Dial Test Indicators

"Attached to the chain is an adjustable, dovetail indicator holder. Basically you have a universal means to attach an indicator to any
diameter by strapping the chain around it."
Thanks for the explanation.
"One feature I'm going to add is an interchangeable shaft for chucking. Then I can just turn up a bunch of different diameters for situations where there is a limited number of collets around."
Excellent idea!
I'm glad Bottlebob started this thread. Wish alt.machines.cnc had more threads like this as I've certainly learned a lot in this one.
Jon Banquer Phoenix, Arizona
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On 19 Aug 2006 08:12:59 -0700, "jon_banquer"

I'll second that.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
...and at the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, and the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East.”
Rudyard Kipling The Naulahka, ch. 5, heading (1892).
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I like your "Zero holder". I have never seen one up close and personal until now. I'm at a friends shop and he has one. Seems like a great idea so I'm borrowing it to try out.
Jon "The Jew" Banquer Phoenix, Arizona
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jon_banquer wrote:

Jon:
    I think the real commercial holder is called a "Zero-it". But like I said in my homepage caption I bought a "real" one years after I made my own, and it was total junk. It seems PM has posted the plans to made one in another post to this thread.

    I use mine virtually every day. And I have about 5 other types of indicator sweepers.
--
BottleBob
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I bought a Brown & Sharpe/Tesa 7031-3, 0-15-0 DTI, from R.L Stephens in 1978, and loved it ever since. It's survived 2 tool box thefts, because it's my favorite measuring instrument & fortunately always brought it home, if I needed it, to use in my little home hobby shop. Didn't have enough money left over for an Indicol holder, and the Chinese knock-offs weren't around yet, so I just made my own. Keep it in the box & never, NEVER lend a DTI out...they're just too fragile. It's kinda like "how many ways can Burger King screw up a cup of coffee" as far as the possibilities for destruction...ok, there's turning the spindle on while indicating in a vise, or rapiding into a fixture, or dropping it, etc.
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To All:
    Here is a breakdown on indicator quality for a number of different brands from Long Island Indicator Service.
=====================================================================http://longislandindicator.com/indicator.html
Dial Test Indicators
In Brief:
The best dial test indicators are Swiss made. You have 4 commonly available brand names to choose from: Bestest, Compac, Interapid, Tesatast. All of these are made by the same manufacturer in Switzerland. There's nothing better on the market, in our opinion.
The worst dial test indicators are Chinese, Japanese and - sorry to say - American. We'll let you figure out the manufacturers in question.
Notes on Manufacturers
Accupro this vanity dial appears on indicators made in China and Germany. The Chinese indicators are worthless. The German indicators are the Puppitast series made by Mahr-Federal.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service (German made only) * Sales: catalogs * Parts: from Mahr-Federal for the German made models only * Information: see Mahr listing, below
Alina (Switzerland) indicators were made by Compac until the mid-1960's. They are no longer available and spare parts are exhausted. We can still repair Alina Model 88 but nothing else.
* Repairs: not possible (except Model 88) * Sales: discontinued * Parts: not available * Information: Long Island Indicator Service
Baker (China) indicators are cheap throw-aways for which parts are not available. We have been told that they are somewhat longer lived than other Chinese brands. Replacement contact points are not available but Compac points will fit, in a pinch.
* Repairs: not possible * Sales: discount catalogs * Parts: not available * Information: not available
Bestest (Switzerland) is fast becoming America's favorite. They're among the very best available; a great value for the money. Excellent repeatability and quick response make them desirable. If there's a drawback, it's that they're prone to damage because of the light construction. Available in black or white, horizontal, vertical or parallel. Except for the name on the dial, they are identical to Tesatast. Distributed in the US by Brown & Sharpe.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Bestest * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Bestest
China made indicators are at the bottom of the barrel. You can't get any worse. Some years ago we were hired to evaluate these indicators for MSC (Manhattan Tool Supply) who wanted to know if they were worth importing. Apparently they didn't listen to our advise. Dovetails didn't fit and brand new .0001" indicators wouldn't calibrate. It turns out that dovetails don't accept anyone else's attachments because they're oversized. Pass on these and order some Take-Out instead (but skip the chicken feet).
* Repairs: not possible * Sales: discount catalogs everywhere * Parts: not available * Information: not available
CDI (Chicago) test indicators are identical to Compac (Switzerland). These were made for CDI in the 1980's. CDI no longer sells them but you can buy the Compac replacements.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Compac
Compac (Switzerland) has been our indicator of choice for over 4 decades. These are sturdier than Bestest and less finicky (and less costly) than Interapid, even though they're made by the same manufacturer. They are now included in the 2005 Brown & Sharpe catalog. Of particular note are the extra long range of some of the models. Model 215GA (.0001") and 225GA (.0001" vertical) have dials with extra wide spacing between graduation marks. This is a feature that many owners appreciated in Compac's predecessor: Alina test indicators. Dials are continuous reading on long range models, balanced on standard range. Contact points will swivel, like other indicators, but you may encounter more friction than you're used to. It's okay to apply the extra force. The indicator's over-sized pivot can take it.
