Last week, I was helping staff and students at the University of Maryland’s Observatory to clean out a storage trailer.
We noticed a seven-foot-long, 6-inch diameter telescope that had been sitting in a corner there, unused, ever since it was donated to the National Capital Astronomers (NCA) club nearly ten years earlier by the son of the original owner, Carl Kiess, who had worked at the Lick Observatory in California and the National Bureau of Standards in or near DC, but who had passed away nearly fifty years earlier. I figured I could put it on a motorized telescope mount at Hopewell Observatory and at a minimum test the optics to see if they were any good. The current officers and trustees of NCA all said they thought this was a good idea.
One thing that caught my eye was how filthy and flaky the coating was on the tube itself, although the lens appeared to be in good shape.
The drive, while impressive, does not have a motor, requires a pier, and is extremely heavy. I decided not to mess with the drive and to put it temporarily on our existing, venerable, sturdy, motorized, electronic drive we have at Hopewell Observatory.
So I experimented with various abrasives and solvents to clean off the nasty green coating; a fine wire wheel inserted in an electric drill did the best job. Here it is partly cleaned off:
I then used Brasso for a final polish, followed by a final cleaning with acetone, and then applied several coats of polyurethane to keep it looking shiny for a number of years. (The lenses stayed covered for all of this!) So this is how it looks now:
The next task is to make a temporary holder and then put it on the mount, and then test the optics.