Saturday, January 05, 2008

Man Restores Colortran

A DP named David Racoczy sent me this post about how he renovated an old Colortran Dolly. It reminds me of an old Mcalister I used to own that I also tried to restore. He had better luck. Thanks for the post, David.

Five years ago I left Los Angeles and settled in a small town on the east coast. When I arrived I began networking with the local production guys and ran into a videographer who said he had a Dolly in his shed. He asked me if I wanted to buy it. Sure- I said as that was one piece of equipment I never imagined owning but could put to good use. So I went to look at this thing. I was an old Colortran Dolly. Rusted and neglected there it sat. Upon further examination I found it uses CO2 tanks to operate the Boom. He said $250 and it is yours, the Dolly and three Tanks. I grabbed one of the spare tanks and had it filled with fresh CO2 and went back to his place to see if the Boom still worked. We connected the tank, hit the Boom Up Lever and sure as heck the Boom rose smooth as silk. I turned to him and offered $300 if he would deliver it to my garage. Three hours later it was mine!
I spent the next week sanding, sprayed the chassis Pee Wee Gray and gave it a full detail. It was now in great shape but was lacking a Leveling Head and needed a new Seat as the old HUGE leather one was hideous. Chapman of Hollywood was kind enough to sell me a Pee Wee Leveling Head as well as a new Pee Wee Seat. Now it was KILLER! Fully detailed and operational... but, It has Front, Rear and Crab Steering and the Steering mechanism would not stay in any gear and needed to be firmly held in place when steering which made it not so fun for a Dolly Grip... but what the heck... it is a cool Dolly and it is all I have so we used it until about a month ago on our last shoot when the Dolly was unloaded from the truck there was a conspicuous oil puddle under the Dolly. They brought it to the Set and sure enough the Boom would not operate. Frickn great I thought. Now I own an expensive Prop! Sure the Dolly itself was cheap but that Leveling Head was not and I had tons of hours invested in sanding, painting and detailing... now what?.
My Dolly Grip who also does Special Effects offered to have a go at its repair so I let him take it. I got the Dolly back yesterday FULLY OPERATIONAL.. yes the Steering Mechanism was adjusted, all Co2 & Hydraulic lines replaced, new CO2 Tank connector and unbelievebly the Boom and all Pistons etc.. received new O Rings!
Now for the first time this Dolly is in its Original Working Order! Ya baby! I can not tell you how happy I am to have this Dolly back and in the condition it is in. It works fantastic! It is perfect as a Set Dolly and I use my American Door Way Dolly with Skateboard Wheels and Cadillac Track for any regular Dolly/ Track type moves... but the Colortran is perfect for the Set/ Studio!
I am writing this as there has got to be other folks who have one of these Dollies sitting collecting dust because the Boom or Steering is out of order..but alas! There is hope. If you or someone you know owns one and wants it serviced please do not hesitate to contact me off list and I will get you in contact with my Dolly Grip/ Mechanic.
I know that posting for business is not allowed and if you see this post as against any rules please let me know. I just know there has got to be a bunch of these sitting idle and neglected and thought if its owner(s) had someone they could turn to to have their Dolly revived they would really appreciate it.
There is a pic of the Dolly at my website/ Demo Reel/ Behind the Scenes video.
David (Blessed to own my own Dolly) RakoczyDir/ DPUSA


Anonymous said...

Great info! I just recently acquired one of these dollies in pretty great shape. Seems to be all there with (2) CO2 bottles and the seat. Haven't tried making it work yet and don't know if I will. The dolly was given to me along with other equipment. I am considering donating it to a film school or museum or using it as a piece of furniture in my office (I'm in the film business)...

Unknown said...


I have a friend with a colortran dolly I'm thinking of adopting but will it run on track or just a studio floor?