December 13, 2012

How to Upgrade Triopo GT-3228X8C Tripod with Retractable Steel Spikes

Triopo GT-3228X8C Tripod with Retractable Steel Spikes
In my opinion, the most desirable upgrade on an older version Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod would be to have Rubber feet with Retractable Steel Spikes.
Following my statement in the Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference article, I have prepared step by step instructions of how it can be performed and what tools etc are needed for this upgrade.

As with all DIY projects some extra skills are required as well as some familiarization with power tools or adhesives.

Required Parts
Obviously enough, what we need for such an upgrade is a set of 3 x Steel Spikes / Rubber feet the corresponding threaded Plastic inserts and Pegs for the Triopo GT-3228X8C.

Triopo GT-3228X8C Retractable Steel Spikes set of 3
The full set of three retractable Steel Spikes with Rubber Feet and corresponding threaded plastic inserts with appropriate pegs. The accessory parts pictured above match the Triopo GT-3228X8C traveler tripod last leg section diameter. Both inserts and Rubber feet come in different diameters in order to match the internal diameter of the last section of the relevant tripod leg.

Planning the Fitting
Before everything else it is wise to study and comprehend the parts and their purpose well. Inspect how it is done by the manufacturer and plan our procedures according to our skills and tools available.

Triopo GT-3228X8C leg end plastic cylinder insert w/ security peg
The basic part in the whole kit is the plastic cylinder that goes into the last leg section tube. It is very cleverly designed in my opinion, because it not only fulfills its task to hold the Steel Spike, but it can be removed and replaced easily in the future in case it gets damaged. As we can see in the photo above this plastic insert has two opposing anti-twist grooves (G) for alignment on the respective anti-twist bosses inside the leg tube, an immobilizing boss (B) at the end of a flexible arm and a security peg (P) which goes under the flexible arm after the boss fits in its hole, thus preventing it from being pushed back and be released.
Triopo GT-3228X8C factory fit steel spikes detail
Pictured above is the factory assembled Retractable Spike. As we can see the Immobilizing Boss fits perfectly in a very precisely cut rectangular hole on the Carbon-Fiber leg tube.
Considering the above the most obvious solution will be to drill a similar rectangular hole near the tube-end and install the plastic cylinder preserving the manufacturer design and attributes.
However, such a solution requires some specialized tools and precision skills, which with all respect is not applicable to the majority of the tripod owners who would like an upgrade.
Therefore, besides the "Drilling Solution" I have improvised an alternative "Epoxy Glue" solution, more simple to carry out and performed by everybody.
I leave it to your judgement, it is up to you to decide which solution is more appropriate for you.
Good luck!

Required Tools / Adhesives e.t.c.
Following is a list of the specialized tools, adhesives and/or common tools required, according to which solution you will decide to follow in order to accomplish the task.

Drilling Solution

Requires specialized tools, more skills and precision in handling power tools in order to avoid damaging the tripod leg tube.

High Speed Rotary tool set
High-speed Rotary Tool with an assortment of bits and refinement tips.
High Speed Rotary tool w/ fine conical bit & spanner
A metal conical-shaped fine abrasive tip.
Black silicone sealant
Black Silicone Sealant for outdoor use. (Optional)

Alternative Epoxy glue Solution

Requires less skills, but the result is more permanent, since removing epoxy glue in the future is more difficult.
On the other hand Epoxy Glue will also insulate the leg-end preventing water or mud entering into the tube.

Sharp Cutter.
Two part epoxy glue
Two part Epoxy Glue (Preferably a 24 hr version)

Common Tools

Independent of the procedure you will follow, these tools will be needed to start and finish the task.

Sharp edge plastic spatula
Plastic Spatula with sharp edge or Small flat screwdriver.
Medium weight Hummer
Adjustable wrench
Adjustable wrench or 10 mm Spanner.
Thread lock compound
Thread Lock / Bond compound (Optional)

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1 - Removing old Rubber Caps

Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section
As a first step its better to unscrew and take off each last leg section sequentially.
Sharp edge plastic spatula
Insert the Plastic Spatula or small flat screwdriver between the Rubber Foot Cap and the leg tube following a circular motion around the perimeter, in order to unstick and remove the Rubber Cap. The use of a Plastic Spatula is more preferable in my opinion, since it will not scratch the Carbon Fiber tube leaving ugly nicks.
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section w/ rubber cap removed
After removing the Rubber Cap, wipe off any adhesive residues using a hard cloth. Avoid the use of solvents which would damage the Carbon Fiber tube.

Step 2 - Preparing the Parts

Triopo GT-3228X8C w/ steel spike + rubber foot components
Separate from the kit the parts required for each leg. You need one threaded Plastic Cylinder, one Security Peg, one Steel Spike and a Rubber Foot. You may prepare the retractable Steel Spike by screwing on the Rubber Foot with the wider side towards the Spike tip as shown above. You may also prepare the threaded Plastic Cylinder by inserting a little the flat side of plastic Peg, keeping its small bump facing outwards. 
If you prefer the use of the Epoxy Glue instead of Drilling skip Step 3 and go directly to Step 4

Step 3 - Drilling & Fitting
If you are a keen DIY enthusiast you may want to follow this scenario. The most important part is to measure and mark the exact position of the rectangular hole, then be precise with drilling and cutting the hole on the Carbon Fiber leg tube. A prior experience with the operation and use of a high speed Rotary Tool is a  must. In any case, I would suggest that you make one or two test holes on another similarly hard material before attemting to drill the tripod leg tube.

