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Best Dial Test Indictor for the Money

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mksj

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#31
I have two Compacs and an Interapid. Two were purchased as NOS (new Old Stock) and one as used but in great condition, all where about 1/2 the price of new ones. They all work great. A few things to also consider is the the range and reversibility of the indicators. If I recall some of the older ones had a reversing lever, many are limited to +/- one revolution which can be a challenge when dealing with the higher resolution models. The extended range is a great help when you are trying to get your work dialed in and the TIR is fairly wide to start with. With the Compac and Alina, you use to be able to pick them up on Fleabay for a lot less, but not so these days since they are now associated with Interpid. The newer Interapid, Compac and Brown & Sharpe I believe are the same, and just cross branded.

You sometimes get lucky with buying used ones, but most of the time they have been abused which is often seen as the pointer neutral position has been knocked out of alignment. Alternatively when I have purchased a Chinese knockoff measuring tool, it has either broken and/or it does not work smoothly. After a few earlier experiences, I avoid any tooling from China when possible. I just had this problem with two Shar'sR8 collets that I use for my metric center finders and had some repeat measurement issues, both where out almost 0.001". I have a set of English Lyndex R8 collets, and the concentricity is 0.0002". The challenge was then to try to get two close tolerance replacement metric collets. Ended up purchasing two UK Crawford collets. Unfortunately they are no longer produced, so when they are gone I guess that just leaves Lyndex.

I have been looking for a 0.0001" test indicator model for some time, the newer Interpid's have gotten very pricey, even the NOS and lost a few bids. The Compac 214 and 215 models at 20% off through Long Island Indicator are pretty sweet and a lot less than the Interapid equivalent models. So I recently picked up a Compac 215GA from them that I needed to setup some of my centering indicators.

Compac test indicator with a long contact point that I use on the lathe to center stock in the spider. Love this one because of the wide range, it was perfect for this application. Interpid test indicator and Starrett dial indicator setup for my QCTP.
Spider Indicator 3.jpg 20161218_124502.jpg
 

Doubleeboy

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#32
If you are flush with cash, MSC has had pretty good prices on 312-b from Interapid. I have more than enough Swiss and german indicators to last a few lifetimes. That said if my 312 broke today, i would order a new one and send the broken one into L I Indicator for repair. I have had two major mishaps with Interapid in last 12 to 15 years, survived both, still dead nuts accurate. My Chinese clone lasted less than 2 months when I first bought it, I never dropped it, or abused it. At a bit under $200 the Interapid 312 is a good investment. Mine has fallen out of sippery arthritic hands twice, hit mill, bounced to concrete floor, pick it up and go back to work. An acquaintance of mine likes to fiddle with test indicators, clean em and fix. I asked him about Interapid, he said he has never opened one up, never had a broken one, but finds lots of broken Starrett and Mitutoyos to work on, based on his thoughts I bought my Interapid, it has been a great piece. On a .0005" reading 312 I can easily dial in to less than 2 tenths and with patience and magnifier visor hit 1 tenth, that in combination with its ergonomic design and near indestructible build quality I am hooked. If MSC does not curently have good prices on them Penn Tool usually does.
 

EmilioG

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#33
Curious, why two indicators on the lathe at the same time? Nice indicators, though I am partial to Interapids. Would like to get a new 312 Bv .0005" Interapid.
Makes it easier to indicate bores w/o a mirror. I recently bought a mint condition Interapid .0001" DTI to check TIR. Great instrument. When buying used, I always look for wear on the stem, dovetails and overall condition.
 

mksj

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#34
Curious, why two indicators on the lathe at the same time?
It is a clamping fixture that attaches to my QCTP so it/indicators stays in the same plane of the axis being measured. The attaching fixture block also has two set screws to hold a Noga type arm, the picture shows both as an example but I use one or the other for measurement. The test indicator on the arm is used for hard to reach places that need a narrow probe and also for indicating inside measurements, otherwise the Starett dial indicator is easier for me to see, and the range is 0.200" with a dial resolution of 0.0001". When setting up stock in my 4J, it is much easier to use, but there are times where I either have very short stock in the chuck or checking inside tolerances where I will use the test indicator.
 

EmilioG

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#35
This is an old thread, but I had to point out something that the OP wrote;
Mksj: "You sometimes get lucky with buying used ones, but most of the time they have been abused which is often seen as the pointer neutral position has been knocked out of alignment."

