Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS at DVinfo.net

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Old July 18th, 2013, 01:41 PM   #1
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Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi,
I've been using this head for a few years now and it's been amazing.
Only I just acquired a 500 f4 Nikkor lens, which is gonna be attached to some custom bellows, a couple of extenders and a D800. The whole rig amounts to somewhere between 8 and 9 kilograms in weight, and the trusty 3AS is starting to show its limits.
I cannot afford a new , bigger head though, so I've decided to look at my other options.
Somewhere on my quest, I'm pretty sure I've read someone saying one can swap springs on 3As heads, up to 20 pounds. A quick check on my head shows that the spring is indeed easily removable via a dedicated plastic door thingy.
Now, I know that one could swap springs on the old Vision 3 series , and those springs can be found rather easily. However, I see no mention of any springs for Vision 3AS.
Are they the same springs?
If not, where can I find the ones for the 3AS?

Thanx for any input!
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Old July 18th, 2013, 02:02 PM   #2
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Ok, I just found the post where swapping springs on a vision 3AS was mentioned.
I'm not sure it's actually allowed here to post links to "competing" sites, so I'll just paste the interesting part of the post:

Quote:
Also, you can buy vinten springs and increase the payload capability of the 3AS to 20 lbs. I know because I have done this with the other one that I own.
End quote

Still cannot find any part number though...
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Old July 18th, 2013, 02:45 PM   #3
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

I have read that too somewhere...as when I bought my lovely 3AS tripod system a year or so back I agonised as to if I needed a 5AS and what sealed the deal was that it was a post-purchase fixable problem, at least as I understood it at the time. My understanding is the ONLY difference between the two was the spring...and of course the price point.

The superb comments about the system (on here and elsewhere), plus getting to handle it with my camera model on it at a UK trade show (BVE in London) just sealed the deal for me.

As it turns out, 3AS is just great for my current needs.

Try contacting Vinten just up the road from me in Suffolk directly, maybe via their website, and perhaps they will give you all the info you need. Plus I am sure the very knowledgeable "tripod experts" on here, especially Chris in NZ, will be able to clarify what is and is not possible soon enough too.

Let us know how it pans out.
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Old July 18th, 2013, 03:44 PM   #4
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Thanx Andy.
So the 3AS and the 5AS would be identical then, apart from the spring?!!? That sounds like awesome news, as I could "upgrade" my head without having to buy a whole new one (which I can't afford anyway!).
Now, whether or not Vinten is gonna "authorize" that upgrade and sell me the part is another story.
I'm hopeful though, as I have been in touch with a couple of people at Vinten before (for a couple of issues on a Vision Blue) and they've always been friendly and helpful.
Fingers crossed then!
And you're right, Chris Soucy should be able to shed some light on the matter. Funny enough, I'm currently watching a documentary on New Zealand here, on French television, and you mentioning him just now reminded me of how jealous I am of the man! What a great place this seems to be! Actually, I seem to remember he offered to buy a beer if I ever visited him there :-) Long time ago though...
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Old July 18th, 2013, 05:33 PM   #5
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi, guys...................

Interesting thread.

As far as I know, yep, the only difference between the 3AS and the 5AS is the spring rating.

What I do NOT know is whether the springs in either are compatible with the springs used in the V 3 (though logic dictates that Vinten wouldn't reinvent the wheel for a couple of head variants).

Mikael, if you've actually prised the plastic cover off your 3AS and can get a decent look at the spring mechanism, check if the spring has a colour or is simply base metal.

The V 3 springs (and the Gitzo 1380 springs, too) are all colour coded (though, interestingly enough, I've got a genuine Vinten V3 spring which isn't aware of this fact!).

Vinten will still have spare springs, though no one seems to be retailing them any more. The Gitzo 6 spring set (part no.G1380SPC) is mentioned on the Gitzo web site in the G1380 head blurb, but I can't actually find the detailed description of the relevant part no. for love nor money. B&H denies all knowledge as well.

Quite how you would go about changing the spring in the 3 AS (assuming you can actually get your hands on another spring) I wouldn't have a clue, though I have visions of CB components scattered over a 15 metre radius if it isn't done "just so".

You could just ask Andrew Butler at Vinten ( andrew.butler@VitecGroup.com ), he's an ex engineer so he'd know, just not sure if he'll tell you.

