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  • Writer's pictureTracey Snelus

Our Garden Pier.

We would genuinely love our own observatory but with a river at the bottom of the garden that is prone to flooding and the constant and depressing increase in light pollution (thanks Conwy County Council!) it seems pointless at this stage.

So, in the interim we arranged the next best thing. A garden pier.

All of our gear is becoming heavy. My 14“ Dobsonian takes both of us to lift out onto the patio. And Tracey’s imaging rig was becoming a pain to set up and strip down, so a pier seemed like a great idea. A semi permanent setup of the pier and an HEQ5 GEM ready to go at the mere hint of clear skies. All that had to be done was to pick a scope and camera and fit it to the mount and off you go. This reduced Tracey‘s setup dramatically and took away a huge chore that was, on some nights, stopping her imaging.

The first job was the design. A little research into ready made piers and some homemade ones and a couple of quick measurements and a sketch and we were up and running. The original design was made from mild steel. But thankfully a relative was able to acquire and cut to size all the parts needed from Stainless Steel. What’s even better is that the parts were free.

A local steel fabricator did a wonderful job of TIG welding the pier and it’s base, top and strengthening fins together. I then drilled out all the fixing holes and the plates for the levelling section.

A chance find of a used Altair Pier Adapter at Tring Astro (again for pennies) finished the project. To protect the base and the top of the pier, it was painted with three layers of stainless steel undercoat and then finished in two layers of exterior hammerite.

The plan was to fit the finished pier to the centre of a small round patio in the garden. When this was fitted a few years ago we poured a cube of concrete under the middle section in readiness. The final job was to lift the middle slabs of the patio, pour a layer of self leveller and then Thunderbolt the pier to the concrete.

Of course the terrible weather we had been having since the the start of the year has hampered progress. Thankfully the pier was fitted this week using M10 x 200mm thunderbolts, drilled into the concrete foundation and it is very solid indeed. It has also reduced set up and take down time dramatically. In fact I’m annoyed we didn’t do it years ago!! I know that Tracey is overjoyed and I hope it helps her get on with the imaging she loves. JH.

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