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View Full Version : Always buy the best brands.... Maybe



J Tiers
04-13-2010, 10:11 PM
Three 12" scales.... Branded "Products Engineering", "General", and Browne & Sharpe".

One isn't like the others... who's right? Any guesses? Here is the "General" brand compared to the "B&S"...........

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/scale1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/scale2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/scale3.jpg

Surprise, while all are at least slightly "out", "General" is closest, with "Products Engineering" next, and "Browne & Sharpe" the farthest out, at almost 0.4mm out at 10".

So much for the "best brands".....:rolleyes:

OK, this was a *scale*, not intended for accurate measurements...... but it was over one "line" out.... and the others were not. i don't know what the spec is for these things, but one normally does not expect to see that amount of error...... now I need to check all the other scales, including the 2 foot one.

The amount "out" was less, but still quite obvious even in 3". I had expected the B&S to be by far the most accurate one of the lot.

Checking for accuracy was by 6" dial caliper, which was set to a 6" standard*, locked, and then compared over 6" of scale markings.... The B&S was obviously "out, with "white space showing".... The others were not centered in the mark, but didn't show visible "white space".

* Standard was a 6" Lufkin measuring rod from a jig borer set.

edited to remove "thou" from the MM measurement

gda
04-13-2010, 10:12 PM
. . . a man with two watches never knows what time it is . . .

Don Young
04-13-2010, 10:28 PM
I have no idea how old or accurate it is but in an old toolbox I found a #7506 6" scale made by Products Engineering Corp, LA, Calif (PEC) that says"CALIBRATED IN ENGLAND BY RABONE CHESTERMAN". It seems that Rabone and Chesterman were makers of scales and merged at some point. An e-mail to PEC for info was unanswered. This scale was badly rusted and I had actually thrown it in the trash, which is difficult and rare for me! After cleaning it is still pretty readable.

wierdscience
04-13-2010, 10:33 PM
You think that's bad,check the average pile of shop tape measures.

1/4" in 10 feet isn't unusual.

J Tiers
04-13-2010, 10:35 PM
You think that's bad,check the average pile of shop tape measures.

1/4" in 10 feet isn't unusual.

So THAT's why the garage door didn't fit the rough-in ;) :eek:

loose nut
04-13-2010, 10:38 PM
Look at the bright side, if you use the General with the B & S scale you have a nice vernier.

Fasttrack
04-13-2010, 11:03 PM
WHAT!? No ... no ... I refuse to believe ... :)

<must go check my B&S combination square>

Kirbot
04-13-2010, 11:43 PM
WOW!

I never expected that from Brown & Sharpe.

Are the ends worn or anything?

Ries
04-13-2010, 11:49 PM
Hexagon bought Browne and Sharpe in 2001. Any Browne and Shapre after that date was outsourced, usually to TESA.

So I would not consider B&S to be one of the "best" brands, for many years now.

General, on the other hand, is often surprisingly good. I have met Gerry Weinstein, who owns General, and whose grandfather started the company. He does his best to insure that his stuff is decent quality, and good value for the money. General never made anything themselves- starting in 1922, Abe Rosenberg would sub out the manufacturing. They still source about a third of their stuff in the USA. Gerry would like it to be more, but price rules at his market level.

I own both a General drill point gage, and a Starrett that cost 4 times as much. I find the General to be a better, easier to use tool, lighter, easier to read, and I reach for it first. The Starrett has better curb appeal, though.

But as far as the "best" brands go, in new tools, I still like Starrett, or Mitutoyo, although I am sure there are some hard to find expensive european rules that are good as well.

I buy Starrett tools new every once in while, just to do my part to keep em in business. Of course, I still buy em used when I find em cheap. But the new made in america Starrett rules and squares are still pretty nice.

Jim Shaper
04-13-2010, 11:57 PM
You are aware a scale is not a rule, right?

What the scale is calibrated to, now that's the real question. ;)

J Tiers
04-14-2010, 12:23 AM
You are aware a scale is not a rule, right?

