For decades I have used a Bogen 329 tripod head atop a Manfrotto 3221 tripod as my ‘heavy’ setup. This tripod has been carried for miles on hiking trails, over lava flows, and has sat in the cold winds for many a night under the stars of Mauna Kea. Heavy and solid the tripod can hold a camera motionless for hours in strong winds.
The tripod has securely held cameras, small telescopes, lights, antennas, and stranger things across the years. It has also been repaired more than once, with a leg replaced a decade back.
This old tripod has also been showing its age, the pan and tilt adjustments becoming difficult to use.
The major issue is simply old grease in the works. It is past time I dismantle the head, clean it out and re-lubricate the bearings. A good project for a very rainy weekend.
The Bogen 329 comes completely apart with no trouble. You need four tools to do the job, 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm allen wrenches for the screws, and a small flat screwdriver to lever the small plastic caps off two of the screws. In ten minutes you are left with a pile of parts to clean and re-grease.
I simply wiped the majority of the old grease off with a rag, then wiped with a rag soaked in WD-40 to complete the job. The old grease was indeed failing, more the consistency of dried honey in place of grease.
While I had the mount apart I also replaced the small bubble level in the lower part of the head. The original had long ago dried out, there was no bubble.
A 10mm level I had purchased off eBay and was left over from another project is a perfect fit. No glue is needed, just a friction fit. The levels in the top plate just needed to be cleaned.
Another item was straightening a bent knob. The long knob had been bent years ago, annoying. I clamped it in a vise and gently straightened it.
I have to admit I had to do the job twice, I chose poorly the first time. The problem was the new grease I used, as I found it was not the proper grease for the job. The adjustments would stick and jerk badly on every minor move.
I needed a thicker grease.
Next? Shall we try Valvoline ValPlex EP? This automotive grease is notably thicker and stickier. Disassemble the head, wipe out all of the MP-50, re-grease with the Val-Plex and reassemble. The second pass only took me an hour to accomplish… Practice.
The result is notably better. Not perfect, there is still a slight stick on some small moves, but it should be acceptable and quite usable. The rest of the tripod was inspected, no need for any serious work beyond just cleaning things up. This old workhorse tripod is ready to go.
Now if only the rain and clouds would go away.