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[Newbie] Buying Used Micrometers?

Cavediver

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#1
I'm beginning to assemble a set of measuring tools for use with my first metal lathe. As I'm not working for NASA, and my subcontracting days for them are probably a ways off, I figured I could get by with some used mics purchased on Ebay. The problem with that theory is that the choices are almost overwhelming.


Are there any micrometer models I should actively look for or stay away from?

I'm planning on sticking to some of the brand names I know: Starrett, B&S, Lufkin, Mitutoyo, etc.
Sizes I want to look for run from 0-3", maybe 4" if I find a good deal.
It sounds like ratcheting mics are better for the beginner, assuming they're in good shape?
What else do I need to know?

I know this is a really broad question and could be met with pages of discussion. I really just need a starting point, and maybe some model recommendations to buy or avoid.

Thanks!
 

Bob Korves

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#3
I have trouble buying things like micrometers off Ebay, can't look them over closely enough and feel how they work. I have bought mics off Craigslist, and that worked out very well. I got a nice set of Mitutoyo mics, Japanese made, 1-5", in nice condition with the wrenches and standards for $50. They belonged to a grinder hand.
 

Ulma Doctor

Infinitely Curious
Active Member
#4
i collect antique/vintage JT Slocomb mics and have for many years. as a matter of fact the very first 0-1" mic i ever bought was a vintage Slocomb.
they are very functional and well made instruments, even in antiquity
i have restored and trued up about half a dozen, all said and done. they can be brought back to life as long as they are not broken.
Starrett is another quality brand, as is Mitutoyo
I also like Scheer and collect their micrometers as well.
i have no issue with buying mics and the like on ebay.
i go into the deal knowing that i may receive the magic beans, instead of the golden goose . i buy accordingly.
if you have or get a set of standards, you can calibrate your mics to assure their accuracy.

as a suggestion, get a pair of inexpensive 6" dial calipers for use when absolute precision is not necessary,
then use a calibrated mic when the job demands.

i don't work for NASA either, but if you shop around sometimes you can get good stuff priced well,
but you may need a little luck or patience, i wish you both:)
 

mmcmdl

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#6
only buy ones with carbide end unless you know how to lapp the steel ones in
I've owned mics for 40+ years now and never had to re- lap them . Treat your tools as though they provide your paycheck . (even if they don't) With a small amount of proper maintenance , either carbide tipped or non-carbide faces will last more than a lifetime . If you're gong to be working down into millionths or so , you may look for some snap gages or dial mics , otherwise any mic will do for general shop work .Your preference is what matters .

2 mics . 4-5s . Starrett with HSS , Mititoyo with carbide faces . I have Fowlers that are bright blue and also B&Ss . They all do the same thing , measure within a tenth . Some are friction stop , some are ratchet . I personally don't use either but go by " my feel " . Some have solid beams , others don't . One choice that would sway me one way or the other is the spindle lock . You can see the difference , one being a lever one being a knurled ring . If all mine had to disappear for one reason or the other ?? Id'e save the Starrett's being it's my personal favorite and consider them as best in breed .

As far as buying used mics , I like the Toyota slogan .

" A good used car starts with a good new car "

Bottom line .......buy what you are comfortable with as far as price and affordability . Your first vehicle wasn't a Jag . You will always be able to trade up as you wish to do so .

IMG_6281.JPG
 
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mikey

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#7
Whenever I have a question about precision instruments I go to the Long Island Indicator Service site and see what Rene has to say first. It is an outstanding source of information. http://longislandindicator.com/#M

I have come to prefer Swiss instruments like Etalon, Brown and Sharpe and Helios. Mitutoyo also makes outstanding mics. The older Starrett mics are okay, too. I own all of these brands and the best are the Etalons in terms of accuracy and repeatability in my hands.

