Hard Panning 717AH – Clean it Out

The 717AH or similar fluid head is a pretty beefy camera mount for it's price, but there's been some inconsistency in fluid panning. Most people are happy with the video head right out of the box, but if you've got stiff panning try the fix below. The solution to getting smoother (looser) pans are to disassemble the head, clean out the old lube, and add your own. If you've been experiencing such harsh movements you might want to try this yourself. I didn't have time to shoot a video so if anyone has one online, please share. For now you'll get to see a few images of what's inside (not much).

The fluid part of this head is not really a cartridge. It's two sections combined to be a machined bearing. The lube that is used adds more friction rather than more smoothness. It's some really really sticky stuff inside. Personally I find it's best to clean everything out and not leave any traces behind and then add in your own lube. A small dab of white grease from an auto parts store should do fine. You'll know more once you have it apart.

Tools you'll need are some Carb Cleaner. This will help break down the old grease. You'll need a 2.5 & 3 Metric hex tool. If you have everything accessible, you can get through this in less than 10 minutes.

Remove the three screws in the middle which removes the bottom cap.
Fluid-Head (1 of 5)

Remove the 6 hex screws under the cap (cap shown on the right)
Fluid-Head (2 of 5)

Take out the two piece metal machined Panning bearing and clean it out.
Fluid-Head (4 of 5)

Lube it with your white grease and put it all back together. (Make sure your Panning Brake is setup correctly before assembling.) Done, should feel super smooth and like a brand new Head.

find-price-button Heavy Duty Video Tripod Fluid Drag Head Kits WF717A

35 thoughts on “Hard Panning 717AH – Clean it Out

  1. Fabiano

    I took that piece of pressure in the tilt movement. Does anyone know the order of the washers? Where i put the wavy washer?

  2. Anth

    Hey guys, so is it agreed that 600,000cST silicone is the way to go? Also I've been searching the Internet for an answer to Jim's question (post #24). Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

  3. Hey I just wanted to revive an old thread, but I ordered the 600,000cSt silicone and it indeed, works better than the white grease that I previously used. It gives back a little more drag, and gets rid of that squeeking i experienced with the white grease before.

  4. Julio

    garen #28 is right. I did so and it worked. You can even save the grease removed in case you need it again.

  5. Jer

    I know this is old, but its still an issue for alot of us..

    Wondering how others made out with the mentioned 500,000 or 600,000 cSt?

  6. industrialite

    " (Make sure your Panning Brake is setup correctly before assembling.)"
    I'm looking at this as the right fix for the same problem on a Fancier unit. Would like to now how "Brake..setup..." translates to Friction Control, or if it's relevant at all?
    Otherwise, great didactic,

  7. G-Man

    Just bought the same panhead (and having the same issues with the stiffness of the viscous grease when panning. Turns out the grease is temperature sensitive, the colder it is, the stiffer it gets and creates way too much drag. Solution...undo the bottom section (3 x hex screws) and then apply a hair-drier on max heat for 10 mins. Voila...viscous grease becomes more fluid and it now pans beautifully. This needs to be done 1-2 times depending on how long the panhead was held in stock before purchase. Cheers Gaz.

  8. garen

    I bought just the head. No tripod legs. After reading this thread and some other threads by people who were having this problem and knowing all the risks of permanently damaging this head, I went ahead...

    All I did was take a matchstick and scoop out JUST A LITTLE bit of that goo... with a matchstick... just a little bit (you can always take out less, but don't clean it all out in one go). Screw it back together. Pans perfectly easily and smoothly now. Problem solved.
    (if you need less resistance, then repeat the above process again, just remember not to take out too much in one go). Hope this helps.

  9. Jo

    Hi there,
    same problem here: I cleaned out the old gunk because it was so stiff that it screwed off the tripod while panning.
    So first I tried simple oil for bike chains - way too easy to turn. Same thing with ball-bearing grease. Next thing I tried was silicone oil with 30,000 cSt. Well, it got better but it still moves quite easy. And the other problem is that there is a bit of play between those two metal parts. So the head wobbles when I tilt it vertically 🙁

    I am really interested if the 500000 or 600000 cSt will work any better! So please, Jarrod or Mike, are you happy now with your 717???

    Thanks a lot

  10. Scottrellwi

    Mike, is this still working for you? I messed mine up today, and now need to find a substitute lube. Very annoying.


  11. Mike

    I just got my 717AH last week and am very happy with it.
    I thought the tilt was perfect for me with my Canon 7D.

    The pan was a little tight for my taste. I read a bunch of reviews saying the same thing so I thought I would try some other "fluid" in the pan mechanism as shown above. I used automotive grease and found it too easy too turn.

