Telescope reminiscences

I got interested again in looking at the night sky recently. The sky here is not very black at night (lots of urban glare and haze) but the brighter stars and planets can be seen when it’s not cloudy.
When I was a teenager I built my own telescope from scratch – in fact two of them. My first scope was a cheap table-top 4″ Newtonian reflector with a cardboard tube. It wasn’t very good, so I re-figured the mirror and built a nice square wooden tube for it, with a spiral thread focuser salvaged from a dead TV set. I can’t remember what mounting it had.
After that I built an 8″ Newtonian reflector from scratch. I ground, polished and figured the mirror, built a tube (from wood, IIRC), and built a massive equatorial mounting with a fork made of 3″ steel pipe and filled with cement, supported by a brick pier. The whole thing was covered by a run-off wooden shed that ran on rails.
I don’t think that many people build their own telescopes any more. The ready-made ones are much cheaper in real terms. These days, one would consider an 8″ reflector to be more of a portable item. When I left home, I had my parents sell the telescope. (They probably couldn’t get rid of the eyesore in the back garden quick enough).

I was also involved with making a 6″ Newtonian reflector at my grammar school. So far as I remember it had an openwork tube made of wood. It did get used a few times (I remember stopping a teacher from looking through the eyepiece when we used it to project an image of the Sun.) There was a notion of giving it a permanent home on top of the concrete bike sheds, but that did not come to anything. (These days, a 6″ Newtonian reflector and mount would be portable).