At last it was time to fabricate a handle lever to attach to the rover—oh, and complete the installation of the upper half of the platform. As planned, the lever contraption will allow me to easily lift (critical now that my back has been injured and is on the mend) and move the rover/telescope combination.
The idea was simple: cut two blocks of tubafore, round the top on both. Drill a 5/8″ hole that lines up on both. Attach said blocks with glues and screws to the tongue of the rover, about the thickness of a tubafore apart. Take a tubatwo and round one end at the band saw. Drill a 5/8″ hole in that, lined up with the two other blocks already on the tongue. Cut the tubatwo to length (in my case, about 34″) and slide it between the two blocks, then insert a length of 5/8″ oak dowel.
The lever now is free to move up and down, and is plenty strong (and easy) for me to lift the front of the rover a few inches of the ground without stooping. I can walk the rover where I want it without shuffling my feet or hunching my back to avoid stepping on the blasted thing (like the original base). In short, it…is…awesome.
I should have done this years ago. Eventually I’m going to make the dowel have an cap so I can remove it in the field and pull the lever out if it becomes a tripping hazard. No idea if that will be the case or if I will just position it up and out of the way. Time and experience will tell.
Once the lever was attached I finished installing the top platform. It took a while—there was plenty of manhandling and head scratching since I was doing this solo and ever so slowly to avoid hurting my back again—but I finally was able to balance the upper platform just so, then screw in the hinge screws. Finally all put together!
And who knew? The lever arm makes a handy prop for showing the drive platform in the open position! Now I just need to finish the lever arm (round the end off, add a cross bar), put my locking mechanism into place on the support brace (I think I’m going to put a t-nut on the plywood base, drill a hole through the upper base, support block and lower base and make a homemade carriage bold knob to lock it down when the drive isn’t in use) and sand and round off sharp edges. Oh, and build the hiss drive.
It’s stable, solid, the hinge (while only attached to the base, it was kind a stiff and had me worried about smooth movement) operates nice and slick (the added weight of the upper part must have corrected that) and the lever makes it real easy to maneuver. In short, I am one happy camper.
Which can only mean one thing. I need to be veeeeery careful when I set up the actual drive part of this thing—I can feel a disturbance in the Force. There is swearing in my future.
But hot damn am I happy I’ve gotten this far!