DIY Tripod Ressurection (Original Tiltall)

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Jul 23, 2009
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2 days ago i found an "antique tripod" on craigslist for $10. I recognized the tripod to be a Tiltall, and from its condition in the pictures seemed was probably the original Marchioni Version. I immediately contact the seller to pick it up. Best 10 bucks I ever spent!

The Tripod was painted bright orange/red, and the finish all over was pretty beat. However, it still functioned like a champ. The joints on the head held well, the legs extended freely (the ~40 year old seals on the legs still formed a vacuum when extended/ retracted!). there was just alot of scratches on the body.

some cool features of this thing are:

-fully machined aluminum parts. no bs here, folks. i dont think there is a gram of plastic on this tripod. the hinges on this thing are SOLID (pics later.)

-retractable Spikes on the rubber feet.

-the leg locks are machined alum with brass retainers. kinda rough to use, but a nice piece of work.

Bad things about the Tripod:

*the centercolumn is lined with a graphite sleeve. however, the previous owners(s) greased this up and the grease hardened. the center column is now hard to move.

*heavy, but very stable.

*centercolumn and head are cumbersome, but functional.


My short term plans for this tripod are:

1.) strip the tripod, polish the all the aluminum, and paint the body with black wrinkle finish ala Gitzo, while still maintaining the character/patina of the tripod.

2.) machine a new platform for the camera that isnt quite as large, so quick releases pates will fit more easily. add a better gripping surface too.

3.) machine and attach a bag hook at the bottom of the column for stability.

4.) create feet that will have more friction on smooth surfaces

5.) document the entire process for you folks on the forum.

In the long term, I will replace the center column with a solid, quick release platform for a Markins m10 ball head. I am 5'8", so i don't anticipate needing a center column. this will be later in the future, and will prob. require another thread.

wish me luck! more updates tomorrow.

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W

Wileec

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Cool find - I could use one of these for our spotting scope - heavy is good, at 75x.
 
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I mangaged to find a schematic of this tripod online:
(image credit to Gary Regester of http://tiltallsupport.blogspot.com/)

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this made it alot easier to dissemble the tripod. specifically, the column collar had a snap ring that would have taken me forever to take apart without that knowledge. as i mentioned before, alot of the parts are pressed together as assemblies.

I decided to work on the center column first, then the legs, then the head.

center column and leg joints disassembled (note the dull finish and the orange paint):
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in the above picture, the handle in the middle has been polished for contrast

the center column assembly. those hinges are solid alum and will never come apart (in a good way):
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Handles, before and after:
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all polished up:
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next post will be about the legs! thanks for looking!
 
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Sep 17, 2006
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409
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Phoenix, Az
Are yoyu using chemical strippers or just mechanical polishing with brushes, buffing wheels, etc. I'm intersted in how you got the knurled handels so nice.

Bob
 
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Thanks for the comments. I have been overdue for an update, so I'll try to update you guys before the weekend is over.

Bob, the knurled handles are done by hand. The knurling is best cleaned up with a steelbrush. The smooth surfaces are cleaned up using scotchbrite, by simply rotating the handle on it with some water.

I didn't really want to remove all the pits, so in this case a lathe/ buffing wheel is not necessary. I find that aluminum oxides too fast to make polishing worth it and the "bling" is quite distracting. I do love the brushed look though. For the paint I used aircraft remover to strip it.

Today i saw a new Tiltall. nowhere near the craftsmanship of the original.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
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Congratulations on this great find. I've been using the black version of this tripod for my spotting scope. It's 40 years old and still looks 90% new! Back in the day before carbon fiber, these "Leitz tiltalls" were the best tripods out there, the Leitz name was all you needed, and today's premiere brands were for amateurs. Times change. I would suggest a flat black finish might look good!

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Joined
Jul 23, 2009
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Thanks for your comments! as promised, here is my update.

In the last installment I stripped/ polished all the aluminum trim. This post will be dedicated to the painting process.

For the paint, I am using Krylon Fusion Hammered in dark Grey. This finish will be very similar to the Gitzo/Benro/Induro look. Although it is made for plastic, it also can be used on metal and is supposedly chip resistant after 7 days of curing.

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I started by masking the center column with painters tape. not the scratches on the post that I hope will be covered up by the paint.

