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Engineer's Blue

An alternative?

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Clive Barker01/05/2011 13:26:23
46 forum posts
29 photos
I have been reading notes on another thread about 'engineer's blue' and 'layout blue'. I am not able to source either where I live (and overeas post is not reliable).
In that thread alternatives were suggested to proprietory brands of 'layout blue' which I will try, but does anyone have a good alternative for 'engineer's blue'. Out of desperation I have been using thin enamel paint, but it isn't really satisfactory.
Any advice would be welcome.
Peter G. Shaw01/05/2011 13:31:49
1190 forum posts
44 photos
I think it was Tubal Cain who once suggested whitewash or presumably a thin white emulsion paint for castings.
Other ideas are some sort of copper (sulphate?) solution which leaves a thin covering of copper on the metal.
Peter G. Shaw
Clive Barker01/05/2011 13:37:06
46 forum posts
29 photos
Thanks Peter for your quick response.
I think I misled you by referring to both layout blue and engineer's blue in my intorduction. What I am really referring to here is the latter ie 'Engineer's Blue'- to help me in the final stages of fitting of two components to show clearly the high spots.
Ramon Wilson01/05/2011 14:11:41
834 forum posts
129 photos
Hi Clive
I don't know of an alternative as such but when I discussed hand scraping with my friend John some time back for another post on here he showed me a tip for the very final 'touching up'. For this he used a wet layer of ordinary methylated spirit which he allowed to flash off on the surface. This left a barely perceptible coating which showed the high spots extremely well.
It's just a thought but perhaps you could increase the colour in some meth slightly - contents from a felt pen maybe? and try that.
Or another, though I hasten to add untried possibility, would be to get some 'blue' artists pigment and mix to a thick paste with some oil - indeed what about trying artists oil paint.
Whatever hopes that helps some and if it works let us know how well.
Regards - Ramon

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 01/05/2011 14:12:44

Gordon W01/05/2011 14:12:47
2011 forum posts
In the absence of eng. blue, for testing fits, any semi-solid coloured greasy stuff should work. Would recommend lipstick, can you get it where you are without raising eyebrows? Just draw 3 or 4 lines .
John Stevenson01/05/2011 14:25:28
5068 forum posts
3 photos
Break an old printer cartridge open, after all engineers blue is actually a printing ink.
Used to be made by an old customer of mine Coates Lorilleux, before Sun Chemicals bought them out and they buggered off abroad.
John S
Ian S C01/05/2011 15:24:50
7468 forum posts
230 photos
Engineers blue, lip stick, it does'nt have to be blue.
Lay out blue, felt tip pen. Copper sulphate solution will give a light coppery film on the metal, not much use on brass of course. Stick to a broad tip felt pen. Ian S C
Donald Wittmann01/05/2011 16:36:02
40 forum posts
Like IanSC says, you can use a felt marker pen just make sure it's a permanent type.
The best type for marking out metals is EDDINGS, although a Sharpie Magnum is a good alternative. Blue or Black does me on bright steels and Copper beryllium, I think Red would be good on Brass.
Clive Barker01/05/2011 17:53:24
46 forum posts
29 photos
Thanks to all of you, tho' my original question was related not to marking out, but testing fits hence the differentiation between Layout Blue and Engineer's Blue. As Ramon suggested in the past I have tried artist oil paints (Ultramarine I seem to remember) but it didn't show as well as the real stuff. I found that to get the layer thin enough to test for a close fit, the contrast on steel or cast iron was certainly lacking. I didn't try another colour supecting that it was the lack of density of colour that was the issue.
I thought your idea of lipstick was brilliant, Gordon. Yes, it is easily available bere, but I would be seen a mile from the shop - best to use my wife's, when she is not looking!
Thanks to others for your suggestions for marking out.
Ramon Wilson01/05/2011 19:00:05
834 forum posts
129 photos
Hi Clive,
regarding the oil paint - in case you aren't aware this can be thickened considerably to a grease like state by laying a good splodge of it on a piece of thick card. Left for a few hours the card will absorb the oil especially if it's the grey rough finished type card and leave the paint very stodgy indeed. That may improve matters.
Lipstick is a new one on me too but with plenty of the real thing (blue) at hand I'll give it a miss for now
Regards - Ramon
Colin Jacobs 101/05/2011 19:22:38
69 forum posts
2 photos
I use Tipex.
Pat01/05/2011 20:18:43
94 forum posts
1 photos
The problem with artists oil color is the viscosity is too high for use as fitters / micrometer blue.  Thin with turps or  paraffin to get the desired mix.  I keep a tube of prussian blue to hand as it does not migrate everywhere unlike the stuff sold in tool shops.   As far as I can remember prussian blue is favored as it is less chemically reactive than some of the other artists pigments.
As for marking out there are any number of alternatives to the traditional marking out blue and each has their own advantages and problems. Spirit based felt pen is good and enables notes to be made on the part as well! If the part is iron or steel then copper sulfate is good - gives a very thin copper coating through which the marking out scratches show clearly. Add artists prussian blue oil color to knot stopping ( a shellack and methylated spirit preparation sold the world over to stop wood knots bleeding through paint work. This mix is similar to marking out blue and it smells nice! Artists oil colors make good micrometer fitting blue and other colors are available and it comes in nice small tubes as well. Soot from a candle also works well.
Hope this helps - Regards - Pat

Edited By Pat on 01/05/2011 20:24:01

Mark P.01/05/2011 21:03:48
616 forum posts
8 photos
Hi all, for layout dye I've been using felt tip pens,dismantled and the contents put into meths.Felt tips from my local Wilco stores at 90p for 4,much cheaper than commercial dye and many pretty colours.
Regards Pailo.
Chris Trice01/05/2011 21:32:57
1362 forum posts
9 photos
I use a permanent marker pen. Perfect for testing the fit of tapers.
Nobby01/05/2011 22:59:46
587 forum posts
113 photos
Hi All
I use black felt tip pen as well thinned with meths same as Pailo for laying out
Engineers Blue ? I prefer high spot blue ideal for shutting out tools and checking fits etc.
my Son was an RAF fitter & uses a permanent marker Same as Chris
Regards Nobby
Clive Barker02/05/2011 17:50:39
46 forum posts
29 photos
Thanks all for your helpful suggestions. Was going to try to send you personal messages via the messaging option but it seemed too complicated.
peter amor24/05/2012 14:46:22
1 forum posts

Stuarts Engineering Micrometer Marking Blue Ebay £3-05 46 years as a fitter and always used it for fitting taper keys ect Have fun Pete

Clive Hartland24/05/2012 15:12:05
2612 forum posts
40 photos

Clive to Clive, If its any help then gunsmiths use lamp black, a sooty flame held near the surface to be checked and it is easy to see where interferance starts.


Mike24/05/2012 15:45:53
713 forum posts
6 photos

Dammit, Clive, you beat me to it! The sooty candle flame from an over-long wick works pretty much the same.

Edited By Mike on 24/05/2012 15:46:34

Ian Fowkes24/05/2012 16:16:55
31 forum posts
1 photos

Someone briefly mentioned printing ink which strikes me as being an ideal engineers blue substitute, the thick gooey stuff as used in litho and other traditional print processes is oil based, will adhere to dry metal and will transfer easily on contact to another surface (that's what it does in it's intended use!) and should easily be available in Pakistan - perhaps you can scrounge the tiny amount you need from a friendly local printer - even an "empty" tin will probably yield enough. And it's available in any colour, even blue.


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