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I can't believe how much better a good dial indicator is!

Discussion in 'METROLOGY - MEASURE, SETUP & FIT' started by jmx66, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. jmx66

    jmx66 United States Active Member Active Member

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    I've had a cheap dial indicator for awhile and won an eBay auction for this vintage (?) Japanese-made Enco.
    It looks unused. It is so much nicer to use! Smoother, more repeatable, needle doesn't jump around.
    Just wanted to share and encourage anyone getting frustrated with their cheap indicator to think about an upgrade. :)
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I had a similar experience, JM, but watch for an Interapid or Compac DTI. Using that will give you the same jump that you noted when going from Chinese.
     
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  3. Bob Korves

    Bob Korves H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Or a B&S BesTest. Swiss made. I have three of them, large dial .0005 and .0001", and a small dial .0005" set with accessories. I actually prefer the Interapid ones, but they are all close and excellent. Compac is also very good. Any of the three, B&S BesTest, Compac, or Interapid are about as good as DTI's get. The prices also match the quality, at least new. I have about $50 total in my three BesTest DTI's, bought used, and they all work just fine. Sorry, lovers of America's best. I feel that Starrett indicators are not even close to as good as the best Swiss indicators. I have several of them collecting dust... I have some old Federal indicators that I actually like more than the Starretts, mostly because they seem to be bulletproof...
     
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  4. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    A good Swiss indicator is rather expensive when new but these instruments can last for decades with care. One of the most useful in the Compac line is the 214GA; reads in 0.0005" increments over a 0.06" range with large units so they're easy to see and is smooth as silk. They have stronger bearings than a comparable Interapid, which makes them a bit more forgiving on the shop floor. Brand new, they went for about $300.00. Here is a used one that should clean up nicely for under $60.00:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Compac-Tesa...457523?hash=item361c4413b3:g:tvYAAOSwyWZZTU3n

    I have three of these (you gotta' have back ups, right?) and they are my most used indicators. One of mine is brand new and I cannot tell the difference between the new and used ones.

    There are also several 215GA's on ebay going for $135-160.00 or so. These are 0.0001" indicators. Useful when you need the resolution and also very smooth.
     
  5. jmx66

    jmx66 United States Active Member Active Member

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    Y'all are gonna get me in trouble with the wife. ;)
     
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  6. benmychree

    benmychree United States John York H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Say what you will, but I have been using a Starrett "Last Word" indicator for about 50 years now (yes, the same one) and have never had any sort of problem with it, only occasionally adjusting the pivot screw to take up for wear; they are so simple as to be bullet proof and will fit into smaller places than their Swiss cousins, and exchanging different probes is exceedingly simple.
     
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  7. benmychree

    benmychree United States John York H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Say what you will, but I have been using a Starrett "Last Word" indicator for about 50 years now (yes, the same one) and have never had any sort of problem with it, only occasionally adjusting the pivot screw to take up for wear; they are so simple as to be bullet proof and will fit into smaller places than their Swiss cousins, and exchanging different probes is exceedingly simple.
     
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  8. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    My Last Word is now over 30 years old and works well, too. Starrett tools take a lot of verbal abuse nowadays but their older tools are still going strong and I wonder if a cheap Chinese indicator will still be alive after 5 years.
     
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  9. ddickey

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

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  10. Ulma Doctor

    Ulma Doctor Infinitely Curious Active Member

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    I'm stuck on B&S and Mitutoyo
    but i do own, use, and like Starrett and Federal
    i use cheapo import indicators where the possibility of potential destruction exists and then verify with more accurate means if necessary
     
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  11. benmychree

    benmychree United States John York H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Another thing that I like about the Last Word indicator is its mounting method with the friction swivel connectors; it sets up and adjusts easily with a minimum of parts. I do have a B&S, but use the Starrett much more.
    The screw adjustment (under the feeler) has an effect on slop, as the arm does not fully engage with the spiral slot in the pointer shaft if it (the screw) becomes loose.
     
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  12. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    I have recently purchased a lot of indicators on ebay when found reasonable. I love the old starrett last word and have even found some older collectible models such as the Last Word 711 D and the Last Word model C which is marked HA LOWES and is pre-Starrett. I use the Last word 711F for checking pool cues for joint face errors and I have refaced a few cues with great satisfaction. My web page on this is http://waynescuefix.weebly.com/.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017 at 6:12 PM
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  13. C-Bag

    C-Bag United States Active Member Active Member

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    Thanks to this discussion and the rabbit hole of research it sent me down I realized I had more than one jewel in an old deal from '03. The shop I was working as an assembly mechanic had very few who knew of DI's much less use for them. A guy showed me an old junction box full of stuff and wanted $100. I laughed at him and he proceeded to ask the whole plant and nobody bit. He came back to me and after me really not wanting it finally gave him $20. It had two Starrett .0005's, a Federal and some Swiss make I'd never heard of. In the discussion on Compac I saw a familiar logo. Turns out to be an Alina .0001 large dial. Who knew?
     

