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Steadicam Merlin owners - help wanted, missing parts!


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#1 Cian Clarke

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 04:42 PM

Hi Folks, 

I'm the proud new owner of a Steadicam Merlin - or at least, part of one. I had originally intended on buying a no-brand steadicam, since the Merlin was way out of my price range, but when I saw a partial Merlin come up on eBay for low $, even though it was missing loads of parts I thought I'd be clever and try and jury-rig a solution.

 

I'm missing the counterbalance weights, and the dovetail plate. 

 

I've since discovered that replacement counterweights are ~$25 each, and it looks like my 60D & 17-40mm rig will take at least 3 to balance, so buying the set would cost more than a used Merlin. I was going to try to make some by tapping a 1/2" fine screw thread into some raw lead instead.

(other ideas welcome!) 

 

And now, my ask..

-Does anybody know the weights of the "Start", "Mid", "Finish" weights? Looks like I need the equivalent of 1, 2 and 2 of each respectively according to the cookbook. 

-Does anybody have any ideas for jury-rigging a dovetail? Is the forward-back, side-to-side movement adjusters that the dovetail depends on so important that I should just buy a legit one?

-Does anybody have any spare weights or a dovetail they'd be willing to sell me?! 

-..should I just give up on my Merlin endeavour (I'm only $30 in so far), and buy a crappy Neweer stabiliser to start? :D

 

Thanks for any help!


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#2 Lisa Sene

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 05:13 PM

Hi Cian,

 

I'm not sure of the respective weights of the 3 types of balance weights offhand. As for the dovetail plate, I would buy the real one because that will be the best and most secure fit. Personally, I don't think the savings that would come from getting an off-brand one or making a jury-rigged one would outweigh a potential loss that could be that plate failing and smashing your camera and lens. The other factor to consider is the time, effort, and money it will take you to make one. 

 

Here is a link to purchase the Merlin dovetail via B&H. The balance weights can also be found there by searching "Steadicam Merlin weights". Though the initial sticker price may be higher than you would like on these items, take comfort in the fact that they will last a long time and do their job exceptionally well. I've used the Merlin before and find it to be a fantastic little rig!

 

Happy flying,

 

Lisa


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#3 Francisco Orozco Jr

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 05:53 PM

Start and finish weights are 1/8 lb. 1/4 lb for mid weights. The fine adjustments are made by moving the gimbal underneath the top stage. I would still recommend getting the actual dovetail plate as suggested above. You can still find used Merlin 1 &2s anywhere from $120-250 on eBay Etc. That way you can have a complete spare gimbal and parts.
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#4 Cian Clarke

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 12:09 PM

Hi Cian,

 

I'm not sure of the respective weights of the 3 types of balance weights offhand. As for the dovetail plate, I would buy the real one because that will be the best and most secure fit. Personally, I don't think the savings that would come from getting an off-brand one or making a jury-rigged one would outweigh a potential loss that could be that plate failing and smashing your camera and lens. The other factor to consider is the time, effort, and money it will take you to make one. 

 

Here is a link to purchase the Merlin dovetail via B&H. The balance weights can also be found there by searching "Steadicam Merlin weights". Though the initial sticker price may be higher than you would like on these items, take comfort in the fact that they will last a long time and do their job exceptionally well. I've used the Merlin before and find it to be a fantastic little rig!

 

Happy flying,

 

Lisa

Thanks for the reply Lisa - indeed, I had found all the parts on B&H, but by the time I'd bought enough weights I'd have the price of a used complete Merlin 2 on eBay! 

I agree re: the dovetail though, the $80 is a small investment versus any (..further!) falls to my rig!

 

Also - hello, fellow Bostonian here! Well - adoptive, moved from Ireland ~4 years ago. 


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#5 Cian Clarke

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 12:11 PM

Start and finish weights are 1/8 lb. 1/4 lb for mid weights. The fine adjustments are made by moving the gimbal underneath the top stage. I would still recommend getting the actual dovetail plate as suggested above. You can still find used Merlin 1 &2s anywhere from $120-250 on eBay Etc. That way you can have a complete spare gimbal and parts.

Thanks Francisco - this is a huge help, and lighter than I'd thought, which makes my life a little easier.
I've since found some fishing weights that I can tap a screw hole into, so I'll start by trying that.

Should this approach fail, I'll just buy a(nother) used Merlin!

 

Agree re: the dovetail, seems the most important machined piece here. When I originally bought the used Merlin, there was a dovetail for sale in the used section on  B&H for a much more reasonable price. Alas, this has since sold so that plan fell apart quickly, haha


Edited by Cian Clarke, 28 January 2017 - 12:12 PM.

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#6 Lisa Sene

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 05:56 PM

Hi back from a fellow Bostonian, Cian! I am also originally from elsewhere, but have been here for almost ten years now. Let me know if you need a hand with your Merlin; I'm glad to help!

 

Lisa


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#7 James Elias

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:33 AM

Cian -

 

I'd buy either the replacement parts or the complete Merlin... whatever is cheaper.

 

If you change camera down the line, or you add something to it - you're probably going to need the extra weights.

As Lisa said, get the proper dovetail...  it's the most secure way to use it.  Anything else that isn't rigid enough will drive you nuts.

 

Be careful with second hand original merlin dovetails though as they may not grip the stage as well if well used.

Merlin2 dovetails were much stronger.

 

Good luck

James


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