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Smooth Dolly Trick in a snow storm


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#1 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:02 PM

I was working this weekend as a Key Grip on a low budget feature, and came up with a nifty trick to keep the dolly tracks from icing over. We had a pretty consistent heavy snowfall all day while working outside, and I found if you put antifreeze on a rag, and wipe down the tracks, it keeps snow from sticking and eventually freezing. In the course of 8 hours I only wiped the rails down twice, and never was there standing water or ice on the tracks. It even helped the wheels remain ice free.

Just thought I would pass that along to anyone who finds themselves under really heavy snowfall. Last snowfall shoot I did without this trick was a real hassle trying to keep the tracks from icing over. I am not sure what long term effects of using this would be on the tracks and wheels. I assume because antifreeze is generally not caustic that it would be fine on the wheels, and obviously stainless steel track wouldn't be adversely affected.
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#2 JD Hartman

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:39 PM

I was working this weekend as a Key Grip on a low budget feature, and came up with a nifty trick to keep the dolly tracks from icing over. We had a pretty consistent heavy snowfall all day while working outside, and I found if you put antifreeze on a rag, and wipe down the tracks, it keeps snow from sticking and eventually freezing. In the course of 8 hours I only wiped the rails down twice, and never was there standing water or ice on the tracks. It even helped the wheels remain ice free.

Just thought I would pass that along to anyone who finds themselves under really heavy snowfall. Last snowfall shoot I did without this trick was a real hassle trying to keep the tracks from icing over. I am not sure what long term effects of using this would be on the tracks and wheels. I assume because antifreeze is generally not caustic that it would be fine on the wheels, and obviously stainless steel track wouldn't be adversely affected.


Might not be caustic, but antifreeze is very toxic to animals. :o Perhaps grip equipment manufacturers are overlooking a niche manufacturing opportunity, heated track or perhaps electrically heated dolly wheels. :blink:
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#3 John Sprung

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 07:07 PM

Given the large latent heat of fusion for water, and the small area of contact between wheels and track, heating the wheels probably wouldn't work, even if you had steel wheels dangerously hot. You'd have to heat the tracks.

Animals pretty much have to drink antifreeze from a vehicle radiator to get enough to be a problem. If you're careful wiping down the tracks and don't slop it all over, there shouldn't be enough to worry about.





-- J.S.
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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 07:27 PM

Yeah, it was just enough antifreeze to put a thin coat on the tracks. Like doping a rag with chloroform (bad image, but its all I could think of) No pooling of antifreeze on the ground beneath or beads of it on the track, actually once applied it was invisible, so I am sure animals would be safe around it. That said, if you have a trained animal on set and ASPCA around, you might want to pass it by them first. Sometimes actual danger is trumped by perceived danger.
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#5 JD Hartman

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 11:50 PM

Yeah, it was just enough antifreeze to put a thin coat on the tracks. Like doping a rag with chloroform (bad image, but its all I could think of) No pooling of antifreeze on the ground beneath or beads of it on the track, actually once applied it was invisible, so I am sure animals would be safe around it. That said, if you have a trained animal on set and ASPCA around, you might want to pass it by them first. Sometimes actual danger is trumped by perceived danger.


Actually its the odor of the antifreeze that animals go for, but they probably would have to lick the entire length of track to receive any serious amount of exposure. Anyone that has seen "A Christmas Story", knows what happens when you lick a freezing cold pipe and animals are smarter than that.

Your comment about animals on set is right on the mark.

Regarding the heated wheels, that was intended as a joke. Sorry, bad form.
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#6 Onno Perdijk

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 10:53 AM

Hello All,


I would drop the idea of heated track straightaway since it will surely melt the supporting snow or ice which will demand the need for continous power on the tracks or an icesaw for repostioning the tracks... :-) It seems to me a lot of hassle where a simple solution is given.
I just imagine people warming their hands on the tracks and the fingers I will run over when tracking :-)

Good luck,

Onno
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#7 JD Hartman

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 11:34 AM

Hello All,


I would drop the idea of heated track straightaway since it will surely melt the supporting snow or ice which will demand the need for continous power on the tracks or an icesaw for repostioning the tracks... :-) It seems to me a lot of hassle where a simple solution is given.
I just imagine people warming their hands on the tracks and the fingers I will run over when tracking :-)

Good luck,

Onno


Onno, I can see your point. In some parts of Alaska, a heated track would have elevated above the ground on supports with built in heat sinks to protect the permafrost. Just like the Alaskan Oil pipeline.
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#8 Michael Collier

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 03:25 PM

I don't know that permafrost is a big concern up here. Sure for the pipeline it is, but you gotta remember that the oil is heated to something like 120 degrees before being pumped down the line. The concern was heat transferring through the deeply embedded supports (earthquake zone, ring of fire and all that) and melting the permafrost deep down that would start a degenerative cycle that would destroy the tundra (keep in mind relatively very little of the state is covered in tundra, and films likely wouldn't shoot in those areas). If your working in snow in Alaska, permafrost and tundra are of no concern, because they are typically buried under feet of snow. I don't think heated tracks would be a problem, most setups I have done involved no part of the track directly touching snow. Because snow shifts easily there is always lots of cribbing to be done, and wood would provide good enough insulation to keep the heat from melting the snow and shifting the tracks off level.

Of course, why muck around with running power to the tracks, making sure they are operational and not leaking electricity or any other complication electricity adds when all you need is a rag and some antifreeze? It was seriously blizzard style downfall this weekend, with big sticky flakes, around 15 degrees and the trick worked flawlessly. If it worked in those conditions, it will work in just about any situation an LA, NY or Canadian crew would likely encounter.
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#9 JD Hartman

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 03:43 PM

MC,
I completely agree with you. I wonder is a wipe down with Methyl or Ethyl alcohol would do the same as using glycol? At one time alcohol was a primary ingredient in radiator coolant/anti-freeze.
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#10 Jim Menkol

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 06:49 PM

Thanks for the tip! I was shooting in a ridiculous blizzard a couple months ago and could not keep the tracks clear--I had 4 P.A.s going down the track in front of the dolly, but, alas, it was not quite enough.
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#11 DouglasSunlin

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 04:38 PM

Geez, re-inventing the wheel!

Get a sled!:)
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 10:56 PM

They make non-toxic antifreeze, in fact MOST antifreeze is now non-toxic and the FDA certified it's main ingredient Propylene glycol safe for use in foods however, don't swig it down or you're gonna have to call the paramedics. Antifreeze is actually anti corrosion as well. It helps keep engine blocks, heads, manifolds and freeze plugs from rusting out so it AIN'T gonna hurt speedrail or any other track. ACTUALLY that little trick is a good thing to have handy in the back of my mind. B)
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