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[4]

Starrett has fallen (a bit) from grace

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harrzack

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#1
I think today's Starrett stuff is not "your fathers's" Starrett. They are making a lot of stuff in China now (there IS good stuff coming from China, BTW). I have a B&S dial test indicator and would take it hands down over the venerable "Last Word" from Starrett
 

mikey

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#2
Wait a minute now. Most B&S dial test indicators are Swiss-made and would have been better than a Last Word made at any time in Starrett's history. I have Compac dial test indicators that I would take over ANY B&S dial test indicator - accurate, beefier bearings and tougher overall. If you're going to bash Starrett then at least do it fairly, like comparing a modern Starrett dial indicator to the one from Shars you linked to today.
 

Doubleeboy

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#3
Starrett's Last Word is likely the weakest product they have made. I don't know squat about the insides of test indicators, but there must be a design glitch. Every Last Word I have layed hands on, maybe a half dozen or so, has been awkward with less than good feel in how fast and repeatable the needle goes back to zero. Anything from Switzerland is likely better as are the instruments from Germany. 312-b is my workhorse test indicator, but I also have other Euro indicators, they are certainly worlds better than the Last Words I have seen.
 

harrzack

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#4
Wait a minute now. Most B&S dial test indicators are Swiss-made and would have been better than a Last Word made at any time in Starrett's history. I have Compac dial test indicators that I would take over ANY B&S dial test indicator - accurate, beefier bearings and tougher overall. If you're going to bash Starrett then at least do it fairly, like comparing a modern Starrett dial indicator to the one from Shars you linked to today.
I really was NOT trying to 'bash" Starrett - they are a old and well respected company. But like so many today, they are falling prey to the low cost of imported product.

I got my B&S DTI on feeBay at a good price - doubt I could afford/justify something as nice as a Compac...
 

mikey

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#5
Starrett's Last Word is likely the weakest product they have made. I don't know squat about the insides of test indicators, but there must be a design glitch. Every Last Word I have layed hands on, maybe a half dozen or so, has been awkward with less than good feel in how fast and repeatable the needle goes back to zero. Anything from Switzerland is likely better as are the instruments from Germany. 312-b is my workhorse test indicator, but I also have other Euro indicators, they are certainly worlds better than the Last Words I have seen.
The problem with Last Word indicators is that they become magnetized. You'll see this as a sticking or jerkiness of the needle. These things were popular before European devices became more prevalent and well before eBay came around. I own one and it actually is quite accurate, although mine actually works the way it should. I don't use it much anymore because I have better indicators now but when it was my only one, it worked very well for me and I would trust it before I trusted a Chinese indicator.
 

mikey

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#6
I really was NOT trying to 'bash" Starrett - they are a old and well respected company. But like so many today, they are falling prey to the low cost of imported product.

I got my B&S DTI on feeBay at a good price - doubt I could afford/justify something as nice as a Compac...
What Starrett is doing is trying to survive. They have to compete with cheap Chinese and Indian stuff and they just cannot do it if they make everything themselves. This is just the reality of a global economy and Starrett is only one of many companies that are dealing with this. They still do make many of their own tools in the US and those tools are still as finely made as ever - the simple 827A edge finder is a superb tool that is one of many they still produce.

I am not a Starrett fan boy, believe it or not. I am a fan of fine tools and Starrett made many of them and still do but reality is reality. Mitutoyo has their calipers made in Brazil instead of Japan. Tesa has a lower grade of micrometers made in France. B&S Valueline is made who knows where (country of origin subject to change). Starrett is not alone, not by a long shot.
 

Silverbullet

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#7
It will never change , people are so badly treated by the taxes and insurances of both federal and state . Cost to pay for all the thievery that goes on by every part of state contracts. Payments as kick backs to the representatives of congress and state government leaders. It's a wonder starrett tools is still making tools here . They have got to be greasing the right people's pockets. We all know it goes on , we just don't know how to fix it.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#9
asking a last word to compete with a DTI, is like asking a VW bug to beat a top fuel dragster in the 1/4 mile- they were made for different functions.
a functioning last word is generally accurate enough for 90% of what work hobby machinists' will ever need
 

pstemari

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#10
The Last Word is an ancient design (spiral jewel instead of sector gear), not at all protected from swarf, and a bit delicate.

