The Great 15" Queen's
|Queen's University in Kingston Ontario, Canada ordered a new
Torus 16" cassegrain to replace their 1959 vintage Fecker 15" cassegrain.
The only problem was that they didn't really know what to do with the old
Fecker. Well, I was looking for a "big steel" vintage 15"+ scope to add to
the observatory, and the Queen's University people saw that I was serious
about conserving their old scope and (more importantly perhaps) was willing
to haul it out before the Torus showed up...so they sold me the Fecker.
The only trouble was how to get the thing out.
I longed for three intrepid members of ATMoB to venture forth to Canada with
me to liberate this wonderful instrument. Ken Launie, Steve Beckwith and
Kevin McCarthy heeded the call, and in two Ford Explorers set off on the
Upon arrival at Queens University, this was the sight that greeted us...and
what a sight it was!!
This beautiful scope had been kept in ship-shape running order for the last
40 years. In addition to the main scope and mount a 3" Fecker refractor
guidescope, grating spectrograph and loads of original mechanical drawings
and instructions were available. How could we go wrong?!?! Well...we
underestimaed the time to disassemble and load the ~1000 pound scope by 2X!
We, along with Queen's University people, assumed 2 - 4 hours of work. It
wound up being 8 hours with 10 people. Several components were so heavy that
they were lowered down the observatory stairs on ropes...there was no way
they could be carried. Here are some pictures to illustrate the task...
Steve Beckwith removing one of about six counterweight bars as a first step
Off comes the mirror and cell combo. The mirror is in great shape...good
The mount comes apart...sort of. Ken now prays to the ghost of Ed Land to
help us get the polar axis separated from the bearing housing and to help
get the %$@#@$$%@$# fork off of the axis! Several hours later the fork came
off...but we never were successful in getting the axis apart...it wasn't too
tough to move...it only weighed an estimated 400 pounds!
The joint Queen's U & ATMoB telescope moving company...I wonder if they'll
all come down here to help put it all back together!!
Not shown in the above photos are the great accessories that came with the
the 15". These include:
3" f15 Fecker guide refractor
2" f7 Fecker 4X5 astrocamera (with one cracked element)
1st, 2nd and 3rd order Grating Spectrograph (uses 16 mm film)
Original blueprints and documentation (Thanks Bernie, your stewardship of
this system was great!)
If any reader knows anyhting about old Fecker grating spectrographs, PLEASE
send me a note...I can use help with it!
Kevin McCarthy, one of the intrepid "Fellowship of the Scope" and general
optical maven came over in mid-September to help check out the primary. We
used several of Kevin's ronchi testers to conclude that the primary is very
smooth with just a hint of turned UP edge.
With the help of Kevin, Tony Costanzo, Neil Rabideau and Dicky (I still
don't know his last name...but he was very helpful!!), we got the system
erected in almost no time...
This view shows the scope looking south while in the stowed position...ie,
upside down. With the guide scope on top, the roof will not clear the
instrument! As it is, there is only 2" of clearance! Notice the unoccupied
set oif 8" rings underneath the scope...they are presently there only for
balance. I could not get the scope properly balanced without them! The base
is not bolted to concrete yet, but will be once the system is properly polar
Properly oriented, looking near the zenith, this is one impressively big
Since these images were taken the entire system has been removed
and repainted. It is presently awaiting reassembly once it gets warm enough
again to work outdoors!
Peter Bealo copyright 2006 - 2010