Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Big Eye's Final Journey - part 1

Sixty two years ago today, November 18 1947, the 200-inch mirror began its final trip. Nearly thirteen years earlier the mirror was cast by Corning Glass Works. In the spring of 1936 it was moved from Corning, NY to Pasadena, CA where it spent eleven and a half years in the optical shop at the California Institute of Technology. This final trip was a two day journey from Pasadena to Palomar Mountain.

The mirror was moved by Belyea Truck Co. Nothing was left to chance on this journey as engineer Bruce Rule and Jack Belyea, owner of the company that moved the mirror, planned every detail of the route. Jack was quoted to say "The eyes of the world are on us for this job, there can be no mistake".

The most hair-raising moment of the first day was the trip over the Galivan bridge, 5 miles north of San Juan Capistrano (51.7 miles from their starting point at Caltech). The convoy arrived at the bridge at 11:00 a.m, seven and a half hours after the trip began. Sixteen extra wheels were added to help distribute the load more evenly for the trip cross the bridge. Even so the bridge sagged 3/8 of an inch.

On the open highway the convoy was at times able to crank up the speed to 10 miles per hour. Vibrations were carefully monitored and used as a guideline to help set the proper rate of travel.

As you can see above, it was perfect weather for the drive.

Here is the tentative schedule for the day:

Note that they were to to arrive in Escondido, CA at 6:00 p.m. The actual convoy arrived an hour early, giving them an average speed of just under 12 miles per hour.

The mirror spent the night, under guard in Escondido.

The second day of the trip, which I will post tomorrow, would bring some challenges as the mirror was brought up from Escondido to Palomar Mountain.

All of the images shown here were recently donated to Palomar Observatory by the Belyea Family. We are very grateful for their donation and happy to be able to share some of their family history.


Lunar Mark said...

I love these bits of Palomar history. Thanks for sharing them, Scott!

Scott Kardel said...

I am glad you enjoy them Lunar Mark!