A great investment.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by kc, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. kc

    kc Well-Known Member

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    This is a tool I hve found to be as importment and my loading manuals,
    I bought two dial indicators one Didgital and another in SAE.
    If you don't have on you might like to own one.
     
  2. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    I am willing to bet everyone here owns at least one, its a pretty basic piece of reloading equipment
     

  3. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    KC are you refering to using a "dial indicator" for checking runout and measuring shoulder set back and other things? or " Dial Calipers" for measuring lengths and such?

    Jeff
     
  4. kc

    kc Well-Known Member

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    I cant agree enough, this is a tool that is a must if you Reload.
     
  5. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    There are indicators and indicators. That sounds a bit ambiguous. Indicators are like optics, high end and low end.

    You can buy a Chinese non certified (American Gage Design AGD) indicator for 10 bucks that works (has a dial and needle moves, but is it really 'indicating' accurately? You really have no easy way to tell....

    Plus you need something to mount the indicator on to indicate, usually a magnetic stand. Those can be had cheaply too, again, about 10 bucks. The indicator stand can be cheap so long as it's rigid and 'locks
    securely.

    Going the other way, Starrett (what I use), Brown and Sharpe, Mititutoyo, Fred Fowler, all make many designs, all AGD certified for repeatable accuracy in the increments on the respective dial. You can even get digital readout indicators, AGD certified. None of these are 10 bucks. You can actually, depending on application, spend as much for a single AGD indicator as a mid priced scope (I have, numerous times), depending on application, but a quality AGD certified indicator will last a lifetime and hold it;s value if you ever decide to sell it. The Chinese non-certified 10 buck indicator is a throw away.

    I use different Starrett indicator bases for different applications, all cost way over 10 bucks, but that's just me. The cheapo import base works, just make sure it locks rigidly. The base has to be rigid to hold the indicator from moving so the indicator can actually indicate what you want to measure (within the limits of the indicator itself, of course.

    Then we come to dial calipers or sometimes referred to dial indicators. The difference between a dial indicator and a caliper is, a caliper uses a fixed and movable jaw attached to a mechanical drive mechanism or digital encoder to measure distance in thousands 0.001 or sometimes tenths 0.0001 and display the measurement on a round dial similar to a dial indicator or digital readout. In 99% of calipers sold, the measurement is indicated (on the dial or readout) in thousands 0.001. Most dial caliper measurements are only obtainable to 0.001. A micrometer (or other measuring device) is really needed to measure in tenths or better 0.0001 and that's not something a reloader needs to worry about because the gun or the brass/bullet isn't machined in tenths, thousands will do just fine.

    My preference again is Starrett or Fred Fowler. I want a solid stainless caliper with inside/outside jaws and either an analog (dial) readout or a digital readout (encoder) with an easily switchable from SAE to Metric measurement equivalent (in a digital version). The analog readout will probably be SAE.

    I also prefer an IP54 (International Precision) or better certified instrument. The IP rating tells you the instrument is water and dirt resistant and shockproof because you'll drop it sometime and it might get wet. The IP ratings only apply to digital encoded calipers. Mechanical calipers, at least good ones, are shock resistant but none are moisture resistant.

    A nice and useful accessory for a dial caliper is a clamp on depth base (that clamps on to the rear of the caliper (only mechanical calipers, not encoders). The base gives you a flat surface through which the tail of the indicator extends as the jaws open and can be used as a depth indicator for recesses or holes. I use that all the time.

    Some good sources for quality (and cheapo) indicators and calipers are...

    MSC Industrial Supply
    Enco
    Production Tool and Supply
    McMaster-Carr
    WW Grainger

    It's easy to differentiate between cheap and good and not just by price. If it's AGD/IP certified, it's not a cheap instrument and digital encoders are usually more than mechanical but each have their place. I have both.

    A 6" jaw Caliper will be all the length you should require. I have them to 3 feet but thats not revel ant to what we do with guns.

    I realize this post is a little long but there is a bit more to indicators than price, just like optics, it's complex.

    I haven't touched on every aspect, just the revel ant to firearms aspects.

    Hope this helps.....
     
  6. REDHEAD

    REDHEAD Well-Known Member

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    You will find yourself owning several over the years. They don't servive a drop test well. LOL :D
     
  7. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    Mechanically driven (analog) jaw calipers don't and neither do dial indicators (mechanical) if cheaply made. High end ones do because they are manufactured with shock abrorbing internals. I've dropped my LSS analog jaw calipers before with no issue. Moisture is another story, That's a big no.

    The digital IP rated jaw calipers and AGD round face dial head, because the only moving part is the stem (all internals are solid state) survive impacts and high 'G' shock loads without any issue and most are either encapsulated or 'o' ringed so moisture isn't an issue either.

    I use a high end digital indicator in a flood, water based synthetic coolant application on a CNC machine and the indicator is in the cutting area all the time, bathed in coolant spray, with no issue whatsoever.

    You get what you pay for.

    I believe the RCBS Jaw Calipers are Fred Fowler badged RCBS.

    Cabelas offers them as well as Starrett. So does Midway, Natchezz and most of the online gun supply retailers.

