Vintage Telescope Restoration - Towa 339 - Page II
The Challenges "Mount"
Some decisions needed to be made about the finish
options for the mount. One approach would be to strip the mount's
finish back to bare metal and refinish. The other approach is to
clean up the original finish, smooth the edges of the paint chips and
As this mount carried the "crinkle paint" finish, this was not an easy
decision. Overspraying done with too heavy a hand could mean that
crinkle texture would be lost under the coats of paint necessary to cover
properly. On the other hand, a complete strip, prime and
repaint would be a long and involved process. Further, managing the process
involved with the crinkle paint is not as simple as your basic gloss or
satin paints, making a successful outcome a bit of a bigger challenge.
After due consideration, I decided I would give the overspray a
try. After all, in the event it did not turn out satisfactorily,
I could always strip it and try the other approach.
Preparation of the mount for paint was fairly straight forward.
Disassembly, cleaning of all paint surfaces again, and careful bagging and
marking of all small parts to give myself at least a fighting chance of
getting it all back together again!
I then masked all of the non painted surfaces.
paint and primer I selected for the job were both Rust-oleum
Products. The primer is Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover in flat
black. The paint is Professional High Performance Enamel.
While not completely consistent with the original matte finish, I decided to
go with a gloss finish for the paint. I think it will give the
mount's appearance a nice boost.
On a late fall day, I set up my makeshift "paint booth" a step
ladder with a bamboo arm extending from which I would hang the pieces
while I painted them, and a line strung in the garage to hang them on
while they dried.
applied a coat of primer to each part, followed by two very light coats
of paint. The paint coats were so light that I had to do a third
coat to get the coverage that I wanted. In the end, by working so
lightly, I was able to perserve the texture pretty well and am very
satisfied with the result.
I let the paint cure
for a couple of days, and then reassembled the mount, relubricating the
appropriate surfaces with white lithium grease. The change in the
mount's appearance is exciting, here is the "Before" picture:
And the "After":
the new paint job done, there are plenty more small details to address, the first of
which is replacing the protective felt in the cradle. In another
break with tradition, I decided to spice things up a bit from the
boring black felt of the original manufacturer, and use bright red
I was able to find the felt and a special felt glue at Hobby Lobby.
According to my measurements, the strips needed to be 1" x 4
7/8". Using my rotary cutter and a straight edge, I was able to
produce a couple of good strips.
I applied the glue and laid them in place.
When I had them where I wanted them, I simply clamped the cradle on the
tube to which I had applied some masking tape in the event some of the glue was squeezed out.
After leaving it overnight, it was dried and ready to go.
Moving on, I took some liberties by adding a couple of small enhancements on the eyepiece tray.
first was to add some felt pads that would prevent the tray brackets
from scratching my newly refinished tray. I used a punch to make
a hole through some felt furniture slides and applied them to the
underside of the tray.
I also swapped out the old, hard to handle round head bolts and wing
nuts for some cap screws and brass knurled knuts (the correct spelling
for nuts that are knurled...). These are much easier to put on and
take off and are less likely to end up dropped in the grass, never to be seen
again. I think they look pretty sharp too.
Time to turn my attention to the legs. Their condition
dictated that a refinish job was in order. To start that process,
they needed to be disassembled. In my experience, when dealing
with assemblies like these legs, where wood parts are combined with
metal parts, it is often a real headache-saver to keep all of the parts
for each assembly together. The small variations in fit can be a
real pain to deal with if the parts from different legs are mixed
together. To do that, I marked the pieces with a number using
some metal punches.
This Story has Legs...
the legs disassembled and marked, I started work on the metal parts.
The tray brackets had suffered a good deal. Bent, battered
and rusty, they need some TLC.
started by straigtening them as best I could. Using various
hammers and my mini anvil I was able to improve things to a decent degree.
they were straight, I used the Dremel, sanding pads and steel wool to
take the rest of the rust off, smooth the paint chips and generally
prepare them for paint. and then two coats of gloss paint.
On to the Wood!
old finish has to come off. I was not looking forward to this
part of the project, as stripping can be a messy business. As it
turned out, it was not bad at all, and I believe that was in large part
because I got lucky and chose what turned out to be a very good product
for the job.
is a stripping gel instead of a liquid. The gel makes controlling
the application a great deal easier than using a runny liquid.
The product also has a relatively pleasant orange smell, much
nicer than some nasty chemical odors of other products I have used.
When I was researching this product, some of the reviews
of the product recommended wrapping the parts in plastic wrap while waiting for the
stripper to work. It was said that the wrap prevented the gel from
drying out making it much easier to remove. There did not seem to be much to lose by trying
it, and I am very glad I did.
The added benefit was that the wrap kept everything very clean. In about an hour, I had all of the parts "cooking"
an hour, as per the instructions, I unwrapped each of them, one at a time, and with a
3M Stripping pad and some mineral spirits, simply wiped away the old
finish - Easy Peasy. After washing all of the pieces in
water, I set them aside to dry.
had decided that I was going to go with a lighter color on the legs
than the original dark brown. After perusing my stain choices at
the home store, I settled on Minwax Red Chestnut. It seemed to be
closest to the color I had in mind, but of course you can never be sure
how any wood will take a particular stain, so it is always a bit of a
leap of faith.
Wiped on the legs, it did give me a very pleasing warm color, one that will look great after the final finish is applied.
stain applied, there was a detail I needed to take care of before
applying the rest of the finish. The legs had registration lines
to assist in setting the legs at the same length. They were
originally painted yellow, and I decided that suited me fine. Using
masking tape I prepped the lines for painting.
Once masked, I used a fine brush to lay the paint into the slots.
My choice for the final finish is an old
favorite, Minwax Wipe On Poly, Satin Finish. It is
a polyurethane that you can wipe on with a cloth, It offers a
great deal of control, dries quickly, and builds to a very nice looking
depth of finish that is not at all like the thick, plastic looking poly's of the past.
is hard to beat the moment when you wipe on the first finish coat on a
project. It is then that you get a glimpse of how it will look when
completed, and I was very pleased with the results as I wiped it on
the first leg. Here is a shot commemorating the moment.
Another shot after four coats on the lower legs, you can start to see the shine beginning to build.
The job was complete after six coats applied over a couple of days.
to another of those small jobs. One of the slow motion cables was
missing the cap on its knob. Examining the remaining one, the
material appeared to be a white formica-like material.
While I did not have any white formica, I did have some of the
smooth variety of the Ebony Star pattern. As I thought about having two different colors, the idea began to grow on me.
Add to that the resemblance of the Ebony Star pattern to a star
field or even a Hubble Deep Field galaxy study, and it seemed it
was destined to be.
First, let's see what size we need this cap to be.
welcome your comments and questions at