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The Oldest Arm in Use Today (as well as other fun stories about old gear)


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#1 Beau Cuizon

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 02:55 AM

Alright, just curious -- who's got the oldest arm working today?  I always see old(er) arms for sale on the forum from time to time, and I always wonder when these well engineered pieces of equipment were originally manufactured.  I'm not sure if there was any indication (other than serial number) of manufacturing date, but I thought that it would be fun to see if there are any real vintage arms out there still working hard, and making magic.


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#2 Tommy Stork

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 03:11 AM

Chris Haarhoff has the oldest PRO arm, (serial #001) and he just did Birdman with it and his PRO sled and vest.  I'll have to confirm this with Jack on its age but I think it's close to 20 years old.


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#3 RonBaldwin

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 05:54 AM

Looks like Chris was also using his pro2 sled, which I assume was also a very early # if not the first or second off the line in '97/98
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#4 Beau Cuizon

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 10:55 AM

That's pretty awesome that he is still using the stuff that he helped design and manufacture twenty years ago.  I can't think of anything I own that is twenty years old and still going strong.  That would be an interesting story indeed, if Mr. Haarof was using the original PRO arm for such a technically and astetically challenging movie twenty years after the arm/sled/vest was originally made!  I guess what people say is true: just buy right the first time, and you'll never have to buy again.


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#5 Jason Leeds

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 11:21 AM

Not sure if this is the right thread for this but speaking of Birdman.....

 

http://soundandpictu...chris-haarhoff/


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#6 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 12:33 PM

I believe the PRO arm was introduced in 1997 but I may be off by a year or so.  Funny, we are calling that old.  I still consider all the PRO arms new.  I bet in that time, Chris has done no work on the arm other than a cleaning or two.  The 3a style arms you frequently see for sale are much older, some even dating back to the 1970's (although these were not originally 3a arms and can be identified by the silver bones, but were often updated later to have all the "3a" features).  This is all a bit of a simplified history lesson, but seems detailed enough for this post.  Keep in mind that Robert Luna and Rig Engineering make new versions of this style arm as well as rebuilding old ones so it can often be hard to put an exact age on a specific arm.


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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 01:16 PM

Considering the torque and load bearing involved, it is testimony to the engineering that old arms are still going strong. When I sold my PRO arm in 2010 (#15, built in 1997), after inspection Jack told me that it needed nothing, was functionally identical to the ones he was assembling that day. Pretty cool.

 

My Model 1 arm from around '78 was still working last I heard--Dave Isern, do you still have it?


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#8 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 03:22 PM

My first PRO arm was #21, I got it in 1998.


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#9 Beau Cuizon

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 04:06 PM

Considering the torque and load bearing involved, it is testimony to the engineering that old arms are still going strong. 

Years ago, I was working on the press junket for Pearl Harbor (2001) in Pearl Harbor -- we had the whole thing set up on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis...and up on the flight deck, there was this old warbird, an original B-25 Mitchell as a static display.  I had never seen one up close, and after walking around it, and after having the chance to look inside, it was apparent how well made these planes were.  "Completely overengineered", the owner/pilot told me.  "Could have been made cheaper.  Less redundant systems.  Less armor plating."  I thought it was interesting, considering the company building them knew many of them would be lost in battle, no matter how it was designed.  I asked him, why they did so.  He shrugged his shoulders.  "They cared", he said.

 

He later flew that plane off the deck of that carrier, sixty years after it had been done the first time.

 

I always think about that word, "overengineered", when I hear stories about 'old" steadicam gear, like the ones we hear about in these threads...which is a good thing.


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#10 Mark Stitzer

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 04:19 PM

I'm operating with a Cinema products 1979ish model 2 that I recently had Robert Luna upgrade with a double elbow and adjustability. Serial number 153. Jerry Holway can tell stories of cutting his teeth on this rig back in the early 80s. Myself, Rich Cottrel and Mike Craven also began on this same arm.
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#11 Mariano Costa

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 04:56 PM

The arm they rented from late John Ward and used as a prop in Aliens (1986) for "Vasquez" Smart Gun (Jennette Goldstein) is still owned and used by Joe McNally...
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#12 Beau Cuizon

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 06:15 PM

I'm operating with a Cinema products 1979ish model 2 that I recently had Robert Luna upgrade with a double elbow and adjustability. Serial number 153. Jerry Holway can tell stories of cutting his teeth on this rig back in the early 80s. Myself, Rich Cottrel and Mike Craven also began on this same arm.

Wow.  Thirty + years old?  Are you using the original springs in that arm?


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#13 Beau Cuizon

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 06:18 PM

The arm they rented from late John Ward and used as a prop in Aliens (1986) for "Vasquez" Smart Gun (Jennette Goldstein) is still owned and used by Joe McNally...

That's incredible. I always wondered what kind of beating those arms got while in use on set.  i think there's even a part in the movie (after the attack in the Alien hive, where the Marines are retreating) where "Drake" uses the "Oh Crap Strap" to exfil from the his rig, dropping the whole thing on the ground.  Amazing to think that a part of cinema history (on screen, no less) is still around an in use today...


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#14 Mark Stitzer

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 11:11 PM

Wow.  Thirty + years old?  Are you using the original springs in that arm?


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#15 Mark Stitzer

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 11:17 PM

Yes, original springs! Robert Luna modified it with long adjuster screws to make them adjustable from the original 39ish lbs only to a useable 19-39lbs. Silky smooth and I can fly lighter loads now.
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