SIGMA Dome Disassembly

After picking up the hire van at 8:30 on the morning of the 27th April we all headed to Ardgay arriving there just before lunch. Just as with any of our observing sessions the weather gods were having a laugh and we had misty horrible rain all day, but still we managed to get the job done and had a good laugh between us at the same time.

The first jobs were to remove the sliding opening and hatch and the rings that the dome rotated on.

I’m very pleased to say the majority of the nuts and bolts came apart reasonably easy with the help of my impact gun. This is in no doubt due to Helen applying large amounts of WD40 over the last 12 months. As always there were a couple that wouldn’t move so they had to be snapped off.

By now it was well past lunchtime and Helen invited us inside for a warming bowl of soup and a sandwich. Which was well needed by then.

During the lunch I thanked Helen once again for the donation of all this equipment, and as appreciation for that on behalf of SIGMA I offered her an honorary life membership to the club – which I am very pleased to say she accepted.

After lunch it was time to remove the dome, and this was where all the fun began. We had a quick test of the weight of the dome and realising it was not too heavy for the six of us to lift we moved it from the body of the observatory. Forgetting to do one vital thing first.

After rectifying our mistake, it was time for take two. And at this point I think is where we all turned into the Chuckle Brothers, with a bit of “to me to you.”

And with that we have the two pieces separated ready for dismantling which in fact also went very well.

As you can see by this time we were all having a lot of fun and giggles. But most of all great team effort and spirit going on between us. Possibly one of the hardest jobs we have to do is separate the sections which had been siliconed together and to the ground. But having been pre-warned about the silicon in the joints I brought with me a wire cutter, the type that is used to remove car windscreens. Once we had got the rhythm going it made light work of cutting through the silicon.

Cutting Edge Technology

Helen and Rob doing their impression of Bill & Ben the flowerpot men, I think.

Loading the Van

So by about 3:00 PM we had all 8 sections separated and ready to load them into the van. This in itself was quite an achievement. And, as you can see, by then we were all looking like drowned rats but still somehow managing to have a laugh.

Very soon the van was loaded with all the parts, nuts and bolts. Then it was time to get dried off and go inside for a coffee. But not before the final group selfie ahead of returning home.

Pete Sherman

April 2023