Sunday, March 22, 2015

Berlebach Dovetail Clamp with Shoe for Takahashi EM-11

One problem with the Takahashi EM-11 (and EM-200) is that they are designed for Takahashi tube clamps, and don't come with a Vixen or Losmandy dovetail saddle.

ADM Accessories is probably the only company left making saddles (since Robin Casady no longer does).  I was not interested in a Losmandy saddle because it is large and requires large Losmandy dovetails which drives up the weight.

Vixen makes a compatible clamp, but frankly, it's ugly, and is of the wrong diameter. The photo below shows the (white) Vixen dovetail and how it's obviously of the wrong diameter and finish. It also uses two set screws which ding your dovetail and aren't terribly secure.  This was what I was using when I got the EM-11 because it is what came with the mount.
Luckily I found this Berlebach dovetail clamp with shoe.  It is not specifically made for Takahashi mounts (it's probably designed for Vixen Porta type mounts) but it has the 35mm hole spacing for the two central bolts.

Unfortunately, I discovered that the holes are 6mm diameter, not the 8mm needed for Takahashi mounts.  So I had to drill them out.  The Berlebach clamp uses countersunk machine screws, not the counterbored ones that the Vixen uses. Hence the Berlebach cannot use M8 SHCS machine screws, but rather M8 x 25mm countersunk ones.

A nice bonus of the Berlebach clamp is that its diameter is only slightly larger than the Takahashi mount top (at least for the EM-11) so it doesn't look too out of place.  The clamping shoe is also a nice touch, avoids marring your Vixen dovetails.

In my case, I used M8 countersunk machine screws with socket heads. The socket heads made the machine screw tops a bit too large, as is obvious in the first picture. I will have to find replacement machine screws (probably Philips) with slightly smaller heads that will fit exactly in the dovetail clamp's countersunk holes.  On the other hand maybe M8 bolts will never fit - the clamp was designed for M6 bolts.

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