I wrote to Rene Meyer at LISS, a Swiss gage expert. Has repaired 100's, or more, Compac DTI's. I asked about this, and he told me that the pointer hand, if not in the original clock position, that this does not mean that their is anything wrong.
"If it repeats correctly then there is no need to worry about the position of the hand." Rene Meyer

I was concerned about this when shopping for used Compacs and other DTI's. Buying used can be a gamble, so I try never to buy used or used at a high price. Repairs cost $130! That $120 Ebay DTI can turn into a $250 or more depressive state. The cost of a new gage!
 

mikey

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#36
I was concerned about this when shopping for used Compacs and other DTI's. Buying used can be a gamble, so I try never to buy used or used at a high price. Repairs cost $130! That $120 Ebay DTI can turn into a $250 or more depressive state. The cost of a new gage!
All true, but sometimes you need to take the risk to get what you want. I own two Compac 523LA/0.0005"/0-1" dial indicators that haven't been made for over 25 years but they are the finest DI's I know of. The only way to get one is to buy it used, so I did. One came sticky and needed to be cleaned and serviced. The other, which I have owned for over 20 years, fell onto the concrete shop floor and the needle tip cracked off. Both were repaired by MR Tools. In the past, I have always used LIIS but wanted to try Mark to see how he did. He did a good job but it took over a month to get them back to me; I think he spent time finding a now very rare Compac indicator needle.

I'm okay with spending a bit more to get what I want, even if it means having them cleaned and serviced. Both my indicators cost $50.00 on ebay. I lucked out finding the first one quickly but waited over 10 years to find the second one. If you happen upon a Compac 523LA, grab it.

Edit: There is a 523LA on ebay now but it is pretty old and beat up. Even though this is the first one I've seen in a very long time, I would not go for this one but at least you'll know what it looks like: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Compac-Gen...569424?hash=item3af7725910:g:TJsAAOSwZqZaC3gM
 
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Bob Korves

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#37
We recently sent a group collaboration lot of about a dozen indicators to MR Tool Repair and specifically told Mark we were not in a hurry. It was several months before they were completed. Mark asked us a couple times if we needed them sooner, and we declined. I think the issue is Mark's success. He is still working his day job, and works on tools evenings and weekends. Mark has received a lot of reviews calling out his excellent work, even on some tools that parts are no longer available for. I always get more than I expect from Mark and his prices are more than fair. If you are in any hurry for your tools to be finished soon or right away, talk to Mark about that before sending them to him. Mark seems totally honest and is a nice guy, he is just a bit buried in the success he has earned. IMO. I will continue to use Mark, happily. By the way, Mark works on all kinds of tools, not just indicators and other precision measuring tools. Ask Mark about anything else you want to get repaired.
(another testimonial to get Mark buried deeper yet...) ;)
 

Downwindtracker2

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#38
I have four button back #196 Starretts , I had to buy a couple of new sets for work. Before lasers, we aligned pumps with them, I'm quite used to using them. I find them handy and available on CL for $25. They are sturdy ! Thanks to the article I picked up a Tesatast .0005, a Interapid , but I've been afraid to use it. chuckle. Instead I use a Chinese one that was a throw in with some mill/drill tooling. It seems to work fine for aligning the vise. Around here the very common Japanese made Tedclock was the industrial standard. I have a Chinese clone picked up on sale at Princess Auto, kind of a Harbor Freightish sort of place. I've had it for quite a while, again with no complaints. And again a Mitutoyo sits in it's box. I guess at the estate sale some one is going to get some fine dial indicators.
 

EmilioG

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#39
I'm sure MR Tool does good work, but for a precision Swiss indicator, I'd rather go with Long Island Indicator. LIIS does authorized repairs for TESA, Compac and others, and if your gage is still under warranty, Mark is not authorized to do this. Same with Starrett still under warranty. You have to go back to Starrett. Calipers, height gages, would probably go to MR, since LIIS doesn't work on those and some other brands like Helios. So I guess it's good to have a few choices. I really like LIIS's website, which is very informative and Rene Meyer has no problem answering any and all questions about parts, repairs and how to DIY tips.

Mikey
"All true, but sometimes you need to take the risk to get what you want". If there is something like a discontinued Compac that you feel you must have, $50 is not a bad gamble..if it can be repaired/parts are available. Compac in general are a good bet since they're built so well, with sturdy bearings. I wouldn't pay a lot more than $50 for a used gage because of the high cost of repairs/parts. The Compac ebay listing linked, doesn't look too bad. The metal is tarnished, but otherwise doesn't look abused. It's old. It would make a good back up for possible spare parts?
 

mikey

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#40
I'm sure MR Tool does good work, but for a precision Swiss indicator, I'd rather go with Long Island Indicator. LIIS does authorized repairs for TESA, Compac and others, and if your gage is still under warranty, Mark is not authorized to do this. Same with Starrett still under warranty. You have to go back to Starrett. Calipers, height gages, would probably go to MR, since LIIS doesn't work on those and some other brands like Helios. So I guess it's good to have a few choices. I really like LIIS's website, which is very informative and Rene Meyer has no problem answering any and all questions about parts, repairs and how to DIY tips.

