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"The Unique"

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AdrianR30/05/2019 13:47:23
597 forum posts
36 photos

Going through more of my inheritance I discovered an odd looking little tool called "The Unique" Pat No 234947/11. I could not find the original patent but found a related one that mentioned it and what it was for.

Came as a great surprise that it was a 0 - 15 thou DTI to fit on a scriber block.

img_20190530_095317.jpg

img_20190530_095330.jpg

Michael Gilligan30/05/2019 14:50:30
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20289 forum posts
1064 photos

One here, sold on ebay, with some useful photos, but no reference to the patent:

**LINK**

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-J-H-Grant-The-Unique-test-indicator-1-other-Unique-Made-in-England-/173854392693

MichaelG.

Clive Foster30/05/2019 15:53:47
3173 forum posts
113 photos

Considering that these devices were right at the bottom of the economy end of the indicator market mine is unreasonably accurate. As near as can be judged from the scale it is spot on through the whole range. Although I pretty much never used it in anger it was clearly a useful and, within its limits, a very capable tool.

Came in a box of bits spanning the whole range from total rubbish to treasure obtained with my first lathe. A Portass S wildly overpriced at two pints and a packet of Players. 45 years on the treasures were more than worth the asking price. Especially as I made a whole £2 profit on the lathe after refurbishment and assembly onto a base with countershaft & motor.

Clive

BC Prof30/05/2019 16:30:39
169 forum posts
1 photos

Purchased mine for 2 shillings more than 50 yrs ago . The shop was closing down and the owner had found a box of them as he sorted out his "treasures" . Used it on my Granville lathe until I could afford a DTI .

Brian C

AdrianR30/05/2019 18:39:11
597 forum posts
36 photos

I checked mine, it is accurate within 1/2 thou which is impressive as it has been in the bottom of a bits box for ages.

Wish I knew how it worked, an indicator like that would be great for setting lathe tool height.

Nicholas Farr30/05/2019 20:04:38
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3421 forum posts
1592 photos

Hi, my one was my fathers, he had two of them but the other one has got lost many years ago. This one has J H G on one side and you can just make out that it was made in England.

The Unique 02.jpg

Buck & Hickman, Ltd. sold them in 1958.

the unique 03.jpg

Regards Nick.

Nicholas Farr30/05/2019 20:10:23
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3421 forum posts
1592 photos

Here's the front view, if anyone is interested **LINK**

Regards Nick.

Hopper31/05/2019 01:29:37
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6692 forum posts
347 photos

Harley-Davidson sold a similar - but even cruder - tool for truing up flywheel crankshaft assemblies in vintage days. Countless thousands of cranks must have been set up within the specified total runout of .001" or less using them, so they must work better than they look.

crank truing 1.jpg

Used in a truing stand with the small right-angle tang rubbing on the crank mainshaft, so the long end of the pointer amplifies the movement to a readable level. Crude but effective!

crank truing 2.jpg

The Unique looks downright sophisticated by comparison. I also vaguely remember seeing gauges like the Unique with with a small finger like a DTI sticking out the end rather than the button, and the body was made of brass with fine graduations on it. Can't remember where though. Some machine shop in a previous millenium!

Edited By Hopper on 31/05/2019 01:34:58

thaiguzzi31/05/2019 05:59:44
avatar
704 forum posts
131 photos
Posted by Hopper on 31/05/2019 01:29:37:

Harley-Davidson sold a similar - but even cruder - tool for truing up flywheel crankshaft assemblies in vintage days. Countless thousands of cranks must have been set up within the specified total runout of .001" or less using them, so they must work better than they look.

crank truing 1.jpg

Used in a truing stand with the small right-angle tang rubbing on the crank mainshaft, so the long end of the pointer amplifies the movement to a readable level. Crude but effective!

crank truing 2.jpg

The Unique looks downright sophisticated by comparison. I also vaguely remember seeing gauges like the Unique with with a small finger like a DTI sticking out the end rather than the button, and the body was made of brass with fine graduations on it. Can't remember where though. Some machine shop in a previous millenium!

Edited By Hopper on 31/05/2019 01:34:58

Hi Hopper,

i thought most of those HD type truing stands just used centres, but in that pic of yours above, it has small rollers or bearings adjacent.

