This is the letter sent, March 2002, from Ann Wagner (Project Manager for Carl Zeiss) to John Radzilowicz (Planetarium Director at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory located at the Carnegie Science Center.) Please take careful note of the COUNTERPOINT at the end of this document.
Planetarium Projector Model II
Dear Mr. Radzilowicz,
This week we received an email from Dr. Mark Bier asking for mechanical drawings, electrical schematics and operating manual for the old Zeiss Model II. He mentioned that he and his group would like to bring the old Zeiss back to life.
Furthermore someone from a local radio station called yesterday asking for an interview regarding the Model II. You seem to have a lively discussion about the topic at the moment, so we would like to take the liberty to express our thoughts also.
Since Mr. Hans-Joachim Ufert (Zeiss service technician) and Mr. Craig Morris (Seiler) came to the Buhl Planetarium in August 1993 for a short 3-hour visit we have a pretty close idea of the present status of your Model II. You are certainly aware of the fact that this projector was manufactured by Carl Zeiss Jena (Germany) in 1938. It therefor represents the art, as it was more than sixty years ago.
Mr. Ufert told us that the gears and slip rings for the altitude and the diurnal motion are completely weared out. Furthermore all electrical wiring would not meet current safety requirements and would need to be replaced. The whole instrument would need to be dismantled and completely reconditioned.
Spare parts and wearing parts for this Model are not available for years, whether optical, mechanical or electrical. Furthermore during the turmoil of the world war II all production documents for the Model II were lost, that means every spare part needed for this model in the future requires special and one-off manufacturing efforts.
Moreover it is not the respective component alone, but also its integration into the projector that causes additional effort and costs, which is often impossible to estimate in advance.
Let me explain this by a few examples:
The original lamps have been discontinued long ago. To substitute a light source, one has to identify an adequate lamp with identical or similar scatter characteristics, and to test the effect on the projector itself, wherever possible. The lamp thus selected is almost certain to have a different geometry and a different lamp base, which calls for mechanical redesign. Often, the electrical data require a different power supply, which makes modifications necessary.
Where gears have to be replaced, the costs involved are enormous. The need arises because wear gives rise to excessive inaccuracies or backlash. Wear in the annual drive gear train not only affects a single gear but requires recomputation and special manufacturing of an entire new train of gears.
These are only two examples out of many more. These problems make up a very large portion of work. Servicing old projectors becomes more problematic also for another reason - the availability of knowledgeable manpower. Those of our employees who know how to service these machines are approaching retirement age and will remain available for perhaps one or two years. When they go then, all the specific experience with aged projector models goes with them. In the remaining time, service is certain to become excessively expensive, because our internal efforts and costs will increase severely - increases which we have to pass to our customers.
In the medium term, therefor it is much more economical to purchase a new projector. It goes without saying that you are not restricted in the decision as to the supplier a new projector might be purchased from. But we are confident that nobody can get around Zeiss when comparing prices and performances. The worlds most modern planetariums are made in Jena - a claim that is supported by the fact that we have been awarded contracts in somewhere between 80 and 90% of all planetarium tenders invited worldwide since 1990.
By Timm Barczy
1. We too are aware of the 1993 Zeiss inspection and are thoroughly familiar with the current "problems" associated with the projector.
2. Why would Mr. Radzilowicz so greatly concern himself with the possibility of restoration, when he and his backers have no intention of doing so? Perhaps they view a fully restored and operational Zeiss as a competitive threat. (Remember, from high school economics, when our teacher told us that competition was a good thing?)
3. How could the Zeiss possibly threaten the state-of-the-art equipment at the Carnegie Science Center? Especially when the Carnegie views the Zeiss as some piece of anachronistic junk that has had its day. His fear of restoration and reuse seems to border on the paranoiac.
