Duplicate sets of 111pcs Webber Starrett croblox gauge blocks
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  1. #1
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    Default Duplicate sets of 111pcs Webber Starrett croblox gauge blocks

    Today I bought a 'lot' of machine tool parts and pieces, endmills, etc for quite a bargain price. Included were TWO 111 piece rectangular metric Webber Starrett Croblox (chromium carbide) gage block sets (model number RC111MA) . They appear unused to me, with each box still containing the paper and parchment presumably used during shipping as well as the blank ("this block not ordered") pieces in the wear block slots. All of the pieces are present and original (no substitutions, no lost pieces). Blocks appear perfect (not a scratch on them) and they wring together. They are however from the mid-1970s.

    img_7511.jpgimg_7512.jpgimg_7520.jpg

    I called Webber and the sets are grade 3 - a grade toleranced using standards that are outdated. They said they would be somewhere between an AS-1 and 0 grade, and if there were to calibrate and any blocks failed (I would be shocked) they would replace them with a grade 0.

    1) Now I have never used gage blocks but they have been on my wish list for use with a sine plate, use on the surface plate, etc. As a fairly serious hobby machinist / machine rebuilder, but novice when it comes to gage blocks, are these a good set to hang on to? Or is a 111 piece set overkill for all but the serious precision grinding, inspection, etc type of shop? If I keep one, would you recommend ponying up the ~$400 for calibration?

    2) The material Croblox appears high-end, and I notice a slightly more accurate modern grade 0 set with 112 pieces retails new, in theory, for something on the order of 10K. Is the premium placed on Croblox (compared to steel) really justified?

    3) Even if I keep one, I certainly wont need two sets, so can anyone advise on whether it makes more sense to re-sell as is, or to pay to have Weber recertify both sets before selling the one? Is there even a market for a gage block set toleranced using the old standard?

    I would appreciate any advice on the quality of these gage block sets, and I will try to keep my tool gloat to a minimum.

    Thank you,
    Tom

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    I'm not sure why you're considering getting them calibrated at this point. First, they're made to be stable so size isn't drifting around while they're sitting in the box. If gauge blocks change it's from usage wear. Have them rechecked after much use. Secondly, you're not in a situation (I think) where you're required to have your tools certified for other people's records.

    You have lucked out in getting very good new or almost new sets. Enjoy one and either save the other for when your grandkids wear out the first set, or sell it to someone and buy something else you need.

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    Okay, so those sets are better than any of the gage block sets I have in my shop right now. A 111 piece set is not really that different from an 81 piece set, so don't count that toward "overkill". Definitely keep one, get some anhydrous lanolin (cheap from beauty supply, expensive from Flexbar) to put on them when they're not in use, get comfortable with using them, maybe score some gage block accessories to make them more convenient and versatile. Practice setting adjustable gages to them.

    I'm confident you can sell to someone who wants a nice set (that's a nice set) without the expense of new, current standards, and recent certification. You might see what good condition complete sets of 81 blocks actually go for on eBay and start at a modest premium above that (for 111 blocks and Croblox). Do not expect to get anything remotely like new price for them. Used steel sets generally sell for under $100. There are far fewer listings for Croblox sets, but they do seem to fetch significantly higher prices. You could probably get $500 if you wait for a motivated buyer, but not $1,000.

    Do not bother with getting an unused set certified. Buyers either won't care or won't take your word for it. Buying used metrology gear is always a crapshoot and people want to get it inspected for themselves (if they bother at all). Describe their age accurately, emphasize they are pristine and show good pictures to back it up, and you won't have a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAmachinist View Post
    I will try to keep my tool gloat to a minimum.
    Sumthin' WRONG wit' you, kid!

    They take up less space than a pair of brand-new Staggerwing Beech aircraft!

    Just sacrifice a goat. Invite the native Americans to show yah how to cook it.

    Oughta prevent lightning strikes chasing yer overly lucky ass all over the lot?

    NB:

    Put me down as "interested" if you decide to sell one set.


    Or trade for something ..

