A short technical post and a follow up from my previous post in July 2009 HERE
Another leg lock lever snapped the other day leaving me with a lob-sided tripod once again. I was about to just chuck the whole thing, a very nice looking, easy to use, lightweight and compact Manfrotto 055MF4 which has made travelling around with a tripod so much more pleasant. However, with FOUR lever snaps in just a year, there was obviously a design fault.
I looked at the new Gitzo Ocean tripod, carbon fibre and stainless steel and supposedly sea water friendly, but at £ 800 or thereabouts, I just felt it was a ridiculously overpriced piece of kit so decided to once again order a replacement leg lever clamp instead (in fact a complete set of 9 clamps for all the leg sections).
I got chatting to the gentleman in Manfrotto Spare Parts department and it turned into an amazing call - why, because now I know the reason for the breakages.
Carbon Fibre swells in water, and being used in sea water means a build up of crusty white salt also occurs. Aluminium of course does not swell like carbon fibre, so the aluminium leg clamps are put under huge pressure by the swelling carbon. After a few of these swellings the castings finally snap.
So, the main advice is:
a) Don't over-tension the screws/bolts on any leg clamps
b) Following use in very wet conditions, always leave the clamps undone to allow for a small amount of swelling from the carbon fibre
c) Remove the white crusty bits/pitting using an emery cloth.
I now know why I never had these breakage's from my old aluminium tripods, the aluminium legs simple never swelled like the carbon fibre so therefore no snapping!
I am going to resort to using my old Manfrotto 055PROB in the sea (aluminium on aluminium) and keep spares anyway, just in case.
I am replacing all my old corroded leg clamps on the carbon fibre 055 Mag4 and will now only use this for landscape, not seascape work. This should avoid any future breakage's.
I have just bought a small Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 Carbon Fibre Tripod which will collapse very small indeed for my mountain work and again will not be used in the sea.
Just thought everyone should know about this potential problem with many Carbon Fibre tripods used in wet conditions.
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