What the scale is calibrated to, now that's the real question. ;)

Well, it alleges itself to be an inch-calibrated scale.... NOT a shrink rule, although this one would be an expansion rule.... it reads what the part will be when hot......

Mitutoyo is OK, I used a Mit optical "loupe comparator" to check the difference

BTW, to me, a "scale" in this context has marks on it at some accurate intervals along at least one straight* edge, while a "rule" is a straightedge only..........

*"straight" might possibly look curved, depending on the geometric frame of reference

lazlo
04-14-2010, 12:44 AM
Hexagon bought Browne and Sharpe in 2001. Any Browne and Shapre after that date was outsourced, usually to TESA.

Tesa is Swiss. Outsourcing to Switzerland would have been a dream. Unfortunately, Hexagon is a gigantic (Swedish) tool consortium like Danaher, and most of Brown & Sharpe's hand tools, including their rules, are made in China.

Before I knew any better, I bought the Brown & Sharpe "Ultra Precision" 1-2-3 block set for around $70, and bought the Enco house brand set in the same order, for $15. Wanted a beater set for everyday use.

The block sets showed up in identical silver blow-molded cases, both have the goofy non-tapped "through-holes", both had the same hardware (cap screws -- eh?), and both measured to with the same tolerance.

I kept the B&S set, even though I had been duped, because I didn't consider it Enco's fault.

darryl
04-14-2010, 02:16 AM
I do some cabinet work for a friend from time to time. He asks me to check his math, etc on the design and cut list, then see to the sawing of all the sheet goods to build it all, with his assistance. That's all fine. When I go there, he now selects the one particular tape measure for me to use, and that's the one I originally selected as being the closest to true in general, and in particular it's the closest when you compare inside and outside readings. Most tape measures these days do not work right, and when I buy one I've got a long straightedge laying on the floor, several tape measures off the shelves, and another square of some kind that I can use against the end of the straightedge to check the inside measuring capability of all the tapes I have on the floor. I pretty much always have an assistant by this time, one of the sales people, so it get's interesting. At least 8 out of 10 fail the test, and sometimes it's the cheap one that passes. I guess I'm taking a certain amount of pleasure out of being able to point out 'defects' in things, but I figure anyway that if they learn something, then that's good. Checking the speaker wire with a magnet was good for me- the look on that one guys face, and the looks from the customers was worth the effort.

I can imagine though in many cases, the staff would probably have a laugh at me expense after I leave their store, for some of the stuff I've brought to their attention, but I don't care.

Moral of my little story- test the stuff right in the store before you buy it, if you want to know that it's going to work for you as you are expecting it to.

By the way, this same fellow I do this work for actually bought a tape measure on his own and showed it to me afterwards. He was showing me how it retracted an all, and he had maybe ten feet pulled out- then it pucked up and wouldn't retract. It was funny- he hasn't even been home with it yet, but he ran into me after he left the store where he bought it- he throws it back in the bag and jams all the tape in the bag and says, with a high pitched crazy laugh 'IT'S GOING BACK!'

CountZero
04-14-2010, 03:29 AM
Actually, TESA is also owned by Hexagon...

http://www.hexagon.se/en/InBrief_113.asp

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 08:36 AM
Ditto on the quality of more recent B&S tools. Some of them are no better that any of the other rebranded tools. Their higher end stuff is still pretty good, but it all bears watching.

General and PEC as far as I know are still made in the USA and are pretty good. Some of the PEC tools are clunky, like their squares but are of decent quality for the price.

A rule is a measuring device, a scale is something with lines on it.

J Tiers
04-14-2010, 09:12 AM
A rule is a measuring device, a scale is something with lines on it.

Actually, both in common usage refer to the same thing...

But a ruler is for "ruling lines", and is a straightedge....

I rarely see a "machinist's ruler" (except in the old Starrett catalog) but I sure do see "machinist's scale"..... in catalogs, texts, etc.....

if you asked about a "machinist's rule", you'd likely get everything from "measure twice cut once" to "never underbid a job"......

No matter, the BS scale (or "rule" if you will) is still "BS".....

