|Broken Gitzo GT2531 tripod.|
I was pretty frustrated to say the least. This is not how I would expect a tripod to fail, especially a name like Gitzo.
My first guess was fatigue cracks had developed in the hinges, and cold temperatures accelerated the failure.
I tried to contact Gitzo, sending them several e-mails asking if this was a known problem, or one they had seen before, or entirely new. I offered to send the tripod to them for evaluation if they wished. I never received a response from them.
An independent analysis of the failed part detected signs of small stress cracks. This didn't surprise me as I wondered if I was stressing the hinges when securing the tripod to my pack - possibly cinching it down too tightly and overcompressing the legs inward. Having removed my center column long ago, this would allow even further inward movement.
|Lightweight Gitzo center piece. Yes, that is 3.5 oz!|
The yield strength, tensile strength and hardness of magnesium alloy increases as temperature decreases, while its impact resistance decreases. Basically, this means in cold temperatures magnesium alloy becomes more brittle. A great source of information on this can be found here.
I originally considered replacing my tripod, but was not excited about rewarding Gitzo with my business now. I stongly considered switching to another brand, in fact.
Then I realized a repair of my existing tripod would be a less expensive alternative. This made more sense to me.
Gitzo now partners with a company called CRIS in Chandler, AZ for all service repairs. On their web site, CRIS encourages you to call first to make arrangements for repairs. I found them very difficult to get hold off, always going to voice mail and calls never being returned. It does appear they are going through a transition period, moving stock and operations from Manfrotto in New Jersey. Maybe things will get better with time.
|New Gitzo GT2531 center piece.|
Gitzospares.com is located in the UK and is an excellent source for parts. They have a very large inventory, and offer free shipping - yes, even to the U.S. In just a few days, I had the part I needed at my doorstep, and at a fraction of the price I would have paid for repairs. I highly recommend them.
I am back up and running now and ready for my next adventure, with no help from Gitzo.