Greasing your Manfrotto legs and ball head.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Garbz, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anyone here ever let their tripod get to the stage where it's in desperate need of some TLC? I don't coddle my gear and as such my tripod has been dragged through dust, snow, salty oceans, and the most I have ever given it is a quick hose down.

    Well as these things do after abuse it's getting very VERY hard to move the ball head, and even the locks on the legs are getting a bit sticky to move (legs move fine though). Any recommendations on a grease to use?
     
  2. ZWolfe21

    ZWolfe21 TPF Noob!

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    Lithium Grease or, for lack of a better term, fishing reel grease types. But don't pack it on there, light amounts would go along way. Just don't mix different greases though, can be a bad thing on rare occations. As for the ball head, rub a bit on the exposed area of the ball and rotate that head 360 degrees around and on the other axis very well. If it doesn't free up as well as you'd like, move it to the exact opposite side as you started and do it again.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I would recommend disassembly and cleaning with WD-40 (Stoddard solvent with 15% mineral oil) and then wiping with a clean cloth before reassembly.

    Any grease will just accumulate contamination.
     
  4. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Is it aluminum or graphite?


    I do not know if I would use any solvent/liquid type.
    Best to contact Manfrotto.
    If they do not get back to you, I would use a graphite type lubricant.
     
  5. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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  6. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH TPF Noob!

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    One note on the teflon-wax bike chain lubes; (or the DuPont product that appears to be the same thing) they're great lubricants, but make sure to let them dry before putting your camera on it. I haven't had anything damaged by the solvent yet (and I use it on guns, telescopes, a wood lathe and photo gear) but the amount of crud it loosens up makes me think it could be rough on plastics before it evaporates.

    In general, I disassemble whatever I'm going to lube with it, apply it, spread and wipe off excess with my fingers, let it sit about 2 minutes, reassemble, and work the mating surfaces a few times to continue spreading it. It should be about as dry as it's going to get in 5 minutes or so.
     
  7. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That's the problem with quick searches. Everyone has a different idea on how to fix it :S

    That said they all claim to have worked so I may just spray it with some silicon grease which drys relatively quickly.

    Lithium grease sounds good but I need to find where I can buy the stuff :S
     
  8. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH TPF Noob!

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    Any auto parts store should have several varieties.
     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I wouldn't grease it at all. Remember a ball head is a friction grip. Grease and friction don't go together. Disassemble the ball head and wipe all of the parts well with denatured alcohol. If you go here and put in the ball head number or leg set number you can pull up a schematic of the item.

    Make sure to get into the nooks and crannies with something like q-tips again soaked in alcohol. After it is clean let is sit out and dry. Then re-assemble. Remember these things are made with close tolerances of materials meant to move against one another with out the benefit of grease.

    At most you might want to leave a very light coating of WD-40 on the ball, but not something as thick as grease.

    This is how Markins suggests that you clean their heads.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    No grease! Grease and photographic equipment do not go together very well. They're kind of like water and electricity, or alcohol and driving; a disaster waiting to happen.
     
  11. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I will repeat, grease, it's bad stuff for this situation. It is also something that you probably haven't thought of. It is a dirt magnet. It can and will collect hard dirty particles that can do damage to the ball and socket. A nice heavy grease like lithium grease is great for making a sticky bomb or lubrication for very hard metal surfaces with medium tolerances.

    As a shooter I learned long ago to lightly oil a weapon after cleaning. The thinnest of film of a light viscus oil is what is desired. More and it will attract dirt and can foul a weapon. Not a good thing in the middle of a firefight.

    You might want to e-mail Manfrotto customer service and see what they advise. I have seen a writeup of their clean suggestion, but can't find it now. Good luck Garbz.
     
  12. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    Do Not Grease it!

    Take it apart. Most likely there is trapped material inbetween the ball and the socket. Clean this out very well. If there is sand or abbrasive material in there. There may be some small scores in the socket metal (cast metal). Clean up the scores with very fine sand paper so it is smooth again. Clean out very well and dry. And then reasseble dry - no lube-!

    The ball is nice very hard steel. Most likely it is the socket that has the issues! Scores and debris in the socket will cause it to be stiff. Clean this stuff up and it will be good as new. :thumbup:
     

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