    Really the best place (and best price) to get any caliper or round head indicator is a machine tool supplier like MSC. They will have a mind boggling selection whereas, the gun supply retailers only have a limited selection.

    For firearm/reloading use, howver, a thousands indicating 0.001 instrument is all you need.
     
  8. Jinx-)

    Jinx-) Well-Known Member

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    I ordered dial indicator and test dial indicator from Amazon not long time ago, I made a mistake when I ordered cross slide vise, anyway they all got shipped in the same box... That's like 40 lbs + package, but indicators weight only few oz :D
     
  9. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    If the packer actually took the time to pack the small stuf properly, it should have arrived unscathed......

    I take it you plan on using the cross slide vise so you can do milling with a drill press.....?

    There is an issue with that and that is a drill press is designed to only put pressure on a drill in a vertical axis and not absorb radial stress (when you mill with a milling cutter, the stress is mostly in a horizontal plane,) Y and Z axis.

    Consequently, you'll destroy the spidle bearings in the quill in short order, even faster with a cheaper drill press becausr the spindle bearings aren't that good in the first place.....and runout (the resistance of the spindle against deflection) (slop) is inherent in all drill presses because again, they are designed to push direcrly down.....

    I can be done but it's really not a good idea.... and you won't get an acceptable finish and may break the cutters because they will chatter even in soft materials like aluminum.

    A milling machine has bearings that handle vertical and horizontal stress, more than one set actually, even the cheap benchtop ones from China.

    I have a cross slide (table) with a small vise that I use to position parts for precision drilling. That's it.
     
  10. Jinx-)

    Jinx-) Well-Known Member

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    Precision drilling, that's all I was after, plus I wanted to check drill press for run-out and got 25 - 30 thousands from a brand new buffalo drill press, well they made in China and no precision drilling possible when spindle wobbles at such rate. Milling machine, I was thinking to find used Bridgeport, just the prices on them won't come down :D
     
  11. Wile E Coyote

    Wile E Coyote Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago, I found a Dial Caliper at a garage sale. $20. The glass bezel was cracked and chipped. A machinest friend sent it to a place that repairs this kind of thing and had it cleaned, repaired and adjusted. Another $30. Total money spent was $50. for a Brown & Sharp caliper that will accurately read to .0001. I'm told it would be several hundred dollars to replace it today and the new one wouldn't be as good quality.

    Moral of the story; Go with the wife to a yard sale/garage sale once in a while. One might be pleasantly surprised.
     
  12. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    Good post!

    But keep this in mind:

    Those long travel dial indicators that folks deem so dear, are really not so hot! 98% of at least 10% lag built into them, so when the needle reverses direction you really have no idea what you have. There were some quarter inch travel indicators made years ago that were jeweled, and had a certification of 3% lag. Still not great, but three times better than the other. The digital indicator with a built in encoder is much better, but still suffers from lateral movement of the stem.

    Then there is the wand type of dial indicator. This would be something like a Last Word or a Best Test from Browne & Sharp, or an Interrapid. Federal also sells top of the line indicators too. 98% of all dial indicators sold are ment to be stationary, and never moved. If you set it up, and rotate it 180 degrees you lost everything due to lag. The Interrapid and Best Test will allow you to rotate the indicator a full 360 degrees without any lag showing up. As far as I know you can only rotate the B&S and Interrapids. I know you cannot rotate a Federal. Then there is the Blake, and in theory it will rotate, but even without moving it, it will have over five tenths lag built into it. Interestingly the indicators used in a dial bore gauge are in most cases the best quality Federal ever made, and lag will usually be in the 2% range or less, but are also prone to contamination. Pulling the indicator from a junk dial bore gauge is a way to get your hands on a top quality inline indicator, but the travel will be a little short for some folks.

    When I did machine alignments, I usually started out with a .0001" dial indicator that had over .150" of travel.It had a known case of lag built into it, but you learn to find the low spot and set it up from there. After getting the axis to within a couple tenths on the indicator I would setup a .0005" Interrapid, and find the actual reading to be closer to seven tenths. After bringing the axis within .00025", I'd setup a one tenth Best Test or Interrapid and bring it down to one tenth. I knew exactly whatkind of error each indicator had in it by checking them against a series of lab grade Jo Blocks. As for how many indicators I own; lets say cigar boxes full of them
    gary
     
  13. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    another good post!

    I have a job waiting for me to get to where a guy used a drill and tap setup for milling. Wiped out the bearings and damaged the spindle itself. This spring I'll rebuild it for him, and fully expect to do it again in three or four years as he's hard headed. Even the much loved Bridge Port is only good for so much side pressure from a milling operation. Not a big deal till you get into slab cutters that use carbide inserts. Yet a typical carbide end mill will still be OK. The best Bridge Port clone for using a small slab cutter (4") is the one from Willis Machine. The quill is much larger and uses better tool holders (Ericson #40's)
    gary
     
  14. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    The shop I used to work in bought two Johanson heavyduty drill presses, and the guys didn't like them. We took one of them and rescraped the table top square, and tightened everything up. Then took a good Kurt vise and scraped it dead square. It would ream holes better than a Bridgeport.
    gary