As far as ebay is concerned, you can't judge a book by its cover but a mic is a precision instrument. If it looks like its spent its life sitting in swarf and the finish is all beat up or it has any signs of rust then that says something about the guy who owned it and, by extension, how he took care of it. My approach has been to learn which make and model I want and then patiently wait until I find one that looks like the previous owner cared for the tool well. Don't be afraid to buy stuff from ebay. Most sellers will work with you if the item is not as expected and Paypal, if you use it, will often pay for return shipping.

As far as ratcheting vs friction, its a preference you'll develop over time. I have both and prefer the friction type - when it juuust slips I lock the spindle and read it. This is the most repeatable method for me but I'm sure others have their own preference.
 

Silverbullet

Active Member
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#8
I have many mics, of all kinds and manufacture, I recently picked up two mics on eBay, a unimic by starrett and a 0-1 mic by the welch scientific company, the 0-1 micrometer is one of the smoothest operating mics I own . it just seems to roll to the size effortlessly , the only thing I don't like is no lock on the thimble . But I'm very surprised by the quality of this mic. if I found them on a sale I wouldn't be afraid to spend my money on them.
 

chips&more

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#9
I have been in the metrology world for decades. Mircometers are nice and have specific functions and operandi. I have in my shop all the mikes needed. But you know what. When I need to OD/ID measure something or layout something. I usually grab my Starrett dial calipers. And NOT the Starrett one that is now made overseas! I find my Starrett 6” dial calipers the most handy of all my measuring tools. Maybe think of first getting a dial caliper…Dave.
 

stupoty

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#10
If their still with their original box that's always a good sign :)

I got a small set of "new old stock" gauge blocks which came in handy for checking them easily along their range. So long as their error is linear along the range you can adjust them with the little peg spanner.

I try to only buy ones that are heavily used if their very cheep and it's sort of worth the risk.

The best second hand one I have came with its box, spanner and anti rust paper still in their.

The worst mic I have is a cheep Chinese one I bought new :) It did ok but the lock lever fell off, the thread is a bit sloppy. I have a fairly heavily used starret 1-2 from the 30's - 50's and thats in better condition.

I think the big ones are at more risk of getting dropped or bashed out of square.

Some mic's don't do 10th's

Sometimes it pot luck as with any second hand purchase. If it's described as "as new" or "new old stock" and it look's good that's always nice but some times people go mad with bidding.

Stuart
 

4gsr

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#11
....snip...... I find my Starrett 6” dial calipers the most handy of all my measuring tools. Maybe think of first getting a dial caliper…Dave.
I finally had to retire my Starrett 6" caliper after many years of use. The jaws started showing wear. It would show using gage blocks to check accuracy. The bad thing was, they hardly saw any shop use. I mainly used them for reverse engineering parts back in the day in the engineering office. I gone through a Mitutoyo digital pair, which did great until it started loosing about .008" per inch when measuring!

I have bought used mics off of eBay in the past. Have been burned a couple of times. Most of the buys were ok, a number of them were questionable. The ones questionable were a couple of Lufkin and B & S mics that were repainted to look nice. Still using them! I've manage to put together a very nice of 0-6" Starrett mics that I had a wooden storage box salvage from a dumpster dive. They are my go-to mics only if there is any question about a measurement from my other mics.
 

