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service Vinton Vision 20 head

tom lombard

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I've got a Vinton Vision 20 head in great shape but likely hasn't been serviced in decades.  It also has a bit of a catch on the right side when tilting at _just_ the wrong spot.  I know that they are serviceable but I'm not inclined to spend twice what I paid for it just to get it serviced.  I see allen screws and I'm sorely temped to give it a go myself.  I generally have decent luck with DIY mechanical stuff but have my share of boxes full of parts of something that was formally useful.  I'm looking for exploded diagrams or input from anyone that has serviced them.  Special tools involved?  Warnings about springs that fly out?  Screws/Parts that look the same but aren't quite?  Any feedback greatly appreciated.  Thanks, Tom

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I asked Cartoni for an explosion diagram for one of their unsupported heads thinking I would do the same thing. Nope. They are so complicated. Unfortunately, heads are specialty gear with specialty parts for specialty technicians. And servicing them costs.

I've not ever found a 3rd party repair house for fluid heads. But who knows. If you find one, Tom, please do post their info. I've wanted to repair a head with a similar hitch in it's step.

Vitec may have a list of authorized service shops for Vinten equipment, if you can't find "Ratdog's Video Repair Hole" somwhere


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Proper fluid heads like these are not easy to service. You need to be trained on them or it’s very easy to make them worse, and you can spend many, many hours overhauling one. Note that they contain special fluid, which is sticky and viscous, and needs to be drained to work on the pan and tilt drag systems, which are seperate to the counterbalance mechanism, among other difficulties. 

There is a Vision 30 Vinten service manual online, which gives you an idea of the complexity, and may be of help with a Vision 20 model:


I’ve worked on Sachtlers, O’Connors and Ronford heads, and wouldn’t recommend trying to work on one of those yourself without guidance, but Vinten are less expensive heads so not as much to lose if you stuff one up I guess.

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I had my Vinten Vision 100 serviced by Keith Takenaka at TriVision in CA about a year ago. I emailed Vinten with a servicing question and they forwarded my question to him. After we discussed my issue, I shipped the head down to him and I thought he did a good job. I found his pricing to be very reasonable. Definitely worth the peace of mind. Here's his website: https://kt-triv.com/

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This is all good info.  Thanks to all!  As it is, I have a pretty useful head so I'll leave it as such.  The service manual for the 30 has some good info that should help me adjust it properly (and come in handy if I ever need to dive into it).  The info on TriVision could come in handy as well.  Thanks again.  Tom


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I can't speak for the Vinten 20 but I have had a roam around inside a Vinten 22. The Vintens have some tricky ways of coming apart. Pulling one apart is not for the fainthearted. You are dealing with some fine precision in some parts. The counterbalance spring mechanism can also be damaged if dismantled incorrectly. The friction material is also proprietary and expensive. So far as I know, if you can obtain it at all, it will be in bulk amounts far more than you would need. The fixed "labyrinths" ( my translation is non-adjustable friction modules ) establish an initial level of friction. They are apparently filled by a vacuum process on models since the SDs. There are extremely fine clearances in the labyrinths and parts are matched in the factory to achieve this. I understand that they are not serviceable but replaced as an assembly. I have taken one labyrinth apart and found that material had squeezed out. There had been a metal-to-metal contact between two aluminium surfaces. They had galled raised patches which snagged lightly as they passed in the tilt motion. People tend to misunderstand what Vintens do differently to other products. They mismanage Vintens and overtighten the friction adjustments as tilt and pan locks instead of using the tilt and pan lock levers. This eventually ruins the adjustable friction. If friction material has become entirely extruded, the catching you describe may be a metal to metal grab happening in an adjustable friction module. These consist of a machined aluminium face and a polished stainless steel face with the friction material in between. The draw motion is mechanically limited. Frustrated users who expect the adjustable friction to increase to lockup, overtighten the adjustment knobs which reach limit stops. The next step is they reset the limit of the knobs to achieve more tightness and eventually break linkages or strip draw threads. If the snatching you experience if happening in the tilt motion, you might be able to correct it by backing off the adjustable friction, storing the head in a warm place on its side with the tilt controls lowest for a few days, then exercising the full tilt motion with the adjustable friction backed off in the hope of distributing friction material evenly across the surfaces. If you are getting snatches with the pan friction you ight be able to restore it by storing the head camera-side down in a warm place with the friction adjustment backed off and exercising as for the tilt motion after a few days. The pan friction adjustment if overtightened will break out a small machining in a bellcrank which holds a hinge pin on the end of a draw rod. Once that breaks, the draw rod will come out some way with the knob and that part of the head will have become ruined. 

Edited by Robert Hart
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  • 2 weeks later...

Transylvania Film and Tv Corp in Burbank have specialized in tripod repair for some years now and are kind of the gold standard in the LA market at least. 

Edited by Travis Shannon
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