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 09:43 AM
Common usage does not make it correct. It is, or was drilled into the heads of apprentices and tech schools that a rule is to measure and a scale has lines.

I don't know what catalogs you find scale used to define a ruler, but the top three in my pile certainly don't. The current Starrett catalog does not list any scales at all, but does list a whole string of rules, including straight edges. A recent PTS catalog does list scales, but the category has subset for rules, the actual scales being mostly for weighing purposes. McMaster Carr only has engineering scales included in their scales category, these are drafting scales, which is correct usage, the balance are weigh scales. Their rules category covers a wide range of measuring rules.

Ries
04-14-2010, 12:08 PM
Pretty sure PEC are imported from Poland.
On their website, they show a warehouse in Southern California, and I dont think its a factory.

I still say, buy Starrett, as long as its not the cheap chinese line of Starrett.

Jim Shaper
04-14-2010, 01:14 PM
Scales have lines on them and are deviated from a standard to account for some variation. Scales are used in mold making because of thermal issues where if you made a mold at 68F, and then put it in the oven at 300F you'd have out of spec parts.

A scale is not a rule. Rules are used for measuring to a standard.

lazlo
04-14-2010, 02:31 PM
Pretty sure PEC are imported from Poland.

Sadly, I think PEC and General Tools are all outsourced to China now. You might as well buy Enco's house brand -- a couple of bucks cheaper.


I still say, buy Starrett, as long as its not the cheap chinese line of Starrett.

Starrett insists that they don't make tools in China, but they have a large factory in Suzhou. I wonder what they make there? :rolleyes:

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 02:46 PM
Sadly, I think PEC and General Tools are all outsourced to China now. You might as well buy Enco's house brand -- a couple of bucks cheaper.



Starrett insists that they don't make tools in China, but they have a large factory in Suzhou. I wonder what they make there? :rolleyes:

Starrett does not insist they do not make tools in China. Their catalog quite clearly states they have a line of Global Tools and they identify them in their catalog. The catalog also shows photos of their facilities in China as well as those in the US, Scotland and Brazil.

I have not looked at newly manufactured PEC and General tools, and don't know for sure where they are manufactured. If PEC is Eastern bloc, that explains their "clunkiness".

rmancini
04-14-2010, 02:54 PM
One thing I noticed years ago: My Products Engineering - 6" scale is thicker than my B&S AND my Starret. About .040" thick for the PE and .032" for the rest.
The difference doesn't amount to a hill of beans quality wise but I thought it was interesting.
Rich

lazlo
04-14-2010, 05:04 PM
Starrett does not insist they do not make tools in China. Their catalog quite clearly states they have a line of Global Tools and they identify them in their catalog.

Jim, you've probably noticed that there is an increasing number of bad hand-tools coming from Starrett:


Just pulled a made in USA Starrett carbide tipped hole saw out of the box that had .125 runout the threads were put in so crooked. There was an 1/8 gap b/t the top of the saw and arbor on one side.

The bad Acme fishtails (plural), edge finders, ...

Bad Starrett Acme Thread Gage No. 284 (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=36724)

Every time, Scott Robinson replies to inquiries with the same content:

"Let me assure you that this tool is not manufactured overseas. I could never figure out where the impression came from that our tools are made off shore. We build 98% here at our plant in Massachusetts. It is true that we do import a few items but for the most part they are duplicates of tools built here. Examples would be the dial calipers, we build the 120 series and import the 1202. Electronic calipers, we bring in the 799 while wwe build the 797. I think the total number of tools is around 12 items. "

Apparently members here and on PM keep buying the same 12 tools...

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 05:54 PM
The catalog is pretty clear in marking made in USA versus global. It appears that most of the original lines of Starrett tools, what you might call mechanical squares, rules, mics and such are still made in the USA while the newer and electronic are offshore.

I rarely buy anything new, so I am in no position to judge, but I will say the Starrett tools I have seen of recent manufacture do not have the same look and feel of quality as those made twenty years or more ago. The same goes for Mitutoyo.

