How many photographers does it take to make a great product even better? I'll get back to that in a minute.
A couple of months ago, I finally got around to purchasing a MultiCart RocknRoller R12RT 8-in-1 All-Terrain Equipment Transporter to haul gear around on. I LOVE this cart. It's made my life so much easier and it has paid for itself in time and hassle saved from the very first time I used it. If you are a photographer who hauls gear from to location on anything that comes close to a regular basis, you need one of these carts. They come in a variety of sizes and prices to fit every budget and need.
While I was at it, I also purchased a MultiCart RSH10 Shelf to go with the R12RT cart.
As great as the cart it, the shelf . . . Not so much. This is one of those things were it really looks like one person designed the cart, and someone else designed the shelf. I mean, out of the box, it fits, and it does the job.
The problem is attaching it to the cart is cumbersome at best, difficult at worst.
Each end of the shelf has 2 prongs that fit around the vertical handles, and attach with bolts and wing nuts. There is no way to attach the shelf and bolt it up with just 2 hands. Add to this the need to slip in the bolt, then spin a wing nut on, and an already difficult situation gets a lot worse real quick (a friend tells me that he's been standing the cart on one end, attaching that end, then flipping the whole thing over to attach the other end, praying and hoping something doesn't snap off in the process). I tried just slipping the 4 bolts in, but before I could get all 4 in, one popped out and that corner of the shelf dropped. And of course, there's always the possibility of losing a wing nut or two along the way.
There had to be a better way.
The first thing that had to be changed was the bolt/wing nut situation. I went to my local Lowe's and found some 2 inch Round Wire Lock Pins. One hand operation -- slip the pin in, flip the wire ring around, and snap it in place. Removal was just as easy, just in reverse.
But how to make things so I could more easily attach the shelf?
Some time back, I saw a modification where someone removed the steel tubing rails holding the prongs and turned them sideways, so the prongs faced downward. They then welded some additional square tubing between the handle's uprights, and the downward-facing prongs then rested on these new pieces. An excellent solution to the problem -- the shelf was supported during installation and removal, and it was easy to do. For that matter, it was no longer even necessary to bolt the shelf to the cart.
But I realized that these new pieces would make folding the cart a problem -- at least one, if not both, would get in the way of the cart folding flat. Plus I wanted the versatility of being able to attach the shelf in any of the available positions -- high or low. Unless I welded more than one of these new pieces of square tubing to each handle, I'd be stuck with one height.
I had another consideration -- because I stack my gear up, then stick my light stands through the handles, I didn't really want anything in the way that could impede the stands. More thinking was needed.
I finally decided the thing to do was to simply turn one of the shelf's rails completely over, so the prongs were facing each other. This would allow the prongs to slip down over the cart's handles from the top. If nothing else, it would jam against the handles. But it would not fall off.
Making this happen on the shelf extension (used to extend the shelf when the cart is at its maximum size) was easy -- I just unbolted the proper rail, flipped it over, and bolted it back in place.
But on the main part of the shelf, things weren't so simple.
There is a nut welded on to the rail at one end where a bolt is used to keep the sections of shelf together (and to secure the prongs for the shorter shelf). That nut meant it would not be possible to just flip the rail over as I had done on the extension. The solution was to remove that nut, and weld a new one on the other side.
Enter my friend, James Pratt, who, besides being an excellent professional photographer who shoots for several local magazines, has the skills and tools necessary to remove the offending nut and weld the new one on.
He also has a huge shop equipped to so all sorts of crazy stuff, including the cutting, drilling, and welding necessary for this little project.
I pulled the rail off the shelf, and made the short drive to James' house. A portable grinder with a cutting wheel made short work of getting the original nut off. Because the hole for the bolt was only drilled through one side, we had to drill a new hole on the other side. Then James welded the new nut on the rail. A little spray paint, and it was time to reassemble the shelf.
Combined with the new 2 inch Round Wire Lock Pins, the shelf can now be put on or removed from the cart with absolutely no hassle. One thing I do is put the pins in the holes I want to use to mount the shelf before I mount the shelf. That way, once the shelf prongs are slipped down over the cart's handles, it can rest on the pins. From there, it's a simple matter of pulling one pin, sliding that prong down to the hole, reinserting the pin, and locking it in place with the wire. Repeat for all 4 prongs and the shelf is secured in place ready to use. When I'm ready to remove the shelf, I just reverse the process. The lock pins live in the shelf when the shelf is not being used.
Personally, I think this is a far more satisfactory solution to my dilemma of how to put the shelf on and off the cart quickly and easily.
My next modification will be to replace the regular nuts that hold the rails to the shelf sections with nylon-insert nuts, so I don't have to worry about them coming loose and falling off in the middle of a gig.
So there is the answer to the question -- How many photographers does it take to make a great product even better?
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