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Charles Frank Newtonians


Doc
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Can I pick your brains regarding these scopes.

Are these any good, compared to modern telescopes what are they like?. How easy is it to get parts for, especially motors and gearboxes?

Are they easy to work on?. How much are they worth when fully restored?. Are they rare?

Any other info you like to share with me.

Cheers

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Which Charles Frank are you thinking of Mick? The skeleton tube 8" on ebay at the mo by any chance. (See my link in the Telescopes in the Background link).

That one is identical to the one in the Avengers and would be worth a few hundred if it was in good condition.

The eq mounts were good they were copied by Fullerscopes in the early days and were akin to the FS Mk1 however some of the Franks had the domes over the axes and looked really unusual, that one on ebay is the same and I think Sir PMs 4" Cooke Refractor is on one as well. Good solid mounts, no frills though

They were excellent scopes longish focal length compared to modern ones F6 or F7 ish therefore excellent planetary scopes. Im not sure who the mirror makers were for Franks but their optics had good reputations.

As for motors and gearboxes well they were just the mains synchronous motor gearboxes in the early days, I used to get them from Bob Potts up Babington Lane when I was building my own scopes as a lad but I reckon you could get em off ebay or some such site these days.

The beauty with these old scopes is they were built like tanks so they have lasted. Dead easy to work on with hammer and spanner :) because the engineering is basic but functional. Restoration is pretty straightforward provided the optics have not been smashed. Recoating is straightforward and can be done by Orion or similar

Also they dont need so much protection as your new fancy puterised scopes as theres nowt in them to be affected by weather.

Hey itd be good to have a Franks newt next to my Fullerscopes 4" at SGL it'd be classics corner :)

Phil

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Thanks Phil, it is indeed the one on flea bay but only problem is it's near Heathrow so a fair drive to pick it up.

I'm just thinking of it as a long term project something to tinker with.

It doesn't say it's focal length but the tube is approx 1300mm and it has a 200mm mirror so basically in the region of F6 so would make a good planetary scope.

It's just is it worth the £50 petrol it would cost to pick it up.

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Yep definately.

I won my Towa F15 on an unguarded moment on ebay and had to pick it up from Dartford. I also picked up a 6" F8 Synta refractor the other week from Cradley Heath. Theres something about going to pick up a scope which you havent seen in the flesh that makes the journey worthwhile.

Take a look on youtube for the Avengers With Love from Venus episode, that scope is in the midlle of the office and features quite alot

If you buy it and dont like it, Ill take it off your hands for a few quid ;)

Phil

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Hi Doc,

I have the original early 1970s Charles Frank catalog showing the ebay model you are interested in. It has loads of info on it. The scope is an 8 and a half inch F6 and in its day was much sought after. As Phil says it is basic but well built and weighs a ton. It was £409.20p new in about 1971. I have scanned it to my laptop as a .jpg but don't know how to get it to you via this forum. If anyone can tell me how, you can read all about it.

Cheers, Pete.

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Those pages are interesting Pete, I used to have a Franks catalogue from around that era, fair takles me back that does.

I have a 1985 BC&F catalogue which makes interesting and amusing reading.

Phil

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Interesting to notice the method of adjusting the focal plane for astro photography. The guy that built the 12" that I'm rebuilding used a very similar method with a single vane in the secondary mount. Would have have been a common feature on newts of the period?

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Reputable scope makers like Charles Frank of that era used to keep things simple but built them to last. Charles Frank were a family firm without mass production facilities. I am sure that the scopes in the catalogue may have only had production runs into a few hundreds for the smaller scopes and even fewer for the 8.5" size. The scopes had a professional but almost home built look. You could tell that each component had been machined and finished by hand in the manner I remember doing in the metalwork shop at school, not by computer controlled robots. They also made good use of plentiful ex military equipment available at that time, like using brass WW2 gunsights for finders and heavy duty ex army tripods. Both of which were used on my old CF 4" reflector that my dad bought me secondhand when I was about 10 years old. It was a complete contrast to some of the cheap flimsy oriental stuff of the time. Like the 600 power 60mm refractors mounted on a tripod seemingly made from three car aerials. Charles Frank scopes are a piece of history, a bit dinosaur-like compared to todays offerings.

So Doc, if it fouls up you can't ship it back to Charles Frank for repair, but you could strip it down fettle it up and rebuild it good as new with a few tools down in your garden shed :)

Phil, I would be very interested to see your BC&F catalogue sometime. Somewhere deep in my loft I have a Fullerscopes catalogue from the era when they actually used bikini clad girls caressing their scopes in their sales literature.

If you get it off ebay Doc, I hope you will invite me over for a look.

Cheers, Pete.

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John,

from what I remember from that era, a lot of amateur telescope making books used to promote similar simple methods to give increased back focus for astrophotography in newts.

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Back in October last year, Damnuut kindly took me to the Peak Star Party near Buxton. In one of the exhibitor tents, I met someone I had not even thought about since my teenage astronomical adventures, hundreds of years ago. Mr. I. R. Poyser (you know - the brass telescope man), he told me that he bought the job lot of ex-military tackle from Charles Frank when they ceased trading back in the mid 70s. Apparently there was so much of it that he is still selling it now!

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Cheers Peter a lot of useful information, I'm a fitter by trade so stripping it down should be child's play. I can get all the bolts from work maybe even the bearings so shouldn't be to much hassle.

One thing I'll have to do is clear out he shed it was a dumping ground since the house was renovated.

And yes l'll take it down the dark site for all to see, or you and pop round.

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Give us a shout if your succesful Mick, Id like to have a butchers.

If youd like company going to pick it up I wouldnt mind tagging along (cos Im nosey when it comes to classics :) )

Bearings will be plain bushes I reckon, so the chances are they will need just a clean up and relube unless water has got and rusted the axes.

Good luck with the auction and no I wont be bidding I have far too many scopes, so I'm told :D

Phil

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