Stony Ridge Observatory, Inc. - A Cooperative Effort
The construction years 1957-1963

These 3 video streams are from a 40-minute documentary 16mm silent film produced by Dr. W.H. Griffith, a California dentist and one of the original founders of Stony Ridge Observatory.

15:00 - Chapter 1 shows the selected site for the observatory in the Angeles National Forest near Charlton Flats. This location is about a 45-minute drive from neighboring Pasadena, CA.

The first piece of hardware produced for Stony Ridge Observatory was a scale model of the original truncated-cone style dome as designed by George Carroll and similar to those at Lowell Observatory in Arizona is shown. The later hemispherical dome design was suggested by Norrie Roberts and accepted by the group.

The second piece of hardware was a 30-inch glass blank made by the Hayward Scientific Company of Whittier, CA. Ernest (Easy) Sloman and Roy Ensign picked up the blank and delivered it to ECL Laboratories in Altadena, CA for grinding and polishing the glass disk into a precision telescope mirror. ECL were the initials of Eugene C. Larr, the owner of ECL Labs and chief optical engineer for the SRO project. A grinding machine was designed and built by Roy Ensign. Rough grinding of both surfaces initiated the process. A vertical milling machine was used to even the edges and to make the blank truly round.

15:00 - Chapter 2 Building of the Dome - A large concrete pad was prepared at the Thomas Tool & Die Company in Sun Valley, CA to provide a level area on which to build the 28-foot dome for SRO. Members shown during this construction were Dave Thomas, John Terlep, Norm Bolz, Roy Ensign, John Sousa, Al Cram, and Chuck Buzzetti. After the base ring was laid out and welded, Two primary arches, defining the opening for the slot, were then welded in place. The remaining secondary arches were added and many holes drilled for the attachment of aluminum sheathing.

After the dome was completed, it was sectioned into two halves which were each loaded onto 2 flat-bed trucks for hauling to the observatory site. The final stretch of mountain dirt road proved to be a nail-biter. The clearance between the dome halves and surrounding pine trees was, in one case, less than an inch! Branches had to be held back for the dome's passage to its new home.

Cranes lifted the pieces onto the observatory building and checked for proper operation on top of the dome base ring.

Meanwhile, back in George Carroll's garage, the telescope tube and drive system were nearing completion. Norm Bolz is shown finishing the fork mount arms.

10:42 - Chapter 3 Construction of telescope to 1st light. George Carroll and Norrie Roberts are shown inspecting the balance of the open tube telescope structure. At the back of the telescope are beginning to appear various controls for positioning the telescope and controlling the dome.

George is shown fabricating the fork mount pedestal. With bearings in place, the fork assembly and polar axis are mounted on the pedestal and checked for balance and smoothness. The declination bearings have been pressed into the fork at this point. The drive motor is complete and mounted onto the pedestal. The telescope is mated for the first time to the mount.

Finally all the pieces come together on the mountain. With some help from Lockheed Aircraft, power and phone lines were brought in by helicopter.

First Light! - September 1963.

The producer of this film, Dr. W.H. Griffith, is shown moving the telescope and dome into observing position with controls on the telescope and hand paddle. He slews the 1-ton telescope easily by hand. The large clock dials at the control desk show the position of the telescope on the sky.
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