I've got one and it works fine, but I recognize its limitations and don't abuse it. If I was working in a production shop full time, I'd only break it out if the small size was required.
 

markso125

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#11
I recently purchased several Starrett micrometers for my classes, they are still good quality micrometers you look at them and they maintain a nice fit and finish, that being said they are good tools and my students will benefit from them. For my personal tools I prefer my old style Starrett micrometers. For those of you that don't have a comparison they moved the spindle lock from the middle of the anvil base to the end of it. I know why they did it, it is cheaper to manufacture just cutting the end of the anvil part with an endmill instead of running a separate slotting operation, I just prefer the older style the quality is still there as well is the accuracy. Oh and I would take a Hexagon Metrology dial test indicator (these include Brown & Sharpe, Tesa, Etalon and Interapid) over a Starrett any day their indicators are just better made in my opinion, of course I think the same thing about their dial calipers... well as long as you don't get the Chinese made brown & sharp cheapies.
For those of you that don't understand here is a picture of the old style micrometers note the spindle lock position
starrett_outside_%20micrometers%20series-2.jpg

Here is the new style
436Mics.jpg
 

pstemari

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#12
I recently purchased several Starrett micrometers for my classes, they are still good quality micrometers you look at them and they maintain a nice fit and finish, that being said they are good tools and my students will benefit from them. For my personal tools I prefer my old style Starrett micrometers. For those of you that don't have a comparison they moved the spindle lock from the middle of the anvil base to the end of it. I know why they did it, it is cheaper to manufacture just cutting the end of the anvil part with an endmill instead of running a separate slotting operation, I just prefer the older style the quality is still there as well is the accuracy. Oh and I would take a Hexagon Metrology dial test indicator (these include Brown & Sharpe, Tesa, Etalon and Interapid) over a Starrett any day their indicators are just better made in my opinion, of course I think the same thing about their dial calipers... well as long as you don't get the Chinese made brown & sharp cheapies.
For those of you that don't understand here is a picture of the old style micrometers note the spindle lock position


Here is the new style
Odd. The 226 still has the lock in the original position.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
 

ericc

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#14
I hate to say this, but I have had bad experiences with both a last word and a 196 dial indicator. Both were purchased used, and looked OK, but ended up getting sticky and unreliable. I even ended up making some mistakes. On the other hand, a $10 Harbor Freight indicator has been super reliable and always on the dot for me. It has saved the day when the Starrett's were finicky. I ended up sending the 196 in to Starrett, and they fixed it for $75. It is perfect now, just as reliable as the Harbor Freight indicator. But, now I am afraid to use it. The Starrett indicators just have much cleaner and classic lines. Much nicer to look at, but they have let me down. If I were more practical, I would use all import junk indicators, and dump them in the trash at the first sign of trouble.
 

markso125

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#15
Oe thing I have noticed with indicators is all of the premium dial indicators are built with super tight tolerances, Starrett, Brown & Sharpe, Mahr Federal, Mitutoyo ect and in dirty shops with coolant and welding smoke and dirt and everything floating around in the air they get pretty sticky fairly quick. All of my inspection room indicators tend to be name brand but the ones I use on the floor are cheap indicators like Techlock or SPI just for the fact you can dunk them in a bucket of coolant and let it dry out and get sticky, then to get them to work again just run them under the sink and then oil them up with indicator oil and they work just fine.
 

EmilioG

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#16
I own many Starrett tools and gages and they are well made. Most are from my Dad and the rest, vintage and new.
When buying Starrett tools, I usually buy the older Starrett and not all tools. Small stuff mostly and few precision tools.
A Last Word DI? Never. I do have a 196, but the older one. Starrett is just not what is used to be. Great company, but they are in survival mode.
They still make great tools and they do go out of their way to help customers, so I support them. I would hate to see Starrett disappear.
They should get rid of certain tools and gages from their catalog, like the Last Word. Starrett makes a great anvil mic and more. But like I wrote, most of my Starrett tools are the older vintage in pristine condition.
 

benmychree

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#17
Starrett's Last Word is likely the weakest product they have made. I don't know squat about the insides of test indicators, but there must be a design glitch. Every Last Word I have layed hands on, maybe a half dozen or so, has been awkward with less than good feel in how fast and repeatable the needle goes back to zero. Anything from Switzerland is likely better as are the instruments from Germany. 312-b is my workhorse test indicator, but I also have other Euro indicators, they are certainly worlds better than the Last Words I have seen.
I bought a Last Word indicator about 50 some odd years ago and used it daily; they may not be as sensitive or accurate as B&S, but they do stand up to daily use and require little or no care other than occasionally tightening up the pivot screw. The ease of changing contact arms is an asset. The B&S and other indicators that are similar may be better for inspection purposes, but the Starrett is the more practical for shop floor use. No one indicator type is best for all applications.
 

