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08-03-2021, 01:06 PM   #1
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Old Wooden Tripod - Identity?

All,

I won an old wooden tripod by auction with some other items, and I was wondering if anyone has an idea as to what it might be. I don't see any marks on it (of course, I might be missing them). It's pretty cool. Seems to be solid wood and brass.

08-03-2021, 01:15 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jawats Quote
All,

I won an old wooden tripod by auction with some other items, and I was wondering if anyone has an idea as to what it might be. I don't see any marks on it (of course, I might be missing them). It's pretty cool. Seems to be solid wood and brass.
I could be wrong, but it looks like an antique surveyor's transit tripod. I used something similar decades ago, when laying out a course for timing high speed sailboats on world record attempts.
08-03-2021, 01:38 PM - 1 Like   #3
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It is an old (and very pretty) surveyor's tripod. Unfortunately, the attachment points differ from what is needed for attaching a camera tripod head. They are very nice tripods, but sadly, practically unusable unless you have access to milling equipment to make a new base.
08-03-2021, 01:40 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by subsea Quote
I could be wrong, but it looks like an antique surveyor's transit tripod.
That would be my guess as well. I think some of the modern ones have a base that can be more easily adapted to photography.

They are cool looking though.

08-03-2021, 02:43 PM   #5
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Nice.
Shouldn't be that difficult to cut flat, drill and tap that base...
08-03-2021, 04:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
Nice.
Shouldn't be that difficult to cut flat, drill and tap that base...
Would I be trying to make a male head to which I could attach a ball head? Something large format, perhaps...

---------- Post added 08-03-21 at 04:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
It is an old (and very pretty) surveyor's tripod. Unfortunately, the attachment points differ from what is needed for attaching a camera tripod head. They are very nice tripods, but sadly, practically unusable unless you have access to milling equipment to make a new base.
Seems like it. It's cast brass, AFAICT, and there is very little to remove, so it's almost certainly a mill job.
08-03-2021, 04:34 PM   #7
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It looks like that center post is solid. Just tap it and fit a stud that you then screw the ballhead onto.

08-03-2021, 04:45 PM   #8
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The mount looks similar to that used on the current light stands. Depending if the "spud" sticking up is 5/8" as is used on these light stands, adding something like this:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1359190-REG/manfrotto_014bim_16mm_fem...981&
and then a standard tripod head would get it into service. For practicality, it might be cumbersome but for a uniqueness nothing would compare.
08-03-2021, 05:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by AlwaysAl Quote
The mount looks similar to that used on the current light stands. Depending if the "spud" sticking up is 5/8" as is used on these light stands, adding something like this:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1359190-REG/manfrotto_014bim_16mm_fem...981&
and then a standard tripod head would get it into service. For practicality, it might be cumbersome but for a uniqueness nothing would compare.
It's close - that's a good recommendation. However, I think it's 3/4".
08-03-2021, 05:43 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
It looks like that center post is solid. Just tap it and fit a stud that you then screw the ballhead onto.
I agree with that sentiment. Don't overthink it and it won't be too hard. Drill and tap, no milling. May want to use a helicoil or better still a keensert, depending on what weight equipment you want to put on top.

Could also remove/ drill thru anything in the center leaving a through hole. Then you can just stick threaded rod through the middle with appropriate nuts and washers on top and bottom. No taps, no need for precise holemaking.
08-03-2021, 06:24 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wadge22 Quote
I agree with that sentiment. Don't overthink it and it won't be too hard. Drill and tap, no milling. May want to use a helicoil or better still a keensert, depending on what weight equipment you want to put on top.

Could also remove/ drill thru anything in the center leaving a through hole. Then you can just stick threaded rod through the middle with appropriate nuts and washers on top and bottom. No taps, no need for precise holemaking.
So, if we were pretending that I knew little (read: nothing) about this sort of thing, I'd guess that what I would want to do would be to:

(1) It seems like most tripod heads use a 3/8"-16 thread. Therefore, it looks like I could use a set like this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-5-16-in-Black-Oxide-Drill-and-3-8-in-x-16...1414/204787206 to create the threads.

(2) Then, I could get one of these: https://www.adorama.com/cmvc1835.html? when I wanted to attach the ball head.

I could also make a 1/4" hole. What do y'all think? Also, it looks like plug tap is the type I should use?

Is that roughly correct?
08-03-2021, 07:16 PM   #12
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Yes, that is pretty much right.

Your main thing you will want to be careful with is making sure you drill straight down, not at any slight angle. And don't wobble the drill around, which would make the hole bigger or weird shaped. You want a hole that is just the right size and a nice straight cylinder, not "wallered out" (legit technical machinist term).

When tapping, go slow and careful. Start carefully, again being sure to go in straight. The tap should be tapered at the front to help guide it straight. Go forward a little, back it out all the way, clean any chips or dust out of the hole and off of the tap, then put it back in and run it a little further forward. Repeat a few turns at a time, depending on how much trouble it's giving you. Use some kind of fluid, even just motor oil or wd40. Taps are easy to break, and hard to remove. And you only need to get this done once. No rushing.

With a brass fastener into cast brass threads and no huge flat base of contact with the bottom of the ballhead (or whatever), this thing probably isn't going to be ready to hold heavy long lenses. I would definitely do the 3/8 for strength. You could also consider something more like this for your stud. But either way it will be pretty cool! It's a really nice looking tripod.

Last edited by wadge22; 08-03-2021 at 07:30 PM.
08-03-2021, 07:35 PM   #13
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Yep, that tap would be correct, and the screw you linked would work too. You'll also need to get a handle for it. Much easier to turn it evenly with a handle than trying to do it with a wrench. I would also recommend getting a smaller bit, perhaps half the diameter, to drill a pilot hole. The hardest part will be drilling the hole perpendicular, but be careful, and you'll be fine. For both the drilling and tapping, use a light weight oil They make special cutting fluids, but for what you're doing, you could use a household oil like 3 and 1. Automatic transmission fluid would work too. You'll want to drill it, clean up the metal bits, and then tap it. You work the tap in slowly going in a little, backing it out, back in. You'll feel it cutting. Clean it as you go. I'm sure there are some good YouTube videos on tapping things. It's not hard, and a good thing to know how to do.

edit - I see wadge22 and I are typing at the same time - think you're on your way.
08-03-2021, 09:30 PM   #14
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it could be an old surveyors tripod that a compass would be mounted on......without spikes on the feet would be difficult to plant firmly in the ground....also having the chain to prevent the legs of only getting so far a part the little ring would make it difficult to plumb bob over a point unless on quite level ground.........
it could be a tripod for spotlights/lighting.......film, stage, etc......
08-03-2021, 11:12 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Before modifying the tripod, check if it is a collectable item. It might be worth good money in it its current unmolested state. Probably not, but you never know. By drilling it you might be defacing a valuable antique, hehehe.
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