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Palomar Observatory Mirror Blank Delivery 5/12/1936

Benjamin Hom
 

Catching up on historical society pubs and came across John Signor's "Santa Fe and the Stars" in the 3rd Quarter 2015 issue of the SFRH&MS Warbonnet documenting the delivery of a 200" mirror blank from Pyrex via Santa Fe Extra 3157 on May 12, 1936. Consist as follows:

ATSF 3157 (2-8-2)
NYC 121195 (Lot 559-B USRA-design steel boxcar)
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/lot-559.jpg
NYC 499010 (Lot 273-F well flat)
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/lot-273.jpg
ATSF 1680 (Caboose)


Article includes four photos showing the delivery of the mirror blank.



Ben Hom

Todd Sullivan
 

The mirror blank was made by Corning Incorporated (probably still the Corning Glass Works at that time) in Corning NY or Canton NY, hence the NYC freight cars.

Todd Sullivan
Liverpool NY
(ex-Corning employee)

Bruce Smith
 

Ben, Folks,

A neat story that I had not heard of before.  I found some additional on-line and photos information. 

The history of the telescope can be found at: http://www.astro.caltech.edu/palomar/about/history.html

The mirror blank was cast by Corning Glass Works in Pyrex, which was new at the time.  The first attempt at pouring the mirror occurred in March 1934, with great fanfare, and it failed.  That mirror is apparently on display at Corning.  The second attempt, done quietly on December 2, 1934, was successful.  The blank was annealed for 10 months and the oven was opened on October 25, 1935.  On March 25, 1936, the blank was loaded onto NYC S-499010 and departed for CalTech. There are reports that the train’s speed limit was 25 mph 

See http://www.journeytopalomar.org/palomar.html for a video showing the loading of the mirror onto the flat car and the train in motion, as well as the impact of the mirror as it traveled across the country.  Note that the video is an archaic Quick Time format and so you may need to download or tweak some of your computer’s tools.

The blank arrived at East Pasadena on April 10, 1936.  From there it was hauled by truck to CalTech.

The mirror would require 10 years of grinding and preparation before it was ready to be moved and installed at Mount Palomar, in part because of the demands of WWII on manpower.  In October 1947, the mirror was moved by truck to Mount Palomar to be installed in the telescope named after it’s creator, George Ellery Hale who had died 10 years previously.


From conception to completion, this project took 20 years!  So the next time you hear someone complaining about science not producing results instantly, think about the dedication of the folks who saw this project through. 

Regards

Bruce


Bruce F. Smith            

Auburn, AL

https://www5.vetmed.auburn.edu/~smithbf/

"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."



On Feb 18, 2016, at 9:50 AM, STMFC@... wrote:

Catching up on historical society pubs and came across John Signor's "Santa Fe and the Stars" in the 3rd Quarter 2015 issue of the SFRH&MS Warbonnet documenting the delivery of a 200" mirror blank from Pyrex via Santa Fe Extra 3157 on May 12, 1936.  Consist as follows:

ATSF 3157 (2-8-2)
NYC 121195 (Lot 559-B USRA-design steel boxcar)
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/lot-559.jpg
NYC 499010 (Lot 273-F well flat)
http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/lot-273.jpg
ATSF 1680 (Caboose)


Article includes four photos showing the delivery of the mirror blank.



Ben Hom 

Gerry Fitzgerald
 

I have been working on an article on the lens movement by rail for Classic Trains and hope to hand it in shortly. It is a really interesting story.

Gerard

Gerard J. Fitzgerald
Charlottesville, Virginia

 

The first blank was flawed and rejected.  It’s on display at the Corning Museum. – Al Westerfield
 

Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 10:23 AM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Palomar Observatory Mirror Blank Delivery 5/12/1936
 
 

The mirror blank was made by Corning Incorporated (probably still the Corning Glass Works at that time) in Corning NY or Canton NY, hence the NYC freight cars.

Todd Sullivan
Liverpool NY
(ex-Corning employee)

Earl Tuson
 

Catching up on historical society pubs and came across John Signor's "Santa Fe and the Stars" in the 3rd Quarter 2015
issue of the SFRH&MS Warbonnet documenting the delivery of a 200" mirror blank from Pyrex via Santa Fe Extra 3157 on
May 12, 1936.

There is an HO model display of these cars with their load located at the observatory museum. I didn't have my FC
resources with me at the time to check every tiny detail, but the models were clearly built by a prototype modeler. I may be
able to dig up photos of the models that we took if anyone cares to see them.

Earl Tuson

James Babcock
 

Definitely like to see the model photos
Jim


On Friday, February 19, 2016 5:18 AM, "'Earl Tuson' etuson@... [STMFC]" wrote:


 
> Catching up on historical society pubs and came across John Signor's "Santa Fe and the Stars" in the 3rd Quarter 2015
issue of the SFRH&MS Warbonnet documenting the delivery of a 200" mirror blank from Pyrex via Santa Fe Extra 3157 on
May 12, 1936.

There is an HO model display of these cars with their load located at the observatory museum. I didn't have my FC
resources with me at the time to check every tiny detail, but the models were clearly built by a prototype modeler. I may be
able to dig up photos of the models that we took if anyone cares to see them.

Earl Tuson


Ed
 

Does anyone know the route they took to get from Corning to Cal-Tech?

Ed Robinson

spsalso
 

From the most excellent book by Ronald Florence:  "The Perfect Machine":


Loaded at Corning on NYC


(through Rochester)

(routed for short distance on DL&W near Buffalo)

(went through Cleveland, Indianapolis, Charleston, Ill.)


To CB&Q at St. Louis


(routed through Cameron Junction, MO)


To ATSF at Kansas City


(detour near Albuquerque) 

(over Cajon Pass)


Deliver at East Pasadena



trip was 14 days, travel only during daylight, max speed 25 mph

load height was almost 18' over rails

railroad cranes were used for loading and unloading at each end--the Santa Fe supplied the 150 ton Barstow crane (load weight 35 tons)


There is a superb photo of a Santa Fe Mike pulling the train here (near the bottom):


Palomar Skies: April 2010



I also found a shot of "most" of the NYC train here:


http://www.kinglyheirs.com/NewYorkStateRailroads/NYStateRailroadIndex.html#.VstSChzxmJk



While wading through the few online photos that I could find, I did find a kupla interesting things.  One is that the NYC well flat had archbar trucks without springing.  You can see a decent photo of the in an adjacent photo to the Santa Fe train I mentioned above.  Imagine.  Hauling a giant piece of glass with no supporting springs.  They must have thought about that option a LOT.


The other thing is here:


Exhibitions | Corning Museum of Glass


If you look at photo #3 in the album series, you see a shot that appears to be the loading of the well flat in Corning.  The problem I'm having is that, while the load appears to be suspended 3' above the car, I don't see anything holding it up.  I see no visual connection between the crane and the lifting frame.  Maybe I'm just (not) seeing things.  But it looks weird to me.



Ed


Edward Sutorik 

al_brown03
 

There's a photo of the blank being delivered to Pasadena, in Judith R. Goodstein's book "Millikan's School" (a history of Caltech); the photos are grouped separately from the text, and it's in the second group of photos.


Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.