Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cold Weather Part Deux

 First of all, a congratulations to my old compadre Dolly Grip Frank Boone and Key Grip Eddie Evans on the success of The Walking Dead.  Arguably the best show on television, it is consistently compelling and, most importantly, the dolly work is top notch. I watched the second season in practically one sitting on Amazon and I save the third season episodes for my long turnarounds with the Captain. Nice job boys This is one of the shows I wish I'd worked on ( if I had it in me to do tv anymore). If you haven't watched this show, do yourself a favor and catch up. Nice work, Frank!
   Now, back to the job at hand. We have covered what to wear in cold climates, but now need to give some tips on how to keep your machine working when it gets cold. As I've mentioned, I have never worked in temps below 20 degrees or so, so I depend on those of you who regularly work in those temps to give us some tips on how to keep your machines working. For myself, I know that when Winter sets in, I let my Chapman rep know that I need a little special consideration. They will replace the normal hydraulic fluid with very thin fluid. The heaters on Chapman dollies are also helpful, but only until you are well into the day. They only work if you bleed the air, and plug the dolly in. Not much help past call on a brisk day. I know my friends in Canada have techniques they use for keeping the fluid warm during the day ( battery powered heaters etc) but I have never had to look for these products in the states. What other tips do those of you in cold climates have for us?


commercial hvac repair said...

How many square feet can a 5 ton commercial HVAC unit cover adequately in my office?


The Grip Works said...

You may have the wrong page Jack ...
Back to the post - and apart from hydraulic oil, what about hardening of the wheel compound? Do bumps get accentuated ? Do the wheels need anything to keep them working better ? Wonder if German dollies come with heated seats ? I bet GFM has got something like that.

D said...

Jack, a five ton unit will serve anywhere from 2400 to 3300 square feet depending on your climate zone.

D said...

Jack, a five ton unit will serve anywhere from 2400 to 3300 square feet depending on your climate zone.

Wick said...

Sanjay, no heated seats, sadly, although a friend did try mounting a heated one from a tractor cab on a dolly once. Use a small electric blanket or heating pad if you wish, but they're generally more trouble than they're worth.

A main thing, as Onno said in the previous post, is condensation from temperature differences. If you can get gear into a semi-warm area well before going in to a location after everything has been in a truck all night, it'll save a lot of mopping up. The most extreme version I experienced was going from below freezing outside into a swimming pool hall. As the camera colleagues know, everything fogs up, and stays that way for a very long time. Then it drips water. Carry some towels and a small heat gun / hair dryer to dry stuff and mop up water.

A corollary to this is the metal expansion ratio. Try to keep your dolyl and accessories in a similar temperature zone, otherwise things won't fit as easily. Also, if camera is moving gear into a place for it to acclimate, see if it's possible to get the dolly in there too.

Fisher suggests replacing the oil in the dolly for a lighter weight one. This is not a terribly involved project and your local supplier should be able to do it easily. Another thing is to charge your dolly and boom up and down several times (maybe two charging cycles) to warm up the oil. The movement through the hydraulics should heat it enough to get you back to pretty good movement. Tires - I'd go to softer wheels than usual. Nothing really helps with the brittleness problem, that's just science and you can't argue with science.

On sunny days in snow you're going to get flares from bounce off the snowpack / ice. Look for them coming from angles you'd never noticed before.

Fisher also makes ice skates to replace the wheels, if you're working on ice :) *end of shameless plug*

Jack, if you need more help in the western North Carolina area, I can give you a contact person there.


Anonymous said...

Hi There!

Comming from Germany, we often have to deal with cold weather conditions... one thing about dolly seats: we frequently use "depron" (kind of very thin polly used as bounce boards by the sparks and originally designed as isolation material in construction works) taped to the dolly seat - will probably be hard to install on cushioned seats (as e.g. used by chapman) but works well on simple rubber seats (as e.g. on Panther-Dollies) - sitting on it for 30 seconds it will give you back your body-temperature.

The Grip Works said...

Good to know. My film is in Germany, so I guess the grips should know this trick. Problem (not really) is that I will be using Chapman and Fisher dollies.

Azurgrip said...

Cold - I live with it every year (at least until I win the lotto).

The last couple years, I've been having problems with just storing dollies. In an unheated truck, chassis' tend to freeze to the point that the I can't shift steering modes. My rental house will install a separate heater (in this case - a "AHBHeating Cable" by Emerson Industrial Automation) but this only works in the rear compartment. I still have to take an open face light and use it as a heat source to warm up the chassis to a usable temp. This will take up to an hour to get your chassis working at the start of your day.

Chapman's built in heaters don't do anything for the hydraulics. I call the "Hollywood Heaters" as they are meant for when there's a slight chill in the air. Not snow on the ground.

The Grip Works said...

Thats great info Dave, good to know ! We have to hit the ground running every morning, so I guess the heating will have to begin early.

Azurgrip said...

Any follow up Sanjay? What dollies are you using?

The Grip Works said...

Fisher 10 /Hybrid
PeeWee 4
GF Primo

I have just finished the tech scouts, and the snow is starting to get heavy. We do a week of prep from the 14th to 21st and then break for Christmas / New Year and begin filming on the 6th of Jan.

Kind of looking forward to getting on with it.
I am personally quite well equipped ( we'll see :-)
I have a really warm jacket from Canada Goose, lots of warm gear and Salomon Tundra shoes

Fingers crossed !

Azurgrip said...

Can't go wrong with the Goose. The only down side, is it's size. It's meant to be standing around in, not work in (depending on the model).

However, it does make a great toboggan!

And the fact, in mine, with all the pockets, I'm able to carry 24 beers.

Wick said...


Thanks for keeping it real :)

Sanjay, if you get the 10 and need the ice skates for it and the rental house doesn't have them, call me.

Snow wasn't too bad in Frankfurt / Oder yesterday, but the temperature is down around freezing and looks like it's staying there for the rest of the month. If you get severe cold, the rental house can always switch out the oil in the dollies for a lighter one. Of course, this means they'll be a little zippier when you're indoors.


Alex C said...

Does any body knows the name of the "very thin fluid" for the hydraulic system? I helping out a production in China and they're shooting at -20 Celcius!!! I'm not a grip, I just PA, so please be comprehensive that I'm not a Pro on technical matters and I have to explain the Chinese rental to get that fluid ;) Thnx guys!!!