    Probably over my budget, but if/as/when? We can discuss what it is worth to scratch a 60 + year-old "itch" to have Croblox, not just my old "mostly" Dearborn gage + DoAll & Webber steel fill-ins.
    Last edited by thermite; 10-24-2020 at 05:58 PM.

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    Thanks to all who have replied.

    Quote Originally Posted by TGTool View Post
    I'm not sure why you're considering getting them calibrated at this point.
    Well your probably right, and definitely right that I am not in a position where my work has to be certified. I suppose I just like to know for certain - I chased my tail around when I first started scrapping, being too cheap to buy new reference surfaces, only to discover my second hand surface plate had a hole in it (someone must have mistook it for a lapping plate). $500 to certify gages is a lot, but not compared to my time. I will take your advice and put off re-certification (perhaps indefinitely).

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    sfriedberg - it is my understanding that Croblox will not rust. This is an attractive feature to me - I am keen on cleanliness, but if it gets to the point that I have to worry about fingerprint oil then that is quite a burden. Given they are not steel, do you still think anhydrous lanolin is necessary? I had planned to use them, clean with alcohol and a kimwipe, and put them back.

    Thermite - great post! I did luck out that day, these sets being a complete 'bonus' on top of what I had set out to buy. I will let you know when I decide to part with the second set. They deserve a good home rather than setting around unused - as they apparently have been for the last 45 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAmachinist View Post
    sfriedberg - it is my understanding that Croblox will not rust. This is an attractive feature to me - I am keen on cleanliness, but if it gets to the point that I have to worry about fingerprint oil then that is quite a burden. Given they are not steel, do you still think anhydrous lanolin is necessary? I had planned to use them, clean with alcohol and a kimwipe, and put them back.

    Thermite - great post! I did luck out that day, these sets being a complete 'bonus' on top of what I had set out to buy. I will let you know when I decide to part with the second set. They deserve a good home rather than setting around unused - as they apparently have been for the last 45 years.
    As far as I know ..NO Vaseline, NO Anhydrous Lanolin. Which is NOT necessarily the same as beauty shops sell. Anhydrous is as it says it is - the water has been taken OUT. Skin-care products? They USUALLY put water IN.

    UNLESS.... Webber SAYS to use a lube? And I don't recall it being so.

    That is part of the advantage of Croblox or Mitutuyo's ceramics. Not having to worry about rusting.

    FWIW- I depend more on a sheet of VPI paper, refreshed each year. It's cheap in rolls and precut bundles, so all the tool and metrology drawers get a sheet under the padding.

    Where would Croblox fit in HERE - and perhaps at your place in a similar manner?

    A) No need for calibration. They would "become" MY "local standard" because they are better than I need.

    B) For what? Most important job would be setting my Cadillac Gage Pla-Check, Webber Digi-Check, B&S Hite-icator.

    On the shop floor, sine bar, etc, cheaper blocks I won't shed tears over are more than good enough. My vintage Dearborns don't even play out there.

    BTW.. the empty slots for "wear" blocks? Those don't have to be Croblox.

    I've gotten missing ones and wear blocks from:

    A.A Jansson - About / History

    I've also picked up several sets of the extension gage blocks. 90 inches worth in total! Not that I reccomend trying to use them stacked that long, but still.. A gage block set with NO extensions is a rude pain in the arse to use in the real world!

    Also a Webber clamp set to hold wrung stacks better and/or add a scriber atop.
    Last edited by thermite; 10-25-2020 at 12:45 PM.

