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02-04-2018, 10:00 AM   #1
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Tripod head stuck to center column

I know that this problem has been discussed here in the past (and pops up again and again on various non-Pentax Forum threads). I have yet to find a good solution to the problem and was hoping that there might be new knowledge on this issue. Here's the problem: I have a Gitzo G2272M pan head attached to the center column of an Induro carbon CX213 tripod, via a standard 3/8" thread. The pan head and center column are stuck together and no amount of manual force has been successful in separating them. The surfaces I can grip are narrow and I don't want to mar them. The tripod has never been subjected to water so I don't suspect water corrosion.
I've applied WD-40 penetrating oil to the edge of the surface where the two parts are in contact hoping that the oil will penetrate and separate the two stuck parts. It hasn't helped.
I'm aware of the suggestion to place the two parts in the freezer to get the metal to contract, but seeing that the tripod head has two built-in levels filled with a liquid (water?) I'm wary that the liquid might freeze and if the liquid is water the levels might even shatter.
I've attached a photo which I hope explains the situation (the pan head handles have been removed).
Would anyone have a suggestion that I might still try? Thank you.
(PS In my attempts to separate the two stuck parts I succeeded in snapping off one of the pan head handles but that's a lesser problem. I'll extract the broken off section later on).

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02-04-2018, 10:48 AM   #2
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I don't know about Gitzo tripods but with Manfrotto there are usually 3 grub screws on the bottom the column head that you have to loosen in order to unscrew the heads.

A rubber strap wrench or two should give you all the grip and torque you need.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075QPVHJ4/ref=psdc_553408_t3_B00K92810A?tag=pentaxforums-20&
02-04-2018, 10:48 AM   #3
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Do a google search for strap wrench. You would need two of them. They will cinch and grip. First put a few drops of penetrating oil, and leave it for an hour or so.
02-04-2018, 10:55 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
3 grub screws on the bottom the column head
My thoughts as well...

Steve

02-04-2018, 11:03 AM   #5
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silikroil makes WD-40 seem tame. But take care because the excess may get on those grip surfaces and then you'll be truly screwed for getting a grip. Strap wrenches seem a likely solution. As for the levels - contact gitzo - they likely are not just water and the tripod head may have an operating temp of lower than freezing. Try the fridge first if you want - even that may do the trick.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 02-04-2018 at 01:13 PM.
02-04-2018, 11:08 AM   #6
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I had a similar problem with a Manfrotto tripod with a tilt/pan head. As mentioned earlier this one also had set screws accessible from underneath that prevented the head from loosening when panning. Even after loosening these set screws I could not get the head to come off, what worked for me was using a socket on an extension (I needed two to reach) and accessed the 3/8" bolt from up inside the center column (I did have to remove the hanger from the bottom of the center column).
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02-04-2018, 11:29 AM   #7
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The two surfaces may have become seized. If there are no screws holding the two parts together, you might try gently heating the section where the "contact surface" is located. I have used a hair blow dryer or small workshop heater in similar situations - slight differences in material expansion 'breaks' the bond.
02-04-2018, 12:09 PM   #8
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There are three screws on the under side of the mounting plate that require an Allen wrench (provided with the tripod) to unscrew. IF you already did that, and no one had the crazy idea of using an adhesive to attach the head initially, then DB Blaster should help unseize the center column bolt.

IF that doesnʻt work, there is a locking center column nut that @Kai in post #6 mentions. Refer to diagram 4 in the PDF link:

https://www.indurogear.com/portals/0/files/induro_flex_tripods_instructions.pdf

02-04-2018, 01:24 PM   #9
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You should be able to remove the screws (if any) and spray the lubricant through the holes. This will get the lubricant more in the areas you want it.
02-05-2018, 02:20 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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Many thanks to all who responded. I tried the methods you suggested: removing the 3 grub screws, placing in the freezer, etc... Didn't do the trick. Unfortunately silikroil isn't available in my country. I ordered 2 different models of rubber strap wrenches. They're on their way and I'm looking forward to trying them out. I contacted Gitzo in the UK (sales@gitzospares.com). They responded immediately and asked me to ship the stuck items to them. I'll do so if I'm unable to separate the two parts in the next few days. It's good to know that I can fall back on Gitzo's customer support. Once this is solved I'll post an update here. It may be of help to someone in the future.
02-05-2018, 06:07 PM   #11
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Benie: In your original post, in the diagram you state on the head "this part rotates freely. No use in gripping it." But as a function of panning left or right, even when you lock it down tight, the head doesnʻt unscrew from the tripod plate?

