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Old June 16th, 2018, 09:52 AM   #1
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Vinten magic friction fluid

Does anyone have any clue as to what is in the Vinten fluid for the thin-film heads.

Much of the magic brew had undertaken an escape and evasion exercise in an old Vinten 22 I have been repairing. What remained appeared stained by fine metal particles or nylon particles from the friction contact surfaces. In a separate sealed area of the head, the friction material was clear.

For the time being I am using a high temp silicone grease which seems to have adequate viscosity.

Being a grease, when friction is wound in, the friction material tends to wipe off as a clear path on the stainless faces and not immediately draw back under the narrow nylon friction circles in the common clutch plate. So after friction tension is wound back off, it does not initially restore.

A more fluid solution would but then it would drain out. The trick it seems is to find a blend which creates that happy compromise of viscosity and flow so that capillarity causes the material to wick back into the fine opened clearance and hang on the edges of the thin nylon contact surfaces.

I wonder if microscopic solids which would tend to linger on a surface and draw fluid around them might be in the Vinten brew. I will try separately some fine zinc powder as blended into cosmetics and sunscreens and silicon microspheres, also a cosmetic blend product of about 5 micron grade.

If anyone has any information of blend ratios, this would be appreciated as it would save me a lot of dismantling, cleaning and re-lubing with different blends to find that happy medium.
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Old June 17th, 2018, 05:06 AM   #2
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Bob.

Over the years I have made myself 4 fluid heads for different applications and replaced the fluid in 3 or 4 Miller heads e.g. Miller LP and Senior D. I have always used Viscasil 600,000 which is a clear silicone fluid to provide the drag. As it seemed to restore the Miller heads to their original drag characteristics I assumed Miller was using something similar. The reason I use this particular product is that it was being given away as a free sample at that time.

The drag is generated by setting up a velocity gradient in the fluid between two surfaces that move relative to one another. The thinner the layer the greater the velocity gradient and the more the drag. The drag also increases with the viscosity of the fluid. At low velocity gradients the drag increases roughly linearly with increasing velocity gradients but the rate of drag increase lessens at higher shear velocities. These factors interact to set the pan handle force required for quick pans.

I still have some of my original supply plus other less viscous silicone fluids. Let me know if you are interested.
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Old June 17th, 2018, 09:41 PM   #3
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Alistair.


Thank you for your kindly response and information. If you have some of the Viscasil 600,000 left over I would be interested in something proven to work. As to how to supply, pack and send some over here, do you have a paypal account?


Cheers.
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Old June 18th, 2018, 01:16 PM   #4
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Bob,

Is this the "Vinten Fluid No.3" you are talking about?
Vinten still use this fluid for their heads but not sure if they sell to private customers. Have you tried asking their Product Manager?
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Old June 20th, 2018, 02:17 AM   #5
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Bob, I sent you an eMail a day or two ago, If you are still interested in a Viscasil sample let me know.
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Old June 20th, 2018, 02:50 AM   #6
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hello again Alistair.


Thank you for your further response. I remain interested in the Viscasil material.


I have not received any emails. Maybe try

bh_2252@yahoo.com


That seems to be the best of them.


Cheers.
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Old July 5th, 2018, 09:18 AM   #7
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Thank you for your respective responses. I ended up being generously gifted some material used on Miller heads called "Viscasil" by Alistair Traill. It may turn out to be not as temperature-agnostic as the genuine Vinten fluid but it seems to have done the trick for now. It is silk-smooth.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 01:58 AM   #8
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Is this the Vinten Fluid no.3?
Vinten don't sell them when I offer to buy a few years ago but a tripod service center is able to buy from them. The bad news is it is very expensive it probably make no economic sense at 295 for 120ml and that does not include VAT. It might be cheaper to just buy a damaged Vinten head that is sold for parts which still contain fluids and use that.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 07:19 AM   #9
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Simon,

I am uncertain as to whether you want some fluid or whether you are just curious about it. The sample I have is called Viscasil 600,000 and was marketed by General Electric, it is a clear colourless fluid and seems to look the same and act the same as it did ~ 40 years ago. It would appear to be a very stable product. The units are probably Centi-poise. If you want further information you could try Clearco or Rocol for starters. Clearco lists a 600,000 and in fact goes much higher. Clearco list it in volumes ranging from 1 gallon up to 40 or was it 50 gallons? They may be able to put you on to a user who could supply a smaller quantity.