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    hardened steel shrinks with age due to transition in the crystal structure. you can actually take off the shelf drill bits and treat them in liquid nitrogen to get a statistically significant improvement in certain properties, but without a lot more information it isn't worth the effort unless the liquid nitrogen is free. anyhow. its on the order of parts per million per decade change in size if the steel was heat treated correctly in the first place.

    you appear to indeed have carbide blocks and i would sell both those sets and buy a cheap used gauge block set. someone out there might actually need those carbide blocks.

    i bought a cheap used set along with extras, and accidentally let a mist of wd-40 settle on them, combined with the humidity of an uncontrolled shop, and the wood case, they rusted.

    i polished the rust down using a cheap surface plate and heating oil to wash the rust away, and after that they still wring together, not good as new, but not bad enough i can't trust a stack to within a tenth or something.. easily 10 times the accuracy of a good micrometer.

    you have a set of blocks that should be good to 10 times the accuracy anyone expects of a cheap set of blocks.. which is on the order of 100 times the accuracy expected of anything produced in a home shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johansen View Post
    hardened steel shrinks with age due to transition in the crystal structure. you can actually take off the shelf drill bits and treat them in liquid nitrogen to get a statistically significant improvement in certain properties, but without a lot more information it isn't worth the effort unless the liquid nitrogen is free. anyhow. its on the order of parts per million per decade change in size if the steel was heat treated correctly in the first place.
    Do you have a reference for shrinkage? I was told (and it was my experience) that hardened steel will often GROW over time because of retained austenite which precipitates over time into martensite and has a smaller crystal size in the structure. Austenite continues to change over time into martensite with consequent growth in size. Die and mold blocks ground to a good fit may not reassemble properly during maintenance unless heat treated properly to minimize the problem.

    http://www.heat-treat-doctor.com/doc...dAustenite.pdf

    That property has been known for a long time and was the reason that Edvard Johansson (Jo block originator) put the parts alternately in hot and cold conditions to force as much continued change as possible. He didn't know the crystallography but had enough experience for a practical solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAmachinist View Post
    sfriedberg - it is my understanding that Croblox will not rust. This is an attractive feature to me - I am keen on cleanliness, but if it gets to the point that I have to worry about fingerprint oil then that is quite a burden. Given they are not steel, do you still think anhydrous lanolin is necessary? I had planned to use them, clean with alcohol and a kimwipe, and put them back.
    Don't know. I'm too cheap to have anything but steel blocks. I will say that high-chromium steels (depends on alloy) tarnish, even if they do not redly rust.

    Quote Originally Posted by thermite
    As far as I know ..NO Vaseline, NO Anhydrous Lanolin. Which is NOT necessarily the same as beauty shops sell. Anhydrous is as it says it is - the water has been taken OUT. Skin-care products? They USUALLY put water IN.
    Well excuuuuse me for not elaborating on a passing phrase until it was as padded out to the same length as your prolix pronouncements. I said "anhydrous lanolin" and that is exactly what I meant. Not what you imagine the skin care industry does with it. Now, if you can be distracted from responding to every Goddamn post on the entire Internet for just 5 minutes, take yourself over to eBay and you will find lots and lots of sellers of anhydrous lanolin in bulk, USP grade, and the larger part of the them are categorized under beauty aids. Because anhydrous lanolin is an ingredient, and people have to buy the ingredients before they adulterate them with emolients, fragrances, and witches wart juice. You will also find that purchasing anhydrous lanolin from that market is about an order of magitude cheaper than buying a plastic tube of the stuff with Flexbar's brand name on it. Which is also what I said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TGTool View Post
    Do you have a reference for shrinkage? I was told (and it was my experience) that hardened steel will often GROW over time because of retained austenite which precipitates over time into martensite and has a smaller crystal size in the structure. Austenite continues to change over time into martensite with consequent growth in size. Die and mold blocks ground to a good fit may not reassemble properly during maintenance unless heat treated properly to minimize the problem.

    http://www.heat-treat-doctor.com/doc...dAustenite.pdf
    yeah i got that backwards.

    if you download the gauge block handbook from here
    https://www.nist.gov/system/files/do...ns/mono180.pdf

    the histogram on page 35 is unlabeled.

    downloading the paper from here (PDF) NIST calibration | yavuz orkun - Academia.edu
    i was able to see that the center bar in the graph is 0 ppm per year.
    to the right is .1, .2 .3 .4 .5 ppm. to the left is -0.1, 2, etc ppm shrinkage

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    And did everybody note these are METRIC blocks ????

