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QUESTAR SEVEN: CLASSIC BARREL WITH FORK MOUNT BASEThe Questar 7 Fork Mount was discontinued through most of the 1990's but has been brought back into limited production in response to the demand.
It is among the goals of Company Seven to preserve and conserve optical instruments that we consider to be historically significant or otherwise attractive or interesting. The Questar 7 illustrated here is S/N P-7-378-DP, and this resides in the museum collection of Company Seven on display in our Laurel, Maryland showroom alongside other instruments. The caption near this telescope explains its history:
Questar Seven S/N P-7-378-DP: A Restoration Mini-Epic!
Ordered for the President of Finland, this was the 378th Questar Seven barrel completed up to 1979.
Most Questar Seven's have been made for governments and industry for applications including surveillance, research, and astronomy. The very first Questar Seven optics set was completed for Questar on 26 January 1967, Serial No. P-7-1. At the time when the restoration of this instrument commenced, there had been a total of 826 Questar Seven optics sets made with the most recent being Serial No. Z-7-826 finished on 12 June 1998. So, up to 1979 sales averaged 31 units per year, from 1979 to 1998 sales averaged about twenty four per year. While the Questar Seven optical tubes remain in production, technology passed the Questar Seven Base by as more sophisticated German mounts became available. Regardless of its cost and comparative simplicity, the Questar Seven Fork Base remains a work of art that is rigid and easy to use with any of the Questar Seven optical tube assemblies.
Right: Questar Seven P-7-378-DP mounted on its original optional Fork Mount Base.
The Questar Seven Fork Mount is and alt-azimuth platform that can be configured for use as an equatorial tracking platform by means of either the provided set of three lightweight alloy legs, or with an optional Pier or Tripod with Equatorial Wedge. The provided legs thread into the drive base at two ports on the side, and the shorter of the three legs thread into the bottom of the Base to form a tripod. The shorter leg is adjustable in length to vary the tilt of the base for use within the 30 to 45 degree latitudes. This tripod permits the telescope to operate off of a table top. The original models were furnished with a 120 Volt A.C. (or 220 optional) motor system specifying north or south hemisphere. When plugged in to AC power the base allows the telescope to track at a Sidereal rate. The Fork Mount that came with this instrument is among the few older ones we have seen, this is made clear by the extra attention to detail that was provided at this time including a bolt-on engraved Vernier plate made of brass for reading the Declination/Elevation Circle position.
The Questar Seven Fork Mount went out of production in about 1990 since so many suitable and even more capable German Equatorial Mounts had come onto the market. The last of these was sold by Company Seven in 1994, then selling for $3,500. But there was a clamor among the Questar hard core for the Fork Mount, and so it was returned to the product line selling for more than $6,000. Since its reintroduction it includes the Powerguide II drive corrector as standard equipment.
After the passing of the owner of S/N P-7-378-DP in 1986 the telescope fell into disuse. Its exterior gradually became corroded from long term exposure to sea air, and suffered some rough handling; the telescope was not in a marketable condition upon its arrival at Company Seven. After considering the scarcity and beauty of the Questar Seven with the Fork Base, a decision was made at Company Seven to attempt a complete restoration of the system although at the time, we did not believe it could come out as well as it did and so we did not think then to take any "before" pictures.
The restoration included the complete disassembly and cleaning of all mechanics, primary and finder optics. Cleaning and lubrication of the Control Box linkages and bearings, replacement of worn or corroded components, reassembly and collimation. New replacement parts include a Front Cell (the black housing for the Corrector Lens), objective Lens Cover, purple anodized metal skin on the optical Barrel and on the Dew Shield, and the Optical Barrel Mounting Bracket (with newly engraved original serial number). The Base was cleaned and polished. The Barrel Control Box, Fork Mount Saddle, Fork Mount Horn, and Fork Tines were stripped then masked and painted with original type two-part paint. The Finder Solar Filter, full aperture Questar Solar Filter, and the Finder elliptical Mirror were stripped and recoated, installed and aligned. The fork mount mechanics were rebuilt, and to insure future serviceability of the instrument the new Powerguide II drive corrector was installed. The Dew Shield interior was flocked, an finally original Questar Fork Base Carrying Case (with the Formica wood patterned laminate) was acquired to complete the set.
Left: Questar Seven Classic barrel on Fork Mount showing Control Box with controls of view through Finder or Telescope, of Barlow Lens, and Solar Filter for Finder.
The Declination Vernier Manual Drive that came with this telescope was finally restored in 2006. This was placed on display in our museum showcase alongside this Questar 7. Some of the accessories delivered with this telescope were incomplete or missing altogether, and some of these parts may be completed and restored in the future.
The instrument was purchased "as is" for $3,240.00. In the 1998 effort about $5,700.00 were paid to buy repair parts, for labor, and for contracted services.
19 February 1998 - Shipped from Finland to Company Seven.
10 July 1998 - Restoration of the basic telescope completed, installed Powerguide II, placed on permanent display at Company Seven.
2 May 2006 - Conservation and cleaning of the Declination Vernier Manual Drive completed, and the unit added to the display.
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