I’ve always really liked the idea of this tripod head, but having been designed to support 15+ kilos it’s less than ideal for light weight cameras. The side tilt is especially resistant to small adjustments, at least on the versions I’ve had- the friction in the pivot means I go way too far the other way when trying to make small tweaks, and this usually goes back and forth for quite a few cycles before I give up and just adjust the tripod leg to level the head. But I really like the huge platform, the low profile, and the panning base which my Ries head doesn’t have. I’ve bought one of these twice now. Obviously I sold the first one, but after looking around at what else was available for a couple years I finally bought another one and decided to learn to love it. Or take it apart.
All the pivots are really clean and well lubricated so there was no undue resistance there, but there’s a compression spring that’s housed in the sleeve that covers the side tilt arm between the platform bracket and the pivot clamp housing. The spring is burly, designed to apply resistance to the side tilt clamp so heavy cameras don’t get too floppy when loosened.
I removed the spring and the side pivot freely rotated without any resistance, but the pivot clamp does need some resistance otherwise the tilt would be too hard to control. Not really the best thing to do to a spring, but I crunched it in a vise and left it fully compressed for 15 minutes. That shortened the spring (temporarily) by about 3mm, which did greatly reduce the tension when reassembled. The spring will probably rebound eventually so I’ll order a couple of new lengths of the same diameter spring to experiment with. It’s really easy to take this sleeve apart, despite the strength of the spring- I’ve had it out about 5 times now because I keep forgetting to measure the spring. Factory spring was 2mm wire diameter, 14mm OD, 10mm ID, and 25mm long, this was the closest match I could find at McMaster- https://www.mcmaster.com/#94125k112/=1bdy3yz.
Of course, much of this info might be specific to the vintage of the head. The SN on mine is GZ010038. Not sure of the year but it’s stamped made in Italy, so it was made sometime after they moved production from France.
Another simple modification is to open the rear slot of the platform. This makes is easier to attach the camera, you can start the thumbscrew on the camera base and slide it into the slot instead of trying the thread the screw on from underneath. I used a hacksaw and cleaned the cuts up with a file. I store the thumbscrew in the threaded hole at the front of the platform.
While apart I cleaned and greased it. For lubrication on pivots and bearings I like white lithium grease. Doesn’t stink and doesn’t bleed out at high temperatures. According to the data sheet the effective range is -40 to 175 C. I don’t use it anywhere near wood, but it’s safe on rubber and plastic.