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  14. Brnoczech

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

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    Long Island Indicator, who sells and repairs indicators, has a website with comprehensive information about all brands of indicators, the plus's and minus's, and repairability. I have purchased from them and received good service.
     
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  15. mmcmdl

    mmcmdl H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Hey ! Where did you guys get all that fancy stuff ? Here is what I use for my precision work . :encourage: 1916 Fuchs indicator made by Ernest Bratschi Manufacturing in Cleveland Ohio . $6.25 with velvet lined case . ;)
     

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  16. gi_984

    gi_984 Active User Active Member

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    Long Island Indicator website is a wealth of information. I always go there first if I'm looking for information on DTI and accessories. BesTest & Compaq are my favorites, followed by Starrett.
     
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  17. Doubleeboy

    Doubleeboy Active User Active Member

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    When buying used test indicators I like metric, they are usually cheaper and there are plenty of Swiss made ones out there. I second the Long Island Indicator site, if its not fixable its only worth a few bucks to me. Mahr from Germany is good stuff too. Dial Indicators are another ball of wax. I really like the old Enco branded Japanese ones, most likely Peacock.
     
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  18. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    I have enjoyed using old indicators even the mechanical non-dial type. My favorite is an old Koch I rehabilitated with penetrant oil. It came in a large lot I won on ebay. Since then I have collected very antique indicator I can find like the Starrett 64A, Ideal, Trico Micro-check, R. Reich, Gladwyn, Lufkin and a couple that aren't marked, which are all non-dial mechanical indicators. I have one huge cast iron indicator marked with only 193 which was obviously a lathe attachment consisting of a simple direct arm sweeping across crude graduations, very large and heavy... see photo. These old indicators did the job for the old folks long before these dial indicators came out and for some, quite long afterwards. I enjoy using them. Very nostalgic but they are effective. This one in the photo.... I haven't used it as it goes with a certain lathe. Anyone know which lathe?
    old lathe indicator8.jpg . old lathe indicator1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
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  19. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    Just arrived today.... Antique Boulet's Fine Tool Works Test Indicator*In Box w/ Extra Parts. Nice case and extra attachments. Bears three patent dates, Oct 2, 1900, Sept. 10, 1901, Feb 23, 1904. Smooth instrument. A pin extends @ 1/32" from the point (cannot be seen in the photo) which is the full extent of actuation.

    boulet indicator 5.jpg boulet indicator 1.jpg
     
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  20. Ulma Doctor

    Ulma Doctor Infinitely Curious Active Member

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    very nice!
     
  21. C-Bag

    C-Bag United States Active Member Active Member

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    Very cool. Ever see the Steam Powered Machine Shop on YouTube? I don't know which episode it is but I think that's the kind of indicator he used. I'd never seen one before and he uses mostly equipment that would have been in a machine shop in 1925. The whole thing is facinating and a little scary with the whole place run off one 5hp steam engine and all those line shafts and belts.
     
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  22. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    That is neat. I will look for that. Seems that the old stuff had a lot of merits we wouldn't know much about. But manufacturing back then produced stuff that would last. Cast iron vs plastic.
     
  23. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    Yes I found it. It is the Old Steam Powered Machine Shop video #17. Makes sense that he would use an antique indicator, Boulet or other make, since everything else in that shop is antique. It would take some getting used to to put up with all the clatter in that shop and still be able to think and perform. Back in the day I can imagine itt was good pre-training for raising kids.
     
  24. C-Bag

    C-Bag United States Active Member Active Member

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    It seems as though he was raised in a machine shop. I really like watching all the different jobs he does. Lots about steam too. He seems to take jobs nobody else can do. I think we'd be shocked at how small the shop and compact the shop is but he has everything. I'm more a fan of manual technique than CNC, so this whole thing fascinates me. I've sat my 87yrld dad down a couple of times and we've watched for hours. I alway pick up something.
     
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  25. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    While I am happy to not have to fire a boiler, fill oil cups and shift drive belts, I admire this machine shop practice of the past. And the thing about DIY has always appealed to me as I enjoy working with my hands. One day there will be something like a microwave oven that we put a basket of screws and metal scraps in and when the bell rings out comes a finished engine. Everyone will have muscle atrophy and boredom of the mind. Here is my Harbor Freight (Central Machinery) lathe set up for pool cue shaft work plus whatever work. While I have added accessories since this photo, it shows the basic out-rigger and roller rest scheme. The lathe is mounted to a 2 x 12 and the outriggers are 2 x 4 with a 6" window sill bed for mounting the roller rests. The 2 x 12 is set on top of a small cone drawer two shelf homemade cabinet that used to be a cartridge reloading bench. Improvements and accessories to this lathe have been 20 TPI kit, tailstock cam lock kit, apron gear chip guard, hand made shim to remove cross feed screw slack, (WHOA Tennessee just got a TD trailing still by 3) OXA Quick Change Holder kit, carriage stop, follower rest, and homemade collets etc. (WHOA TN just picked off FL). So this is an old pic. My lathe room is small with about 8 x 6 usable space. When I need to mount a house cue in the lathe I have to slide the end of the setup out into the door opening so I have space to insert the house cue into the back of the chuck/spindle. The cabinet is set on a piece of carpet to allow me to slide it out and back. I always thought if there's a will there's a way. The wall of my shop is covered with antique tools and implements. Photos .... 1. left side (spindle end) outrigger with cue shaft in roller rest or tip/ferrule work. 2. Right side outrigger with cue shaft set up for sanding/resizing/re-tapering with piece of carpet to catch dust. 3. Harbor Freight Lathe. Wish I had a longer bed but the 7 x 10 is just fine. Wayne


