DIY // Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR Tripod Collar Screw Replacement

 
 Photo by Trung Hoang Photography (www.trunghoangphotography.com)

Not too long ago while doing some general maintenance on my gear, I discovered that the tripod collar screw for my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR was missing.  Unsure where it could have gone, since it's (supposedly) captive, which means it's not supposed to fall out/off, even if it's unscrewed all the way.  Puzzled, I went on to look for a replacement.

Upon my searches, a replacement collar screw was going to run me $35, which I thought was outrageous!  Being the DIY-er that I am, I sought alternatives...

On the surface, a solution seemed pretty simple, a simple 1/4-20 screw, the same diameter and thread size as a basic tripod mount.  It fit the bill, was able to tighten down and lock the collar, however it only took half a turn or so before it went from barely on to locked.  I keep my collar loose fairly often, so this wasn't going to work out, or else I'd have to pocket the locking screw every time I loosened it.  The reason it stopped so quickly?  A tiny threaded post inside.

 The pesky 6-32 screw stopping my progress

The pesky 6-32 screw stopping my progress

After a bit of hunting, the solution was a 6-32 x 1/4-20 slotted thick-wall insert.  The typical purpose of the insert is to shrink a 1/4-20 threaded hole to allow the use of 6-32 threaded bolts/post.  In this case, I wanted to fit a 6-32 threaded post into both the inside (lens post) and the outside where my knob would be affixed.  With these particular inserts from McMaster-Carr, they're designed to be permanently affixed to the 1/4-20 hole they're inserted and they come delivered with a screw activated adhesive.  It is CRUCIAL that this adhesive be throughly cleaned off (pink residue in the photo below) or else this baby is going to be stuck in your lens collar.  I just ran it under warm water and scrubbed it all off with an old toothbrush.

 Before cleaning off adhesive (left), and after (right)

Before cleaning off adhesive (left), and after (right)

Now the hard part is out of the way, the next step is to find a knob that'll fit.  Unfortunately with this insert being used, your options for knobs become pretty limited, since 6-32 is a really small thread size.  An easy solution is to use a PC desktop case screw.  I tried it, but found it a little too clunky, so I found some knurled nuts that accepted a 6-32 thread and grabbed some 6-32 socket set screws (3/8") to bridge the adapter to the nuts.

 6-32 knurled nuts in brass (left) and stainless steel (right).  The stainless steel one allows the insert to sit deeper in the nut

6-32 knurled nuts in brass (left) and stainless steel (right).  The stainless steel one allows the insert to sit deeper in the nut

 #6-32 socket set screw (a 1/4" is pictured, I found a 3/8" worked better.  1/2" would work as well)

#6-32 socket set screw (a 1/4" is pictured, I found a 3/8" worked better.  1/2" would work as well)

First put the 3 parts together to gauge how deep to screw in the insert and the socket set screw. Once you've determined the stopping points of those two parts that allows you to lock the collar, mark where the socket screw needs to be stopped and begin affixing them permanently. I just used some maximum bond Krazy Glue I had on hand to adhere all the parts together, since it's a pretty low torque application.  If you're concerned with it coming apart after a lot of use or have a tendency to lock things down really hard, feel free to use Loctite Threadlocker 242 or a really strong epoxy like JB Weld.

 Finished screws! The stainless steel one hugs the inserts a little closer.

Finished screws! The stainless steel one hugs the inserts a little closer.

Its been a little over a month and I haven't had any issues with it so far.  Here's a quick parts list and links to where I picked them up:

Total: $15.57 + some glue ($5-7) for 2 Stainless Steel Replacement tripod collar screws.

The knurled nuts can be found in-store (locations may vary), but for some reason they have different links on their site, so if you want to do an in-store pickup that doesn't require shipping, search their page for 6-32 knurled nut and you should find ones you can pick up in store.

Too much work? If you're interested in having them made and delivered, I'd be happy to do so for $15 shipped to anywhere in the CONUS. Just send me an email at info@trunghoangphotography.com

Let me know in the comments below if you have any thoughts or questions! Thanks for reading!