View Full Version : Where to buy old dial indicators

08-28-2011, 08:06 AM
Following on from a a previous thread where (I think) Forrest recommended using a dial indicator for threading, I'm trying to recreate the indicator arrangement that used to be on my lathe (as always, these things get separated...)

The lathe originally had a housing with an indicator mounted inside. As best as I can see from parts lists and catalogues, the indicator size had a 1 5/8" dial and had 1/2" range. I've checked the Mitutoyo and Starrett catalogues and that size dial stops at 1/4" range.

I have a (UK made) Fowler indicator of the right size but it only has 1/4" travel. I believe the original indicator as fitted was a Baty.

Anyone know of a good place to try for old indicators?

Your Old Dog
08-28-2011, 09:14 AM
yard sales and flea markets. There aren't many flea markets where you can't fine some old machinist tools.

08-28-2011, 09:25 AM
I assume the important thing is the amount of travel, not the dial diameter, so your options may not be as limited as you are making them if the housing can be adapted.

Around here, there are often used tools for sale at antique engine shows, steam-ups, and suchlike. I don't know about habits in Australia.

08-28-2011, 10:03 AM
Looking at the Starrett catalog myself, I see that chances are good that the original indicator might have been an AGD Group 1 size. Those have a major O.D. of 1-11/16" (1.687"/42.8mm), but as you've found the current offerings stop at .250" of travel.

Do you have the original housing that limits the O.D. of the indicator you use? If not, once you get into an AGD Group 2 with their 2-1/4" diameter, there are indicators (in Starrett's catalog) with up to 5" of travel.

08-28-2011, 10:49 AM
I have had good luck buying old indicators on Ebay. Making sure the price was low enough that I still had a bargain after I ran the through my local calibration lab. Very pleased with the results. These guys seem to have a flat rate for calibration which is really a strip down and rebuild. You just pay for parts which seem to be dirt cheap. Or they also will take a carcass from their stock and rob the parts for a norninal charge. They are great.

J Tiers
08-28-2011, 12:04 PM
I'm going to go against the grain....


Sounds like you want a carriage travel indicator. Used indicators with long travel are rare.

Buy a chinese one with 2" travel (or metric equal). Shouldn't be too expensive, and it will work as well as any other.

Plus, that usage can expose the indicator to some abuse.... who wants to bend a 2" travel nice old Federal, Starrett, etc? Buy one that is easily replaced.

As for used...... Yard and tag sales, flea markets, etc.

I just picked up a Federal 0.0001" DTI for $25, in original case with all attachments. Total range is only about 5 thou, but that's fine for what I want, to go along with the "Kingshighway" alignment tool I made, for scraping use and machine survey.

That's what I typically find..... Same sale had lots of plain dial indicators, Starrett 0.001 with 3" dial and 0.025 travel, etc.

I have only seen ONE 2" travel indicator as a used item..... it was chinese, and I bought it for about 30% of new price, which was nearly nothing.

Cal lab?
That would be me...... granite flat, 0.0001" dial indicator on a stand, and a set of B&S gage blocks.

08-28-2011, 12:51 PM
Location: Western New York
There aren't many flea markets where you can't fine some old machinist tools.

Yeah, my brother lives in Buffalo, and the things he picks up by the $20 boxful just kills me.

Here, you might find a landing strut motor for a 747 at a rummage sale, but not so
much with the machine tools...


08-28-2011, 05:43 PM
JT, I need 1/2" travel not 2". The 1/2" is because of the housing that this thing sits in - while the actual travel that I need is only small, the housing is shaped as such that I need the 1/2" for stick out.

It is the housing that limits the dial diameter. if I got a 2" dial it would be difficult to mount and if using the original mounting positions I would have interference with the bed.

Plan B is to make a long tip for the indicator I have that will give me an extra 1/4" stick out, but an original spec indicator would be preferable.

I seem to recall a firm in New York who specialise in indicators (quick search gives Long Island indicators). Anyone used them/ know of them? Is it worth asking?


08-28-2011, 05:48 PM
Long Island Indicator Co. is the nation's premier non-factory source for repairs, parts, and advice.

It's sounding like you can use a standard AGD-1 indicator. There are a great many extension tips available, as I have a lot of them. They all take #3-48 threaded tips.

J Tiers
08-28-2011, 10:40 PM
I don't recall seeing many 12mm travel indicators, most seem to be either less or 25mm , 50 mm etc.

a 1" / 25mm would be a cheap option, $25 US or so new chinese, assuming you can fit it. Unused travel is not an issue for function, may be for fit.

Or if you CAN use less, go for it. An extender should be easy to make. IIRC most AGD types are an odd but obtainable thread, for which dies can be had.