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Machinist level

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Swarf, Mostly!17/03/2022 14:00:34
676 forum posts
78 photos
Posted by Nicholas Farr on 17/03/2022 11:10:49:

Hi Swarf, Mostly!, maybe this is the thread you were thinking of; Engineers Level

Regards Nick.

Hi there, Nick,

Yes, that's the one.

Best regards,

Swarf, Mostly!

Nicholas Farr17/03/2022 15:09:20
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3413 forum posts
1586 photos

Hi Dave, as JasonB says, the surface doesn't need to be dead horizontal, just as reasonable flat as possible for the type of level you wish to adjust. From JasonB's first link and under the heading of useful information > useful articles, you can find How to calibrate engineers level

Regards Nick.

Steviegtr17/03/2022 17:02:32
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2456 forum posts
339 photos

I have not had time today , but tomorrow i will have a look using the various links that you all have posted. Needs to be at least 100mm long to fit within the sight slot. The Dia is 16mm, so i suspect 14 to 15mm to allow for the card backing. Thanks for all the input as usual.

Steve.

SillyOldDuffer17/03/2022 17:12:01
Moderator
8857 forum posts
1994 photos
Posted by Nicholas Farr on 17/03/2022 15:09:20:

Hi Dave, as JasonB says, the surface doesn't need to be dead horizontal, just as reasonable flat as possible for the type of level you wish to adjust. From JasonB's first link and under the heading of useful information > useful articles, you can find How to calibrate engineers level

Regards Nick.

I've been misunderstood again! I'm describing how to meet the requirement for 'as reasonably flat as possible for the type of level you wish to adjust'. Nick's 'How to calibrate engineers' link is in line with what I'm trying to say : 'In order to calibrate an engineer’s level, an adjustable flat surface that is mechanically stable is required. It does not need to be perfectly level to start with, but must be within the range of the level you are calibrating.'

Fitting a new sensitive vial is rather different from tweaking the adjusters on a decent level where the reference flat is horizontal enough such that reversing keeps the bubble near centre. As a new vial could be a long way off when first inserted, not 'decent', I suggest it's much easier to initially align a sensitive bubble when the level's body is known to be horizontally accurate. Which can be achieved by finding the horizontal line on a plate that's not itself horizontal. However the plate is tilted, the horizontal line will be close to perfect.

Using a sensitive machinist's level is frustrating because the bubble takes an age to settle, the slightest movement shifts it, and a tiny tilt will move the bubble off the scale. Setting a vial up from scratch is worse than using the level, and trying to set a vial on an inadequately horizontal or bendy surface makes the job harder than it need be. It's to the fitter's advantage to put a tight tolerance on his 'as reasonably flat as possible' surface. And whatever he perceives 'reasonably flat' to be, his horizontal must be within the sensitivity of the vial.

Ordinary spirit-levels aren't sensitive enough to need a careful horizontal but the bubble on my Engineering Level moves 2.5mm on a slope of only 0.02mm per metre. My Wixey and builder levels all quickly agree the surfaces in my workshop are horizontal. My Engineer's Level shows they're all dreadful optimists, and also that my 'stiff' worktops bend surprisingly easily! Not much, but deflections of a fraction of a millimetre aren't difficult to detect with a sensitive level.

Not a fan of sensitive Engineering Levels unless absolutely essential because using them is so slow, finicky, and frustrating.

Dave

ian j17/03/2022 17:23:17
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309 forum posts
336 photos

Steve.

If you search for Starrett levels I'm sure you will find a suitable replacement, I did. It was not stocked in the UK but my local Starrett agent (Lawton Eng. supplies ) ordered me one from the US. I think starrett have a minimum order of £50 so Lawton's waited until they were placing an order of other parts. If I remember correctly it was around the £14 mark, took about four weeks to arrive..

Ian

Steviegtr17/03/2022 17:25:24
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2456 forum posts
339 photos
Posted by JasonB on 17/03/2022 07:01:55:

Steve, this restore mentions a 15 x 96 vial, link is dead but its the top of this list, similar price to Zoro assuming vat included

Jason , that's the one. yes

Steve.

Steviegtr17/03/2022 17:29:47
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2456 forum posts
339 photos
Posted by ian j on 17/03/2022 17:23:17:

Steve.

If you search for Starrett levels I'm sure you will find a suitable replacement, I did. It was not stocked in the UK but my local Starrett agent (Lawton Eng. supplies ) ordered me one from the US. I think starrett have a minimum order of £50 so Lawton's waited until they were placing an order of other parts. If I remember correctly it was around the £14 mark, took about four weeks to arrive..

Ian

Will have a look as the one i have seen is over £40 .

Steve.

Andrew Tinsley17/03/2022 18:04:57
1611 forum posts

I have replaced a vial in a M&W engineers level and have used it a few times in anger, not the easiest thing to use I have to admit.

Then one day I had the proverbial light bulb moment. A few years ago, I was given an artillery clinometer as a birthday present, members of my family know that I value such offbeat things! This one was a MkV from 1943 , complete with leather case. Like Clive,I realised that this could be used as a level. I find it easier to use and just as accurate as my M&W level,

Andrew.

P.S. Similar artillery clinometers don't seem to be very expensive.