What gives?

Nigel Graham 202/06/2019 17:22:09
2287 forum posts
33 photos

Ah, yes, I have just taken mine out of the tool-chest to examine it... No the PC's not in the workshop. It's in the lounge. The tools are in the hall.

Mine is the same as Adrian's, with its indicator needle and scale exposed at the end, not in a small window as on Nicholas' version.

'

Adrian: it's probably intended to be used as a height comparator on the surface-plate, so the scriber you've clamped yours to would act only as its support arm. Same as any DTI. Similarly for centring work on a lathe or rotary-table, from a turned surface on the work-piece.

'

I'd always thought my Unique's neat little tin-plate box, just the right size, was original to it; until I looked closely. It reads "By Appointment Tobacconists to the King" on the lid, and embossed in the bottom, is "Duty-Free H.M. Ships Only". By which I conclude, it was a snuff-tin, it being only of Unique DTI size. As for which King....

I must admit I've never used it, but it's there in case. In its case. By vicarious Royal Appointment at that.

Hopper02/06/2019 23:17:01
avatar
6692 forum posts
347 photos
Posted by thaiguzzi on 31/05/2019 05:59:44:

Hi Hopper,

i thought most of those HD type truing stands just used centres, but in that pic of yours above, it has small rollers or bearings adjacent.

What gives?

Hey Guzzi

Good spot. I think the pic - just grabbed off the net - may in fact be a later model Rowe product. Rollers to do Brit and Jap bike cranks that either had no centre holes, or had a large hole down the mainshaft, or had centres but had been centreless ground to finish. But the stand and finger gauges are otherwise copied from the old HD product.

Niloch03/06/2019 13:27:05
371 forum posts

YouTube creator David Richards in his 'Old Steam Powered Machine Shop' can be seen using a similar item fairly regularly. Having just returned from a Winter in Florida, episode 54 shows him getting his Upper New York state workshop up and running again. I can't point to a specific episode where the device can be seen in use but it is no hardship to watch a good few videos, all his equipment and most of his techniques are pre-1925. Fascinating.

roy entwistle03/06/2019 14:42:50
1551 forum posts

I have two similar indicators made by Verdict

Roy

Martin Johnson 103/06/2019 16:34:45
154 forum posts
1 photos

I have one that I bought at a club sale for half a crown. That gives you some idea of when that was.

It has done sterling service over the years, setting up lathes and truing up work. With the arrival of a pucker dial gauge (for a lot more than 2/6), it is now still used on a crude stand for setting lathe tool height - on centre is centre of the scale, so easy to see if you are high or low. I ground the rounded "stylus" flat for this job.

Highly recommended for those on a tight budget.

Martin

Roderick Jenkins15/09/2020 14:23:18
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2201 forum posts
616 photos

Ricard Arwel is trying to identify one of these in "Scribe a line" in MEW 297

Rod

Mick B115/09/2020 14:37:31
2224 forum posts
125 photos

Blimey. Well, if there were loads of them, 'Unique' was a false trade description then, wasn't it?

devilwink

Howard Lewis15/09/2020 14:57:57
6311 forum posts
15 photos

Precision, before we needed to change the battery every few weeks!

And to think that precision work was done using callipers; before graduated dials, just a pencil or chalk mark and a nudge.

These devices must have seemed a huge leap forward. To be kept and treasured.

Howard

Ady115/09/2020 15:22:40
avatar
5175 forum posts
738 photos
Posted by Martin Johnson 1 on 03/06/2019 16:34:45:

I have one that I bought at a club sale for half a crown. That gives you some idea of when that was.

Martin

Or "half a dollar" as it was known back in 'dem days when there were 4 dollars to the pound

Nigel Graham 215/09/2020 21:28:57
2287 forum posts
33 photos

The Crown (Five shillings) was called a "dollar"? Was it? I never heard that name -was it was something regional?

Andrew Tinsley15/09/2020 22:12:05
1614 forum posts

A "dollar" was definite 5 bob! Most people of my age used the term, definitely not a local or regional thing. I still use the term for 25p!

Andrew

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