1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. PLEASE: Read the FORUM RULES BEFORE registering!

    Dismiss Notice

Cleaning Dial Indicators

Discussion in 'METROLOGY - MEASURE, SETUP & FIT' started by porthos, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. porthos

    porthos United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    8
    City:
    greensburg pa.
    State:
    Pennsylvania

    -Return to Top-

    i have a bunch of dial indicators; most are old. federal, standard , brown &sharp and starrett. some have sticky plungers that take a while to return to "0". how can I clean these to loosen them up. I was thinking of lighter fluid or naptha. any advice??? and afterwards; lubrication???

    porthos
     
  2. awander

    awander United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Upper Black Eddy

    -Return to Top-

    it's best to carefully disassemble them, clean the sticking surfaces, and reassemble with a non-gumming lubricant.

    I've heard that a small ultrasonic cleaner filled with odorless mineral spirits can be used on a fully-assembled movement, but I have never done that.
     
    18w likes this.
  3. Andre

    Andre Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    576
    Trophy Points:
    113
    City:
    NY
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

    My grandfather took apart a .0005" Mahr-Federal indicator. He never got it back together, and he was an engineer for GM. I recently got a .0001" Mahr-Federal indicator and it's real sticky. I've lubed the spindle and gear rack with light oils but nothing has worked. I've also adjusted the rack/pinion clearance. I'll be watching this thread!
     
  4. Bishop

    Bishop Canada Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Kamloops
    State:
    British Columbia

    -Return to Top-

    I had a few Federal guages that I got online, they were very sticky and sat in a drawer for years until I finally dripped a few drops of mineral spirits inside and gave them a light blast with compressed air. Now they sit in the same drawer but work quite well.
     
  5. 18w

    18w United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    87
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Puyallup
    State:
    Washington

    -Return to Top-

    Lubricating dial indicators usually creates more problems. The internals and the stem need to be clean and only the slightest and I mean miniscule dab of a fine clock grade oil on the internal pivot. If a indicator sticks it usually means oil or dirt has gotten inside if there is no physical damage. Only solution is dis assembly and cleaning Speaking of watches, a old style watch you had to wind (for you old enough to remember) ran without additional lubrication and think how many revolutions they made as compared to a dial indicator. Never had to oil a watch. If you want a interesting read on metrology quality and repair. Got to http://longislandindicator.com/ A real eye opener on what their opinions are on the quality of different brands of dial indicators, calipers, ect.

    Darrell
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
    Treetop, British Steel and EmilioG like this.
  6. bleonard

    bleonard United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    tacoma

    -Return to Top-

    thank you Darrell for bringing that up
    I go to Logislandindacater all the time and now I collect Horses [Etalons].
    Bob
     
  7. Mac1

    Mac1 Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Carrollton
    State:
    Georgia

    -Return to Top-

    I have been told that kerosene is good to clean the workings of gages and indicators. It leaves an adequate film of lubrication.
     
  8. porthos

    porthos United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    8
    City:
    greensburg pa.
    State:
    Pennsylvania

    -Return to Top-

    while waiting on suggestions for my post on cleaning indicators; here's what I did. I took a federal .001 indicator that didn't stick but was slow for the whole return of the dial. took back off, took lens and number ring off. flushed inside out with spray bottle of mineral spirits . blowed out with low pressure air. flushed out again with lighter fluid ( I had heard that it has some lubricity; true or not I don't know ) re assembled and now the dial is not slow. did the same to a standard indicator .0001. I think its better but is + - .0001. anyway I don't think that I did anything to hurt them. anyone know anything about the lubricity or not of lighter fluid??

    porthos
     
  9. Mark in Indiana

    Mark in Indiana United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    208
    Trophy Points:
    43
    City:
    Evansville
    State:
    Indiana

    -Return to Top-

    In a pinch, I've lubricated the plunger with silicon spray. I won't say that's the best way, but it works in the short term.
     
  10. Holescreek

    Holescreek Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    456
    Trophy Points:
    63
    City:
    Centerville
    State:
    Ohio

    -Return to Top-

    The Mahr's can be a PITA the first time, everything has to be just right to get the roller in the correct position to get it back together.

    I R&R all kinds of gauges every week, I have a few indicators on my bench tonight. After disassembly I clean the parts in an ultrasonic parts cleaner with either Branson cleaning solution or a Dawn dish soap solution in it. I never lubricate the inner workings.
     