* New features: oversized, virtually indestructible ball bearings * Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Compac * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Compac
Craftsman indicators are sold by Sears but are often times made in the UK in which case they are identical to Verdict indicators. They're not very good (in fact, they're downright awful) but do offer the "pear shaped" contact point which makes them look quite medieval and eliminates the cosine error, in theory.
* Repairs: why would you want to fix it? * Sales: avoid this one like the plague * Parts: your guess is as good as ours * Information: if you know something, let us know!
Federal Gage made the worst test indicator you could get stuck with. Bits of solder were used to hold it together. Mercifully these have been discontinued. The last models named Testmaster were made by Tesa in Switzerland and they're identical to Bestest indicators (see above). These are no longer available from Federal, but you can still buy the Bestest equivalent. The newest indicators are called MarTest (see Mahr-Federal).
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service (Bestest equivalents) * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service (Bestest equivalents) * Information: Long Island Indicator Service
Fowler used to rely heavily on English imports such as Verdict indicators. These are about as good as English weather in winter. Nowadays they rely more heavily on Swiss made gages but also offer look-alikes in their effort to remain competitive. Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing: a new Interapid look-alike is made in China and sold under the name Xtest. Similarly, series 52-562, 52-563 and 52-560 are also Chinese. The best mechanical test indicator which Fowler offers is the Swiss made Girodtast. When shopping Fowler, if it doesn't say "Swiss Made" don't buy it.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Long Island Indicator Service
Gem (USA) makes an inferior version of the popular Starrett Last Word Indicator. This would be fine if they were cheaper. There is an odd variation, however: one model has two dial faces, one on each side. This comes in handy in some applications.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: discount catalogs * Parts: from the manufacturer or through a dealer * Information: see their catalog at www.thomasregister.com
Girodtast (Switzerland) is similar to the old style (1970's) Bestest indicator. In the USA these are sold by Fowler. In Switzerland they are also sold with the name SISO-Tast. If you've ever wanted a Bestest indicator with multiple revolutions, Girod offers several models with extended ranges. If they have a drawback, it's that the contact point is adjustable. You'd think this were an advantage, but for most people it's a nuisance. On the Bestest you simply unscrew the old, screw in the new. On the Girod-Tast you have to adjust the new point so that the indicator is in calibration.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Fowler distributors nationwide * Parts: not available from Long Island Indicator * Information: Girodtast
Interapid (Switzerland) is the gem of all test indicators. These have the distinctive slanted dial which the other manufacturers have only just begun to copy. If the Interapid has one flaw, it's the fact that correct readings are obtained when the contact angle is 12°. Undoubtedly this has its advantages as long as the user remembers to take it into account. The revolution counter hand does not have any numbers associated with it. There are just a couple of tick marks showing you that you've gone around once or twice. Dials are balanced and the right side of the dial has a thin black line which will help you determine plus or minus in a mirror set-up. A 4 mm diameter holding stem is permanently attached to the far end of the indicator. It swivels up and down but this means that you can't attach any other holders or stems to this end of the indicator. Models with 2.8" long contact points tend to have a slower response and should probably only be used to measure .001" (Note: beware of cheap Interapid look-alike ripoffs now being offered in catalogs. Fowler is the culprit behind this swindle. They're made in China and they're junk. Insist on the real thing.)
* New features: improved paint job on the body * Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Interapid
Kafer (Germany) (also spelled Kδfer and Kaefer) manufactures a complete line of test indicators with one revolution. These are beautifully crafted and come in a box with a clear lid, so you can easily see what you're taking off the shelf. Alas, they do not have identifying serial numbers. An excellent alternative to Swiss-made indicators.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Kafer
Kurt (USA) although located in Minneapolis, these are generic made-in-China imports. They're cheap throwaways although Kurt claims they're of better quality than other Chinese indicators.
* Repairs: never economically feasible * Sales: Kurt distributors nationwide and some catalog houses * Parts: Kurt claims to carry parts * Information: downloadable catalog available at the Kurt.com web site
Last Word (USA) Starrett makes this stalwart and ubiquitous test indicator without resorting to toothed gears. Although usually accurate we've seen enough of them that compare poorly with the better built, gear driven indicators to warrant skepticism. The body, being made of iron, rusts easily and will become magnetic (and sticky as a result). On the upside, these can take a beating.
* New features: one-piece molded crystal is easier to replace * Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Starrett
