If there is any depth to them, paint and either a fast wipe with a
solvent dampened cloth, or sandpaper on a backing block.
You can also get black wax crayons for filling in the markings. Rub
in, wipe with a dry cloth. Repeat as required.
Consider springing for new dials,. They are availablefor the
Bridgeport style machines, and adaptable to others.
Best solution, though not the cheap one, DRO! On a mill, put 3 axiis
on, and forget about the quill, or put one of the cheapo digital
micrometer type units on the quill.
LacquerStik Fill-in Paint. Comes in Black or White. Sort of like a
crayon in a cardboard tube. I think I got mine from MSC. You rub it
into the etched marks, let it harden a little, then wipe off the surface
with a hard cloth so the fibers don't get into the marks and pull the
Good luck making them white on top. I'd settle for just getting the
black into the grooves.
Clark Magnus> The dials are etched, and are .200" per turn.
I agree. A DRO gives you so much extra capability. The investment
will pay itself off in a very short time. Your productivity will
increase, aswell as your accuracy. Setup times will come down
aswell. If you go this way, get yourself an edge finder also, no more
witness cuts required.
How is it done? Well, Hardinge use a white plastic for the dial,
which is engraved and then filled with black. If you want to make
entirely new dials, you can do it their way.
If you want to use your existing dials, I can't imagine how you might
get them white and then black. You might try some type of plating,
such as satin chrome or even copper, followed by a paint stick in the
grooves. Maybe the satin chrome will give you the contrast you want.
I knew a professional machinist, older school, he specialised in gear
shaping, splines, and keyways, but thats not really important. He didn't
have a DRO on any of his machines. He had various mills, lathes, and
gear shapers. I knew him through my neighbours and one year when he was
over at their place he came to look at my BP with DRO. He checked the
dials against the DRO readout, spot on. I don't think he trusted the new
electronic stuff though, which is a shame as it would probably have
improved his output by quite a bit.
Etched!?!? I mean really etched?? Like with a chemical or a laser??
You've got a problem.
For scribed marks with stamped digits, as most dials are, others have
suggestions, except I didn't read " remove, clean really well, run a
sharp pointy thing in each line and digit to remove old paint, clean
again in some good degreaser, let dry well, spray with black paint".
After it is really good and dry, crocus cloth the surface off, leaving
all the scribed lines and stamped digits filled.
One thing that is quite easy to do for a short fix is to use any CAD
program to make a long slip of paper printout that is surprisingly
accurate with a bit of fiddling. For instance, my Bridgeport has
3-1/4" dial wheels. That gives a circumference of 10.2102, divided
into the 200 required lines gives a line every .05105 inches. You can
either get fancy and "array" the lines, or just plow through making
them the line length you want for each thou, five thou, and ten thou.
Add numbers to suit, and plot or print that out and you can simply
tape to the dial with clear Scotch tape. It's cheap to try, and works
quite well if you use lacquer or decoupage glue to fasten it instead
of the Scotch tape. Easy to replace too, and you CAN get fancy and
use some sort of colour coding.
I just took fifteen minutes and did that in Autocad, printed out on a
five year-old inkjet. (Your skills may take less time.) Spacing was
good, but I'd need to work on the "text" a bit. But it sure is easy
to see !! And I can try different ways of aligning the "text" to suit
my preferences too !
ps.....This same sort of CAD and paper thing works very well for dial
faces to your liking on pressure gauges and meters, etc., too.
I can't speak for him, nor for his religion------but I, too, don't use a
DRO, Never have, and likely never will.
I was trained on manual machines, and made my living with them until I
closed the doors on my commercial shop back in '83. I don't use a DRO
because I can run machines without one-----and prefer to keep those skills
sharp. I can still split thousandths reliably, and my dial is coarse, .400"
off the diameter per revolution. Nice part about this is I can keep
working should the DRO die, which many would find challenging. It takes
considerable experience to use dials reliably. Key word is "reliably".
Most folks know how to use dials, they just screw up a lot.
First you would paint the dial with KHRILON gloss lac. base spray
paint ;;; spreay bomb. Let it dry for two days. Then spray the end of
a old sock with a RUSOLIUM ... OIL BAISED spray bomb and wipe it on
the dial untill just the increments held the black paint and the white
Q - tips can be of a help.
Uncle used dials all his life too. He can see how a DRO could be useful but
at this point in life why bother playing with something that might bite him
in the butt.
I can work either way though I'm more likely to blue and scribe lines when
using dials to keep me honest.
Most people want a dro on a mill but get along fine w/o one on a lathe. I
don't see surface grinders with them either. The idea of fitting a DRO to
the surface grinder is interesting though.
