FIX: Manfrotto 143N Magic Arm Lever Doesn’t Lock (How2 Video)


Watch it on YoutTube:

00:20 – The Problem
01:00 – * The How2 Fix Diagram *
01:40 – Caution! Hold it like this!
01:50 – Tools needed

02:05 – Dis-assembling the Magic Arm
04:53 – Fix
06:13 – Re-assembling the Magic Arm
09:04 – Did it work? Let’s test it.

Last time, we compared the difference between the lever type Manfrotto 143N and the knob type 244N. But at some point, your Manfrotto 143N Magic Arm (the lever type) might make a weird “crunch” sound and stop working – it won’t tighten OR loosen; you’re stuck somewhere in the middle.

The issue has to do with some ball bearings moving off of their track. So instead of the balls helping the handle rotate, it will now prevent it from rotating.

At first I was hesitant to take this piece of gear apart, but after some intense searching on the internets, I came across a diagram made by someone who had the same problem. Whoever it is that drew the diagram, thank you for sharing your findings!

The video above shows you how to fix this – or you could just use the diagram below if you’re the type that likes to read instructions.

Click image to enlarge

You should have 2 hex wrenches that came with your magic arm, one small one and a large one.

The first screw you want to loosen is the in the handle lever. Use the smaller wrench and turn counter-clockwise. This proved to be extremely difficult and you’ll need a lot of leverage; I’d advise wearing gloves or using a towel around the wrench to protect your hand. You don’t need to remove the screw, just enough to see its head poking out.

Manfrotto 143 handle - top screw
Click image to enlarge

CAUTION: Keep the handle lever facing the sky. Any other direction can result in the ball bearings falling out.

Now use the larger wrench and loosen the bottom screw. You have to push into the screw as you loosen it; that should reveal the 3 bearings that sit under the handle.

Click image to enlarge

You don’t have to remove the handle lever, but if you don’t see 3 balls, the missing ones are probably stuck under the handle (in which case, you should remove it and check.)

Manfrotto 143 - Re-seat the 3 bearings under the handle
Click image to enlarge

Once each ball is placed back on its own track, you can put the handle back and screw the bottom first, followed by the top handle screw.

NOTE: Tighten the bottom screw just enough for when the magic arm is in its “release” state.

Check prices — Amazon affiliate link — Manfrotto 143N (Lever type)


Young is a Jack-of-many-trades. He's lived/worked on several continents for all sorts of companies (and has had his own too.) He meditates with origami and likes coffee, though he really should lay off that stuff.

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