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  1. #1
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Tripod maintenance

    I have seen lots of how to clean my camera, lenses, sensor threads, but never one on cleaning a tripod. My ballhead, and tripod legs have gotten very sticky recently so it was time for a good cleaning.

    After a little research on the web, I tore my tripod apart and cleaned it all up. Here is what I did.

    For the ballhead (Manfrotto 488RC2) I started by taking it completely off of the tripod. I took a clean rag and sprayed some WD40 onto it. Onto the rag, not the head. I took the damp rag and wiped off the ball as much as I could. It helped, but not as much as I would have liked. My next step was to unscrew the bottom of the ballhead. Once that was out, I took a snap-ring pliers and removed the retaining clip that holds the screw that I just unscrewed the base of the ballhead from. Below that was another retailing clip that holds in the main part of the ballhead that tightens against the ball to keep it from moving. I removed that with the snap -ring pliers and took the guts out of the ballhead. Be careful that you don't loose any of the parts. There are only about 5 parts to this so it was easy to keep track of them. Once I had the guts out, I found a small metal shaving that didn't belong there, so I removed that.

    I took my damp WD40 rag, and wiped everything down. This not only acts as a lubricant, it also helps to remove any dust and small metal particles. I read on the web not to use any heavier lubricants as they will hold onto dust as it finds it's way into the ballhead and make things worse. Wipe off any excess WD40.

    The legs (Manfrotto 3021 BPro)were also very sticky, and full of dust. I uses a philips head screwdriver to loosen the clamps on the legs, and pulled them apart one by one. Again I took my rag with WD40 and wiped down all of the legs. To clean the inside of the legs, I took my rag (old sock) and put it over a piece of pipe I had laying around in the garage. I then used that to clean the inside of the legs like you would clean the barrel of a gun. Once done, I reassembled the legs and wiped everything down one last time.

    My final step was to set the tripod outside to dry out, and air out.

    Your steps may very a bit depending on your tripod and head, but I'm sure the general idea is the same.
    Mike

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  2. #2
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Been thinking of doing that myself as mine legs have been getting sticky. Its an "old" sears tripod, aluminum tube legs. I think after cleaning, I'll use some graphite on it.
    Keep Shooting!

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  3. #3
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Never really done much myself, but if you have a ballhead be careful with any lubricants. I think that Arca Swiss recommends not using anything, including WD40. A friend uses car wax on his carbon fiber tripod and it works really smoothly - never got around to doing that myself.

  4. #4
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Quote Originally Posted by another view
    I think that Arca Swiss recommends not using anything, including WD40.
    They guy who wrote the article that I read this morning mentioned that too. Here is a link to the article. I think with the small amount that I used, it acts more like a cleaning solvent than a lubricant.

    Quote Originally Posted by another view
    A friend uses car wax on his carbon fiber tripod and it works really smoothly - never got around to doing that myself.
    I read that on a few sites too. I also read where people were using silicone spray, Armor All and mineral spirits. Some were using isopropyl alcohol or WD40 as cleaning solvents. These were all being used on carbon fiber legs, not the head.

    The bottom line is, be careful with whatever you use, and if you're not comfortable using a certain product on your tripod, don't.
    Mike

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  5. #5
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    I would not use WD40, unless it is wet. I've found the ever clear (100% alcohol ethanol or menthol) does the trick. You do need to use special grease on threaded aluminum parts to prevent galling.
    GRF

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  6. #6
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    It's been a few months since I cleaned my tripod using the method I outlined in this thread. I'm happy to say that I have see no ill affects from cleaning my tripod in this manner. The ball head is still as silky smooth as if it were new. The same with the legs. Of course it is winter so I haven't been out in the dirt and mudd with it, but everything is still working great. I will not hesitate to clean my tripod using this same method in the future.
    Mike

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  7. #7
    Senior Member mn shutterbug's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Thanks for the report. It's good to hear when something works the way it should.
    Mike
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  8. #8
    Seasoned Amateur WesternGuy's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Mike, thanks for the description of what you did for maintenance. I have an old Manfrotto ART 190/0930 -- the legs are sticky and the tightening controls are hard to get really tight. I think I will try some WD40 on it and see w if I can restore its old pristine condition as I really like the tripod and all the angles it can set up for. Thanks again.

    Cheers,

    WesternGuy

  9. #9
    MJS
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    I do an awful lot of tripod maintenance here at the school. We use Bogen/Manfrotto's exclusively because they are so easy to work on. I tend to blow things off with a household air compressor and then use an old 12 gauge shotgun bore cleaner, left dry to clean out the leg sections. I don't like to lube things too much, if at all because it provides a place for dust and dirt to accumulate.
    Michael
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  10. #10
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    I have a Manfrotto 161 and am having difficulty removing the head from the tripod.
    I have loosened the three grub screws but cannot get the head to separate from the top of the tripod.

    The center post / shaft turns when I try to unscrew the head.
    I have the center post tightened as much as I can by hand.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank you
    Allen

  11. #11
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Depending on the conditions I tear down the whole tripod once a year. If it was a very dusty day I will wipe it down after I clean my other equipment.

    Using a little graphite or 3 in One oil works great but don't over do it.

    WD 40 is not a good lubricant. It's more of a water repellent and cleaner. It can temporally lubricate but it can actually do damage to anything that has rubber O-rings like the rubber seal in the D300.
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  12. #12
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Try giving it a good whack with a plastic mallet or similar, Allen.
    Sometimes that gets stuff free. Use appropriate caution, of course!
    If your centerpost is tightened and still turns, you might want to put some pliers on it. I wouldn't keep letting it turn against its set screw as it will wear it out.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Quote Originally Posted by maxtrack
    I have a Manfrotto 161 and am having difficulty removing the head from the tripod.
    I have loosened the three grub screws but cannot get the head to separate from the top of the tripod.

    The center post / shaft turns when I try to unscrew the head.
    I have the center post tightened as much as I can by hand.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank you
    Allen
    Use a strap wench but make sure you have loosened all the grub screws. Remember to turn it counter clockwise, tripod set up looking down at tripod.
    GRF

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  14. #14
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    Re: Tripod maintenance

    Hi Hi. I think you should check out https://hvacandapplianceguys.com/ if you're going to live happily ever after. I'm not one of those people who are used to changing household appliances like gloves. Yes, I understand that there are times when it's really easier to buy something new. But in fact it is better to have reliable equipment that will be easy to repair. Look at least at https://hvacandapplianceguys.com/ for services that will definitely come in handy in your life. And save it to your bookmarks.

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