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    Re: The "big" sextant manufactures
    From: John Karl
    Date: 2007 Oct 28, 09:28 -0700

    
    One of my Plaths is a Navistar "look alike".  I say "look alike"
    because it doesn't say Navistar on it, but only C. Plath, Hamburg,
    Germany, S/N 49066.  But someone, who should know, says it is an early
    Navistar, and is identical to later ones that do say Navistar.  I
    wonder if any List members can date it from its S/N?  I put it at
    about 1968.
    
      It came from a sailing cat wrecked on a reef, without a certificate
    or box; it had a cracked horizon shade, corroded mirror frames, broken
    lighting system, and scrappy paint.  I fixed it all up - now it's in
    like-new condition.  I've not bothered to calibrate the arc (I'd use
    star-star distances) because (1) my eyes aren't good enough to be
    effective, and (2) I just wanted it in my collection for the kind of
    comparisons we've been talking about.  My other "Navistar Plath" is a
    M. Low Navy Mark III, in excellent condition.  I've been told that it
    is a Navistar made by Plath.
    
    When I said that the Plath looked like junk, I was basing it on the
    view through its scope.  I believe Plath is no different than all the
    other manufacturers in this regard.  They make a fine mechanical
    instrument, then put a cheap and poor performing Galilean scope on it
    - the kind you find on a kid's toy.  These Galilean scopes don't
    compare to a prism scope in terms of FOV, whole-horizon effect, and
    extraneous light.  I don't know why manufacturers don't offer low-
    power prism scopes - tradition?
    
    I have no reason to think that the craftsmanship of the Plath is
    anything but excellent,  However, as I've said before, I've never
    heard of a guaranteed accuracy, even when using the published arc
    corrections.  And what about a design that has troublesome one-wire
    lighting, grounded via lubricated surfaces; has ineffective lighting
    of the micrometer drum; and has the shades blocking the view?
    
    So my heresy, blasphemy, and Anti-Christian thoughts are not against
    Plath craftsmanship, but against some easily-corrected design flaws,
    and use of Galilean scopes (both common to most all modern sextants).
    If ye thinkest this still maketh me the blackest of sinners, I confess
    and pray to the CN Gods to save me from the plague of incorrect 60'
    carry-overs to degrees; being off one column or row in sight reduction
    tables; pressing the wrong calculator button in the first decimal
    place; and bumping the sextant against the companionway when going for
    a beer,
    
    John
    
    
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