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Christopher Jacoby

Dial Indicator for Thickness Caliper

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I have THREE busted dial/pin rigs on three thickness calipers. They were in a box not properly taped up during our move, and the TWO that weren't broken hit the concrete... and broke. Looking at $100 shipped for the same Käfer dial indicator from International Violin, whom I always prefer supporting, but wondering if anyone has a lead on decent dial indicators for less. I do love to buy old things on eBay and never have them quite work right, but there should be a reliable metric dial out there somewhere, and I'm having trouble finding options. Thanks in advance! 

CEB3B78A-6B8B-43BB-A75A-CE382DAE60B7.JPG

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Rockler sells an interesting digital caliper for 32$. It's meant for people who are turning bowls on lathes, but I wondered if it could be used in violin making? The picture looks to me as if the distance between the end  points and the base would be long enough to get to the center of a violin plate, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Here's the link.

https://www.rockler.com/igaging-8-digital-outside-caliper

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Besides eBay, you might check your local pawn shops.  The dial units are commonly used by machinists to position parts on lathes and other machines.   :)

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The only problem with dials common for machining is they are too fine for instrument making. Usually accuracy to 1/10 of a mm is good enough.

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46 minutes ago, Bill Yacey said:

The only problem with dials common for machining is they are too fine for instrument making. Usually accuracy to 1/10 of a mm is good enough.

You don't work to a thousandth?  [Appears to swoon in shock, then winks and giggles.] :ph34r:;):lol:

Yup.  Agreed.

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8 hours ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

I have THREE busted dial/pin rigs on three thickness calipers. They were in a box not properly taped up during our move, and the TWO that weren't broken hit the concrete... and broke. Looking at $100 shipped for the same Käfer dial indicator from International Violin, whom I always prefer supporting, but wondering if anyone has a lead on decent dial indicators for less. I do love to buy old things on eBay and never have them quite work right, but there should be a reliable metric dial out there somewhere, and I'm having trouble finding options. Thanks in advance! 

CEB3B78A-6B8B-43BB-A75A-CE382DAE60B7.JPG

Many years ago I had a similar problem. Back then I called GEWA (where I had originally bought them) and got the name and address of the firm that actually made them (an engineering firm in Remscheid). I was able to send them there, and they repaired them for me. Yours don’t look like the GEWA ones, but I suppose you could ask where you bought them, and hope they weren’t made by a German firm that doesn’t trade any more, or somewhere in China.

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Wood turning calipers work great for those of us who work by eye and know what 1,2,3,4 mm {and points in between} looks like,...no stupid dial to break and waste time trying to read. 

They are way quicker, just look at the outside C gap and that's how thick it is, and because they are more pointed at the tips they are more accurate, particularly on the edge.

You can find them for under 10$

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14 hours ago, Al Cramer said:

Rockler sells an interesting digital caliper for 32$. It's meant for people who are turning bowls on lathes, but I wondered if it could be used in violin making? The picture looks to me as if the distance between the end  points and the base would be long enough to get to the center of a violin plate, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Here's the link.

https://www.rockler.com/igaging-8-digital-outside-caliper

I've been meaning to try that.

Somewhat sadly,  these days, it is often less expensive to replace than repair.

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I built a thickness gauge using a cheap indicator from Travers  tool.  It was on sale, but only 12 mm travel.  You can get a 25 mm travel one pretty cheap too.  Not top quality, but it works.  "Real ones are $150 and up. The ones you have seem to have VERY long stems.  They might have extensions screwed on.  In that case, you have to be sure the extensions would have the same threads.  Meaning you might have to keep the same brand.  You'd just have to check.

https://www.travers.com/precision-agd-dial-indicator/p/57-029-812/

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They don't look that badly damaged in the photo.

The geared mechanisms are well protected inside the housings.

I would first try re-engaging the pin into the lever slot.

I've had similar mishaps with mine and always managed to get them working again.

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Machinist dial calipers are too accurate and difficult to read quickly when checking overall thicknesses of plate as you move from 5 mm at the center to 2.5 mm in the bouts.... the dial pointer spins too much.   The simplest solution is to get a digital dial indicator ( needs a battery) but is much easier to read.

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42 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I've been meaning to try that.

Somewhat sadly,  these days, it is often less expensive to replace than repair.

I got one.  It is usable but extremely flimsy.  The two tips very easily deform out of a plane when it is used.  Most people will not like this tool,  I am sure.  I hate mine and do not use it at all.  

(To paraphrase:   it is junk)

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12 minutes ago, Johnmasters said:

I got one.  It is usable but extremely flimsy.  The two tips very easily deform out of a plane when it is used.  Most people will not like this tool,  I am sure.  I hate mine and do not use it at all.  

(To paraphrase:   it is junk)

Thanks, John.

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58 minutes ago, catnip said:

Machinist dial calipers are too accurate and difficult to read quickly when checking overall thicknesses of plate as you move from 5 mm at the center to 2.5 mm in the bouts.... the dial pointer spins too much.   The simplest solution is to get a digital dial indicator ( needs a battery) but is much easier to read.

I was thinking that it would be the other way around!  I don't move mine that fast, and with the dial it is easier to spot anamollies, like high or low spots; especially when I thickness the c bouts from the outside. Mine has .01 mms graduation.  A bit ridiculous, but even with.that it only rotates 2.5 times from 5 - 2.5, and it's easy to read. There was a digital at.work and no one liked it, except.for.The guy who bought it! 

Everyone is different.  I know I am.

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8 minutes ago, Ken_N said:

I was thinking that it would be the other way around!  I don't move mine that fast, and with the dial it is easier to spot anamollies, like high or low spots; especially when I thickness the c bouts from the outside. Mine has .01 mms graduation.  A bit ridiculous, but even with.that it only rotates 2.5 times from 5 - 2.5, and it's easy to read. There was a digital at.work and no one liked it, except.for.The guy who bought it!

I agree that a dial gives an easier indication of anomalies and trends, at least for me.

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Don't do like I did not long ago and buy something without taking note of the shank diameter and length of travel of the pin. I thought I was being very clever, buying a digital gauge to replace my busted Käfer (they're fragile, it seems!) Only to find it wouldn't fit in the frame and wasn't long enough even if it did! I broke down and bought the new one from IVC. Note you have to buy the pin separately if you need it, but you can cannibalize it off your old one most likely. 

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On 1/21/2020 at 8:35 PM, Al Cramer said:

Rockler sells an interesting digital caliper for 32$. It's meant for people who are turning bowls on lathes, but I wondered if it could be used in violin making? The picture looks to me as if the distance between the end  points and the base would be long enough to get to the center of a violin plate, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Here's the link.

https://www.rockler.com/igaging-8-digital-outside-caliper

I just got one for Christmas! Metric, standard, and fractions to within 1/64. I love it.

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