Rustrp

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#20
Perhaps Black and Decker will buy Starrett and save the company.
There is no Black & Decker today, it was purchased by Stanley Tool Group and if they did purchase Starrett everything would be a half bubble off.

Edit: Technically there is a B&D but it's lost somewhere in the DeWalt sawdust and nothing they make comes close to Starrett.
 

Kevin J

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#21
I was joking. From a previous post I made I got the sense that Black and Decker was sacred to a member here and not to be disparaged. I am disheartened by the decline of the old line manufacturers in the USA. Personal opinion, of course.
 

Rustrp

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#22
I was joking. From a previous post I made I got the sense that Black and Decker was sacred to a member here and not to be disparaged. I am disheartened by the decline of the old line manufacturers in the USA. Personal opinion, of course.
Understood, with no sarc font available we end up following a mystery. I agree regarding the demise of America's tool and tooling industry and it's so typical of folks who refuse to ask for direction(s). The machine tool, heavy machine tools and the tooling that went with them was one of the first things that began the undermining of our economy. That aside, I still have a 3/8" B&D drill that I bought in 1970. One of the first brands to come out with a drill with forward and reverse.
 

wildo

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#23
asking a last word to compete with a DTI, is like asking a VW bug to beat a top fuel dragster in the 1/4 mile- they were made for different functions.
a functioning last word is generally accurate enough for 90% of what work hobby machinists' will ever need
Great thread! Lots of good, reasonable opinions here- and good respect for what Starrett was and is today. Ulma Doctor, given that I bought a Last Word (thinking it was top brass, lol) and have found it to be sticky, and requires a lot of pressure to move, can you elaborate on how it is not intended to compete with a DTI? I was under the impression that it was in fact a DTI. What purpose would you use a Last Word for where a standard dial indicator is not appropriate, but a DTI is overkill? While I'm not disagreeing with you (Lord knows I don't have the experience to do so) I am caught up a bit on what you're implying the proper use case is for the Last Word.
 

Rustrp

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#24
I was under the impression that it was in fact a DTI.
Me too but as a novice I can step aside in regards to what is or isn't "last word" in indicators. The one thing I can buy into, or against in regards to the indicator Starrett refers to as **last word** would be the lack of graduations. If I need to measure pressure at 2,000 psig, I don't want a gauge that is maxed out at 2,500. I prefer something that will measure 3,000-4,000. I think Starrett's use of "Last Word" when it comes to this indicator, falls squarely into the marketing arena.

http://www.starrett.com/metrology/p...n-Hand-Tools/Precision-Measuring-Tools/711fsz

Edit; Really bad marketing if you use a term or phrase meant as a benchmark and don't deliver.
 
Last edited:

wildo

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#25
Yes, I as well have been perplexed by the precision (or lack thereof) of the Last Word indicator.
 

benmychree

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#26
Perhaps the Last Word indicator is not the best choice for ultra precision inspection work, but it can be quite handy for shop floor use where a standard dial indicator will not physically fit into the area to be tested. I assume that a more sophisticated indicator of the same type would do the same, but I assume at a increased cost. As far as sticking, that is what the adjustment screw at the pivot point is for; if it sticks, perhaps a tiny bit of loosening of that screw and a tiny drop of oil would help; the screw is under the ball formed on the back end of the contact tip, swivel the hold down spring off the ball, remove the tip and there is the screw. I do have a B&S indicator that is similar in appearance, but rarely use it; on advantage of the Starrett indicator is that the contact tips are removable and replaceable with contact tips of different diameters.
 

pstemari

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#27
The Last Word is an older design that hasn't ever been updated. It has a spiral jewel instead of a sector gear. It's fine if you keep it clean and don't subject it to shocks, but it's definitely much more delicate than an Interapid.

I think the 196 works on a similar principle, and is also easily damaged. The newer back plunger models seem to be much more rugged (and about twice the price).

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
 

benmychree

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#28
The back plunger is a good design, I use mine as required, but all too often the Last Word is used because of its small size and its ability to fit in small places.
 

EmilioG

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#29
If you think Starrett has fallen, take a look at some Brown and Sharpe small hand tools. They say USA made but the workmanship is so crude that it's hard to believe.
 

benmychree

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#30
You really cannot compare B&S with Starrett; B&S is no longer in business; I suspect that presently most of the new B&S stuff being hawked on such as e bay is selling off old stock. What I miss with Starrett tools is the high polished finishes, now replaced with vibratory finishing. I agree with the crudity of some of the B&S things seen for sale.
 
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