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Archive 2013 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather
  
 
Yukonica
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


I bought an iOptron SkyTracker not long ago. The ball-head I purchased is… alright. Unfortunately the grease , or whatever, used is very temperature sensitive. At -5 C it basically freezes. Re-framing a shot is nearly impossible without dropping the settings for Polaris. A new, better, ball-head is in order.
Any information or experience with shooting with ball-heads in cold is appreciated.
-5 is nice weather. I'd like to be able to go out at -25/30.
I have a gimbal that works fine at low temperatures but it won't work on the tracker.
Cheers.



Nov 11, 2013 at 03:01 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


I use a Manfrotto 468MG head in -25/30 deg temps, and it's fine.

OTOH, maybe you could try a bit of 'mineral oil' on your current ball head. It might free-up your ball, head that is. It works for me.



Nov 11, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Yukonica
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


Thanks jcolwell, I'll give the mineral oil a try.
It is a cheap ballhead but considering the amount us use it will see in a year I'd rather fix it than buy a Markins to sit in a corner. Most of the time I have a Jobu on the legs.



Nov 11, 2013 at 04:33 AM
sjms
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


If you lube the sphere and cup area that it moves in you defeat the ability for it to trap and lock.


Nov 11, 2013 at 04:57 AM
15Bit
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


Surely dry lube is best for something like this? Graphite or similar


Nov 11, 2013 at 06:48 AM
Yukonica
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


Hi sjms, agreed that making it slippery seems counter intuitive but even at -5C it becomes so stiff that with screws fully loose; if I rotate the base it moves the plate on which it rests. The other night it actually moved the hole neck of the tripod.

Hello 15Bit, I had thought of graphite but it can get messy on exposed surfaces. May have to try it anyhow.

Surely there are people out there using ballheads in winter. If my reality is that I need to buck-up and buy a good one; so be it. I just want to avoid swapping it on and off the Sky-tracker.



Nov 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM
sjms
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


lubricant for the internal mechanism, if it designed for it, is fine. the cup itself is supposed to be the self lubricating bearing surface being a polymer material designed for that purpose. lubricants for low temp apps tend to be lithium based.

now putting all these parts to work together can be problematic when no real thought was involved for varied application and price was the point.

graphite based products can cause more issues then solve if used improperly.

-5c (+23f) is not particularly that cold either and easily reached (and below) in balmy central NJ



Nov 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM
trenchmonkey
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


KY jelly...if you want your pics to kick ass?!


Nov 11, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Yukonica
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


ummn, sjms, so what you are saying is 'the ballhead is a piece of price-point crap'. Tend to agree whole heartedly. I put an old single lever Manfrotto on a tripod then went out this morning (awesome aurora activity). It worked flawlessly.


Nov 11, 2013 at 05:59 PM
runamuck
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


trenchmonkey wrote:
KY jelly...if you want your pics to kick ass?!

Not sure if "kicking" ass is the proper use for KY? Unless you are really really kinky?

On a more serious note, it sounds like moisture freezing in the ball head and locking it.


Edited on Nov 11, 2013 at 07:03 PM · View previous versions



Nov 11, 2013 at 06:49 PM
 

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15Bit
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


runamuck wrote:
Not ure if "kicking" ass is the proper use for KY? Unless you are really really kinky?


Not to mention that it is water based, which should rather limit its use in sub-zero temperatures.



Nov 11, 2013 at 06:56 PM
runamuck
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


Hmmm, would it be "slipperier" when it's frozen?


Nov 11, 2013 at 07:51 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


More likely it will contain small sharp crystallites in a gel like matrix, at least for a temp region near zero.


Nov 11, 2013 at 08:24 PM
killersnowman
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


a ball head may not be the best choice here. a 2axis geared head may work better









Nov 12, 2013 at 01:17 AM
peter_n
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


I had issues with my Markins heads locking up in the cold and replaced them with an Acratech ballhead. The Acratechs have open designs that allows them to be reliable in tough environments such as severe cold or extreme heat with sand and/or dust. They don't lock up in winter and are basically maintenance-free, if they get clogged up with sand or mud you run them under a faucet. I've had mine for almost a year and no problems so far.




Nov 12, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Yukonica
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


@ killersnowman: Russian pre-1970? For polar alignment that piece would probably work quite well. For changing the composition on the fly: maybe not so much. Of course, with those gears, if it freezes up you can just crank on through the ice…. and pull your truck out of a ditch if necessary.

peter_n; thanks for the tips on real-life use. Arcatech is on my list of probable options… but I do have to ask how you get it clogged with mud? You are obviously way (way) closer to your subjects than me.



Nov 12, 2013 at 04:58 AM
Glenn NK
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


peter_n wrote:
I had issues with my Markins heads locking up in the cold and replaced them with an Acratech ballhead. The Acratechs have open designs that allows them to be reliable in tough environments such as severe cold or extreme heat with sand and/or dust. They don't lock up in winter and are basically maintenance-free, if they get clogged up with sand or mud you run them under a faucet. I've had mine for almost a year and no problems so far.


When I bought my Acratech at their outlet (factory) in Pomona, CA this past February, I met the owner (Saturday am). He developed his ball head because when he went up into the high desert (Yucca Tree NP) and it rained, then froze, the other ball heads froze up.

And AFAIK, a ball head should NOT be lubricated. Either the ball or the cup is made from a material that does not require lubrication. A lubricant will be contaminated with dirt/dust, and foul up. Even my entry level Manfrotto single lever BH didn't require lube. I don't think a BH should be lubricated.



Nov 12, 2013 at 05:58 AM
peter_n
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


Yukonica wrote:
peter_n; thanks for the tips on real-life use. Arcatech is on my list of probable options… but I do have to ask how you get it clogged with mud? You are obviously way (way) closer to your subjects than me.


Actually it wasn't mud it was very wet sand and the tripod just got knocked over. These things happen. Luckily it was a beach so a tap was easy to find. I was more worried about the clamp than the ballhead.



Nov 12, 2013 at 01:57 PM
runamuck
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


I still think there is moisture in the ball head. Put it in a warm oven (about 140F or 60C) for several hours or in front of a heat vent for a couple of days. This should dry up any moisture in the head. It is not any lubricant freezing.


Nov 12, 2013 at 05:21 PM
H. Hoolee
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · lubricants for ball heads in cold weather


If I remember my Markins ballhead maintenance instructions, a thin layer of WD-40 is recommended. In owning the Markins for 8 to 9 years I have only lubricated it once or twice, and the thin layer (lightly applied and then wiped off) has been adequate. However, I have not used the balllhead in temperatures lower than 25 F so I do not know how the operation of my ballhead might change.


Nov 12, 2013 at 05:57 PM
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