I am super excited at the interest in water drop collision high speed photography that I have seen in just the past few months. The means to create such artistic images are more accessible now-a-days, and it seems to be as popular as ever. My current system is the Pluto Trigger and the Valve. The Pluto system provides some of the tools necessary to make this art possible. However, as with any tool there is maintenance. I have experienced, more than a few times, a degraded performance from my valve. The performance problems range from the plunger sticking, which doesn't allow for the fluid to travel through the chambers efficiently causing a inconsistent drop, arcing of the fluid coming out which makes consistent collisions all but impossible.
Once I am finished with a session of collisions, I run hot water through the valve to get any residue out. It is only so effective, eventually I had to break down and take the valve apart. Before I go on I must say, I took my valve apart knowing full well there are risks involved. I accepted those risks before I preceded with the disassembly, as should you, if you disassemble yours. I only offer a guide into what I do to clean my Valve, and am in no way responsible for your decision to disassemble your Valve or any consequences that may result. Do this at your own risk! Please read through this entire post, and make sure you are comfortable disassembling your Valve. I assume no responsibility for any actions that may cause damage or harm to product or person. If you are not comfortable attempting, please do not. Only you know your own skill level. With that said, let's get started.
The first thing I do is I remove the battery. Logical step number one, and kind of a no brainer. I don't have to many photos of the electronics because I remove it and set it aside, but here is my Valve fully assembled.
A single nut holds the electronics on the Valve.
The first time I took it apart, it did not want to budge. I had never cleaned it before in this manner and the mixture I was using, when dry, became stuck like glue. Which is why I wanted, nay, needed to clean it. There is a single nut holding the electronic board and solenoid to the body/plunger of the Valve. I found mine to be a 14mm nut, but others may be different. I know some Valves come with a brass fitting for the tip. I am not sure if the nut size has changed at all on different units, all I know is mine is a 14mm. The nut is standard thread, so counter-clockwise loosens and clockwise tightens.
The body/plunger assembly on the top, the electronic circuit board and solenoid middle right and the 14mm nut.
The threaded rod is the plunger assembly. It is the mechanical component that is electronically controlled by the circuit board and solenoid, allowing liquid to flow. The very first time I disassembled my Valve, the dried mixture was stuck between the two metal plates which made it difficult to get the electronics off the housing/plunger assembly. Eventually I worked it back and forth enough it came free. Twisting did not work because the plate that retains the plunger assembly has some teeth to prevent the board/solenoid from turning.
Two phillips screws hold the retainer plate and the plunger in place. The anti-rotation teeth are located at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock of the plunger assembly.
I wash off the plate and make sure it is dry before reassembly.
In the above image the plunger assembly is held in place with an o-ring. The o-ring prevents leakage from both sides. It keeps air out, and it keeps the liquid in the Valve. Take care not to lose or tear this o-ring. I can't imagine finding a replacement would be easy.
Completely disassembled. Note the oring on the brass tube of the plunger assembly.
Plunger assembly fully assembled.
Note the recess and hole in the plunger. I believe this allows the plunger to move freely. I make sure there is nothing in the hole and clean the cut out. Along with making sure the tube is free of gunk.
Generally, I run the body, the plunger and the plate through some very hot water. I will also use pipe cleaners and some dental brush to clean out the small orifices.
After. It is difficult to see in the images, but the opening is clear.
To reassemble just reverse the steps. When putting the plunger assembly together, I don't believe the hole or notch needs to go any specific direction in the tube. When reinstalling the plunger assembly, I get the o-ring wet with some water and I will rotate the assembly to make sure the o-ring seats properly. Also, it is very important to keep in mind, do not over-tighten the screws or the nut. Snug is all that is needed.
I hope this little presentation helps with keeping those Valves in tip top running order. Remember, if you are not comfortable with this task, please do not attempt. You can check out my gallery by clicking here. I would also recommend heading over to Colin Rayners blog and check out the information he has posted. Keep those Valves clean and dropping! Thanks for reading!