The beer offer holds good for any DVinfo'er as makes it down here, don't see too many.

Regards,


CS
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Old July 19th, 2013, 02:51 AM   #6
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi All,

I am glad you are all enjoying using your Vision 3AS systems.

As a few of you have worked out, the major difference between the vision 3AS and 5AS was the spring rate, and it is possible to exchange the 3AS spring for the 5AS version.

The part number for the vision 5 spring kit is U005-170 which includes the spring, spring cap and an instruction manual on how to change the springs in a vision head.

The cost of the spring kit is only about £50 but I would not recomend you try to chanige the spring yourself unless you are very familier with the vision balance mechanism and have a good set of tools including a high precision torque wrench. The spring retaining cap does need to be fitted in a certain way.

Any of our service centers will do the change for you including shipping for £150 and they will obviously give the head a good check over at the same time. The spring replacement could be bundled into a full service which would be about £400 but does include replacement brakes pads, drag shoes and fluid and a full tune up.

I hope that is helpfull

Regards

Andrew
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Old July 19th, 2013, 04:01 AM   #7
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi Andrew, and thanx for the info.
It came just a little too late for me though, as I couldn't sleep last night and decided to experiment with springs. Yeah.... I know...
So I might be in a little bit of trouble...
Basically, I dug out an old beat up Vision 3 head, and took out the spring (169, black), which was an easy enough operation.
I then performed the same act of surgery on the 3AS head. Now, that requires a little more caution, as the spring can only be taken out when the head is tilted at a very specific angle. Very doable nonetheless.
Anyway, I compared the springs and they were strictly identical in shapes.
So I swapped them! Put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and all seemed to work fine.
I DID NOT however pay attention to the retaining caps positions, nor to the max torque. I simply screwed the cap all the way to the max (hard stop). Yep, call that a 3AM mistake...
Anyway, it all seemed to be working fine (counter balance and all), only your comments this morning have led me to re-check. And sure enough, I now hear a faint friction-like sound (mixed with some sticky grease sounds) coming from the spring area when I tilt up or down. The head movement seems as fluid as before, but I have the feeling that sound wasn't there before.
The thing is though, it might very well have been, and It could be paranoia that's letting my hears emphasize that sound. I just have no other head to compare this one with.
I'm reluctant to send the head to Vinten HQ for inspection, as it seems to be behaving as expected apart from that sound.
So I'm asking, could you give me a little more info with regards to torque and "spring retaining cap being fitted in a certain way"? Or maybe a confirmation that the friction/grease sound I'm hearing is OK and is not the manifestation of something I may have gotten wrong in the spring swapping process?
I'd really appreciate that!
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Old July 19th, 2013, 04:21 AM   #8
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi Mikael,

I think it is unlikley that changing the spring would casue a grease noise, it could however result in a friction noise if the spring was lightly contacting part of the assembly as the head was tilted. however if there was contact you'd almost certainly feel it in the motion quality of the head. it's likley that you've just been listening much more critically since opening up the head, you may be hearing a light noise from the tilt brake is it is not perfectly adjusted.

Regarding torque for the spring cap, We certainly set this during assembly (I forget the exact figure) but you will probably get away with doing it up tight on a Vision 3AS, on some of the other heads the springs are pre-loaded by a certain amount and the wrong torque can casue issues with movement quality over top dead center.

Have you found the new spring suits your playload better? below is a guide to the original Vision 3 (not 3AS) springs so you can check which you have.

Spring strength is indicated by a number and colour, as follows:
weakest
1 White
2 Grey
3 Orange
4 Brown
5 Green
6 Blue
7 Violet
8 Red
9 Black
10 Yellow
Strongest

Regards

Andrew
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Old July 19th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #9
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Thanx for the additional info!
You are probably right, the noise was probably there to start with. It doesn't effect motion quality at all though, so I'll just leave it be.
However, just to make sure, I just swapped the springs back again, making sure I was doing it "according to rules", and noticed something I hadn't yesterday: the spring in the 3AS head has grease on it, whilst the one from the 3(non AS) does not.
So, probably a small detail, but am I supposed to put grease on the new spring before putting it back in? In which case,is Teflon based grease OK?