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I also took the time to replace the leg hinge bolts with black allen button head screws for a cleaner look, and the allen keys are less prone to stripping than the original Philips head bolts. After painting:

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Now onto the legs:

The legs were in great shape, other than the scratches and paint on the largest tube. To clean these up I used paint stripper (aircraft remover) and then sanded them down lightly with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper. This would also give the paint a rough surface to stick to.

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I masked the lower threads and painted the legs with the hammered finish.

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After assembly, this is what I have so far:

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The hammered finish is much finer that I wanted. I probably should have practiced on something else, but the color is fine to me. The glitteryness is just from the fine spray mist of the can, and will rub off once handled. It is curing in my room now.

The next posts will be me machining new feet for the tripod out of rubber. the old ones have hardened to stiff plastic and are no good for friction on slick surfaces. The cool thing about this tripod is that it has retracting spikes on the feet. the newer ones have spikes that are always extended, and to use the feet you unscrew the rubber portion out an inch. Not as sleek looking as the original.

I don't know when I'll be able to make the Markins base, because of funds availability. If someone would like to donate a Markins M10, I would be happy to document the process and even make you your own custom base!



I have and still use the original chrome Marchioni version. Still a mighty fine tripod.

To add a ball head to it, I bought a new plain center column to replace the pan head, here: http://sites.google.com/site/garyregester/tiltall-support

Works great. They also have several miscellaneous parts for it. And B&H also has a few parts for it, search Tiltall.
Thanks for the tip, Wayne. I saw that before, but I am going to come up with my own mounting unit. I am only 5'8" and at full extension the camera is eye level. I Don't see the need for the extension post, and i find the center column collar redundant with a panning ball head. Also, the spare parts are cheaper copies of the original. For example, the handles are unfinished on the ends and don't have the ring design on the knurling.
 
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Congratulations on this great find. I've been using the black version of this tripod for my spotting scope. It's 40 years old and still looks 90% new! Back in the day before carbon fiber, these "Leitz tiltalls" were the best tripods out there, the Leitz name was all you needed, and today's premiere brands were for amateurs. Times change. I would suggest a flat black finish might look good!

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The black tripod looks nice too. I would only do that look with anodizing though. My tripod has too many scratches on it that wouldn't be covered up. It may be something I would consider for the leg locks, or the ball head base.
 
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Apr 3, 2006
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Thanks for the tip, Wayne. I saw that before, but I am going to come up with my own mounting unit. I am only 5'8" and at full extension the camera is eye level. I Don't see the need for the extension post, and i find the center column collar redundant with a panning ball head. Also, the spare parts are cheaper copies of the original. For example, the handles are unfinished on the ends and don't have the ring design on the knurling.

Just to make sure, Gary Regester's center column is not an extension, it is a replacement column. It is the same length column, but instead of the welded pan head, it is a simple shaft with only 1/4" or 3/8" screw threads to mount a ball head, so overall, it is a few inches lower. New center column cap threads are different than the mono leg thread, but the original cap still fits the leg of course.

I had to lightly sand the ID of the original bearing inserts to be able to get the new column in, but it works great.
 
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Thanks, Wayne. I understand its a replacement. I just don't foresee myself needing the extra height of any column on this tripod. However, my column now doesn't slide smoothly at the lowest and highest setting. In fact, I think I can place my camera on it with the collar loose and it won't slide down. how would you recommend I sand the bearing insert? the tube seems to be straight and has no major dings on it. Thanks again.
 
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Apr 3, 2006
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Thanks, Wayne. I understand its a replacement. I just don't foresee myself needing the extra height of any column on this tripod. However, my column now doesn't slide smoothly at the lowest and highest setting. In fact, I think I can place my camera on it with the collar loose and it won't slide down. how would you recommend I sand the bearing insert? the tube seems to be straight and has no major dings on it. Thanks again.
I have only done the one, but I took out the top bearing sleeve, and lightly sanded ID and OD with a folded piece of fine sandpaper. Sort of just slid the folded sandpaper over it a few times using two fingers to hold sandpaper on ID and OD. It is softish, does not take much. Just took the roughness off of it, plus a little bit more, to get the new column in. Bottom bearing seems glued in, so just a small piece of sandpaper with finger in the hole... Did not take much. I left it slightly firm, but it is very smooth. Everything about that tripod is very smooth.
 
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