4. Mr. Radzilowicz sits on the Executive board of one of the largest amateur astronomy organizations in Pennsylvania. This organization is quite proud of its recent acquisition: an electro-mechanical planetarium projector and its associated dome. This organization is committed to the construction of a structure to house this equipment and place it in operation to educate and inspire its membership and guests. (Their website is tracking their progress.) Mr. Radzilowicz seems to have no problem with the direction this organization is taking. Especially when the projector, manufactured by Viewlex Apollo, is no longer in production. This causes one to wonder why Mr. Radzilowicz would endorse the use of this obsolete and possibly troublesome projector. Especially when he is so vehemently opposed to restoration and possible re-use of the Zeiss Model II planetarium projector (and other scientific equipment) currently housed at the Original Buhl. (Why the double-standard?)
5. He was "kind" enough to inform me that The Carnegie Science Center is now the "New Buhl". Perhaps the impetus for his: "Let's erase everything (including the building and its contents) associated with the Original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science". Perhaps this agenda is nothing more than a cheap attempt, by Mr. Radzilowicz, and his sycophants, to firm up this tenuous opinion.
6. Nowhere in the letter is it mentioned that restoration would be impossible. It is however easy to understand why someone with an extremely limited knowledge of electro-mechanical systems might come to this unrealistic conclusion. To publicly announce this task as being impossible further demonstrates deficiency of knowledge in such matters.
7. The Planetarium Director at the Science Center has made the claim that the technology does not exist to repair the Zeiss components. For him to boldly state this is to imply that the City of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region lack the technical and intellectual ability to do so. I can assure you, as anyone who has grown up here, that that is far from the truth. The Pittsburgh region has some of the greatest scientific, mechanical, electrical, and fabrication facilities in the world. (Many of our members are part of this Community!) World leaders in their respective fields staff those facilities. (This fact is heavily promoted on Television and Radio.) It should also come as no surprise that a number of facilities have offered their services and expertise to assist in the restoration of the Scientific Equipment at Buhl. (Many view it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with truly unique instruments.)
8. Perhaps Mr. Radzilowicz is perpetuating his belief that restoration is impossible, as a crude attempt to package his doctrine that the "best" option for the Scientific Equipment, is to display them as little more than curious knick-knacks at the Carnegie Science Center.
9. Mr. Radzilowicz continues to go on incessantly touting the astronomical cost of restoring the Scientific Equipment as though he was being asked to personally bear that expense. The letter from Ann Wagner of Zeiss makes no mention of the actual cost that could be incurred during restoration. It is further stated that the cost of such an endeavor could only be derived by engaging in the restoration process. How then is Mr. Radzilowicz capable of making such a cost prediction? (The members of Save The Buhl (and other interested organizations) possess the expertise necessary to embark in restoration and are willing to donate their talent for little or no cost to preserve this and the other instruments within the Original Buhl. Two letters of intent from two nationally recognized Science Societies were hand delivered to Sala Udin on April 26 2002. These organizations offered financial support to SAVE THE BUHL for restoration purposes. (Mr. Udin did not reply to the Societies or to SAVE THE BUHL.) We await the courtesy of a reply from Mr. Udin.
10. Ann Wagner sites a number of general examples as to why restoration can be troublesome. They are only informational examples, and are NOT specifically mentioned as pertaining to the Zeiss Model II here in Pittsburgh.
11. The Zeiss Model II educated and entertained the public for nearly 50 years, and functioned for the last sky-show at Buhl before the City and The Carnegie Science Center locked the doors. The 6 million people who visited the facility never complained about the quality of the sky-show presentations. Aside from the lack of maintenance and use, the Zeiss should be in the exact condition it was left in. Perhaps Mr. Radzilowicz can explain the sudden degradation he claims the Zeiss seems to have experienced? He also claims that the lamps are burned out in the projector. How would they burn out if the projector has never been used since the Buhl's closure? One might consider questioning those who have access to the building and its equipment.
12. Who attempted to turn on the projector to "discover" that the lamps are burned out? One must assume, based on the above letter from Zeiss, that the lamps functioned when they checked out the projector, otherwise this would be mentioned as an immediate restoration concern. (The lamp issue is only mentioned as an example of a problem one could expect to experience in the future.)
