The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

William L. Gould

A Famous Telescope is Modeled in both Real and Virtual Versions

Bill Gould with a 1/12 scale model on the desk and a 3D CAD model on the screen, both illustrating a telescope by Joseph von Fraunhofer that in 1823 was the largest telescope in the world. Bill's craftsmanship inhabits the world of the real and the virtual world as well. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

About William L. Gould...

NOTE: The attention of this page is focused on Bill Gould's telescope project, but his other models--both real and virtual--can be seen in his expanded page which is linked from the Model Making section.

Designer–Craftsman–Model Maker

Bill Gould has successfully turned his childhood passion for “making things” into a lifelong profession as an artist, product designer and professional modelmaker. Self-employed for over 34 years, his clients have included Pacific Fast Mail, Kemtron, Texas Instruments, Mattel Toys, WD-40 Company, CBS, Revell Models, Monogram, General Telephone, Polaroid and Fallbrook Engineering.

Bill has always been drawn to all things mechanical. Born in 1946, both parents were artists, his grandfather a noted architect and his great-uncle, Frank Crowe, was Chief Engineer of the Boulder Dam construction project.  He repaired their neighbor’s typewriter at five, discovered model railroading and was winning awards by twelve, and while a Cub Scout manufactured kits of the Nike missile and “lectured” at the local library. By fourteen he was machining brass patterns for model railroad manufacturers, eventually creating some 500 patterns over a thirty year period.  During high school summer vacation Bill worked in a precision machine shop, operating a tiny Levin turret lathe, investing his earnings in machine tools.

Oddly enough, Bill’s primary interest at that time was technical theatre, studying it throughout high school and at California State University, Los Angeles, and working professionally for several years. Bill started his first business while in college, making gift products and custom furniture, as well as continuing with patternmaking and kit design. He well remembers a period during which he was juggling college, his business, stage managing two shows and working with Richard Dayton on the models for the Petticoat Junction television series—all at the same time on four hours sleep a night!

It was at Cal State that Bill’s first love of model making became his “second love” when he met Geri Jimenez, an aspiring actress in the theatre department. He proposed to her at a model railroad convention and they were married in 1969. They are celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary this year (2007). 

Being ‘burned out’ in theatre, Bill decided to become a model maker full time, joining the model shop at Hughes Aircraft Company in 1971. The Hughes shop was primarily woodworking, with a 96" swing ‘T’ bed wood lathe, 24" jointer, 48" planer, 20 HP table saws and two huge bandsaws. Although a skilled woodworker, Bill’s job was precision machining and there were few metalworking tools in the shop, so he was allowed to request “anything” he needed.  Naturally, he asked for a Tree knee mill and a fully tooled Monarch EE metal lathe, the “Rolls Royce” of precision machine tools!  Bill worked on the TOW, Phoenix, Falcon and Sidewinder weapons systems, as well as Intelsat, Anik and OSO satellites, receiving commendations for his work.

In 1973 Bill left Hughes, and he and Geri started Gould Studios with only $500 and no clients. Needless to say, it was a tough beginning to the business they still share together some 34 years later. He worked part time as an engraver during the first year, but became very busy prior to the Bicentennial, sculpting models for commemorative medals and coins. He also sculpted the Rancho San Rafael Memorial in Montrose, and an heroic figure of Justice for the Orange County Court House. Of course, prototype and museum model making continued, with a growing client list.

In 1977 Bill added plastic injection molding to his arsenal, and soon launched The Gould Company line of plastic model railroad kits, which rapidly became known as the quality leader in the hobby industry. Bill and Brian Leppert, a fellow model railroader and exceptional engraver, made all of the tooling, and plastics became their primary focus. They soon outgrew their facility and moved to a large industrial building, added more plastic machines and a packing line, while Geri managed the office. The line was sold in over 1500 retail hobby shops in nine countries. In 1987 Bill sold the kit line to Tichy Train Group, and it is still on the market.

Geri and Bill moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he turned entirely to product design and prototype model making for consumer products and medical devices, while Geri focused on her sculpture. Tired of the snow, they returned to California in 1997 to be closer to his primary medical device clients. 

