The labor day weekend project? Replacing a few more rotten boards in the lanai.
This has been an ongoing project for years, including a few more boards to replace this summer. Over the last few weeks I have replaced half a dozen boards in the lanai.
I write this as I wait for paint to dry. There are three more big gaps in the lanai waiting for new boards. Those boards have been cut to size, drilled, and are almost ready to screw into place. Deb bought me another box of decking screws last time she was in Kona, should have this done shortly.
Unfortunately the original builders scrimped a bit when building the lanai. No paint on the ends of the boards, no paint underneath, and no paint on the joists. Where the lanai is undercover that has not been a problem, where it is exposed to the weather that has resulted in a fair amount of damage.
Unlike the carpenters who did the original work, I am painting each board on all surfaces before installation. I also clean and paint the top edges of the joists underneath while they are exposed. This should slow down the damage due to exposure.
The last challenge is to get the gaps right. Much of the lanai is nicely spaced between the boards. There is a zone where the gaps are all wrong, the boards right against each other. This is also right where the drip line is from the roof and most of the damage is. The result is a lot of careful measurement and ripping the boards to get the gaps looking good again.
I have two or three more boards identified as needing replacement, but not in any great hurry. They can wait for another weekend. Just need to wait for the latest round of paint to dry and I can screw the next three boards into place.
At the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station telescopes are available every clear night for the public to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. Every evening a set of telescopes ranging from 102mm to 16 inches is setup in the patio beside the VIS. The gear is used heavily, every night of the year, the wear on the telescopes does exact a toll. The abuse is constant, kids hanging on the eyepiece, volunteer operators who have never used a telescope, rain, fog, blowing cinder dust. Conditions that were never foreseen by the designers and far beyond what most telescopes encounter. Sometimes the condition of the equipment is embarrassing, dirty eyepieces, groaning mounts that refuse to track, much of the gear just looks worn and tired.
It is hard for me to see this, but at least I can do something about it, I do, after all, fix telescopes for a living. It is not unusual for me to spend an evening repairing a telescope and I have made a point of getting some more extensive maintenance accomplished.
My first effort last year was to clean and repair the small dobsonians used by visitors every night. Two eight inch, a six and a 4.5″ Orion dob are put out for anyone to use, from adults to children. After years of use they were in horrible shape, bearings and focusers were coming apart, collimation gone, moisture dissolving the woodwork, a finder attached with duct tape, the mirrors so covered with dust it is surprising there was much of an image to see. One of the eight inch scopes and the 4.5 inch were in pieces in the warehouse after a fix attempt by another volunteer. It took a few days of work to put all to right. Stealing parts from an older scope, repairing what could be saved, cleaning and pounding out a couple dents. Clean, re-install and re-collimate the optics. Four dobs back in service and in better shape than they had been in quite some time.
The 16″ Meade LX200 should be the flagship of the equipment used at the VIS. But for all too long it refused to work properly, it would not track. A trip back to the manufacturer failed to correct the problem, despite nearly a thousand dollars in shipping fees for factory service the telescope still would not work most of the time. Most volunteers would not use it, having given up in frustration. Surprisingly the issue was obvious, just listening to the scope indicated gears not fully meshed and grinding on one another. An hour’s worth of dismounting the scope, opening the bottom panel and re-seating a motor mount had the telescope back on sky and slewing from target to target. The scope has failed since, but the problem was even simpler, a loose connection found after a half hour of poking around.
Currently, one of the three Losmandy G-11 mounts belonging to the VIS is in my garage, spread across the table in many parts. I spent a few hours yesterday dismantling the mount and cleaning the grease and cinder dust out of the bearings. It is in pretty good shape, a good cleaning, re-seat the worm gears and some new clutch pads and it will be ready for a few more years of service. I need to get some more grease before I can reassemble the mount, but otherwise everything is ready to put back together. Finish this one and there are two more like it in sore need of maintenance.
One thing at a time, of course by the time I get through it all it will be necessary to start over again…