And please donʻt be offended, but youʻre certain you are rotating the head off counterclockwise? Iʻve been guilty of this obvious blunder more than once working on my car and was just lucky I didnʻt strip a thread or break a bolt before realizing what I was doing wrong.
02-05-2018, 11:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Benie: In your original post, in the diagram you state on the head "this part rotates freely. No use in gripping it." But as a function of panning left or right, even when you lock it down tight, the head doesnʻt unscrew from the tripod plate?

And please donʻt be offended, but youʻre certain you are rotating the head off counterclockwise? Iʻve been guilty of this obvious blunder more than once working on my car and was just lucky I didnʻt strip a thread or break a bolt before realizing what I was doing wrong.
Hi Alex645, in answer to your questions: I tried locking down the pan head rotation and using the handle as a lever to unscrew the pan head from the center column. I used too much force and it snapped off (I forgot that the Gitzo handles are quite brittle). I now have to deal with extracting the handle section that's broken off inside the pan head. A bit of careful work with a screw extractor should take care of that, but I want to first separate the center column. I should mention that my biggest concern is saving the center column. This particular tripod model is discontinued (a great pity, it's a wonderfully versatile tripod) and if I lose the center column I won't be able to replace it. The Gitzo G2272M panhead on the other hand is still on the market in case I have to get a new one. Regarding the direction of unscrewing the two parts: Yes, I'm doing it counterclockwise, and no offense taken whatsoever. The question is valid and this kind of mistake can happen at the best of times
02-06-2018, 12:02 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by benie Quote
I should mention that my biggest concern is saving the center column.
The 3/8" or 1/4" bolt connecting the head to the column are fairly common. My concern is the strength of the Induro carbon fiber column if too much torque is applied and how it is attached to the metal plate.

I hit my own wall trying to fix something on my own car the other day, and when I called a mobile mechanic to help me, he not only had the right tools, he had the experience and confidence to make what was seemingly impossible to me, easy to fix. Unless this puzzler is fun for you and youʻre willing to risk that center column, I personally would take up Gitzoʻs offer. Either that, or find a local machine shop that youʻre willing to pay to do it for you.

I think your main problem is just not having a way to get a good grip on the head without damaging things. What WD-40 alternatives are available to you? Sometimes Liquid Wrench is a bit better, but PB Blaster is my favorite.
02-06-2018, 11:21 PM   #14
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Hi Bernie , this may sound like a more difficult way to do this, (because of the tools involved), but it is easier. The interface between the pan head and the mounting plate is probably 2 1/2" to 3" across the amount of friction/grip from that surface area is way higher than the actual torque/friction of the bolt (even with lots of threads its less than 1/2" across). Take a flashlight and look up inside the column, you should be able to see a bolt head at the top holding the plate and pan head on. Using a socket and extension(s), and ratchet you should be able to just hand hold the plate/pan head and undo that bolt - you will need to turn it enough to unwind the 'threaded portion' in the pan head. Remember counter clockwise.

Last edited by Kai Theus; 02-07-2018 at 12:12 AM.
02-13-2018, 07:14 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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Success!! I ordered two rubber strap wrenches (I chose to order a brand named Baby Boa Constrictor, you can find them on ebay). Their rubber straps were narrow enough to wrap around the two surfaces that offered a grip without interfering with each other, and the handles can take a lot of force. I wrapped the rubber straps in opposing directions around the two surfaces, gently increased the counter-clockwise torque between the two wrenches and voila!! the two stuck parts came apart. What a relief! So what did I learn from all this? 1) to slightly unscrew the tripod column from the tripod head once other every few months to prevent them from sticking to each other. 2) that the penetrating power of WD-40 isn't all that great. 3) that rubber strap wrenches are handy tools to have around.
Thanks once again to all of you who offered advice and I hope this helps someone in the future
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