royesses

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#12
I would rather buy good mic's new even if 1 at a time if that is what I can afford. I have used Enco when they run a 20% off sale mostly. That's how I got my 1" to 4" set of Mitutoyo mechanical mic's. They are all ratchet type, but I also have friction thimble types. They all work great. I have a 6" Mitutoyo Dial caliper and a Mitutoyo 6" Digimatic caliper. They feel so good compared to the cheap calipers that I feel it is worth the extra cost. They all read right on the money when checked with standards and gauge blocks. I also have an Igaging absolute 6" caliper that was about$35.00 that is very very good. Almost Mitutoyo quality. When MSC ran their 60% off sale I purchased 0" to 4" SPI electronic mic's and 4" to 6" SPI mechanical mic's. They have impressed me with with the quality/price point, much better than the other imports I have checked. The electronics are really nice when switching back and forth between inch/metric. For me I like getting new. If I could inspect them used name brand mic's would be good too. I purchased .2" to 1.2" and 1" to 2" new in box Generic inside electronic mic's from eBay that are decent quality and low cost. I also purchased a new in box 0" to 1" generic electronic thread micrometer from eBay that does just fine. I also purchased a Fowler 6" EuroCal IV caliper from Enco with a 20% coupon that I really like. Smooth and repeatable it was $44.00. I use it for my reloading hobby. I have found that the cheap HF calipers have a lot of slop that makes it read all over the place, even when the slop is adjusted out. That is my electronic tape measure so to speak. I also use it as a scribe for layout.

I am not trying to influence you. I am just telling how I have done it. Since I am only a hobbyist I may be doing it all wrong. The really experienced machinists here are the ones I would listen to. When I worked as a mechanic for a living I only purchased the best tools.

Cavediver I have followed your posts since your first one. I am impressed with your enthusiasm and willingness to ask , listen and learn. You dove right into that spindle problem and got the job done. I think you will be a great hobby machinist!

Roy
 
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Andre

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#13
I finally had to retire my Starrett 6" caliper after many years of use. The jaws started showing wear.
If you wish you can use your surface grinder to true up the jaws, front step, and measuring rod end to new condition. The only downside is the ID measuring "ears" will not be in sync and will never again provide further accurate readings unless set by a standard beforehand, but the rest of the caliper will be good to go.
 

PatMiles

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#14
What ever you do, DO NOT buy a Starrett model # 734 digital micrometer! They eat batteries as fast as you can buy them. No auto shut off. They run down batteries even when they are off. ANY model that needs a Renata battery, yes it is a specific battery, is not worth squat. I had one for many years, I finally tied a dollar bill to it and threw it away. At least the guy that found it found something worth a dollar. They are a POS!
 

Cavediver

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#15
Cavediver I have followed your posts since your first one. I am impressed with your enthusiasm and willingness to ask , listen and learn. You dove right into that spindle problem and got the job done. I think you will be a great hobby machinist!

Roy
I can't quite call that one done yet, but it'll get there :) Thanks for the kind words.

Thanks all, I now have a bit of food for thought. I have an old 1" Starrett mic that will do all I need for now, and I'll get to reading and researching some more before making final decisions.
 

4gsr

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#17
If you wish you can use your surface grinder to true up the jaws, front step, and measuring rod end to new condition. The only downside is the ID measuring "ears" will not be in sync and will never again provide further accurate readings unless set by a standard beforehand, but the rest of the caliper will be good to go.
Don't laugh, I tried that on a pair of ancient B & S vernier calipers dad had when I was about 11 years old using a 6" bench grinder!
 

bob308

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#18
i have all starrett mics . I only buy if I can personally handle them. have some gage blocks long. check the mics. in the middle of there range that is where the most wear is. also close them on a gage block. then hold them up to the light if you see any light between the block and the jaws then the frame is sprung.
 

BGHansen

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#20
I've seen my contribution to this string appear in other strings so I can't take credit for the "knowledge" - Ask yourself why the seller is getting rid of the micrometers or whatever they're selling. Are they from an estate sale or flea market? Maybe stay away from those. If they are from a deceased father who was a tool maker, probably well cared for.

I bought used Mitutoyo 6" and 8" calipers off eBay for around $30 each. Both were trash. On the 6" one it looked like they were chipping ice or something with the inside jaws. Bent in and crossed so the calipers wouldn't even close. My fault on the 8" ones, didn't notice from the photos that the dial clamp & screw were missing, plus the end clamp at the depth end was missing the screws (clamp plate was wired in place). I stole parts off the 6" to get a decent 8" caliper, but frankly a HF 8" caliper works just as well.