Triopo GT-3228X8C plastic insert immobilizing hole marks
Align the anti-twist grooves and insert the plastic threaded Cylinder into the leg tube. This will give you a guide for the positioning and width of the hole. Draw two lines parallel to the edges of the immobilizing Boss flexible arm which should be 3 mm apart. Then measuring from the rim of the leg tube draw a line at a distance of 5.8 mm and another at a distance of 8.8 mm. This will result in drawing the rectangular hole borders that should be 3 X 3 mm.
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section w/ High speed rotary tool
Using the metal conical fine-abrasive tip press in the middle of the drawn rectangle to drill a small starting hole. Then slowly and with great caution start grinding any excess material towards the edges with the apex of the tip. Needless to say that any grindings should be disposed off properly and avoid to inhale any dust.
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section drilled
You may use the tip of the sharp Cutter to trim the corners of the rectangular hole. 
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section plastic cylinder positioning marks
Check the exact coincidence and the proper fitting of the immobilizing boss in the drilled hole before proceeding into fixing the plastic cylinder in the leg tube. The exact positioning of the hole at 5.8 mm from the rim of the tube is most important in order to immobilize the cylinder in the leg tube.
Black silicone sealant application
Optional but highly recommended is to apply a thin coat of Black Silicone Sealant into the groove found at the bottom of the Plastic Cylinder for better insulation preventing water or mud entering the leg.
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section plastic cylinder fitting
Next align the cylinder with the anti-twist bosses found in the interior of the Carbon Fiber tube and push the cylinder into the leg tube. When the small rectangular Boss reaches the rim of the tube, press a little on the boss while pushing the cylinder in so it gets into the tube. Push in until the small boss appears in the rectangular hole and the tube rests into the groove at the bottom of the cylinder.
Then using the Hummer bang on the small plastic Peg inserting it into its nest in the cylinder and below the rectangular Boss. This way the Peg will both block the Boss from being pressed and seal the lower part of the cylinder.
If you have used a Silicone Sealant wipe off carefully any excess sealant that may come out and let it rest for 24 hrs. Proceed with the remaining leg(s).
Go to Final Step 5

Alternative Epoxy glue Solution
Step 4 - Cutting & Fitting
Since in this solution what we try to avoid is drilling a hole, there will be no room for the small rectangular Boss on the cylinder's flexible arm.

Plastic cylinder flexible arm cut off
Using the sharp cutter we need to cut the flexible arm just below the rectangular Boss. 
Plastic cylinder security peg fixing
Then using the Hummer bang on the small plastic Peg inserting it into its nest in the cylinder.
This way sealing the lower part of the cylinder.
Two part epoxy glue application
Then pour equal quantity of the two Epoxy components into a plastic plate and mix well.
When the compound is ready apply a thin coat on the perimeter of the cylinder. There is no need to apply more as the gap between the cylinder and the leg tube is minimal so any excess will be pressed out when inserting the cylinder.
Triopo GT-3228X8C last leg section plastic cylinder bonding
Align the cylinder with anti-twist bosses found in the interior of the Carbon Fiber tube and push the cylinder into the leg tube all the way until the tube rest into the groove at the bottom of the cylinder. Wipe off carefully any excess Epoxy glue that may come out and let it rest for 24 hrs. Proceed with the remaining leg(s).

Final Step 5 - Screw on the Steel-Spikes / Rubber feet
Either way you may have chosen to attach the Threaded Plastic Cylinder Inserts into the last leg section of the tripod, in case you use a silicone-sealant or epoxy glue, then you should weight for 24 hrs to ensure it has completely hardened before forcing in the screw-on steel-spikes.

Thread lock compound application on steel spike thread
I would recommend using a drop of a thread locking/bonding compound on the steel Spike thread, before inserting it in the plastic thread. This will further reduce the chance of unscrewing-off the Steel Spike while screwing / unscrewing the Rubber Foot later on.
Triopo GT-3228X8C steel spike w/ rubber foot fitting sequence
Insert the steel Spike into the Rubber Foot first (main photo above). Then insert the thinner thread of the steel Spike into the plastic thread and screw it in all the way until the thicker thread is reached (bottom left photo). Next you need to screw the Rubber foot back in order to reveal the hex tip of the spike. Using an adjustable wrench or a 10mm spanner, force-screw in a few mm of the thicker thread until only 2-3 mm of the hex nut are visible when the Rubber Foot is screwed all the way.
This last action expands the plastic insert within the leg tube stabilizing it further, while also keeps the steel Spike from unscrewing off when screwing/unscrewing the Rubber Foot afterwards.
Triopo GT-3228X8C Tripod with Retractable Steel Spikes fitted
With all three legs prepared you are ready for a winter hike!
Nevertheless, there is a slight increase of the tripod weight by a total of 90gr but there is also a feeling of increased balance and stability as the steel spikes act as a small ballast at the lowermost end of the tripod.

The above instructions may be followed for the upgrade of any Triopo tripod model as long as you order the appropriate spare parts for the specific tripod.
Please check the Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference for ordering, payment and shipping information of the retractable spikes / rubber feet set.
If you need any reference for tools, sealants and/or adhesives you may use one of the following search links to various Amazon sites for your purchases and support this site.

There is no affiliation whatsoever, with the brands of tools, sealants and adhesives shown in the photos of this article. They were bought from a local hardware store at various circumstances and simply happened to be in my possession during the shooting used simply for the illustration of the instructions. Although the illustrated brands are good by no means does this imply that they are better or worse than any other brand.

I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos


Rotary Tools  from Amazon or from eBay

Black Silicone Sealant  from Amazon or from eBay

Thread Lock  from Amazon or from eBay

 Epoxy glue  from Amazon or from eBay

Referenced Articles:

Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference

Relevant Articles:

Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review

Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Update

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