    The perfect solution for me was R/C car differential oil available from almost any Hobby store. It come in many different grades and I found that 500,000(500K) was just a little less "sticky than the original sticky stuff that Weifeng used and gave me just the right amount of pan resistance. (your results may vary)

  12. Jim

    The pan tension is fine on mine, it's the tilt that sticks a little at the start of a tilt. Does anyone know how to open the tilt section up like this to clean it?

  13. @Paul @Oli @Patrick
    OK Guys, I sent Emm some pics of the new silicone I tried.


    I feel as though I did get some of the drag back but not enough for my taste. As you can see in the pic below I got the 30,000 cst, medium drag.


    The parts are machined, so @Oli I don’t think you ruined your tripod head, you just need to find the right lubricant to get it closer to what it was.


    These parts can be cleaned again and again, just don’t use metal brushes or anything on them.

    I am going to reorder and get the 600,000 cst this time. That will have far more drag and it says it is a heavy thick silicone. So learn from my error and don’t order the medium drag offered in the 600,000 cst one.


    It also talks about on this page how you can mix them to achieve the desired drag. So now that I have the 30,000 cst I might find that the 600,000 cst is too thick. With having both silicone’s, I can mix them to get them to a desired level of drag.

    Hope this helps everyone out. Your tripod heads are NOT ruined!

  14. Oli

    Thanks for the suggestion. I think the extra mounting surface area will help a lot. I'll use that with the glidetrack for sure. Could you suggest a better tripod anyway just so I can be 100% it doesn't happen? One with 3 locking screws?

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Oli - You could try adding a Neoprene Washer (flat rubber washer) in between to give it some tension. You can find large flat wide ones at hardware stores.

  16. Oli

    Oh and the other thing is that when I screw the 717 head onto my glidetrack 1/4 screw mount the same thing happens. So even with a new tripod it's still going to come off my glidetrack if I pan right. Help??!

  17. Oli

    It's a Velbon DV-7000 tripod, it is a video tripod but a fairly cheap/ light one. Between the legs and head there's just a 1/4 screw which means it's never really locked in properly. Can you recommend a non-bowl tripod with the three locking screws?

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @Oli - You need to get the correct type of tripod. The Video tripods have three screws to lock video tripods in place. Sounds like you have a regular Photo tripod.

  19. Oli

    I'd really love some suggestions here.. I actually like the tension of the panning- it's quite firm but it makes for nice smooth controlled moves. The one glaring problem I'm having though is that when I pan to the left, the actual head unscrews off the tripod. This doesn't happen when I pan right as it's going in the right direction of the threads. Basically- any ideas how I can secure the head to the legs very rigidly (without super glue??) Thanks in advance.

  20. Kevin

    Hi Jarrod, Paul and others...

    I too ruined mine by doing this mod.

    Also, because I think the two machined parts are designed for the original sticky stuff, I now have definite slap or gap and can not use the tilt either. It is simply not snug between the base and the machined parts any more.

    I am so mad at myself I tossed it in the garage, out of sight.

  21. Paul,
    This is the one I ordered -

    Item: Silicone Damping Fluid 30,000 cSt
    Quantity: 1
    Description: Silicone Damping Fluid 30,000 cSt
    Price (each): 10.00
    Item Total: 10.00

    I chose the medium damping, hoping this will be the right ticket! I am hoping if it is too stiff I can just add a little more to bearings.

    Ill keep in touch on this!

  22. Paul


    That looks like just the ticket! By all means, report back with your findings. I think we need something a little stickier then auto grease but not as sticky as what they had in there. And if it is "stickier" then auto grease, we can apply it with precision using that syringe applicator.

    Looking forward to your report! For $10 its a good gamble.

  23. Good Post Emm, I have done this on both of my heads already. Its true that you do lose a little drag, but It was so tight before that you could pan quicker. Now it is set a little looser to pan a little more freely.

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @Naokira - I hear shipping is expensive to some places, it might be the same price for some countries to get a 701HDV from manfrotto.

  25. Paul

    I too did this a while back, however, the results were disappointing. Now my head spins so freely that its almost useless. There is ZERO drag on it now, luckily I only did the panning part, didn't go into the upper tilt section, so the tilt is still tight. I used a white auto grease, but it supplies ZERO tension, doesn't stiffen up the pan at all! I can literally just barely push the pan handle and it'll spin around 3 or 4 times now. It's impossible to get a smooth slow pan. I much preferred it stiffer like when it came from the factory. Maybe I need a different grease? Is anyone else getting any resistance on the pans after doing this? I think I ruined the head, at least it wasn't too expensive to start with!

  26. Dan

    I tried this, and it does in fact work! I did have a defective unit however, might purchase another one for use on a slider!

  27. Naokira

    hey emm,

    This tripod does not ship in my country. Do other websites offer this particular tripod? I really need this one 🙂 thanks!

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