Lufkin never manufactured any of their own indicators. In the 1960's they had a vanity dial on the Alina indicator. These tended to have model numbers such as V60X. It was never clear how they managed to usurp Alina's exclusive rights to these gages and that may have been the reason the line was finally dropped.
* Repairs: no longer possible * Sales: extinct * Parts: no longer available * Information: see Alina
Mahr-Federal manufactured in Germany with the brand name MarTest. These are very recent introductions made with classic German craftsmanship. These are the only test indicators which have the contact point length inscribed on the side of the case. Mahr-Federal has a $100 minimum parts order so getting spare parts may be uneconomical in some cases.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: directly from Mahr-Federal or various catalog sources * Parts: check the web site for a Federal distributor * Information: check the Mahr-Federal web site
Mahr (Puppitast) manufactured in Germany, part of the pre-Mahr-Federal conglomeration. These are structurally similar to Bestest, Tesatast and Girodtast indicators. The handsome bodies are somewhat sturdier and have textured sides which might, under some circumstances, keep them from slipping out of your hands. The crystal can rather easily be replaced without tools and this is an advantage over Bestest and Tesatast. Discontinued.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: no longer available * Parts: probably no longer available * Information: discontinued
Mercer manufactured in Switzerland but for some reason the dial usually reads "England." These are manufactured by Tesa for the English market and are identical to Compac indicators (see above) with the obviously different dial. Mercer offers several configurations not found in the Compac line. If you absolutely must have this name on the dial, then we can probably obtain them for you; otherwise, look for the Compac equivalent.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Long Island Indicator Service
Mitutoyo new models, completely redesigned, are manufactured in Japan. Some models are available with optically scanable serial numbers on the dial face. The weaknesses of older models have been corrected but in an effort at cost saving, these new models have weaknesses of their own. The new "pocket" models 513-512 and 513-518 are a major improvement in design and construction and can be recommended. The other models don't compare with their European counterparts.
* New features: one piece bezel and crystal can be replaced without tools * Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Mitutoyo
Mueller old models were made in England.
* Repairs: not possible * Sales: not available * Parts: not available * Information: none available
Nork indicators were manufactured in Manhattan of all places, by General Howe Mfg Co., Inc. They're a dreadful imitation of the Starrett Last Word indicator although they did have a much more functional reversing lever.
* Repairs: not possible * Sales: not available * Parts: not available * Information: none available
Peacock (Pic-Test) manufactured in Japan. This is a meager entry in the test indicator market, designed along the lines of the old model Bestest. Comparison ends there, however. Calibration often has to be fudged by changing the contact point angle on the .0001" model. Newer models contain plastic gears.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: various catalogs * Parts: 1-408-871-7700 * Information: 1-408-871-7700
Shars generic indicator made in China (see China, above)
Sisotast manufactured in Switzerland. This is a vanity dial for the Girodtast indicator. The indicators are identical with the exception of the dial.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: available in Switzerland * Parts: not available * Information: not available
Starrett (USA) would like us to believe that they are products of the USA. The origins of some of their indicators is vague, however. Model 708 for instance is only marked as "American Made." The revolution counter hand has "0-1-2" markings with no indication of actual travel. On this same model you will have to fuss with the contact angle to find the right spot for accuracy. Half the dial is yellow and half is white. This comes in handy when reading the dial in a mirror. (Yellow does not indicate metric graduations in these models.) None of the Starrett test indicators is in the same league as their European made counterparts and we consider model 811 to be among the worst indicator designs available.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Starrett
Teclock (Japan) You can often buy European-made models for less, and you'll get better quality. Spare parts are not commonly available. These indicators are heftier but feature an inferior execution of the Bestest-style mechanism. The newest models seem to come with plastic bezels. When the crystals are scratched, or the bezel breaks (it will) you won't be able to replace them. None of the Teclock test indicators is in the same league as their European made counterparts.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: not available * Information: Teclock
Tesatast (Switzerland) manufactured by Tesa are identical to Bestest with all the same good features. The accessories that come with the indicator are different. We have all parts in stock.
* Repairs: Long Island Indicator Service * Sales: Long Island Indicator Service * Parts: Long Island Indicator Service * Information: Tesatast
XTest (China) manufactured for Fowler as a rip-off on the high-quality Interapid indicator. They look so much alike in the advertisements that many people are fooled into thinking they're getting a terrific deal on the Swiss indicator. You get what you pay for. In this case, a pathetic imitation.
* Repairs: not possible * Sales: you're on your own * Parts: Fowler claims to have parts in stock ===================================================================
--
BottleBob
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BottleBob wrote:

