How to: Cleaning your tripod
*Viewer discretion is advised* One thing you'll notice when shooting seascapes, or even just landscapes in general, is how quickly and easily your tripod becomes congested with sand and salt. If you want it to last, then cleaning your tripod thoroughly is an absolute must.
Cleaning my old tripod involved nothing more than dunking it in some fresh water or giving it a solid spray with the hose. This is obviously not a very effective method of cleaning a tripod as it doesn't get into all the threads and rings concealed within the legs of the tripod. Since receiving my nice new shiny tripod, I've been taking extra special care whilst cleaning it - as you can see in the image below.
No, but seriously, I now clean my tripod exactly(ish) how the manufacturer (Feisol) instructs. Hopefully after reading this blog post you'll have somewhat of an idea on how to properly clean your tripod, too. Granted, every tripod is different, but the concepts are generally the same.
Things you'll need
To clean your tripod you will need the following:
Marine grease (all-purpose, waterproof grease)
Rubber ducky (optional)
Unscrew the lower leg twist lock cover completely until it detaches from the leg and pull out the now loose section of leg.
Remove all rings from the removed leg section, including the larger ring that is clipped into place. Keep in mind you will need to put these rings back in the same order - so make sure you note the direction and order of the rings. (See image in Step 7 - all items kept in correct order).
With a wet cloth, wipe down all the rings and leg section that you just removed. You can also clean the inside of the leg tube with a bottle brush to remove any grit that the cloth didn't remove.
This is probably the most important step, at least in my eyes. With the toothbrush and some water, brush off all the sand/salt that is more than likely stuck in the tiny threads on the top of the lower leg section (or in the inside of the upper leg section's lower end).
Repeat process for the next (bigger) leg section. This step should be practically the same as steps 1-4, only slightly larger.
Repeat steps 1-5 for the other two leg sections. They should all be the same, unless you have a tripod that can also be turned into a monopod, then it may differ slightly.
Leave all parts out in the sun to dry completely. Keeping them (especially the rings) in order.
After the tripod is completely dry, apply a very small amount of marine grease to the threaded parts of the tripod legs and twist lock cover to insure smooth movement as any previously applied lubrication may have been diminished during cleaning. Don't be too worried about how evenly you apply the grease as the constant locking and unlocking of the cover will soon enough even that out.
Hopefully you didn't forget the order of the rings because it's now time to put it all back together, starting with the thicker legs first.
Place the twist lock cover over the upper leg section. Then, place each of the rings back over the leg section leaving the large ring to be secured last. This larger ring will click, noticeably, into place.
Now all that is left is to insert the smaller (lower) leg section into the now-assembled upper section. The process is exactly the same. Then repeat steps 9-10 for the other legs.
And there you have it guys, a nice and clean tripod - almost as good as new! Cleaning your tripod this thoroughly is something that only needs to be done every so often and depends on how dirty you get it in the field. I'd say if you shoot 3-4 times a week (especially seascapes) then you should probably clean it 1-2 times per month.
If you have any questions about tripod maintenance that I didn't cover in this post, please feel free to post a comment below! :)