Modifying your Westcott Umbrella Adapters

westcottmods-1This was something that I needed to get sorted out.  I got the Westcott adapters for my portable SB800/900 setup and for the most part they worked well.  The problem that I had was that the adapters had a little metal piece that needed to sit inside of the shoe in order to keep the SB800 in place.  When that piece was gone, forget about that flash staying put!  This caused a great amount of pain when I was out doing some shooting, and I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way to do this.”

Not to mention that the SB900 didn’t fit in this shoe at all.  I didn’t want to buy the unit all over again.  What was I to do? Well, I figured it out.. it was cheaper than buying it new.. and has given me a newfound confidence in hoisting those flash units up in the air again (wow.. that sounds like a bad 70s commercial). I bought a couple of components from FlashZebra and in no time at all, we were up and running.

When in doubt, I go check FlashZebra.  This is a site that sold a couple of things that I thought were really cool.  First part was a cable that you can attach to an Elinchrom Skyport (which I use and love) and have it connect to an SB800 or SB900 without needing a shoe adapter.  Now, there are others out there, but I was digging FlashZebra’s cost on this – 17 bucks!  I was sold there.

The second thing that they had were flash shoes that had a tension knob to the right.  Because of this, you are able to add a SB900 to the shoe AND tighten it enough to make sure any flash sits put.  I love it!  However, when I got the pieces in from the company, I found out it required a little jury rigging in order to get it to sit right.

westcottmods-3Step 1:  Unscrew the shoe from the adapter
This was a pretty straightforward process. Phillips head screwdriver to the two screws at the top. In no time, you’re done.

westcottmods-4Step 2: Insert Machine Screw
I went to Lowes and brought my problem with me, asking the guy at the Screws department what was the best screw to fit this hole in the center AND be able to thread the flash shoe that I was going to put on the other side. The problem here was that the hole in the center of the Westcott adapter did not have any threading. If I wanted something in there, it would have to be forced in. The screws here looked like they fit the job perfectly.

westcottmods-5Step 3: Time for Some Hacksaw
Once the screw was in place, it was time to pull out the hacksaw. I made sure I didnt leave too much portruding from the adapter with a simple pair of pliers, screwing it into the umbrella adaptor. Once the height was set, it was time to start cutting the head of the screw. This took the longest.

westcottmods-6Step 4: Get the Flash Shoe Ready
Once the head of the screw is cut, you can then take the Flash Shoe out and start placing it on the screw for assembly. Keep your pliers handy as you may find that you may need to do some adjustments to the screw. For example: I wanted the tension screw for the flash to be on the same side as the knob for tilting the umbrella adaptor- opposite the knob for the adapter to go into a stand. To do that, I needed to shorten the screw by burying it into the adapter a little more. Takes some finagling but its not bad.

westcottmods-7All Done!
In short order, you have a newly minted umbrella adaptor. Now.. these days you can go to a variety of places and get the umbrella adapter with this already on it.. but if you dont want to go through the hassle of buying something again… a couple of minutes of ingenuity can take you a long way!

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