I've had my Manfrotto 190XPROB (Note: Manfrotto has discontinued this model and have replaced it with the Manfrotto 190XPRO3) tripod for over 4 years and haven't had any issues with it, until the other week. The thumb screw that goes into the center column to hold the center pole in place stripped. I had to order a new thumb screw from Manfrotto (call them – their online contact form is worthless) and thought it would be a great time to clean my tripod while it was down for the count.
When my main tripod screw stripped, I went and purchased another Manfrotto 190PROBX so I could continue shooting the shoots I had scheduled without any delay. Using the new tripod made me realize how nice the levers worked compared to my 4-year old version. Although I could have just adjusted the levers and tightened everything up, I thought it would be a great time to do a good cleaning.
What You Need
Taking the tripod apart and cleaning it is relatively easy. I used the following:
- Toothbrush to do the scrubbing in tight places
- Organic cleaning/degreaser (nothing too abrasive or strong)
- Torx 25 (star-type driver)
- 8mm Socket Wrench
- 4mm Allen Wrench
- an hour or two of time
The first thing I did was disassembled all the legs at the clamps. The clamps are made up of two bolts that do different things. The first bolt (A below) is loosened with the Torx 25 driver, and it holds the clamp onto the leg itself. This is the bolt you'll want to loosen in this step. Once loosened, you can pull the leg sections apart. The second bolt (B below) can be loosened with the 8mm socket wrench and it controls the tension on the clamp lever when you are using your tripod and extending the legs. We'll adjust the tension bolt at the end.
The rubber feet on the bottom sections of the legs simply slide off – just pull.
Remove the center post by loosening the thumb screw, and pulling the center post out. The bottom of the center post has a button that you press that will allow it to come out of the upper tripod assembly.
Remove the legs from the upper tripod assembly by using the 4mm allen wrench to take out the screws that go into the top of the legs. Be careful! This is the only step where you'll find loose parts and they can go flying.
When you take out the last leg screw, the legs will all be free and the upper tripod assembly will separate. Inside is a nut, a spring and a metal square piece. They work together to hold the center post in place. When I took mine apart, the metal piece and spring went flying so keep an eye out for it. There is also a black plastic piece that looks like an 'A' that will be a loose part during this step.
You'll see metal bands around the end of the legs that attach to the upper assembly. Those metal bands simply slide off for cleaning.
Time to clean! Here are all of the parts that you should be looking at.
Take the toothbrush and cleaner/degreaser and spray and scrub all of the joints. For each of the legs, I scrubbed the outside and inside of both ends. Scrub the clamps and metal bands to get rid of any dirt particles that might be on them.
I used a towel to get everything as dry as I could, but I didn't want to put everything together with some pieces still wet. I decided to let everything air dry over night. This step is probably optional, but if you have the time to spare it probably isn't a bad idea.
Ready to put everything back together? Most of it is self explanatory – just put everything back together in the opposite order you took it apart. However the center assembly with the nut, spring and metal piece can be a little challenging. Here's what I did to get the pieces in the right spot.
Attach the top leg portion to the center assembly with the screws, but don't tighten them all the way. Keep them pretty loose. The center assembly pieces in this photo are just resting on each other and not tight. Make sure to also put the plastic 'A' piece in its spot during this step, as seen in the photo.
Flip the tripod on its side so the hole on the inside of the center assembly where the nut goes, is on the bottom. Take the nut and drop it down in to the hole, making sure to line up the hole correctly with the nut. It should fit perfectly and sit down flush into the center assembly.
The spring just sits on top of the nut – nothing fancy here but it is a little difficult working with it since it doesn't get attached to anything.
The square metal piece sits on top of the spring. There is an indent into the metal piece that the spring fits into. The flat/curved side of the metal piece should be facing where the center post will go once reinstalled, and the little metal tabs should be on the bottom and top.
This is where it's important to have the leg screws loosened enough to put everything back together. You need to press the square metal piece down into the hole, and you'll need enough clearance for the tabs to fit inside. Once you have the metal piece in place, use your hands to clamp down the center assembly together. You can then tighten the leg screws to hold everything together.
When everything is tight, the square metal piece should protrude to the inside of the center assembly slightly, and you can press it in due to the spring being inside. To reinstall the center post, you can press the metal piece in, and slide the center post into the center assembly.
With everything clean and reassembled, it's time to make final adjustments to the tension clamp levers to your liking. Adjustments should be made with the lever in the OPEN position. Unlatch one of the levers so it is sticking out, then use the 8mm socket wrench to tighten the bolt behind the lever. Make minor adjustments and test the lever tension until you get it to the tension that feels comfortable. Remember that you need it tight enough so the legs hold. If it's too loose and you put a heavy camera on the tripod, the legs will start to slip/slide and won't be able to support the weight.
Is it necessary to clean your tripod? That I don't know. I definitely cleaned away a lot of black grime after four years of abuse. I don't know if cleaning will extend the life of the tripod, however it surely can't hurt!
I also have a Manfrotto 055XPROB that is pieced together in the exact same way. It will just require different sized drivers/wrenches to complete the job.