As a guy with an electrical engineering degree, I do know a thing or two about wires. You may have read my earlier post, Is Penny Wisdom Plain Foolish? about fixing a nichrome wire with some brass. This is a similar post, but about using some black iron wire to assist my photography. So while the actual Object at Hand is this aged package of wire, the post is about using it to repair a tripod.
You see, I get a lot of use out of my tripods. My oldest dates to the early 1980’s; a lightweight travel model. It is aluminum and plastic. Well, most plastics don’t age well. The pivot head joint (to flip the camera sideways) is long dead and tied down. But lately the leg locks have been sliding. This is especially a bad thing for someone who does time lapse videography.
But I noticed how the friction cam joints were failing: The hinges were crumbling where they were stressed. So I thought, “This is a job for baling wire!”
Back when I studied silversmithing, we learned the best practices of baling wire. It was used to hold pieces together during soldering because the iron did not readily stick to the liquid metals. Also it didn’t melt at merely red hot, but it does loose its strength, its tension. We learned a trick for keeping it tight, in spite of that.
Today I wrapped a couple of loops of thin black wire around each end of the broken and breaking hinges, twisted the ends together, and then tensioned them in the way I had learned decades ago.
This last operation is the one most people miss: You can tighten the loop only so well at the twist. But that little zig-zag you see pulls it tighter, and acts as a tensioning spring to keep it tight. After finishing twisting the ends, just give a bight of wire a little twist with pliers.
As I carefully wired all twelve hinge ends I kept asking myself (as in the earlier post), “Is it worth it?” Had I been paid my usual wage for the time I spent, I could have bought a new tripod. Of course, I wasn’t paid. But I get to write about it! And it keeps another item out of the waste stream a bit longer.
And my again-trusty tripod can stand reliably on its own three feet.