Mikey
"All true, but sometimes you need to take the risk to get what you want". If there is something like a discontinued Compac that you feel you must have, $50 is not a bad gamble..if it can be repaired/parts are available. Compac in general are a good bet since they're built so well, with sturdy bearings. I wouldn't pay a lot more than $50 for a used gage because of the high cost of repairs/parts. The Compac ebay listing linked, doesn't look too bad. The metal is tarnished, but otherwise doesn't look abused. It's old. It would make a good back up for possible spare parts?
You're right, it probably works or could be made to work ... for the right price. I suspect the seller would accept a $50.00 offer. If it works, you are way ahead. If not, then you have a decision to make. I could buy it and keep it for spare parts but I already have two of these and they are not likely to die before I do.

I actually emailed Rene to make sure he had parts to repair them and he said that he had some parts but, in general, parts were no longer available. Still, he said that he could probably repair one. I suspect he has a collection of dead indicators laying around that he can cannibalize from. If I had a chance at a good 523, I would take it but with the understanding that it will cost you to have it serviced.

I don't normally come out and say, "buy this if you see one". Many other indicators exist and not everyone needs one of this quality. However, if you get a chance to use a 523 then you'll see why I think this is the best DI made. Smooth, accurate, repeatable and no perceptible lag when reversing direction. The only DI that comes close is an old B&S tenths indicator I have and that was made by the same factory as the 523. I have two in perfect working order; one is used, the other is my security blanket. The 7 other DI's I have are sitting.
 
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EmilioG

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#41
The hand looks very short on the 523. Is it easy to read? I don't think Compac makes DI's anymore, I only see DTI's., so the 523 would make a fine addition to the other Compacs. For $50 plus another $150 or more with repair, ? Maybe. I don't really need a 523, but if one came up in better condition for around that price, I would consider it. I already have 3 other DI/DTI's on a list. Good information though. I haven't seen anything on this gage, not even on LIIS.com
 

mikey

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#42
The hand looks very short on the 523. Is it easy to read? I don't think Compac makes DI's anymore, I only see DTI's., so the 523 would make a fine addition to the other Compacs. For $50 plus another $150 or more with repair, ? Maybe. I don't really need a 523, but if one came up in better condition for around that price, I would consider it. I already have 3 other DI/DTI's on a list. Good information though. I haven't seen anything on this gage, not even on LIIS.com
You're right, the tip of the indicator needle is broken on the bay one. The end of the needle is supposed to reach the unit markings so that it is very easy to read. Like I said, I would pass on that one but wanted to make you aware of the 523.
 

mikey

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#43
I made an offer of $20.00 on that ebay 523 and will hold it for parts as you suggested. We'll see what he says.
 

mksj

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#44
"If it repeats correctly then there is no need to worry about the position of the hand." Rene Meyer
This may be true, but this only applies to hands on testing and verifying accuracy with a gauge block. Used indicator you are buying based on photos and a description I would not purchase one with the pointer knocked out of position vs. another which wasn't.

There are a number of good choices in DIs and DTIs, but also a lot of bad ones, in particular with the high degree of fakes and also the current crop of rebranded lower quality indicators. Names like Fowler, SPI, etc. mean little these days and their selling price is much higher than comparable Chinese brands. I learned the hard way, and purchased Fowler and SPI measuring indicators from Enco years ago, they all broke and failed to have repeat accuracy. Won't go there again, I buy once these days. I like the older Compac and Alina indicators, I have several and they work wonderfully and are durable. On the dial indicators, I picked up Stareett 25-511J and a 25-611J for $75 each in new condition. Really sweet 0.0001" dial indicators with a 0.200" range, but I always had a soft spot for the older Alina/Compac indicators, even some of the older SPI. These two below caught my eye, but I the Starrett's above is all that I need. On test indicators, one consideration when looking at the Compaq vs. Interapid is the former has a larger range and wider markings for the same sensitivity model. The Compac 215GA is a dream test indicator, last one I expect to ever need, the rest sit in their boxes. Unfortunately the used market price for these indicators have gone up significantly.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fowler-52-...cator-0-40-Range-0005-Graduation/132182510328
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Alina-513-...ator-0-500-Range-0005-Graduation/142485688277
 

mikey

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#45
Alina's were re-branded Compac indicators. Good ones, like the one Mark linked to, are made by Compac and you can see the Compac name on the face. The older style B&S DI's were also made in the same factory that produced Compac, Tesa and B&S indicators. I have an old B&S 0.0001" DI that is just as smooth as my Compac's.

Mark, I agree on the 215GA. If you haven't tried one, a 214GA (long range 0.0005") is of the same ilk.
 
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