and epoxy, and the dust of various woods combined with wood-glue.  All mating surfaces were roughened and scored.

This was the worst damage, and to one of the six side pieces.  In addition to replacing the damaged wood, two directional warps required correction as well...

repair7a.jpg.f843940c0b0778352827e3604e0c270a.jpg

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That portion was as basswood, or balsa even, although I couldn't break the piece on the right in two with my fingers.

Red-oak...

repair25a.jpg.75045825b602757f195a1c986e5605cc.jpg

...albeit not as lovely as white-oak.  When the first settlers landed on the east coast of what is now the U.S., there were dense, sprawling, virgin forests of white oaks, each icon 100 feet in height and with a crown 80 feet in width.  Other species of tree, if present, would've been severely stunted upon their own maturities as a result.  Of course, the oaks vanished.

A little farther up, there was a soft area.  I dug it out, and made a pattern with tracing-paper.  Hickory veneer, and the only instance, along with wood-dough to fill the void...

repair34a.jpg.5cc55591c4e37245227e8a18e8a22022.jpg

The mating surfaces should be coated with glue only, the dough packed in, and then the pieces combined.

Before and after...

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Only one other side piece required repairing, but not to the extent above, not at all.  I squared out the damage, and used red-oak as well.  Dust of rosewood and epoxy to fill a couple of cavities....

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A thin layer of wood-dough was also used.

That completed what repairs were needed for the six side pieces as a whole, and in preparation for sanding, staining, and finishing.

Edited by Alan64
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A labour of love Alan, looking good, and I'm sure it will be well worth all the hard work when finished.

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Repairs to two of the three legs; this was the worst...

repair16a.jpg.d121783591bd22252efcebc61042ed83.jpg

...and using a maple substrate overlaid with white-oak veneer.  There was also a small gouge farther up, and that was filled and overlaid as well.

The other leg had multiple cracks and splits, nothing serious however, and those were repaired...

repair22c.jpg.c0fd57b76a3f9e51b2f60fc0d833363c.jpg

I used a small, diamond-coated wheel, with a Dremel tool, to open the deep cracks, and filled them with veneer.  The cracked-run extended up a bit, and the end was filled, there at far right.  All of the remaining cracks were very shallow, and left as is.

The tips of the legs were sanded smooth, the metal tips reinserted, and sealed with epoxy...

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After the repairs, the legs and side-pieces received an initial sanding...

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But, with the braces in place, the legs still would not slide in and out easily.  I sanded, sanded and sanded.  Eventually, I thinned down the side pieces on their outsides, to move them farther away from the legs, and with an electric hook-and-loop palm-sander and 60-grit paper.   In the end, all of the components were sanded down with 100-grit paper, and prior to staining.

Edited by Alan64
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Had these been of white oak, I would've used "golden oak" stain, or some such lighter colour, but since they're of ash, anything had gone; even paint, black, or chartreuse.  In that the wood was still stained a bit and blotchy here and there, I wanted a darker colour to hide same.  But I also wanted a darker shade so as to observe more or less incognito, inconspicuously; win-win.  The local stores had the usual "red mahogany" stain, and the varying shades of brown.  In the end I chose this, which was ordered online and delivered to my local store for pick-up...

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In having sanded the wood with 100-grit paper, the stain was readily absorbed, mostly.  Now, stain is not that far removed from paint and its opaqueness, and I wanted the wood-grain to show through as much as possible.  The one coat did, after all, conceal the blotches and staining; mission accomplished.  In addition, I knew that the clear finish would darken the stained wood even more...  

 

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I spent the last two or three days applying and drying the two coats of clear-satin spar-urethane.  The surfaces where the legs contact the side-pieces, however, received only one coat...

varnish.jpg.ba64fa7bd6aa32a230e42471067ded75.jpg

Such is a "long oil" varnish, with more oil than standard varnish.  The result is a hard, scratch-resistant finish, yet flexible and pliable; perfect for this restoration...

spar-urethane5.jpg.66308c2e3d7b4923a5d631b2cb60dbaa.jpg

...and that's where this project stands at this moment.  The next step will be to lightly buff the components with #0000 steel-wool and lemon-oil.  

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It didn't take long at all to buff these out.  Here, the legs are assembled with the braces, loosely; all three legs slide in and out without binding in the least...

1671906497_testfit.jpg.e0fa87f567a29f7efa1f83a0ce72759c.jpg

There's still more work to be done before they can be permanently assembled.

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That is some very neat wood repairing, and the finish is looking excellent to boot, lovely warm deep mahogany colour!

Very nice work Alan.

Ta

Fozzie

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The braces were sanded down with 220-grit paper, for improved paint-adhesion, and washed. Once dried with a blow-dryer, I noticed that there was still some rust within the threaded inserts. There are twelve inserts, six for the clamping-knobs, and six for anchoring a spreader or tray. Earlier, I oiled all the threads with 3-IN-ONE oil, to penetrate the rust, and left them to sit. But I've got to go out in public today to shop and what-not, so I can't get down and dirty with them until I get back home...

braces7.jpg.bc9022a6a32587f0d7d33326f0a95459.jpg

Can't have ANY rust extant whatsoever.

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This is looking great, really wonderful back story too.

Excellent that your Dad did not use them for his project.

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High technology...

braces8.jpg.326689ee09c9a267bbc41c55f2622569.jpg

1258702017_satinblack.jpg.6801ada346f4592a8ed71232f9e0a0be.jpg braces9.jpg.1f210506e6c141971067beb1690b712e.jpg

It takes 24 hours for this stuff to cure; and 48 hours before you can re-coat it, but I won't be doing that. I don't like wasting paint, so I spray a bit closer than recommended, and in bursts. The one coat was enough; more than enough here and there.

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Whilst waiting for the paint on the braces to cure, I wanted to go ahead and tidy up these remnants from the tray attachment...

braces10.jpg.c1b82edae84bd7aaacba38ff710a6b23.jpg

There I have removed the three mounting plates, each possessing two holes, from the rest.  I may or may not be able to make use of them, but if by chance I am able to incorporate them into a spreader solution, I'll have them, and instead of simply tossing them out; waste not, want not.

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The new knob has been roughed-out, and in red-oak.  The stainless-steel stud was heavily gouged and scored then glued into place with J-B Weld epoxy.  When time comes to finish it, I'll probably stain it with black-dye, then spar-urethane it as I did the legs...

1329699997_oakenknob.jpg.9d7e876c21f4f88111bb42ab7ac087e4.jpg

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The cavity was packed with J-B Weld, and then the two parts assembled...

1006312408_oakenknob2.jpg.b9d6065a2bea12bfabafa41a2751fb7d.jpg

24 hours away from testing it; we'll see.

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I had spotted a replacement knob, and exactly like the others, down to the same part-number even, but I like a challenge...

1658032897_oakenknob3.jpg.2d066a3935301b8463507ac83c75ce52.jpg

...again, waste not, want not.  Naturally, being of wood, the scale is a tad larger.

 

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