13. The Zeiss Model II Projector was lowered into the floor after its last sky-show. Who has been operating the equipment to raise it for various tours and media events? This activity clearly demonstrates that the equipment has retained its mechanical and electrical integrity for more than 60 years. I toured the building on April 26, 2002 and was amazed at the remarkable integrity the electro-mechanical equipment has retained. (During our tour, members of The Children's Museum and City Council were actively discussing the possibility of using the Zeiss elevator as an amusement ride for the children. This consideration speaks volumes as to the quality of the craftsmanship used in the equipment's design and fabrication.)
14. Yes, the electrical systems of the Scientific Equipment would require updating. This portion of the restoration is the least troublesome. The electrical systems for the equipment's restoration would follow the guidelines of the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). All activity is subject to scrutiny by officials of both organizations and an inspection is required, I can assure Mr. Radzilowicz, that the task of updating the Projector (and other Scientific Equipment) would fall under those constraints. Keep in mind that the electrical systems for the entire building would also require modernization and inspection before children and families are permitted in the facility.
15. Ann Wagner mentioned that much of the technical information was lost during World War II. Of this there is no doubt. However, someone in Jena Germany was kind enough to dig around, locate, and mail the surviving schematics and mechanical drawings of the Zeiss Model II projector. Sufficient information exists to make restoration possible.
16. The members of SAVE THE BUHL are thoroughly cognizant of the technical nature of the Zeiss Model II Projector, and its operational history. Mr. Radzilowicz has lived in Pittsburgh for slightly over 4 years, has never worked at the original Buhl, and has never experienced a skyshow at Buhl. Furthermore, he has never operated an electro-mechanical planetarium projector (Zeiss) for public presentation. Additionally, he was Educational Director at a public science facility in Concord New Hampshire before arriving in Pittsburgh. . This facility also operates a state-of-the-art digital projector. The present position he holds is his first experience as a Planetarium Director. How then has he garnered the necessary background to be considered an "expert" and why has he held back his "plethora" of knowledge until now?
17. Mr. Radzilowicz claims that due to its age, it would be impossible to acquire the components, raise the necessary capital, and locate the expertise required to restore the Zeiss and the other scientific equipment contained within the Original Buhl. One might wish to ask Mr. Radzilowicz how (and why) a local group of amateur stargazers restored a grime-covered and corroding telescope, filled with plant growth and housed in a wooden crate. The telescope was built in 1910 by John Brashear and was missing crucial components. The work of replicating unique one-of-a-kind components, cleaning the instrument, testing the optics, and re-assembling the telescope was done by volunteers and local manufacturing facilities. The total cost of the project was less than $ 1000.00. The completely restored telescope is the organization's functioning showpiece.
18. Mr. Radzilowicz has taken it upon himself to condemn the Zeiss for public use. (The fact that this equipment has operated for over 50 years seems of little importance in his agenda.) Since the City of Pittsburgh owns the Zeiss and this individual is providing "expert" testimony regarding the status and deposition of said property; he is operating as an agent of said government. (Perhaps someone would be willing to provide the public with the criteria and screening process used to select Mr. Radzilowicz as an incontrovertible source of "expert" testimony in these matters.)
19. One can easily conclude that the goal of this letter is to convince the reader that the only choice to make is the purchase of a new and expensive product. This is the goal of any effective Corporation regardless of product or predicament. Perhaps Mr. Radzilowicz misconstrued the missive due to a severe bout of scanty sagacity.
20. Mr. Radzilowicz's contention is that those who wish to restore the Zeiss and Siderostat telescope are misguided fools embarking on an impossible journey. Perhaps it would be wise to ask Mr. Radzilowicz why he is an Executive Board member of an organization involved in restoring old telescopes and using an obsolete star projector? How can Mr. Radzilowicz continue to tout the impossibility of restoration, when he sits on the Executive Board of an organization that has tangibly proven otherwise?
21. As a man of Science, I would suggest to Mr. Radzilowicz, that it is a far nobler path to pursue absolute truth than to expend energy on misleading schemes.
Additional information (including this letter) can be found at www.SAVETHEBUHL.ORG
© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 SaveTheBuhl.org