A major turning point occurred in 2001. Bill had seen a steady decline in sales of his prototype model making due to the impact of CAD design on the product development cycle. Simply put, hand fabricated prototypes were seldom required now that designs were created on the computer and sent out for rapid prototyping. Knowing he had to ‘join the crowd’, Bill consulted with his clients, and chose SolidWorks®, considered the industry leader for product design. To fast track the learning curve, Bill enrolled in the ROP (Regional Occupational Program) at Palomar College, a (CA) state funded program to retrain working professionals into new job sectors. Being a “T-square and drafting board” guy, with no CAD experience, it was a frustrating start, but ‘the lights went on’ after about three weeks, and he finished with an “A”, then did the same with the advanced SolidWorks class. CAD design now accounts for some 70% of his work. 

Bill is an award winning CAD designer, with an unusual twist, combining his expertise in SolidWorks with his lifelong passion for the History of Technology, and much of his work now is focused on the field of Industrial Archeology. Bill’s SolidWorks model of the Mason Bogie 2-6-6T narrow gauge locomotive, requiring over 400 hours of research and computer time, was awarded 2nd Runner-up in the SolidWorks 2006 International Design Competition, chosen from hundreds of designs by major firms from around the world. A feature article on this project was published in the May, 2006 issue of Cadalyst Magazine, a leading CAD trade journal, and Bill has been interviewed for podcasts and featured on numerous websites. Full color lithographs and digital blackline scale drawings of many of his projects are offered on their website and soon through museum gift shops.

Bill not only models in CAD, he makes the real thing too. On the left is a SolidWorks ® 3D CAD rendering of a telescope built in Estonia in 1823 by Joseph von Fraunhofer. On the right is a 1/12th scale model scale model Bill constructed for the National Geographic Society’s Centennial Celebration, at Explorer’s Hall, Washington, DC. The model is now on permanent display at the Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)

Increased focus on CAD design has allowed Bill to downsize his model making business. He now makes models only for very select clients and is actually finding time to work on his many unfinished personal projects including a skeleton regulator clock, 3 ½" scale live steam locomotive and a Coventry compound launch engine, all started some 30 years ago, but set aside due to time constraints. His well equipped shop includes a Bridgeport and a high precision Aceria (Swiss) mill, three lathes including a fully tooled Peerless watchmaker’s lathe, a 1907 belt-driven Potter 7" x18" Instrument lathe (his favorite!) and a large 13" x 40" engine lathe. He eschews CNC (farming it out) in favor of manual machines better suited to one-off and prototypes, including Deckel 2-D and 3-D pantographs perfect for his miniature work. 3-D templates are often cut for him by others on CNC from his CAD model. The advantage is that the template, say at 10:1 ratio, can be rapidly cut in acrylic with large (1/8" diameter or less) cutters; he then machines the final product or mold cavity with a .012" diameter (down to .004"!) four-sided cutter at up to 30,000 RPM. His hand engraving tools (gravers) were given to him 35 years ago by a close friend of his dad, who had used them as an engraver at Tiffany in 1917. Many of Bill’s hand tools date to the late 19th Century.  Bill is an accomplished writer with many articles in national magazines, including Sky and Telescope and Live Steam.

He also crafts musical instruments and Native American style flutes, creating over 250 to date, most for recording artists and performers. Many are constructed in the “traditional” manner; hand-carved from split branches, often willow or elderberry from his own property, as well as cedar, walnut and exotics. Also musicians with a well-equipped recording studio, Bill and Geri (who is Native American of the Gabrieleno/Tongva Tribe, or San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians), along with their friends, record together as often as possible and hope to release their first CD in the near future.

More of Bill and Geri’s work may be seen at


An Essay on Craftsmanship

by William L. (Bill) Gould

Click on the above linked title to read Bill's thoughtful essay on what craftsmanship is and how important it is to the survival of a culture.

Here are some photos and renderings of Bill Gould's telescope project:

(Click any photo to view a larger image.)