JMS6449
04-14-2010, 06:00 PM
Scales have lines on them and are deviated from a standard to account for some variation. Scales are used in mold making because of thermal issues where if you made a mold at 68F, and then put it in the oven at 300F you'd have out of spec parts.

A scale is not a rule. Rules are used for measuring to a standard.

What kind of moldmaking are you talking about?

In over 40 years of making injection, transfer and compression molds, all work is measured with standard precision insturments. The materials shrinkage is added in engineering and tool design. There are no tools used that compensate for shrinkage or heat.

pcarpenter
04-14-2010, 06:09 PM
I recall a review and test of measuring tapes in (I think) Fine Woodworking some years back. I don't remember the rest of the results except that the Starrett was awful.

I have some good tools from Starrett too, so I am not just piling on. My point was more general about not ever pretending that you can tell good from bad by company name. Everyone makes some junk and some make a lot of it. Some companies that make a lot of it also make some real gems mixed into the list of products.

Remember though.....with something like a ruler with graduations that fine, you can easily introduce lots of things like parallax error...or pencil width error...or....or.... So, I figure these things are not for really precise measurement in the first place.

Measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, cut with an axe.:D

Paul

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 06:17 PM
What kind of moldmaking are you talking about?

In over 40 years of making injection, transfer and compression molds, all work is measured with standard precision insturments. The materials shrinkage is added in engineering and tool design. There are no tools used that compensate for shrinkage or heat.

Shrink rules are used in moldmaking for metal casting. They are designed to compensate for the shrinkage when the metal cools. They may not be as prevalent in industry today as they once were, but are still available from Starrett and others, usually in 24" nominal length.

JMS6449
04-14-2010, 06:23 PM
Shrink rules are used in moldmaking for metal casting. They are designed to compensate for the shrinkage when the metal cools. They may not be as prevalent in industry today as they once were, but are still available from Starrett and others, usually in 24" nominal length.

Read the post that was answered. I have used and owned shrink rules for wood patternmaking.

wierdscience
04-14-2010, 08:34 PM
Sadly, I think PEC and General Tools are all outsourced to China now. You might as well buy Enco's house brand -- a couple of bucks cheaper.



Starrett insists that they don't make tools in China, but they have a large factory in Suzhou. I wonder what they make there? :rolleyes:

Holesaws for one thing.

Don Young
04-14-2010, 10:52 PM
You think that's bad,check the average pile of shop tape measures.

1/4" in 10 feet isn't unusual.
I have read that +/- 1/4" is normal tolerance for house framing work, so they are probably all within tolerance!

J Tiers
04-14-2010, 11:14 PM
By teh way, the whole issue of B&S outsourcing is completely off-topic....... if you look at the pictures, you will see a nice big fat MADE IN USA on the B&S scale.

So wherever the greedy industrialist fat cats have it made now is irrelevant to the fact that the loyal Amurrican union workers that made that device screwed it up.

As for the debate, and the idea that common usage is not necessarily right......

That would be wrong.

Common usage is where the dictionary comes from..... and always has been. So today's common usage is in tomorrow's dictionary.

if you want to be elitist about it, you may not LIKE that, but the words you consider to have 'fixed meanings" got their fixed meanings from common usage......

if you 'scale" a distance on a map, do you use a "rule" to do that?

Not to mention that the portion of what you call a "rule" that does the work is known as the "scale"........ Which is the part of the B&S device that is wrong.......

Tain't so simple.......

JCHannum
04-14-2010, 11:48 PM
http://i320.photobucket.com/albums/nn351/jchannum/P1070645.jpg

Common usage results in bastardization of language. Just because something is in common usage at the time does not make it correct. This is a moot point anyhow as I sure can't find that usage in any catalogs or texts as has been asserted.

Top to bottom; engineer's pocket scale used for scaling drawings, folding rule (never called a scale) made by Lufkin Rule (not scale) Co. and machinist's rule.

You measure distance on a map with a scale because it is drawn to scale.

The lines on both a rule and a scale are graduations. It really is that simple.