And yes, the new spring is making balancing my new rig a lot easier!
The thing is, my system's total weight is like 8kgs, but taking into account adapters, hot shoes, and accessories, etc, the COG is very high.
The black spring almost works perfectly already, so the yellow spring (which I've got on order alongside a couple of others) is probably gonna help there.

Anyway, let me take this opportunity to salute your (and Vinten's) commitment to customer support and satisfaction. Where other companies would have undoubtedly pushed/tricked users into buying a bigger, newer, more expensive head, you guys played it fair and confirmed the head could be "upgraded" for a fraction of the price. This is a big deal.
It's not so often I see such honorable behaviour, so from me, and I'm sure other users who'll benefit from this, a big "THANK YOU" to you!
Thanx also to Chris and Andy, of course...

Ps: Does the Blue Line offer the same kind of versatility, or are all the models like the original Vision blue (which I owned for a while), and they offer no access to the spring? Or did I miss it and there actually is an easy access to the spring?
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Old July 19th, 2013, 06:39 AM   #10
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Well, that's all part of the service. I believe when you invest in a premium brand product you should get premium service to go with it.

The Vision blue range do have access to the spring but because of the orientation of the mechanism it is much more awkward to change the springs. Also most Vision Blues will still be in warranty so itís not a good idea to start opening them up just in case things go badly.

That said, we are only human in the factory and if we can do it so can (almost) anyone with the right knowledge and training.

Andrew
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Old July 19th, 2013, 09:14 AM   #11
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

The Vision blue range do have access to the spring but because of the orientation of the mechanism it is much more awkward to change the springs...
...
That said, we are only human in the factory and if we can do it so can (almost) anyone with the right knowledge and training...

Ok, now you got me really curious!

So I just went and checked extensively the "original" Vision Blue head out but couldn't figure out how to swap springs on this model. Nowhere is to be seen a "door", "compartment", or any form of access to the spring location.
I gather the spring is right behind where the adjustable knob is, but how to get access to the insides beats me.
I realize you cannot talk me through such an operation in details on a forum, but would it be possible to get a few pointers? Please?
Actually (and this is a genuinely candid question, since I know nothing about Vinten's policies, patents, etc) can customers get their hands on technical documents like part lists, or assembling/disassembling guides or such?
Do not hesitate to tell me if this is not a reasonable request. I know some companies don't mind sharing technical docs when there's no patent, and others do.
Thanx!
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Old July 19th, 2013, 05:12 PM   #12
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

I can answer the Q about the manuals.

If you waltz over to the Vinten web site, you'll see "My Vinten" on the top bar.

Click on that and go to "Create a New Customer Account", you'll need a serial number from a piece of Vinten kit.

Once your account is set up, go back to the opening screen and click on "DownLoads" and check out their list of service manuals. If the one you want is there, simply download it. No account, no download.

Easy.


CS
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Old July 21st, 2013, 03:12 AM   #13
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Hi Chris!
Thanx for that. I'll have a look as soon as I get back home.
BTW, Just heard the news about the earthquake in NZ, I hope you and your family are OK.
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 01:39 AM   #14
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Mikael, thanks for the concern.

Luckily, here in Dunedin, it's the least geologically active region in the entire country (not that that is any guarantee of anything, NZ is a geological war zone, wherever you go).

Had a "rumbler" about 15 km away about 6 years ago, sounded like an express train going through a station at 150km/h when sat at my desk here. No damage though.

The biggie in Christchurch was felt by my other half, not me though, though we have numerous cracks in (new) reinforced concrete garden retaining walls that appeared immediately after the event and we're 250 km away!

BTW, the manual you're looking for is the Vision 6 Maintenance manual, it's there on the site. The entire Vb range uses re-badged and re-sprung V6's.


CS
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Old July 22nd, 2013, 04:12 PM   #15
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Re: Swapping springs on Vinten 3AS

Well, glad you're Ok...
Thanx for the Vision 6 tip! I hadn't figured that out!

Just received my Vinten spring collection BTW, and tried them all out! It's great to know I can now face any situation! As of now, I fear no more high COG or excessive KGS. No acronyms is too strong for my multicolored collection of springs... Rainbow power baby, RAINBOW POWER! :-)
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