Posted on June 7th, 2017
There are wrong ways to start a morning and there are WRIGHT ways to start the morning. You can never go wrong when your morning consists of bacon, eggs, and a hot cup of coffee. Especially when your bacon makes a convenient pun for your blog post.
The morning started with discussing what we were going to get done. There was a lot to do, lots to think about, lots of planning. After four cups of coffee from mugs for ants we ate our breakfast, talked about how bacon is the gateway meat and it just has this smell that could make anyone hungry, we set off on our way down the road to get cracking!
Eugene was telling my dad and Dennis what he had done with the roof controller and wiring.
While my dad and Dennis were bolting down the base of the telescope, my job was to prepare the workbenches we were making. There are a couple of laws in life that always hold true, from my experience atleast, (1) You can never have a big enough building (2) if there is a flat surface it will be covered instantly. We planned for this, when we went to home depot we got all the materials to build nice workbenches for laying out telescopes or tools, laptops, etc… We picked out this nice oak plywood for the bench tops. I sanded all the edges so that you would not get splinters from just looking at it.
After sanded I took a paper towel and some paint thinner and cleaned the top before applying varnish. This way any residue, dirt, or dust from sanding did not get into the finish.
Now its varnish time, so I look around for some latex gloves, I find the box, slip on the glove and it breaks. I thought it was a bit odd, I got another glove slipped it on, it broke. I took another glove got it on then turned my hand around, guess what…… After about four gloves, I got some on without destroying them. Maybe these gloves were made out of GLOVETANIUM… man I should go into marketing; clearly if you just slap Tanium on a product it must be better…. Right?
My phone has a cool mode called hyper lapse, it takes a movie this basically turns it into a time-lapse. It’s a pretty handy feature I will be using a lot this trip. Anyways the video above is of my applying the finish to the benches. If you cant figure out how to make it play look at the bottom left hand of the frame you should see a play button. I have learned over time applying finish is not as easy as it looks. Long strokes and no drips. You have to remember those are four feet by eight feet sheets of plywood, yea I have long arms. Anyways if you want a nice uniform coat of finish, you have to do brush strokes in each direction so that eventually it evens out. My arm and wrist were a little tired after putting finish on all the plywood.
There were some conduits that were sticking out of the floor from when they poured the slab, they were left long so we could trim them to the proper height when ready, well today was the day. Dennis tackled this little mission with a hand saw that was clearly sharpened by people who want nothing else but watch people get frustrated. He cut the first pipe and as he was cutting the saw cut it at about a thirty-degree angle up. Dennis a bit flustered was convinced he had just aimed the saw in such a way that he just messed up. So he moved to the second pipe, same thing the cut was at an angle. At this point, he was getting a bit frustrated. So he moved to the third pipe and same thing. Moral if something is too good to be true it probably is. I mean technically the saw did cut the pipe, but knowing its performance would we purchase the saw again? No….. Cheap tools stink. After all this effort Dennis realized that, we had borrowed a sawzall and it was sitting in the corner, oh well.
The reason why we trimmed those pipes was that a workbench is going on top of it. Dennis and I got into cutting up the 2x4’s to the proper length of forty-five inches and some with 45-degree angles on each end. Instead of having legs for the workbench, my dad wanted to have it so that they “floated” from the wall.
We needed five angle cut 2x4’s and seven straight pieces to make the workbench.
After we had all the pieces we needed for the frame we had to drilled angled holes into the boards so they could be screwed together. We bought a Craig jig at home depot just for this purpose. I will try not to bore you with the details but the jig, drills angled holes in the wood so you can make very strong joints. Each 2x4 had to have 4 holes drilled into it, but the angled ones only had to have two. We bought some cordless drills at the Home Depot so we didn’t have to drag around an extension cord if we wanted to screw something together. The jig and drill worked very well once we got into a rhythm.
This video is of the assembly of the first workbench frame. Make sure to click the play button on the bottom left.
Our final member of our crew showed up in the late afternoon John Briggs. You know that dos equis commercial “the most interesting man in the world”? I had seen pictures of John and his new long hair and beard, but I have not seen him in person till now. He just looked so majestic; he pulled up in this Ford Ranger and a trailer, not his usual steed. He says “ this isn’t my usual ride, its my other trucks offspring”. If you cant see from the pictures John is a big man, he’s tall wide shoulders, and curves that he’s not afraid to show off. It turns out Johns other truck wasn’t happy so he had to drop it off at the mechanic, hence the trailer and the mini me truck.
After a day of unpacking, building, assembling, the observatory was a mess.If the photo looks a bit weird on the edges, that’s because its 3 panoramas stitched together, I think it actually looks like a single image. It was a good day, the sky had some clouds, and it rained randomly about every half hour for a couple minutes. It was a very beautiful late afternoon.
One of the things that was unpacked was the new front end of the telescope that we built for it. We had to unpack it from the crate and put it back together from shipping. Then we put it in the control room so it was out of the way for all the riff raff tomorrow, until it is needed.
There were a bunch of little things that were done throughout the day one was some pulleys to hold the chain that had to be installed on each side of the building. The problem was that we didn’t quite know what they would look like. We had all the pieces screws bolts and pulleys we just didn’t know how it was going to attach to the building. Dennis whipped up some temporary pulley mounting brackets.
Lets just say he was extremely happy how they turned out. I mean look at that face, that’s the face of “I have been up and down the ladder a million times test fitting these things can I just put them up now?” This is the face I got when i said hold up your pulleys.
After we were done with most of our projects, Eugene came by again and he helped us with setting the limits on the roof. Then for the next twenty minutes or so we just ran the roof back and forth checking to see what was making noises and how the limit switches were working.
The people who made this observatory had never made one this big before, so there were new things for them to discover. One was there is a seal up on the roof where Dennis is, but the problem was that they didn’t leave enough clearance so the roof was hitting a pair of 2x6’s that were supposed to be part of the seal. Dennis climbed up on the roof and tore those suckers off so we can replace them with something thinner.
The night ended with frozen pizza, beer, and boxed wine, and friends yakking. Talking about the good times, the bad times, and the ugly times. John has researched a lot and talked to a lot of people about how to move big telescopes. We are very well prepared and have a very good plan of attack. Tomorrow I am headed to pick up the telescope with the haulers with John first thing in the morning. Tomorrow will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life. All of our hard work and preparation for the past two years have all lead up to this point. We are ready, and super excited to get this project operational, granted there is still lots of work to be done but after tomorrow, we will have passed a great milestone.