    Treetop likes this.
  11. Andre

    Andre Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    576
    Trophy Points:
    113
    City:
    NY
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

    Do you think you could shoot a little video showing how you do it? I'd be lost if I took it apart and couldn't get it back together. It's DODGE branded, made for ignition work on diesel engines. (I think)
     
  12. Holescreek

    Holescreek Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    456
    Trophy Points:
    63
    City:
    Centerville
    State:
    Ohio

    -Return to Top-

    Not sure what you mean by "how you do it". If you mean repairing an indicator, they are all a little different. I only make videos of my hobbies, gauge repair isn't one of those. Fixing them isn't hard at all but can be intimidating the first time. If you don't have access to replacement/repair parts it's kind of senseless to crack them open unless you're sure they're just grimy inside. I repair several a week in a manufacturing plant that machines cast iron on 20 machine lines and I've yet to find one that's dirty inside the case. Most of the "cleaning" needed to loosen up a shaft consists of squirting isopropyl alcohol on the joint/shafts to flush the grit out. Most repairs result from the gauge being dropped and involve replacing one or more gears or just resetting the mainspring tension. Every gauge that I repair is also calibrated afterwards on an Indi-check.

    Indicators are instruments that don't come lubed from the factory. Oil attracts dirt and collects it exactly where you don't want it.
     
    Treetop, Andre and 18w like this.
  13. rrjohnso2000

    rrjohnso2000 United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    West Lafayette
    State:
    Indiana

    -Return to Top-

    Indicator internals should be treated like mechanical watches. They have jeweled bearing surfaces that are lubed with specific weight oils not just any oil.

    Naphtha, lighter fluid, is a very common cleaning solution. Complete disassembly, cleaning of parts, and using peg wood to clean jewels is the proper manner for service followed by the proper lubrication and assembly.

    Excess application of oil will attract unwanted dirt and cause issues. The amount of oil applied is very small but without it the parts will wear and reduce the service life.

    Keep in mind that this is only for dirty gummed up works. A true watch repair shop charges in the neighborhood of $100 to clean, lube, and test most basic mechanical watches. Indicators are much simpler, one might be able to get one serviced for a better price.
     
    cathead and EmilioG like this.
  14. astjp2

    astjp2 United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    75
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Pleasant View
    State:
    Utah

    -Return to Top-

    I mail mine to a repair shop and for a minimal fee for a good indicator it comes back like new. Tim
     
    Matthew Gregory and 4gsr like this.
  15. terrywerm

    terrywerm New Member Liaison Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    694
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Neither here nor there
    City:
    Jordan
    State:
    Minnesota

    -Return to Top-

  16. 18w

    18w United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    87
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Puyallup
    State:
    Washington

    -Return to Top-

    Thanks Terry. Your link is the correct one. Perhaps the mods can fix my link so no one goes on a wild goose chase.

    Darrell
     
  17. 4gsr

    4gsr Global Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    1,898
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Victoria, Texas
    City:
    Victoria
    State:
    Texas

    -Return to Top-

    Be careful using aerosol cleaners like Brake Clean, they work but too much will distort plastic and remove the numbers and marks from the face.
    Ask me how I know...
     
    Treetop likes this.
  18. astjp2

    astjp2 United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    75
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Pleasant View
    State:
    Utah

    -Return to Top-

    Well I just sent my indicator repair guy 10 calipers, three 3d tasters, and an bunch of other misc indicators that I pulled out of the scrap bin. Hopefully I can use it for trading to get 2 DTI's fixed along with some other items I sent him. I just shake too bad to take small things apart. Tim
     
  19. EmilioG

    EmilioG United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    294
    Trophy Points:
    63
    City:
    HUNTINGTON
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

  20. ybyo

    ybyo Turkey Iron Registered Member

    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    3
    City:
    istanbul
    State:
    Outside US / Canada

    -Return to Top-

    Hello, i have an USSR made 0.01mm/0.0005" 12.4mm/0.5" range dial indicator and it was sticky. I decided to part it of because i didnt like to use it since it is not reliable. Biggest problem was removing pointers (1st for 0.01mm 2nd for 0-1 mm ) they were glued not hard pressed. Anyway i just washed all parts with %99 pure isopropyl alcohol. It removes dirts perfectly. Used tooth picks to clean holes. Reassembling was a bit stressed job but managed it anyway and it is working nice and smooth after all. I noticed that plunger has a spring, tension can be adjusted by remeshing rack-pinion but there is another worm spring in mine, it should be adjusted also which has key role on pointer returning to 0.
    I wouldn't use any kind of lubricant. All critical parts usually has 'jewelled' beds. Any kind of lub tends to get dirts anyway. Since mine is Soviet made lol it should be work for another 20 years with this condition.
    Actually i watched metal tips and tricks related video (which he doesnt suggest to do) and whole process took about 45 min at all. 0.01mm dial indicator is not hard as it seems but i would not mess with 0.002mm/0.0001" dial indicator which i dont have mechanical one, because as far as i know spring pressure is very important for them.
     
    Seedtick likes this.
  21. EmilioG

    EmilioG United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    294
    Trophy Points:
    63
    City:
    HUNTINGTON
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

     
    Tozguy likes this.

Share This Page