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marking / layout blue

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David Lawrence 221/07/2012 14:14:31
16 forum posts

does anybody use marking / layout blue any more to coat metal to show up scrib marks. trying to buy some but it looks like a hard job. want to coat some clock wheels to show up scrib marks etc. does everybody use a newer marker pen these days. been out of the scene for some years and lost touch with things a bit, as for the price of brass these days !!! thanks for your time, David

GaryM22/07/2012 09:23:27
314 forum posts
44 photos

Hi David,

Like this:-


At that price I'll stick to a marker pen. It would probably outlast me.


Mark P.22/07/2012 09:38:05
617 forum posts
8 photos

Hello David,I use marker pens.I pull half a dozen of them apart and soak the inner bits in meths in a bottle and voila lay out dye for pennies.

Regards Pailo.

Mike p22/07/2012 09:42:53
27 forum posts

Hi David, Try the price I have in the 2009 catalogue is £2.75p for 50ml plus p&p hope this helps.


Mike p

Russell Eberhardt22/07/2012 09:50:40
2605 forum posts
85 photos

I've given up on layout blue. Unless it is used up quickly it gets thick, clogs up the brush and glues the lid to the bottle. For me marker pens are much better especially for fine work such clock wheels. they show up fine lines really well.


NJH22/07/2012 09:54:35
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Hi David

My personal choice is:- LINK

Lasts for ages - goes just where you want it and stays off your fingers! Would be fine for the clock wheels.



Clive Hartland22/07/2012 10:01:46
2630 forum posts
40 photos

Reeves2000 sell it at £4.70 or so. Postage will add about another £3.00.

marker pens sound best.


JasonB22/07/2012 10:33:35
19511 forum posts
2131 photos
1 articles

I would not call it a hard to find item, just about all the ME suppliers do it.




G&S supplies



M J Engineering




Folkstone Eng

I'm sure one must be near you if not they all do mail order.

I don't find marker stays on so well when using cutting fluid or parafin but thats not really an issue if you are working on brass.


Springbok22/07/2012 15:11:52
879 forum posts
34 photos

Hi JasonB

I am sure you could say and uncle tom cobbly and all. Yes use the proper stuff my little bottle I purchased from Reeves about 10 years ago is still going strong after 4 loco's

Would not use a marker of any description. Come to our Thornbury exhibition then you can purchase the propper stuff.



_Paul_22/07/2012 16:54:39
543 forum posts
31 photos

In my experience the downside of using marker pen is I find the fact it will mark the paint on your machine.

Cutting oil certainly does wash it off, WD40 does this faster than Sulphur based and once washed off it finds it way onto the machines paintwork and stays there.



Bill Dawes23/07/2012 09:44:00
384 forum posts

When I did my apprenticeship we certainly used blue for important machined items where blue was essential (eg scaping in white metal bearings) but for 'rougher stuff' white paint was used (emulsion type of course)

This is what I have used for marking out say hole centres on pieces of plate.

Not suitable for all occasions of course.

Bill D.

David Lawrence 225/07/2012 09:03:15
16 forum posts

Thanks for all your help on this subject, nice to know there is some help out there. David

Geoff Stevenson01/08/2013 02:36:28
31 forum posts
4 photos

Marker pens are not even worth thinking about. As for the copper sulphate idea.. Here in Aus, model engineer suppliers are not too good with minor workshop requirements. You are lucky in the UK that the interest is so well catered for. Full on engineering suppliers here want to sell the stuff by the gallon. As if I'm going to live that long.. haha I've found that an artists powdered pigment called methylene blue is nicely soluble in methylated spirits and does the job as well as any commercial product. Best Wishes from downunder.

FMES01/08/2013 09:56:50
606 forum posts
2 photos

Hi David,

I bought a small tin of Stuarts Micrometer Blue years ago and its still lasting, a little goes an awful long way so to speak



Billy Mills01/08/2013 10:47:39
377 forum posts

Never had a problem using marker pens- much easier to get hold of but I do like the smell of the 'blue. As MH says scribed lines can be made more visible by infilling, a quick rub of a line with the finger puts enough grime in the line to make it much easier to see.

As I ( like JS) have a laser to hand, there is a simple method of putting very complex layouts or even images onto a metal surface. You simply put a very thin resist layer on the surface ( spray paint, some marker pens, tape film or what-have-you) then vector mark or raster engrave your design into the surface. (You MUST use the lowest power level to avoid too much reflected power) . The laser removes the coating in the exposed area revealing the metal below.

This is a very reliable method of marking 1 or a thousand identical patterns which can then be used for further machining or etching. It is a quick and easy way of producing identical PCB's at very low cost.


Ian S C01/08/2013 13:44:50
7468 forum posts
230 photos

I think one or two of you are confusing bearing blue, and marking out blue, two completely different things. Ian S C

Robbo01/08/2013 14:12:47
1504 forum posts
142 photos


What you are talking about is not layout/marking blue, but engineers blue, used when fitting parts together, scraping surfaces to fit etc. to detect mating/non-mating surfaces.

I last bought layout blue from here **LINK** small quantities available.


Tomfilery01/08/2013 14:18:33
127 forum posts
4 photos


I find that layout blue and marker pen both come off on your fingers when the piece you are working on is subject to a lot of handling. I often fret out things like axleguards for 16mm scale rolling stock and you end up with most of the blue on your hands, rather than the metal.

As a result of previous posts on this site, I bought some copper sulphate (to use for marking out), however, all it seems to do is deposit a very thin layer of copper on the metal (I was using mild steel) which is easily wiped off with your finger. However, what did seem to work well was dipping the steel in used Citric Acid "pickle", which deposited a thin and reasonably long-lasting coating of copper on the steel. That is the way I shall go in the future - unless anyone else has any better ideas?

Regards Tom

FMES01/08/2013 16:55:20
606 forum posts
2 photos

I thought David wanted it for checking gear mesh etc. it also works quite well as a marking agent if you mix a little with some meths or other rapidly evaporating substance.

I.M. OUTAHERE01/08/2013 17:00:50
1468 forum posts
3 photos

Hi all,

I use both a marker pen and Dykem/Dymark it just depends on the size and how complex the job is .

For simple stuff where for instance I may only wish to drill 2 or 3 holes I use a marker pen as it is quick ,easy and can be kept in your pocket.

For more complex or larger work the dye wins hands down and any Engineers supply company should either have it or can order it for you.

Used to use copper sulphate to inspect Chrome plated rollers years ago as it won't plate over Chrome and you can see where the roller had worn through to the steel, I'm sure we used to add some acid to the solution to help it etch to the steel. Not nice stuff to play with though and only works on ferrous metals .

I agree that here in Australia the suppliers want to sell by the litre as that was all I could get without a special order, some model engineering suppliers have smaller lots but they can't post it as it is flammable.

The litre bottle has no brush so I purchased some swabs on EBay, this allowed me to decant some dye into a small jar like a medicine jar and keep the rest sealed up and the swabs work well.

Bearing blue (Engineers Blue ) is also good for smearing on Black Toilet seats !

Fun for the whole factory!


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