Replacing the Front-Cell

Whoa, that was dumb!

I was planning a public outreach event at the local school science slam, but cloudy skies prevailed. No matter, go to plan B: post a few pictures of solar system objects all at proper angular proportions when viewed from the opposite wall of our gymnasium.

But disaster struck as I was setting things up. I had set up the tripod and telescope but neglected to tighten the three retaining thumbscrews securing the scope to the tripod! The telescope would have sat there quite nicely all night under it’s own weight. But I decided to adjust the height of the tripod and boom! Over it went, banging into the gymnasium floor as I rushed to catch it. I only partially broke its fall and ended up denting the front cell. There was no damage to the corrector plate or other optics and I went on with my demonstration.

I assessed the damage later. The telescope seemed to be working fine but that dent sure was ugly and prevented the lens cover from fitting. The telescope was slightly out of collimation, but not by much and I was able to recollimate it in just a few minutes! (Later, I constructed an “artificial star” as an aid for future collimation sessions). I cut out a section of the plastic lens cover so it would fit over the dent.

There’s no doubt of operator error here. So I sheepishly called Celestron customer support to explain what happened and asked if I could buy the part, called “the front cell”.

Oh no, they wanted no part of that! Customers cannot open the telescope, that just will not do! I would need to return it to the factory for an repair estimate. That could take weeks and we’re just starting prime viewing season!

But I’m pretty stubborn. The thought of crating that thing up an shipping it cross country was totally unappealing. I’m reasonably good at fixing things (and usually not so dumb as to say – knock something over!).

I had to keep working on Celestron.

I just want to buy the part, that’s all. If I mess something up, it’s on me – what’s the big deal, just sell me the part! After a couple of weeks of phone calls and emails they finally relented. They’d sell me the front cell for $100 and throw in a new lens cover for free!

I replaced the front cell and rechecked the collimation. All is well, and the telescope is working as good as new!