Monday, April 01, 2013

Wheels. Wheeeeeels.

  I recently was asked a question on Twitter about wheel setup. As a Chapman user, you have a few options and the questioner wanted to know what works best where. Well, things are always changing and what is in favor at one time is out of favor a few years later. Back when the Hybrid was Chapman's signature large dolly, I would always put on the pneumatics and leave them on for the run of the show. By design, they work on both track and floor. Later, when I became a Hustler 4 user, we would combine both the track wheels and the pneumatics (I always put the air tires on the outside and the track tires on the inside) which seemed to give the best of both worlds. Although I doubt there is much difference in where you put them, the pneumatics on the outside seemed to make more sense to me. My good friend GHB does the opposite and sets up the track tires on the outside. I can't argue with success 'cause he's done well for himself. As far as the Hybrid goes, a lot of Camera Operators I work with began to complain about the bouncy nature of the pneumatic tire on floor, while some thought it was fine. After using the medium softs, which I found to be very good on dance floor, I began to agree. As far as the Pewee goes, I always switched out the hards for pneumatics for floor, but switched back to the hards after the shot because the air tires make the dolly so much wider and hamper maneuverability. I think it boils down to communicating with your Camera Operator. He/ she is your best source of feedback for what is happening in the lens. If the pneumatics are causing problems, try the medium softs. I do what I know until I'm told it isn't working. Unfortunately, now that we are doing more and more HD work, the little bumps that we used to get away with seem to show up much more vividly than they did in film. It's a more unforgiving medium in every sense.
   As far as Fisher dollies go, you have two choices: the standard air filled or the round track wheels. I also have no idea why Fisher refuses to let go of the old square track/ bogie wheel setup. I haven't seen, much less used square track in at least fifteen years. Who are you catering to? The music video market? If I'm wrong, please fill me in Fisher users/ insiders/ Wick?


Azurgrip said...

Chapmans - I have the rental house put the soft tires on while they're doing the check out and they never come off - unless I'm going off road in a gravel pit.

Fisher - JL has a few options now. I don't have all of them at the tip of my tongue right now. Wick should be able to help out. Or Gil.

Wick said...

The switch-out bogeys are only around for the Nine dollies, though some diehards make'em run on Tens too. If you're referring to the integrated track wheels, they're still on everything we make and are compatible with nearly all round track. The two exceptions that come to mind are early Panther Precision trck, and very old Elemack or FGV track. We also make round wheels for for round rails for bothe Model Ten (TTW) and Model Eleven (ETW). In addition to the Studio wheels (flat surface, 60 psi and pretty stiff), we provide Soft Wheels (SWT and SWE, both also 60 psi) and Soft Compound Wheels (my choice, 25 psi* and can get a little bouncy). Many guys do the same variations on mix'n'match with track wheels and regular wheels like you're describing. I'll try to grab a Fisher fan and user and get him in here one of these days.

Ask me about our skateboard wheels :) or better yet, come on down to the Open House and look at all this stuff while eating and drinking us out of house and home.


*(I think - I'm on the road right now)

PS I'll be in LA April 3rd-5th and again April 14th-19th, mostly at Fisher. I'll be at the NAB too. Anybody here, drop a line at if you're around. We can meet for a glass of punch somewhere.

The Grip Works said...

I keep the Hybrid on pneumatics as we start the day. Evertime I switch out to the softs, I am shocked at how great they are. Its just a pain rolling it over cables and suchlike. I always switch out of pneumatics for multipoint moves - easier on the wrists and better for my relationship with the sound dept.
I usually avoid having the Peewee in pneumatics for the same reasons that D mentions. It also doesnt steer properly in narrow mode with the pneumatics.
I love the feel of the Fisher 10 on dancefloor with the pneumatics. They work better on dancefloor than the Chapman pneumatics in my humble opinion.

Wick said...

I was wrong about SCWE and SCWT pressure-it's 40 psi, not 25.

etc said...

I'm a starter DG and Chapman fan myself. Simply because I have no experience other than playing with a Fisher at HR or a local house here. I've had one wheel fall off once, that sent me for a loop and confused my Op and AC, judging by the look on their face. The class I work in goes on location extensively so, I went with the pneumatics due to gravel, asphalt, etc.. I've not experimented with hard/soft hard/pneumatics and wondering, if like the Hustler IV, if that would be a viable option? Have the pneumatics on the outside and hards inside? I'm thinking the inside won't match up and provide a constant rub. Also, any recommendations on silicone vs pledge vs powder for squeaks? I've also noticed with the pneumatics when in Conventional steering, there's really bad squeaking when doing hard turns but, I guess that's just to be expected with the those tires. Thanks for any and all info & tips.

D said...

Hi Etc.- You can't mix and match tires on the Hybrid the same way you do a Hustler. On the Ten, you are mixing the tires, since you just pull off the outside tire and replace it with the track wheels (I can't remember if you have to remove the inner tires or not for track but I don't think you do unless you are on an eleven. The allen screw in the center of the wheel probablty loosened up and fell out. You just have to check and tighten them periodically (I've had Peewee wheels come off before) just check them.I use Zep Mold Release Spray for track . It doesn't build up to a waxy mess like Pledge. The pneumatics do squeak sometimes especially on Hybrids. Use baby powder or soap. I prefer to keep a bar of soap and rub the floor down with it when it squeaks. It eliminates the cleanup of the powder when you're done.

Wick- I remember years ago trying Fisher Ten on round track when we didn't have troughs. It didn't work too well, although the Eleven does.

Wick said...

D, no need to remove inside wheels on the Fishers for Track work. On the contrary, you'll want them in place to keep the brake springs from getting stretched out of shape. NEVER set the brakes on a Fisher dolly if any of the ear wheels are not attached!

One way to improve the Ten and the Eleven Round Track Wheels (on straight track) is to shift into crab and then tie or wedge the shift lever over to the right. This locks all four wheels on a straight line. Hvng said that, I still prefer the skateboard wheels for ride and setup time.

Anonymous said...

Zep mold release spray. I will have to try that. Could you expand on your comment about hd being less forgiving than film as far as bumps in the move? Cheers

D said...

I think it depends upon the setup of the camera as far as HD goes (rod size etc) but I notice that shots that I would have had no problem with on a Panaflex seem to show bumps on the same lens size (or even wider).