looking for small flat-bottom precision level
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  1. #1
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    Default looking for small flat-bottom precision level

    I'm looking for a precision level that is shorter (and narrower) than a Starrett 199. There are lots of new so-called master precision levels available from the usual sources, but all of them have a Vee-way bottom, which is useless on narrow ways. I can't find a single one with a length of 4, 6 or 8" that has a flat, hand scraped bottom and a sensitive vial (.005"/12" or better). It would also be nice if the width was less than the 199's 1 ⅝".

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    Make one. Really. Either get a replacement vial from Starrett in the resolution you want, or go with one from a vendor like these guys: Precision Ground Glass Spirit Level Bubble Vials and Phials

    Other choices out there, and you can shape the base as you chose.

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    Endorse DIY. A level is easy to make from most any material stable enough for the purpose.

    And I hear you. The V in a precision level base is mosty a PITA but I suppose it's become stupidly traditional like neckties, expensive weddings, bloated compensation packages for those in position to demand them, and elevator music.

    Second source: Geier Bluhm sells mounted level vials and the mounting posts.

    Tubular Levels Archives - Geier and Bluhm

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    rimcanyon, I had been intending to make a bulk (means qty 10-ish, not qty 1,000-ish) purchase of Level Development vials for some time. This would not only get a per-each price break, it would render the per-each Atlantic shipping cost a minor consideration. Please contact me if you intend to go the DIY route.

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    I use this vial in my 18" prism/SE/parallel/level. It is 20 secs per division and its overall width with the base is 1.125" It could be used without the base if you wanted to inset the vial and compensating mechanism into a piece of durabar. This is a nice well made vial, compensating mechanism, and base. See vial number 4-3064-20 in the following link.

    Precision & Machinist Levels Archives - Geier and Bluhm

    g-b-level.jpg


    Denis

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    You should buy a small straight edge from Kieth Rucker or Gary Martin and mount a level vial to it. Both make a 6" SE casting. Or buy a Starrett level or a a replacement vial . SearchResults scoll down the page to see all the levels they make

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    If there were interest in a small flat-bottom compact level, I would be able to make a simple pattern with a recess intended for insertion of a vial. Folks could get together and come up with a design. Provided it wasn’t too complex, I could cast it pretty economically. Small castings like that are pretty simple to do. I’d just add them on the next time I cast larger Featherweights. I think a design that incorporated a flat top rail might be a good idea.

    Denis

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    good suggestions. It's not like I need another project, but it would be a useful tool. Since there were no replies that mention a level that fits the requirements, I'm assuming they're not available. I like the idea of buying a 6" straight edge casting and fitting a level vial, but a purpose built casting would be ideal. Here are some photos of a possible model. It is my favorite narrow level (1 ⅜" wide), but it is 15" long. If two of the triangles were removed at each end, it would end up being 9" long.

    img_0174.jpgimg_0173.jpgimg_0166.jpgimg_0165.jpgimg_0164.jpg

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    A couple more photos of the P&W level:

    img_0163.jpgimg_0164.jpg

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    If the DIY option is an option. Perhaps buy a cheap 4” unit from shars, strip it and make a new base?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimcanyon View Post
    A couple more photos of the P&W level:

    img_0163.jpgimg_0164.jpg
    It just so happens that I also own and very much like the same P+W level. I think it is an elegant design.
    I would not want to do a direct knock-off of their design, But, I do think it is a reasonable starting point. A level of similar general dimensions but shorter overall might make a fine tool. Having the top rail of the same width as the base would allow squaring the base to the sides—-a potentially handy feature. Having the sides relieved with nice radius would make it comfortable to lift and lighten it some.

    Cost of such a casting? If there were 5 folks interested, I think 100 bucks a pop would cover it. I would make the pattern. If just one or two people are interested, then the cost would be each 250 for two. For a one-off we’d have to talk. Maybe the interested party would make the pattern and I would cast it for 100 or so. Just thinking out loud here.

    if the length were kept down to 9”, I think it could ship small flat rate box. International shipping on a small flat rate box is 25.80USD.

    I’m listening...

    Denis

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgfoster View Post
    Cost of such a casting? If there were 5 folks interested, I think 100 bucks a pop would cover it. I would make the pattern. If just one or two people are interested, then the cost would be each 250 for two. For a one-off we’d have to talk. Maybe the interested party would make the pattern and I would cast it for 100 or so. Just thinking out loud here.

    if the length were kept down to 9”, I think it could ship small flat rate box. International shipping on a small flat rate box is 25.80USD.

    I’m listening...

    Denis
    I'm interested - lets see if we get enough of a response to do 5. Otherwise I could make the pattern, but lets see how it goes.

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfriedberg View Post
    rimcanyon, I had been intending to make a bulk (means qty 10-ish, not qty 1,000-ish) purchase of Level Development vials for some time. This would not only get a per-each price break, it would render the per-each Atlantic shipping cost a minor consideration. Please contact me if you intend to go the DIY route.
    sfriedberg, that would be a good option to get this going. The 4-3080 vial looks good for a short level. 10 seconds per graduation and only 3 ¾" long. A longer vial like the 4-6010 or 4-6011 would be easier to read, but it is 6 ⅜" long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimcanyon View Post
    I'm looking for a precision level that is shorter (and narrower) than a Starrett 199. There are lots of new so-called master precision levels available from the usual sources, but all of them have a Vee-way bottom, which is useless on narrow ways. I can't find a single one with a length of 4, 6 or 8" that has a flat, hand scraped bottom and a sensitive vial (.005"/12" or better). It would also be nice if the width was less than the 199's 1 ⅝".
    If that is the true number you want, a Starrett 98 would do you. 0.005"/12", and considerably smaller width in the 6" size..

    It does have a semi-circle recess in the bottom, but it takes up only about 1/3 of the total width, which is around 1".

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    If that is the true number you want, a Starrett 98 would do you. 0.005"/12", and considerably smaller width in the 6" size..

    It does have a semi-circle recess in the bottom, but it takes up only about 1/3 of the total width, which is around 1".
    Add a zero to that (.0005"/12")...

    I have a couple of Goodell Pratt levels that are accurate to .005"/12", and have a flat bottom. One is 12" long, the other 3", but they made other sizes.

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    EDA level 100H

    Here is another option for screw on sensitive level assemblies- though would need to find US source. This might not be hard as Travers tools sells EDA levels.

    John Garner has written favorably about their levels.

    . 1 mm/m = .0012 in/ft
    .05 mm/m = .0006 in/ft
    .04 mm/m = .00048 in/ft
    .02 mm/m = .00024 in/ft

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    Will be interested to see what design Denis comes up with. Previous experience would suggest it would be outside the box...

    L7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjinpdx View Post
    If the DIY option is an option. Perhaps buy a cheap 4” unit from shars, strip it and make a new base?
    I am following that option as well. I purchased an inexpensive Kinex 8" level with a V-bottom and my plan is to machine the casting. Kinex levels are made in Czech Republic and are quite good. The casting is also narrower than the common Asian imports.

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    screw on a piece of precision ground flat stock to the Vee bottom level. not going to take long for a couple M5 or smaller screws

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    Quote Originally Posted by lucky7 View Post
    Will be interested to see what design Denis comes up with. Previous experience would suggest it would be outside the box...

    L7
    Gotta admit the gears are turning... But you are right, just some conversion of a straight edge designed for a different purpose will not likely result in the optimal tool or one that is a pleasure to use. Ideas to throw into the mix are appreciated. I'd like to come up with something pleasing to the eye, robust, well suited to the task, and comfortable in the hand.

    Denis


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