Bob might well have more to say about it by now.
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Old July 14th, 2018, 02:38 PM   #10
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Alistair,

Thanks for the offer. I have an old Vinten head and I'm thinking of extracting the fluid out of it to service my Vision 20.
The Vinten Fluid no 3 is dark grey and very sticky.
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Old July 15th, 2018, 06:49 AM   #11
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Simon,

Is the Vinten No. 3 fluid a dark grey colour when it has not been used in a fluid head? The fluid I have replaced in a Miller LP or DA is usually a grey colour that I assume is due to the accumulation of metal particles. Neither of those heads had any conventional bearings to take the load.

The Viscasil is also very sticky and is very difficult to remove from a surface. I find it interesting that if you give it a quick jab with a finger-tip it usually does not stick but instead it records a fingerprint that takes a several seconds to fade. Perhaps the fade time could be a simple guide for comparing the viscosity of different fluids?
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Old July 15th, 2018, 12:47 PM   #12
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Alistair,
The Vinten Fluid No.3 is naturally dark grey and would stick to anything that make the lightest of contact and won't leave any print mark. The consistancy feels like very soft tooth paste but far more stickier.
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Old July 25th, 2018, 08:21 AM   #13
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Simon. I have placed some of Alistair's Viscosil on the tilt friction surfaces of the Vinten 22 and it seems to have improved it. The tilt friction remains very light but there is drag when the tilt is moved slowly.

It still breaks away as it should for faster tilts. I also bought in some zinc powder and silicone 5micron microbeads to experiment with blending into Viscosil.

The old material in the Vinten was grey but inside of a hollow two-piece piece, the friction material was clear. What this part does I have no idea unless it was intended to be a store for replacement material for dressing the friction surfaces in the field.

I haven't tried blending the zinc powder or micropsheres yet. The Viscosil does well enough on its own so there is little point. We are also in cold weather here presently. It may behave differently in our summer heat.

The physical friction areas in the Vinten 22 are really quite small. There is a disk which has two surfaces inlaid by a narrow circle of nylon material about 1mm broad. The circle is offset relative to the disk it is inlaid into. The friction path is therefore closer to about 3mm broad and no more, certainly not the entire diameter of the disk.

It seems that the fixed friction disk actually has a very fine clearance between the nylon ring and polished stainless disk it bears against. The adjustable friction disk is forced against another nylon ring on the reverse face.

The actual friction mechanism is apparently a shear or tearing action of the friction material itself when the tilt is moving slowly. It seems that a rapid movement plucks much of it stuck to the nylon ring free of what is on the polished face but it sticks back together again when the motion is slowed.

Best practice with the Vinten seems to be to accurately adjust the balance spring tension and the camera mass on the baseplate slide so that it rests very lightly centred and not strongly centred. The drag friction effect and controllability is more noticeable in this state.

Last edited by Bob Hart; July 25th, 2018 at 08:23 AM. Reason: error
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Old July 25th, 2018, 08:33 AM   #14
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

In this image you will observe the thin nylon inlay in the aluminium disk. It's centrepoint is slightly offset relative to the centrepoint of the aluminium disk itself.

The aluminium disk with inlaid nylon is partially obscured by the body of the Vinten head in foreground. The loose friction material wiped onto the polished disk was some high viscosity silicone grease which did not seem to achieve much although it did seem to increase the drag slightly compared to what little of Vinten's magic fluid which had remained there was achieving.

I tried some aviation gasket sealer which is dreadful sticky stuff. It worked about the same as the silcone grease but was dreadful stuff to clean out.

The Viscosil seems to perform best of the lot.
Attached Thumbnails
Vinten magic friction fluid-guts-tilt-drag-friction-clutch-small-file.jpg  

Last edited by Bob Hart; July 25th, 2018 at 08:40 AM. Reason: image upload
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Old July 25th, 2018, 09:06 AM   #15
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Re: Vinten magic friction fluid

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the detail information and the picture. I'm not brave enough yet to dismantle that part of the tripod, just the base. I'm guessing what you refer to as the friction material might be Vinten's so call "LF" or "lubricated friction" which was badged on their Vision 10LF. Apparently the Vision 250 has this and I think the Vision 22 has this too since they are mechanically the same.
SD or "Serial Drag" refers to a system that consisted of both fluid (viscous ie Vinten Fluid No 3) and "lubricated friction" (LF). It is to enable smooth whip pans regardless of settings. However I find the Vision 20 which has no LF is very capable of smooth whip pans and more organic movement.
Its a pity Andrew Butler no longer post here as he could have shed some light on the subject.

Last edited by Simon Chan; July 25th, 2018 at 11:35 AM.
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