If you work with me, and don't use an Interapid, then I'm gonna have to check your work with MY Interapid.
KG
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Kirk Gordon wrote:

Are you the boss or a co-worker? Randy
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Hi Randy,
Suggest don't encourage him--next thing you know there's gonna be another damned 6 kb rant !!
And to Kirk :
In our shop, we only use test indicators for comparative readings anyways...
--
SVL




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Randy Replogle wrote:

I wear both kinds of hat, depending on what's needed, and who else is involved. But if a piece of work is going to have my fingerprints on it for any reason, then I want it to be right. And if getting it right requires an indicator, you can bet I'm gonna be real fussy about what kind it is, how it's used, and everything else about it, too.
I'm kinda strange that way.
KG
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"I'm kinda strange that way."
IMO that would be one of the least "strange" things about you.
Do you have the opportunity to learn SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Inventor or god forbid Alibre in your new job? If so I wonder if you will try and make use of design intent / top down design rather than create dumb models like you use to do in AutoCAD.
Jon "The Jew" Banquer Phoenix, Arizona
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jon_banquer wrote:

Jon:
    Now, now Jon. Let's not drag my indicator thread through the mud. LMAO!
--
BottleBob
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"Now, now Jon. Let's not drag my indicator thread through the mud. LMAO!"
I was just curious if Captain Kirk made any progress since I never answered his 50 page response to why I though AutoCAD was the wrong tool for the job way back when. The Captain went off on a long winded tangent and completely missed what top down design / design intent was all about and I didn't feel like correcting him.
Very similar your pal Gary Lucas using Rhino for years to designing his green house.... wrong tool for the job. Isn't it time for one of his famous why I'm quiting / getting fired posts?
Lucas might still be in business for himself if he had sold his shit through head shops or advertised in high times or whatever. One company who makes weed grinders sure seems to do well.
Oh well... that's about the extent of my chronic (what it seems to be called these days) knowledge.
Jon "The Jew" Banquer Phoenix, Arizona
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Kirk Gordon wrote:

