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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cleaning the Four Handles' Hidden "Stems"

At right, my "bevy" of the original Machioni Tiltalls are, of course, the oldest in my collection of not more than forty Tiltalls [the limit made by my wiser better half].  Here are some thoughts on cleaning the 1/4-20 threaded bolts or "stems" hidden in the handle placements that control the rise/fall and pivots of the column as well as the handle placements of the namesake "Tiltall" camera head.

    How has all this grit and grime found its way into, around and onto the handle stems? These wonderful Tiltalls are 45 to 70-year-old artifacts - just happens! - look at their owners.  If you are reading this, you are no doubt planning to use your Marchioni for another 70 years and pass it onto your great grands.

     So cleaning. It is hard to get even a paper clip down and around in the space between the hole's wall and the threaded stem.  In fact, maybe impossible to get any of the gunk out in any way. Take a look at the suggested trio of lubes - Illustration A - the usual suspects - Three-in-One oil, white light grease and WD-40. Note the last two are in their aerosol iterations which I found a bit quicker and easier to work with.

   Illustration B - loosen the grit/grime with some "blasts" of WD40 into the hole with one of its "straws".  See that I am working out on the driveway to minimize clean-up.  But keep some paper towels at the ready.  Let WD-40 set for 40 seconds or so.  Maybe tilt the Tiltall on its side and back to stir things up. Then "pour" any excess into your paper towel.

    Illustration C - next, get some grease into the hole.  But don't try to fill the hole.  Then insert and screw your handle onto the stem.  The hope is that that handle is your "scrub brush", that the WD40 and now the grease has loosening the micro grits and is mixing with any older lubrication.  You probably should not wind the handle down into the hole more than halfway.

    Now, remove your "scrub brush" aka handle, and - Illustration D - twist a Q-Tip down into the hole in the handle which should be full of a fairly nasty brew of trouble. Repeat with the other end of the Q-Tip and probably a couple more until the handle seems empty of crud.

    Dive back into the hole with your handle and wind down a bit deeper on the stem and repeat the above.

    You should notice a marked improvement in turning smoothness that second dive - and then understand where we are going.  Once you are happy that your "scrub brush" aka handle and your Q-Tips have brought up the majority of the problem, I think all that is needed for the next, at least 40 years, is a pea-sized dollop of light grease into the hole of the handle.

    Notice in my "Bevy" photo above that the far left Marchioni's column is flipped upside down in its outer sleeve for photos made down between the three legs.  Why?  For all your close-up flower photos, of course.  Also to copy flat art on the floor that is too big to scan in an A4/legal scanner and such.  We are going to discuss that outer sleeve next.

    Last note:  Your column passes through a five-inch [13cm] outer sleeve below the two handle placements that we have been discussing.  On the bottom inside of that sleeve, there should be a two-inch-wide "bushing" from a circle of ancient adhesive material.  This bushing stabilizes the column.  If you have cleaned your handles and stems [as above] and tighten the handles down, the column may still move back and forth if this bushing has gone missing. [See exploded drawing - it is the unnumbered part between the "033" outer sleeve and "034" bottom rubber stop.] In four of my five Marchioni Tiltalls, that "bushing" has blown the coop and my columns rattle around even when I think I have tightened everything as tight as possible.  If this is true on your Tiltall [any iteration], remove the column and put your finger up into that 5-inch sleeve to "see" if something [you didnt even know about in the first place] is now missing.  If so, the solution is a length of "loop" Velcro at least one inch wide and four inches long - sewing shops, Home Depot and Lowes sell this loop and hook velcro in small packets.  Pull the backing off, wind it up as tightly as possible, carefully insert without touching the walls of the sleeve until you are in position.  It will make sense when you do it.