Since you did a lot of grinding, when you re-dressed a wheel, how did you
rapidly pick up on where you left off and keep track of how far you were
from where you wanted to be?
On our ID/OD grinders, the wheels are sent periodically to the diamond
dresser by a certain amount further than the last time. The machine now
knows the reduction in diameter of the wheels and creates new offset data
and goes back where it left off.
Considering my lack of electronics prowess, I tend to see it much like that.
Besides, I get great pleasure from being able to work without one, although
I acknowledge that many things would happen faster with one. I am a
dinosaur in today's manufacturing world, that I understand all too well, so
I look at my self as one restoring a vintage car---------make it as good as
you can----but keep it original. You have to work with someone with my
mindset to fully understand----it's not just what we do, it's how we do it,
and what we are. :-)
I use my ever present 6" (or larger----I have them up to 24") scale, and
rarely, if ever, make a layout.
My experience in grinding dictates that a DRO would be unlikely to be
useful----but a great deal depends on the nature of the work at hand.
And--don't lose sight of the fact that I choose not to use them. My
comments are flavored heavily by my personal choices. YMMV.
Pick up and measure, with clear coolant and grease pencils being the methods
When operating grinders without CNC controls, it's important that the
coolant be transparent. I alluded to this in the recent thread in which
soluble oil was included in the conversation. Heavy, clouded coolants make
proper grinding very difficult.
It stands to reason that every type machine will present its own set of
problems, but touching off was pretty much the acceptable practice,
including surface and centerless grinding. In a centerless, there's no
doubt when you have intimate contact, for the part will feed through the
machine, and won't even change size, assuming all you've done is pick up.
Surfaces that are being ground, particularly on cylindrical grinding, both
ID and OD surfaces, are marked with a grease pencil, then the wheel is
carefully closed on the part. When the grease starts to smear, you are very
near the surface of the part. Careful observation as tenths are removed
(very easy to do on grinders, unlike a lathe or mill), one watches until the
color is gone. At that point you may well have picked up without altering
the surface, although that isn't necessarily the case. Once a surface has
been picked up, the part is measured, and one works accordingly. It's
all up to the operator-----and many make lousy grinders. It's a game of
practiced skill and patience, often not a desirable task. It takes special
people to be successful.
The method I described can be very useful. While the pick feed was very
reliable on the grinders I operated, there are times when you prefer to not
remove a tenth. We had air gauging for one of the products we ground, which
had a narrow tolerance of +.0002", - .0000". I'd often find myself
hovering at the low end, only by a few millionths. Not wishing to risk
the remote possibility of going oversized, it wasn't uncommon to grease the
bore, start the table stroking, and observe the grease film. Because the
wheel had entered a hole that had been previously ground, the wheel would
pick up the precise location. After carefully observing the grease film,
which by now would have been virtually eliminated, one placed a finger on
the wheel head, and applied the slightest amount of pressure and held
steady. When the color was gone, the hole would be enlarged by a few
millionths. Try that on your trusty old Southbend lathe! :-)
While I respect those that have CNC knowledge, they are becoming cripples in
a sense. No problem in the scheme of things, for I gather the majority of
machines are intended to be run by numerical control solely------but skills
that are necessary to run manual machines are not being taught-- or
exercised--so the grinder of today, who may well be exceedingly skilled and
talented, may not have the skills necessary to operate manual machines.
That takes us back to working with a DRO------or not. :-)
Then there are those of us who are just too cheap to buy a DRO ;) I
freely admit there are times when it would be helpful, the most recent
being a small stepped part on an RT - more clamps than work visible, so
there was not much in the way of a clear path for a scale. For most
things that I do, it is easy to slap a scale on the work and use the
dials to refine positions.
For windows, a DRO would save some time. I mark the corners with a
30-50 thou plunge, which is the worst of it (travel time mosly).
Working out the backlash-affected dial readings does not take long.
I can see why someone cranking out large numbers of parts on a daily
basis would want one. In my case, I'd rather direct the money to
another machine some day.
I use layout fluid for rough cutting, which I mostly do on a bandsaw.
The time it takes to do the layout appears to be more than repaid in
less time on the mill - I think. I tend not to make layouts beyond
that, because it would usually be an extra step. I either fly-cut to
thickness (kinda tough on the layout fluid left over from roughing), or
am too chicken to clean rough cuts to the layout. As soon as I hit
clean metal, I stop and begin cleaning the other side. The result is
that my rough layout is always shifted just a little, so any further
layout would be shifted too.
Every so often a layout survives long enough to be useful in approaching
final dimensions, and they are indeed helpful.