Bruce
 

The Liberal Arts Garage

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#21
What ever you do, DO NOT buy a Starrett model # 734 digital micrometer! They eat batteries as fast as you can buy them. No auto shut off. They run down batteries even when they are off. ANY model that needs a Renata battery, yes it is a specific battery, is not worth squat. I had one for many years, I finally tied a dollar bill to it and threw it away. At least the guy that found it found something worth a dollar. They are a POS!
Like your attitude ! Wnever I discover a good- looking tool or part that's subtly
WRONG I write NFG on all sides. Ever try to nail with a head attached at a wrong
angle ? ..........BLJHB.
 

benmychree

John York
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#22
Not to argue with you, but I do not believe this to be the case. As long as you're not measuring over rusty surfaces or oilstones, your hardened steel faces will last a lifetime with care.
I have been using the same non - carbide mikes since I was an apprentice in the mid 1960s, and still use them; even my 0 - 1" is still in very good condition and accurate, it being the most used of all. The shop required employees to have their own 0 - 1 mike and the tool room supplied the larger ones as needed, checked out against your tool check token. I had all my own up to 6". Needless to say, they were in better shape than the company's mikes. I would not hesitate to buy mikes on E Bay if I needed any more, but be selective, don't go for the dirt cheap items but select the best looking that you see; likely if you receive something that has obvious damage, it can be returned to the seller. Be sure of the seller's return policy before you buy!
To me the huge number of mikes for sale on E Bay (and I look only at Brown & Sharpe items) is sad; every one listed likely represents a vanished industry, or a dead machinist, sad indeed.
 

WyoGreen

Iron
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#23
For what it's worth, I had a cheap China caliper that ate batteries like mad. Almost all digital instruments are on all the time, just the display turns off. After a bit of research, I found that the cheap digital instruments use mostly LR44 batteries. The good instruments come with SR44 batteries. The SR44's (silver oxide batteries) have a different voltage curve than the LR's. The voltage on a silver oxide battery stays up until the battery is almost gone, then drops fast. The LR batteries start dropping right away, and it doesn't take long before they get below the instruments threshold voltage. It only takes a tenth or two of voltage drop to cause the display to start flashing. The China instruments also have a larger current draw than the more expensive instruments, so they take the battery down faster.

So bottom line is, buy good quality instruments, they are cheaper in the long run.

Steve
 

Firebrick43

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#25
My work provides many of the metrology items needed, every thing from mitutoyo digital coolant proof calipers to Pratt and witney super micrometers and Zeiss cmm machines. Most of the standard mics are starrett and of ok quality. American made B & S valueline are close to starrett. I would place mitutoyo equal to for their lower line or better than their american made counter parts on mics and the best on digital calipers.

Swiss made tesa, etalon, and brown and sharpe are cream of the crop and really similar as the are all made/owned by the same company. My personal mics are all etalon and brown and sharpe. I have two full set home/work and half a dozen 1" spread around the place. Plus some depth mics and thread mics. All bought on ebay, all under 50$, all check good with lab quality gage blocks after a good cleaning/lube/adjustment. Many are like new! Just look at the pics real good and be willing to wait. As an astute gentalemen mentioned earlier check out Long Island gage services site.

Same goes for indicators. Top is swiss bestest,compac,interapid. (Same company). Mitutoyo is fine. Unlike starrett mics I find last word indicators to be quite aweful. I detest them greatly.

I do think starrett offers the best steel rules, punches, taper Gage's and center Gage's however. Niko has nice gage stands.
 

EmilioG

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#26
Etalon, hands down. I purchased 3 from Ebay and they are all pristine. I got all 3 for under $120.00, 0-1, 1-2. and 2-3".
You just have to know what to look for and you can always return them if they are not what is listed. The Swiss made Etalon is
a work of art. Sadly, the 260 series is no longer made. The Etalon Micro-Rapid is jewel.