Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tough Locations

I know I said I wasn't going to post much this weekend, but I decided to anyway. Meg gave me an idea for a post.
A tough location can mean many things: Mud, rain, gravel, ditches, stairs, basically any place that makes your job harder. Personally, the one's I dislike the most involve mud. It gets in everything, especially the tires. I always try to keep the dolly on a western dolly in these situations to save the tires as much as possible, but if you're going to be there for weeks at a time, it can be hectic and sometimes it's better to just give in and push the thing through the mud and deal with the consequences later. Western dollies are great, but they can be hard to maneuver into the exact spot if you're in a hurry. I always roll the dolly off the tailgate onto it with the head facing backward, throw a strap on it, and then I'm free to tow it behind the 4-wheeler. On locations where the truck is far from the set, we have a trailer set up for the dolly with a speedrail cage built around it. Luma beams and track go on top, and the dollies and accessory cart roll underneath, along with boxes, wedges, etc. and the 4-wheeler tows it.
Luma beams are life savers in muddy or rough terrain situations. Thy're simply aluminum beams with a wooden insert in the center for screwing track down if you need to (although I rarely do).We have them in 20' and 10 '. In mud, they can keep the track itself out of it, and they can be used to easily cross ditches or come off of high mounds, curbs etc. They only have to be supported in the centers and the ends so it eliminates a lot of boxes, wedges, etc. They are connected with precut speedrail pipes so the end result is a nice base to lay your track on. (For cranes, they should be supported more than just in the center, though). Level them like you would track and then lay track on top. For dollies, some people use 4x4 wooden posts, and I have too, but they're not as good.
Getting the mud out of the dolly is a pain. Really, the only way to do it is with a hose. This seems to horrify some Chapman reps, but I don't know how else you would clean some of the dollies I've had. Try shooting in Louisiana, or Mississippi after 2 weeks of rain and figure out how to get the mud out in an hour without a hose. I've never had any adverse effects from doing it other than one time years ago when the bearings in a peewee wheel got water in them and froze up. Now, as soon as I've finished the hosing, I spray silicone in all the areas that might be affected (wheels, wheel tabs, outrigger pins, etc) to stave off rusting. The bottom line is, in some locations the dolly's just going to get wet. It won't hurt it if you keep an eye on it and take preventative measures, just keep the seats dry. I also go over the (steel) track with steel wool and silicone if it starts to show signs of rust.
That's all for now. More next week.


Azurgrip said...

I'll second the Aluma beams! I bought mine second hand from a construction / scaff supplier. Took me a while to scrape off the cement, but worth the investment. Looking to replace the wood inserts and I have seen it done with UHMWS (?) or recycled plastic. Better holding strength and less splinters. Just can't find a local dealer (outside of local plastics suppliers that want and arm and a leg).

D said...

The plastic inserts are great. After a few years, the wood inserts start to rot, or buckle. All of ours are upwards of 10-12 years old and are starting to go just from years in the weather.

Unknown said...

Thailand. Mekong River. Flood stage. Water buffalo carcasses floating past the shooting location. An anchor was thrown out to keep the camera barge steady. Within minutes, the anchor ropes were covered with enormous fire ants. My husband said that was the worst location he's ever been on.

Anonymous said...

do you have any pictures of your beams?
are they like this?

D said...

Megamoose- I can't top that.
Tigger- Yes, those are the same although ours don't have all the fancy hardware to go along. A lot of guys do have the speedrail leveling system although our crew is a little more down and dirty (mostly dirty). I like the center board but we don't use one ( I usually push from the side anyway). We also don't use the joiner plates. The basic beams, however are the same. (By "we" I mean my particular crew and the other guys I have worked with).

Unknown said...

But Thailand was a pretty GOOD location, too. Beautiful scenery, fabulous food, nice people. Apple boxes made of teak. Too bad he had to leave those behind.