Case Studies

Corning Glass Lens, Corning, NY



In 1934 the world's heaviest piece of glass was cast at Corning Glass Works, Corning, NY. In a wave of media frenzy, accounts were written of the production of the engineering marvel which included the design and construction of a specialty oven which would cool the 200" telescope disc for over a year. It was shipped by rail from Corning, NY, to Pasadena, CA, while being viewed by millions of people who turned out to watch the famous "telescope train" as it passed. The massive piece of glass would take thirteen years to polish before being installed in the Hale telescope on the summit of Palomar Mountain near San Diego, CA. An engineering marvel in 1934 as well as today, few people realize it was actually the second heaviest piece of glass in the world. The first was the prototype cast previously when important lessons were learned on how to properly cool the second casting.

For many years the prototype lens was stored at Corning Glass until, in 1996, Corning Glass Works hired restoration architect Michael Henry, P.E., A.I.A. of Watson & Henry Associates to design a system by which the prototype could be exhibited. Corning Glass Works and Michael Henry negotiated an agreement with International Chimney Corporation for the safe relocation, rotation, and installation of the huge prototype lens into a delicate frame and setting to be used for the exhibit.

The team of International Chimney Corporation, acting as GC, fabricator and installer, along with Expert House Movers of Maryland, Inc., and Dick Dexheimer & Sons, Inc. who provided jacking and hydraulics, successfully completed the project. Working in environmentally controlled conditions, and after lens protection had been installed, the crew worked with taped and coated hand tools to very close tolerances as the extremely delicate 14 ton glass jewel was positioned in place.

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