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfriedberg View Post
    Don't know. I'm too cheap to have anything but steel blocks. I will say that high-chromium steels (depends on alloy) tarnish, even if they do not redly rust.

    Well excuuuuse me
    Never mind the sales pitch.

    Your gage blocks "tarnish" because you are abusing them.

    Lanolin is the wrong stuff, long-term. Very. May as well rub them on your nose.

    Acid-former. Same as its first-cousin, sebum. The nose thing.

    Waxes actually. But we call them "skin oils", and sheep or human, they become corrosives-formers.

    Steel gage blocks you want something that does NOT have a short bio-degrading acid-forming nature. Nor polymerize and throw any sort of varnish.

    No "tarnish" AT ALL on my oldest. And old they certainly are. Dearborn Gage.

    Back to the ones at hand.

    Croblox. All you need is clean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnEvans View Post
    And did everybody note these are METRIC blocks ????
    Yes.

    As far as tarnishing, chromium carbide blocks are not steel alloys. They are ceramic. The material is used in severe corrosive environments on valve bodies specifically because it has excellent corrosion resistance. I don't think there will be any problems sitting in a box. Nothing should be needed to protect them. Tungsten carbide is also a form of ceramic - but in the machine shop we use it in a sintered form with metallic binder, so it can and does corrode under the right set of circumstances.

    What we don't know is whether the Croblox gage blocks are monobloc or if they are sintered together with another material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnEvans View Post
    And did everybody note these are METRIC blocks ????
    And my Dearborns are inch, my Metrifucated are El Cheapo "Pacific Rim"

    Why didja think I was drooling and lusting after them?


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    Quote Originally Posted by eKretz View Post
    Yes.

    As far as tarnishing, chromium carbide blocks are not steel alloys. They are ceramic. The material is used in severe corrosive environments on valve bodies specifically because it has excellent corrosion resistance. I don't think there will be any problems sitting in a box. Nothing should be needed to protect them. Tungsten carbide is also a form of ceramic - but in the machine shop we use it in a sintered form with metallic binder, so it can and does corrode under the right set of circumstances.

    What we don't know is whether the Croblox gage blocks are monobloc or if they are sintered together with another material.
    Monobloc.. Webber Gage were PROUD of that - bragged on it. Got paid accordingly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAmachinist View Post
    sfriedberg - it is my understanding that Croblox will not rust. This is an attractive feature to me - I am keen on cleanliness, but if it gets to the point that I have to worry about fingerprint oil then that is quite a burden. Given they are not steel, do you still think anhydrous lanolin is necessary? I had planned to use them, clean with alcohol and a kimwipe, and put them back.

    Thermite - great post! I did luck out that day, these sets being a complete 'bonus' on top of what I had set out to buy. I will let you know when I decide to part with the second set. They deserve a good home rather than setting around unused - as they apparently have been for the last 45 years.
    I would advise against using alcohol, but that is just me... I would just use a clean shop rag, maybe "touched" with a shot of LPS or similar, but I think a good wipe down with a plain clean rag will be enough.

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    Also, my thoughts on price, this is one of those things, expensive as hell new, but a small percent of that for resale value. I think for alot of us, when buying something more high end on the used market, A) we want the best value B) it borders on "I may as well buy new rather than save 50% on an unknown..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    Also, my thoughts on price, this is one of those things, expensive as hell new, but a small percent of that for resale value. I think for alot of us, when buying something more high end on the used market, A) we want the best value B) it borders on "I may as well buy new rather than save 50% on an unknown..."
    Economics have changed, too. Shorter "paybacks" on CAPEX, long amortizations or not, are expected 'coz Line(s) of Business don't have as long a certainty ahead before new tech can drive major changes.

    Meaning if I had a QA Department in need, I'd probably ask WHY gage blocks, not something else, then be inclined to approve Mitutoyo off the back of easier replacements and broader family of speciality accessories.

    As probably happens... Mitutoyo tends to make more friends than enemies and not miss a lot of meals.


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