View Full Version : Tripod Disaster!!!

Jim Fitzgerald
5-May-2008, 08:04
I built a Walnut tripod for my Ulf work and had a recent problem. I had to work all weekend so I decided to take Friday off and head up Highway 1 in California with the 8x20 and the recently built 11x14. I had the 11x14 set up to shoot and as I was about to put the waterhouse stop in I stepped on this huge rock that one of the tripod legs was on and this huge rock twisted!!! My new camera was falling to the rocks!!! I managed to catch it in time and with the help of two nice guys who were watching me work we got it safely to the ground. The torque caused by the rock movement broke the Walnut base where the leg attaches. I have been on the Ries website t look at the leg design and I see that their tri-lock system is what I need to do with mine. I have an understanding of how to make this for my tripod but my question is how does it work? Does it expand the leg from the top to lock it into position? Is it attached to the top of the leg? It is hard to see from the pictures. I need to see one so I can redesign my tripod. The Walnut tripod I built is very sturdy so please don't tell me to just buy a Ries because I don't have the funds to do so. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


R Mann
5-May-2008, 08:58
Why not something like the Zone VI wood tripod used - a rope and screw-eye loop about mid leg to keep things from falling out of control. Ries uses a rod and clamp arrangement to set the leg spread for each leg - something I think would be hard to make without some metal working equipment. Search Ebay completed auctions for pictures of Ries heads.

5-May-2008, 09:01

The "tri-lock" feature consists of a short metal rod which connects the underside of the crown to a point near the top of the leg. The hardware on the leg is contained between the two sides of each leg. A locking knob clamps against the rod essentially forming the third side of a triangle. The leg cannot then be moved under reasonable force. Another option would be to make some sort of a "spider" which would fix the legs in place. That may be simpler to make.

Daniel Grenier
5-May-2008, 09:25
Why not something like the Zone VI wood tripod.....

I would very strongly advise against the Zone VI. I destroyed my first 8x10 because of this tripod. Picker refered to it as "the best tripod in the world" and I fell for it. I call it the most useless tripod in the world. I still have mine but it only serves to hold my copper view camera a sculptor made for me. I bought a Ries and a Manfrotto to replace the Zone VI and they both are much, much better tools.

As for the Ries, what wfwhittaker said. I could take a few close up shots of mine if you need.

Cheers and good luck.

Jorge Gasteazoro
5-May-2008, 10:11
So, how does it feel to almost have a heart attack?... :)

Ernest Purdum
5-May-2008, 10:26
The old system of individual legs attaching to a turntable built into the camera,or a separate tripod head,caused many disasters. A prevention attempt consisting of parts that could be bought at the hardware store consisted of hooks screwed into each leg linked by chains to a central ring. This kept the leg from being kicked outward but gave no protection against an inward movement. More complete protection was given by three slotted sheet-metal strips, each fastening to a leg, and the three coming together and held by a screw and wing nut. Some of these were made commercially, but I don't remember by whom.

Jim Fitzgerald
5-May-2008, 21:27
Thanks everyone for all of the help on this. I like and appreciate the information that Will gave on this.I got a couple of close ups of the yoke and the way the tri-lock looks thanks to Phil. I'm going to do some R&D on my part and I know I'll come out with a better tripod in the end. I'll just have to keep the big guns resting for the time being. I've got plenty of 8x10 sheets to work with.
Jorge, you know how when you have an accident and everything goes in slow motion? Well I've relived this moment more than once. I was amazingly calm at the time and tried to keep my professional composure because of the help I received. When I got back to the privacy of my truck it was a different story!! I did have visions the next day of what could have happened and they were not pretty.


Turner Reich
5-May-2008, 23:10
Like a spiral fracture of the tib-fib? Got to be careful out there... and carry a cell phone when alone or an emergency transmitter.

matthew blais
6-May-2008, 06:56
Damn Jim, you were lucky, sort of.
Let me know if I can help, I have a fair amount of woodworking tools.

Jim Fitzgerald
6-May-2008, 09:07
Matt, thanks. I'm trying to figure out the best approach. I'll let you know what I come up with.
Andrew, sound advice. Some of the areas I'm in I think are going to require the transmitter.


1-Jun-2008, 11:34
Jim: Did you create your own hardware for the tripod or did you locate a tripod maker and get that from them: I have looked a lot of wood tripods but they end up to heavy for me , But have done thinking that subject , just as a way ward thought: Lauren

Jim Fitzgerald
1-Jun-2008, 20:43
Lauren, I have been redesigning the tripod over the last few weeks and I'm going to be finishing it up this week. I basically took the idea of the Ries tripod yoke and made it out of walnut. It seems to work very well and is solid and stable. I'm finishing parts as we speak and I'll post the results when I'm done.