Should I Change the Fluid in my Fluid Head?


Fluid video heads that use a fluid filled cartridge are not like cars.  The fluids do not need to be replaced unless they are broken.

fluid disk

Disassembled fluid disks

First, the fluid disc is a series of concentric circles that trap the fluid in them and slow the movement down by providing resistance.  The discs are generally inert and the fluid stays in place.  You don’t need to replace the fluid in the cartridge unless one of several things occur.

If the head has been stored in an excessively hot place for a long time, then there is a good change that the “fluid” has thinned because of the heat and settled, leaving half of the disc


Damaged fluid disk assembly

empty.  The discs are no longer parallel, the fluid, if it is still in the disc, and the fluid is all at one side.  This will greatly impair the smoothness and the feel of the head.  The heat can often make the fluid thin enough to escape the disc and run out.  If you’ve ever experienced the thick, sticky, gooey, almost impossible to clean off fluid then you will know what I am talking about.  In this case the fluid can be cleaned off and the discs refilled.

If the head was dropped and the fluid discs have been damaged then they should be replaced.  The little prongs sticking out of both sides can be sheared off if the head falls over or is impacted with enough force.

The discs are specific to different video heads, so it is best to start here for current heads, or here for other heads and getting the parts specific to it.

If you are having problems determining what parts you need, or for a tune up or for repairs, send your name, address, daytime phone and email address along with your tripod to: Repairs
c/o SpartanPhotoCenter
108 Garner Road
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Once we have it, we will evaluate it and contact you. Please send us your daytime phone so we can reach you during business hours.

Lastly, if we are repairing your Manfrotto Product; we are recycling all broken parts and scrap articles. Almost nothing goes into the trash if we can help it.