    POOL LATHE SHAFT ON ROLLER REST.jpg POOL LATHE RESIZING SHAFT 4.jpg Wayne's cue lathe B.jpg
     
  26. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    Some of my shop wall. The full wall can be viewed on the slide show near the bottom (scroll to) of my website http://waynescuefix.weebly.com/ The panel is a piece of plywood covered with burlap wrapped behind and stapled. With burlap, the screws and screw brackets can be used to mount/hang the tools and any screw can be removed without leaving a noticeable hole. There are several panels on this wall with tools. This wall is behind me as I sit at the lathe and there is a cast iron stove stand against that wall with a double 3/4" plywood top I use as a bench for the drill press and the grinder. The top of the drill press can be seen at the left. Just swiveling in an old office chair gives me access to either the lathe or the grinder bench. Usable space in this room is only 6 x 8.

    TOOL ROOM B9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017 at 7:38 PM
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  27. C-Bag

    C-Bag United States Active Member Active Member

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    Love your setup and especially the addon steady rest. I'm going to have to keep that in mind for an upcoming project.

    Some folks enjoy working with what's at hand. I just hate to do things the hard way. So i constantly struggle with figuring what I need and can fit in my shop and try not to get carried away. Discontent is the modern disease that drives the consumer society for the latest and greatest. Makes for a lot of junk.

    I don't see the steam powered machine shop as necessarily the hard way. He just has more of an involved process :) Not all old things have intrinsic quality, but I know it when I see it, use it and feel it. My buddy down the street apprenticed as a gauge maker and repairer in Germany after the war. His brother was a master machinist and taught apprentices and he showed several of the gages, dividers and tools they had to make. You could feel the quality.

    I don't work in as small a shop as you as I have 19x20 garage, but in order to do the different processes I do everything has to be on castors. The only machine that isn't is my 9x20 lathe. But I do everything from welding, fabrication, machining, powdercoating, some woodworking and other stuff. All on a smaller scale. So I have to have a lot of ventilation and my garage door is always open for the light and air.

    Old tools and used Chinese machines are how I get by. They have been cheaper and just like you I upgrade as necessary. Usually when I run into the limits of bad adjustment, wear or bad design and need more precision. Without the net and resources like Long Island Indicator, YouTube and the great tips I've gotten off this site I'd be lost. Most often I wouldn't have known where a problem was or how to fix it without my trusty dial indicators and test indicators.
     
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  28. waynecuefix

    waynecuefix United States Iron Registered Member

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    Great setup. I have a workshop outside 20x30 tin covered shed but it is not suitable for machinery as it is not sealed and not insulated and has open eaves for ventilation. I have a Rockwell standing drill press and a Sears radial arm saw in there and after 27 years they have rusty posts and carriage and will need some work before being usable properly. I was younger when I built it and saved a lot of money that probably should have been spent.
    I ordered a Last Word crystal from Long Island Indicator service. They have the Starrett parts but cannot contract to repair Starrett devices. There is a lot of helpful info on their website.
    Here is a hefty antique indicator I got last month. I am hoping someone can identify it as it has no markings.
    UNKNOWN ANTIQUE GAUGE 1.jpg

    UNKNOWN ANTIQUE GAUGE 3.jpg

    My favorite antique indicator remains the Koch. patent 1906.

    ANTIQUE KOCH INDICATOR .jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017 at 6:09 PM
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  29. C-Bag

    C-Bag United States Active Member Active Member

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    I'm still really green to machining as most my career I was a car mechanic. I did a lot of engine rebuilding and used mic's and DI's and other gages. But the old stuff like what you have I'd never seen till the Steam Powered Machine Shop. There are several antique stores and every once in a while an estate sale and more often than not I'm totally stumped by some tool. Maybe somebody like Mr.Pete could have your indicator on his channel and somebody could chime in who made it and how it was used. I have a tendency to think things would have been crudely made back then, but then I find something like this Darling, Brown &Sharpe angle gage. It was a somewhat pitted, but it works perfectly and smoothly. Check out the date, and I'd never seen Darling, Brown & Sharpe, just Brown & Sharpe. How'd they do that?
     

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  30. markba633csi

    markba633csi United States Active Member Active Member

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    Wayne I like your roller rests. Did you make those rollers?
    Mark
     

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