University Lowbrow Astronomers

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Removal of the Primary and Secondary Mirrors from the McMath Telescope, April 2005 (part 3 of 3)

On April 9, 2005, a group of Lowbrows met at Peach Mountain Observatory to perform maintenance on the telescope. This the third of three pages showing telescope maintenance that day (you might want to look at page 1 and page 2 of this series first).

D. C. Moons (on the right in the photo above) organized the April 9th work party. The mirrors had been removed by the time this photo was taken, however D. C. found additional work to be done at the observatory. He led a party of Lowbrow volunteers against an army of ants which had taken up residence behind the storage cabinet in the observatory, and a number of mice, which were well enough established in the building to have their own internet addresses. He cleared them all out successfully, and then “drained the swamp” by denying them access to cardboard, scrap paper, and someone’s very used sleeping bag. The building was swept out, former Mouse House locations were washed down with Clorox, and great deal of useless junk was hauled to the dump. The place now looks great, and D. C. could rightfully say “Mission accomplished,” but he didn’t, and instead began fixing up the telescope drive and the surrounding grounds.

The telescope drive had a great deal of backlash in it, so it was disassembled and fixed. Kurt Hillig machined new clutch inserts for the drive, and Mike Kurylo made a new key for the clutch. In these pictures, Lowbrows are examining the keyway to determine if the problem is the key or the key slot, and are checking for damage to the tapered shaft which holds the clutch assembly.

The telescope has been prudently tied down prior to the nut removal process. Once the nuts at the bottom of the shaft are removed, the clutch plate is no longer held in place, and can drop onto the floor.

This didn’t happen because D. C. knows how the scope was put together, and planned ahead. (Here he is holding one of the nuts.)

Unfortunately, as is often the case with regular maintenance, more problems were discovered. The drive’s main worm was found to be terminally corroded, and needed to be replaced. At this point no decision had been made as to how to best deal with this problem.

Further examination of the telescope mechanism.

The next order of business: figuring out how to transported the mirrors to Chicago without damage. D. C. suggests building a box that would protect the mirror. Construction of said box would take place on a later date.

The job is basically done, but there are always a few odds and ends to take care of....

A bright red and yellow jacket was placed on the end of the telescope tube. Making it more visible should prevent people from bumping into it. It also has a very Lowbrow appearance.

And D. C. has more ideas for future work parties.

This shows the telescope without primary or secondary mirrors and with the worm removed. In the couple months after these photos were taken, drawings were made of the worm prior to getting quotes for its replacement, and it was put back in place, after a consensus determined that further use of the worm would not immediately harm the irreplaceable worm gear. In addition, both primary and secondary mirrors were transported to Chicago where the mirrors were recoated. Replacement of the mirrors and restoration of the telescope to service took place in June.

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