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Discussion Starter #1
Maybe this question belongs in the lounge but I thought you engine guys would deal with this more than anyone.

I can get a venier caliper out of my woodworking catalog that has a range of 0-6” and is marked to 0.001”, for about $20. Alternatively, I have seen micrometers at Sears (with range of 0-2”) with the same accuracy for +$50-$70. Is there an advantage to getting the micrometer? Any disadvantage of getting the much cheaper caliper? Is a dial caliper more convenient to read? I need a tool to measure the valve shims and cam lobes on my other car, maybe later on the goat if I ever get to the stage that I want to do more than bolt-ons.

edit: range of tool from 1-6" to 0-6"
 

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Kanding said:
Maybe this question belongs in the lounge but I thought you engine guys would deal with this more than anyone.

I can get a venier caliper out of my woodworking catalog that has a range of 0-6” and is marked to 0.001”, for about $20. Alternatively, I have seen micrometers at Sears (with range of 0-2”) with the same accuracy for +$50-$70. Is there an advantage to getting the micrometer? Any disadvantage of getting the much cheaper caliper? Is a dial caliper more convenient to read? I need a tool to measure the valve shims and cam lobes on my other car, maybe later on the goat if I ever get to the stage that I want to do more than bolt-ons.

edit: range of tool from 1-6" to 0-6"
The only advice I can give you after some research on calipers/micrometers is that it's recommended to get one down to .0001 accuracy. The Helms manual and alldatadiy.com list LS1 measurements down to the .000x level. I would be very leary using a woodworking caliper for for precise engine tolerances....... just my opinion. Others with more experience may chime in with a different opinion. E-Bay btw. has "tons" of micrometers that go down to the .0001 level.
 

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Vernier calipers are old-school and hardly ever found in modern shops today. Dial calipers, which have replaced verniers for the most part, measure to thousandths and are decent for some rough precision work but when it comes to exact measurements and fine tolerances (down to ten thousandths and even smaller in some cases) micrometers are the way to go.

I've been slowly replacing my machinist tools (after having sold them awhile ago after I left the field) and have been finding some good deals on eBay. Avoid Sears brand or no-name precision measuring tools. The 2 best American makes for these kinds of tools are Starrett and Brown & Sharpe. Central Tools is more like a budget line of precision tools but they're ok for a backyard mechanic. Mitutoyo, a Jap brand, is probably the best foreign maker of these tools. You should be able to assemble, looking on eBay, a quality basic 3-piece set of 0-1, 1-2 and 2-3 inch outside mics for under $50 or so and it's money well spent. Once you start getting more involved with precision work you can get larger mics, inside mics, depth mics, bore guages, etc. as time and money permits. Unlike most other "normal" hand tools, there's nothing wrong with purchasing used precision instruments as the craftsmen and machinists who use them tend to be skilled and aware of proper care and calibration of these things. Most can be recalibrated fairly easily if need be.

A tip- if you choose to get micrometers be sure to get those that measure down to tenths. Some do and some don't and the ability to measure to tenths is very important in some areas of engine work (bearing clearances, etc.).

Metrology is a fascinating subject and something all real gearheads should be interested in and familiar with.

For more info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrometer

http://www.starrett.com/

http://www.brownandsharpe.com/
 

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Mitutoyo is the industry standard and accepted as the finest measuring tools availible.

For generic measuring to .001 a Digital mitutoyo "dial" calipers will be perfect at $70

http://www.mitutoyo.com/TerminalMerchandisingGroup.aspx?group=1381

To measure to .0001", a set of mitutoyo mic's will run you $400 - $600 new/slightly used on ebay in 0-6" range.

http://www.mitutoyo.com/TerminalMerchandisingGroup.aspx?group=1570

These are what I use:

http://www.mitutoyo.com/TerminalMerchandisingGroup.aspx?group=1089
 

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much greater accuracy with micrometers over calipers. dial calipers are ok but if you need really close tolerances i wouldnt trust them for that, When i worked in a machine shop the important measurements were done with "mics" not calipers.

Diceman
 

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machinistone said:
Mitutoyo is the industry standard and accepted as the finest measuring tools availible.
Uh, Mitutoyo is good stuff but hardly the "standard" or the "finest available" lol. Starrett is generally regarded as the ultimate in metrology tools.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

Micrometer definitely seems the way to go.

I generally like to buy high quality tools but you have to weigh that against how often you plan to use it. At least in woodworking, something which I have more experience with, the cheaper tool often ends up causing me frustration and more money in the long run when having to replace it.

I'll probably try the route that db suggested and get a used micrometer set of one of the brands you guys recommended. I guess the same recommendation applies to a run-out gauge?

I don't mean to clutter up the engine tech section with off-topics, but just to mention to a few who replied:

db--My wife and I are from around the Detroit area originally and we have a lot of good memories there. I'd love to take the goat on the Woodward Dream Cruise someday.

diceman -- I was down to the coast just a couple of months ago for business and I was amazed that, besides the debris clean up and road repair, nothing seemed to be any better (in terms of building repair) from over a year ago after Katrina hit. Do you know why this is? Insurance co. delays? Lack of construction personnel manpower?
 

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-db- said:
Uh, Mitutoyo is good stuff but hardly the "standard" or the "finest available" lol. Starrett is generally regarded as the ultimate in metrology tools.
mitutoyo is better than starrett IMO.

i have all the fancy bore gauges, calipers and mics. for building engines sitting in its own locked tool box in my dads shop so no one grabs them.

. joe blow dont need all that high $$$, my every day calipers for bolts, shafts, and everything else you come across daily were $22 and they are LED display.


valve shims and cam lobes you can use a caliper and be just fine.
 

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Jbss71 said:
mitutoyo is better than starrett IMO.
At least you qualified your statement with the "IMO". The fact is Starrett practically invented or perfected most metrology tools back before Mitutoyo ever existed. I'm not going to bother arguing about who makes the best SPC-capable stuff or what may be popular in California or the South but I've worked in enough machine shops here in the Detroit area to know that when someone pops in trying to sell Mitutoyo stuff it hardly gets any attention while guys clamor and fight over trying to buy used Starrett and B&S stuff. In the shops I worked at Mitutoyo tools were pretty much regarded as beginners or newbie tools while all the old-timer pro machinists who could afford the best had Kennedys filled with Starrett and Brown & Sharpe. Just an observation. Nothing wrong with Mitutoyo but I'd never say they were the best.

Lots of people who don't know better actually believe Toyota makes the best cars, too, so go figure lol... :)
 

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-db- said:
Lots of people who don't know better actually believe Toyota makes the best cars, too, so go figure lol... :)
i used to work for TRD :ftw:

its one of those things alot of the newer guys( last 10 years ) dont swear by Starrett or B&S . i for one dont really care unless its not been certed.
 

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I have a set of 8" digital Mitutoyo's in my toolbox at work. Starett and Brown & Sharpe are the top shelf tho. I think thats pretty hands down. But I have a manufacturing degree and program/setup turning centers all day and mitu's get me by just fine. They ran me like 150 thru a MSC sale. Its a nice tool overall but its just like everything else-its how you treat it.
 
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