I've always loved Victorian telescopes especially the great refractors. There is an unashamed element of romance in them, even the term "great refractor" conjures up some of the awe and majesty these old instruments commanded in their day. Leading modern telescopes like Keck and Gemini are amazing science tools and infinitely more powerful than any refractor ever built, but they're not The Great Keck or The Great Gemini are they? :)
In idle moments, I sometimes sketched little doodles of victorian style telescopes and increasingly began to wonder if such a thing could actually be built - and sometimes wondering can be a dangerous thing to do. One thing led to another and without really having thought the whole project through, I was welding steel. The telescope itself was relatively straight forward to make, what I failed to factor in was how difficult creating a suitable mount would be!
This is one of the doodles that lead to the creation of this telescope
The OTA is made from thin rolled steel sheets welded together.
Once painted, the interior was flocked throughout to reduce light scatter within the OTA
This view shows the business end - the oilspaced objective by Yuri Petrunin of TEC
The finished refractor on its mount and pier. you can read about the design and construction of this mount here
Here's my wife Asia for scale, the refractor is actually quite a large beast. It looked nowhere near that big on my drawings, if it had I might have been scared off beginning the project.
Here you can see the telescope doing its thing under the stars and also the eyepiece storage area behind the doors in the telescope pier.
Of course the whole point of any telescope is to look through it and here's an impression of the views it gives of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus the Eta Carinae star and Antares.
This is by no means the largest refractor ever built by an amateur astronomer, just the largest one ever built by me :) There's a whole Yahoo tech group (homemade refractors) devoted to folks who build refractors of all shapes and sizes.