Steviegtr17/03/2022 18:23:47
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2456 forum posts
339 photos

Well the cheapest so far is the Starrett one from the USA. Works out at £21.95 inc del. Possible import duty , from Amazon. Waiting for other half to get home as she has Amazon prime. Might seem tight but it came from a friends estate with so much more gear. I just thought i would renovate it. Cannot ever see me using it either. It's a lovely thing , but i have nothing that requires such accuracy.

Steve.

Howard Lewis19/03/2022 15:06:32
6295 forum posts
15 photos

Years ago, before the business changed hands, College Engineering Supplies used to offer vials in three different sensitivities, for their Engineer#s level kit..

Don't know if they still do.

Might be worth exploring?

Howard

Steviegtr19/03/2022 15:59:25
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2456 forum posts
339 photos

Just looked at College eng sup. They don't list anything. It's now in a bag in a dark corner for now.

I will keep looking. But everything I have found so far is north of £40. For something i may never use.

Steve.

peak419/03/2022 23:31:36
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1773 forum posts
193 photos

Steve, see issue 33 of MEW, P27 et seq. "Playing With Spirits", where Bill Morris describes making your own vials.

I'll not reproduce it here for the obvious copyright reasons.

Bill

Grindstone Cowboy20/03/2022 00:18:51
892 forum posts
64 photos

I would have thought this one from Level Developments would be more than accurate enough, and only half the price you quoted.

Rob

Links to https://www.leveldevelopments.com/products/vials/ground-vials/5725-101-ground-vial-15x96mm-sensitivity-0-05mm-m/

Steviegtr20/03/2022 01:00:32
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2456 forum posts
339 photos
Posted by Grindstone Cowboy on 20/03/2022 00:18:51:

I would have thought this one from Level Developments would be more than accurate enough, and only half the price you quoted.

Rob

Links to https://www.leveldevelopments.com/products/vials/ground-vials/5725-101-ground-vial-15x96mm-sensitivity-0-05mm-m/

Well i bit the bullet & have just ordered it from them. What they do not put is the VAT when showing a total. So the vial was £20. The postage was £8.50 (the cheapest they do.) Then VAT at £5.80. Total £34.82.

Oh well at least it will make a video for youtube . If i don't mess it up. Of course i will have a 18" Rabone machinists level for £34.82. So maybe a win. Thanks for the kick up the butt. I had put it to the back of my mind. Thanks.

Steve.

SillyOldDuffer20/03/2022 09:36:09
Moderator
8857 forum posts
1994 photos
Posted by Steviegtr on 20/03/2022 01:00:32:
Posted by Grindstone Cowboy on 20/03/2022 00:18:51:

I would have thought this one from Level Developments would be more than accurate enough, and only half the price you quoted.

Rob

Links to https://www.leveldevelopments.com/products/vials/ground-vials/5725-101-ground-vial-15x96mm-sensitivity-0-05mm-m/

Well i bit the bullet & have just ordered it ...

Oh well at least it will make a video for youtube ...

Steve.

Dare I suggest a quick post on the forum before making a video?

Not against videoing the attempted repair, but with some help from the forum it's an opportunity to show:

  • How helpful, or not, it is to find the horizontal line as an aid to re-assembly
  • the advantages and disadvantages of a high-sensitivity bubble in action
  • how a machinist's level is used to get a lathe to cut parallel
  • Other members might suggest more

So far as aligning lathes goes, I have an idea a 0.05mm vial might be just right for the job. I feel my 0.02mm Engineer's Level is inconveniently sensitive, and believe about half that would be more suitable. But I can't test the hypothesis without buying another Machinist's Level, and owning one is more than enough! You could report how yours performs.

Dave

Steviegtr20/03/2022 15:35:33
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2456 forum posts
339 photos

SOD. Dave I can do that but not sure how much i know about levels. I have used them all my working life , but nothing as a accurate machinist type.

I need to get some plaster of Paris now.

I will report back.

Steve.

Howard Lewis21/03/2022 16:07:09
6295 forum posts
15 photos

Possibly, having installed the vial, while the plaster of paris is still moist, to rotate the vial until the bubble moves as close as possible to the centre (highest position. )

Once the plaster has set, the end to end location can be adjusted by rotating the level by 180 degrees and adjusting until it gives the same reading which ever direction it is facing.

As long as it shows the same "out of level" in both directions, it will not matter too much if the "datum" surface is not absolutely level.

Howard

Steviegtr21/03/2022 18:03:45
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2456 forum posts
339 photos

I am suspicious as to why the vials break so easy. Is it bad storage. Is it because it's glass . Is it because it's glass & pressing against a steel body apart from the back of it.

If the latter. Then would the whole vial benefit from being wrapped all the way round & then trimmed carefully where the opening is. The hole in the steel /Brass tube is a little over 16mm. The Vial is 15mm. So 1/2mm wiggle room all round.

Just had a mail from UPS. It will be delivered tomorrow. But still need to get some Plaster of Paris.

Steve.

Michael Gilligan21/03/2022 18:13:10
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20289 forum posts
1064 photos

I can’t recall the recipe at the moment, but I’m sure something is mixed with the Plaster of Paris to make it a little more resilient.

MichaelG

Michael Gilligan21/03/2022 19:47:15
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20289 forum posts
1064 photos

enlightened Almost sure that 50:50 Plaster and White Flour is recommended

MichaelG.

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