Photos from Bill's shop

This view of Bill’s shop shows his Bridgeport knee mill and Deckel G1-L 2-D engraving pantograph. On the wall is one of his full color lithograph prints. 

A 13 x 40 gear-head engine lathe and 1907 Instrument lathe.

This Aceria F-1 precision universal milling machine from Switzerland has an interesting history. Bill acquired it many years ago from Clifford Grandt, a Master toolmaker and founder of the famous Grandt Line Products line of model railroad parts.  Cliff had used it to machine many of the parts for our earliest satellites while employed by the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley in the early 1950’s.

Bill’s favorite lathe is this1907 belt driven Potter 7" x 18" Instrument Lathe. With cone bearings it is still capable of .0005 tolerances. It is fully tooled, including double tool cross-slide, turret tailstock, full collet set and the usual chucks. Note that Bill fits all of his machines with either dial indicators or digital readouts.

von Fraunhofer Telescope project

1/12th scale model created for the National Geographic Society’s Centennial Celebration, at Explorer’s Hall, Washington, DC. Bill’s model was featured in the March, 1989 issue of Sky and Telescope, and was chosen for Fine Woodworking Design Book Five as one of 259 (from 1600 entries) of the “World’s Best Works in Wood”.

    The original was made by Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826), who discovered the ‘Fraunhofer Lines’ in the spectrum, and considered the “Father of Astrophysics”.  It was the first application of his invention of the ‘equatorial mount’ and ‘clock drive’. At 9 ½" f15, it was the largest telescope in the world in 1823, and still considered one of the most important scientific instruments in history. The original is on display at the Dorpat Observatory Museum in Tartu, Estonia.  Bill researched the original with numerous museums and libraries which provided copies of the maker’s drawings, and directly with the curator of the Dorpat Observatory who provided many detail photos and measurements.

(See 3D CAD renderings of this model in the section below.)

Equatorial Mount and Clock Drive, also showing the tapered tube/ball counterweight system to minimize flexure of the telescope tube at various positions.  Oval counterweight controlled the thrust bearing of the Polar axis shaft. Bill used Ramón, an extremely hard, fine-grained wood from central Mexico, stained with Tandy brand leather dye to represent the oak and mahogany of the original. Model is fully functional excepting the optics.

Setting Circle” with engraved lettering only .025" high!
Dorpat Telescope model, shown with a few of Bill’s tools; many, including the bow compass and ink drafting pen, were used by his grandfather, a noted architect.
Franklin Printing Press model, 1/12th Scale. Also exhibited in the National Geographic Society Centennial Exhibition, along with the telescope, it was acquired for the permanent collection of the Kansas City Miniatures Museum. It is fully functional, and actually used to print the pages on the model from photo-reduced, etched and machined type.
Instruments created using Computer Aided Drafting (CAD)
Fraunhofer’s Dorpat Telescope, 1823. Bill created his CAD model in 2006 from the research and drawings he did in the mid 1980’s when he made a 1/12th scale model for the National Geographic Society’s Centennial Celebration.  The original was made by Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826), who discovered the ‘Fraunhofer Lines’ in the spectrum, and is considered the “Father of Astrophysics”. It was the first application of his invention of the ‘equatorial mount’ and ‘clock drive’. At 9 ½" f15, it was the largest telescope in the world in 1823, and still considered one of the most important scientific instruments in history. The original is on display at the Dorpat Observatory Museum in Tartu, Estonia.

(See the photos of the physical model Bill built in the section above. The furniture rendered into this version gives you an idea of the size of the original telescope.)

Dorpat Telescope, detail

Dorpat Telescope, detail

Dorpat Observatory, Tartu, Estonia (former USSR). Gives an idea of size. The telescope tube is fifteen feet long!
Ferguson's Mechanical Paradox Orrery
This instrument demonstrates the position of the earth and sun at various times of the year. It was drawn based on a contemporary illustration by James Ferguson published in 1779. Bill plans to offer drawings for those interested in scientific instruments. The CAD model is fully animated and geared to demonstrate function.

Orrery, detail

Orrery, exploded view

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