"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Another Project Finished

Yes-sir, completely scratch built from raw ore. NO, not likely. Ha!

This is a little repair project my daughter gave me. It is a ball head for a camera (photography) mount. The bottom of this device screws down on a tripod or studio steady mount.

There is a quick release on the top that is attached to the camera.

The handle bolt is loosened to adjust the angle of the camera and that is where the problem was. There are internal splines in the original handle that were stripped out. It would no longer turn the locking bolt to secure the ball from moving.

I learned all about these spring loaded handles and also how the ball mount itself works in this little project. There are two main types of these handles. Most of us know the “pull the handle to adjust position” type. I have a lot of them on my machine tools. There is a second type called the “Safety” handle where the user must push in against the spring load to engage the handle. That is what I have here. The handle pops back out and drops to a safe position  when not engaged.

So the project was mostly selecting the correct replacement handle. However there was a catch. There is always a catch, right? The end of the original bolt was drilled out and a pin with a tapered cone inserted. It is this cone against an internal ramped surface that pushes up and locks the ball movement.

The machining chore was to drill out the end of the new handle bolt to fit this tapered cone pin. The challenge was to hold the bolt for drilling (without disassembling the handle) and drilling the hard end of the bolt deep enough for the pin to insert.

The secret was to make a simple jig. I drilled a hole and tapped #8-1.5 into an aluminum bar I had on hand. I threaded the handle into the plate and was able to clamp the plate into the mill vise. The rest was standard drilling procedure.

My point is that a lot of machining skill is what is not seen in the results. The jigs and special fixtures are many times much more work than the actual machined part reveals. I think it is a large part of the fun of machining for me to invent solutions to the “How can I do this?” question.

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