Kirk:
    Given two .0005 indicators (say an Interapid 0-15-0 and a Brown & Sharpe Bestest 0-10-0), with the same dial diameters of 1.5" which do you think would be more accurate - the Interapid with .030 per revolution of travel or the one with .020 per revolution of travel (which equates to 30% WIDER spacing of the marks)?     Or take two .0001 indicators (say an Interapid 0-4-0 & a Compac 0-2-0), with similar dial diameters (the Interapid being 1.5" & the Compac being 1.575"), which do you think would be more accurate - the one with .008 per revolution of travel, or the one with .004 per revolution of travel (which equates to DOUBLE the width spacing of the marks). Eh?
--
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BottleBob wrote: > > Kirk Gordon wrote: > >> If you work with me, and don't use an Interapid, then I'm gonna have to check your work with MY >> Interapid. > > Kirk: > > Given two .0005 indicators (say an Interapid 0-15-0 and a Brown & Sharpe Bestest 0-10-0), with > the same dial diameters of 1.5" which do you think would be more accurate - the Interapid with > .030 per revolution of travel or the one with .020 per revolution of travel (which equates to 30% > WIDER spacing of the marks)? Or take two .0001 indicators (say an Interapid 0-4-0 & a Compac > 0-2-0), with similar dial diameters (the Interapid being 1.5" & the Compac being 1.575"), which > do you think would be more accurate - the one with .008 per revolution of travel, or the one with > .004 per revolution of travel (which equates to DOUBLE the width spacing of the marks). Eh?
The more accurate indicator, obviously, would be the one with the best quality bearings, the smoothest and most consistent engagement between the gears, and the best designed ratio of point length to gear ratio to spring rate. And, if you really want to do it right, you'll use a spring that exerts almost exactly the same force at pretty much any displacement.
It would also help if the whole thing was made of materials that resist wear, and was built so that dirt, dust, and other crud couldn't get inside, or into the point bearings, to make it stick, or make it vary even a little bit in the force required to move through any increment. A perfectly polished, extremely round ball on the point helps too. It can reduce friction, and avoid false readings from off-axis motions.
After you've made sure about all those things, then a little extra spacing between the numbers might be nice - especially since my eyes aren't what they once were. But you could make the spacing bigger with just a magnifying glass, and the basic instrument wouldn't be any better.
Interapid is my choice. New, or 35 years old. It's still the best I've ever found.
KG
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Kirk Gordon wrote:
[...]

I concur.
Who uses a test indicator for anything besides a comparison tool anyway? I surely don't, there are better tools available for making fine measurements. That makes any perceived inaccuracy or accuracy of test indicators irrelevant. What matters is repeatability and dependability, and in that regard it's pretty tough to beat an Interapid.
--
Black Dragon

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Black Dragon wrote:

I was going o point that out. These things really aren't measuring tools per se. The only number I really care about being able to read on this type of indicator is Zero. Other than that it's a "split the difference" to find zero tool and sensetivity and sticking are the issue. BTW, I "tool changed" one of my Interapids at one this morning by accident and it survived the ordeal unscathed. Wish I could say the same for my shorts. LOL
--
John R. Carroll
Machining Solution Software, Inc.
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There was this night when I forgot to use G53 and sent Z to zero on a VMC. Somehow I missed the 12" cylindrical square, the fixture, and my indicator. The magnetic indicator stand needed a bit of work though.
The Mitutoyo indicator was and is still fine.
I think I used up my lucky break for this year.
Wes S
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John R. Carroll wrote:

My half thou Interapid survived a 3K launch better than the Indicol it was mounted on did. It stayed in the machine, the Indicol came out after me in a few pieces. Almost getting impaled by my own absent mindedness I was too stunned to shit myself. :-/
The only thing wrong with it was the bezel was cracked. Sent it out and paid $60 for a new bezel and a tune up and it came as good as new.
--
Black Dragon

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"My half thou Interapid survived a 3K launch better than the Indicol it was mounted on did."
Indicols while useful / invaluable in many situations are my least favorite way to indicate something.
Jon "The Jew" Banquer Phoenix, Arizona
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