Gage Block Care & Feeding

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asallwey
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Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by asallwey » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:46 pm

How do you take care of gage blocks? I've had my set for several years, use them occasionally, and periodically wipe them to prevent issues. The other day I (re)noticed that a few have a slight (almost transparent) tarnish in spots. These spots were on when I got them (the set was used and apparently Machinist made), so it got me thinking. I usually wipe them off with a leather piece soaked in RIG, which leaves a very light oil coating. RIG is a product that I have from yesteryear when I would use it on my competition rifles.

Then I remembered that I have a can of Flitz polish. It is suppose to be good for 6 months or so, plus it cleans and polishes (very mild polish). It didn't do anything to the tarnish spots, but it did give more shine to the shiny areas.

So, how do others take care of they gage blocks?

EricM
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by EricM » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:55 pm

From an article in Quality Digest...

Care of Gage Blocks
http://www.qualitydigest.com/may97/html/gguide.html
by Drew Koppelmann
Cleanliness is critical. Gage blocks must be stored clean and must be recleaned immediately prior to use.
Gage blocks -- those apparently simple little chunks of steel that are used to establish an accurate size reference for comparative gages -- are among the most accurate gages to be found anywhere. Often manufactured to tolerances ±2 microinches for sizes under 1" (or ±0.05 micrometers for sizes 10mm or less), gage blocks form the basis for almost all other high-accuracy dimensional measurements that occur in most shops. As such, they're also among the most important of your gages, and they deserve careful attention to keep them in top condition.
Cleanliness is critical. Gage blocks must be stored clean and must be recleaned immediately prior to use. Any concentration of dust -- even the amount that occurs naturally over the course of an hour -- will reduce their accuracy. When wringing two or more blocks together to build up a stack to the required nominal dimension, any dust, dirt or grit on the surface of one will tend to score the other and will reduce the accuracy of the stack. And don't even think about using a block that has been splashed with cutting fluid -- you know what the suspended metal particles will do to that mirror-smooth surface.
To clean a gage block, use filtered kerosene, a commercial gage block cleaner or other high-grade solvent. Wipe it dry with a lint-free tissue, not some shop rag or work apron. Don't clean blocks by rubbing them against your palm; even if your hands are clean, you'll transfer moisture that could promote corrosion. In fact, it's a good idea to wear white gloves or rubber fingertip covers when wringing blocks and to handle them with tweezers when returning them to their case after cleaning. To inhibit corrosion from ambient humidity while the blocks are in storage, coat them with a noncorrosive oil, grease or commercial gage block preservative.
Sets of gage blocks are sold in a nice fitted case, which should be considered an integral part of the gage block system. Keep the interior clean, and keep it closed when you're not actually removing or replacing blocks. Don't just toss blocks into the case (and certainly not anywhere else); they'll get scratched and nicked before you know it. Return each to its proper slot as soon as possible. You'll be able to immediately see which blocks are in use, and you'll find the ones you want quicker. Keep the exterior of the case clean, too; it's a clear indication to others that the set should be treated with care and respect.
Don't loan out individual blocks -- keep the set complete. As soon as a block leaves its set, you've lost control over how it will be treated, and it may be returned damaged -- if at all. Inspect blocks frequently for nicks, scratches or burrs. If any such flaws appear, replace or have the block repaired immediately. A block with a burr or a corroded surface will quickly damage any other block it is wrung to.
Do not allow stacks of gage blocks to remain wrung together for long periods. The physics that hold wrung blocks together is not well understood, but experience has shown that failure to separate blocks may result in them becoming permanently fused to one another. Even if you use the same set-up day after day, it's good policy to separate and wring them daily.
Many users compile gage blocks backwards when building up a stack, starting with the largest possible block and working their way down to the last decimal place. This can be quite inefficient and often results in stacks that are five or more blocks high. It's smarter to start small and work your way up. For any nominal dimension under 5", you'll never need to combine more than four blocks, or more than one from each of the four series in the set. Furthermore, the fewer the number of wrings, the smaller the accumulated error in the stack.
As an example, let's use a nominal dimension of 1.3248". We work by creating zeros, starting from the right. To create a zero in the 10-thousandths place, we have only one choice in the series of 10ths blocks: the 0.1008" block. Select that block, subtract it from the nominal dimension, and we've created our first zero. We're down to 1.2240".
We have three choices in the second series of blocks, to turn the thousandths place into our next zero: 0.104", 0.114" and 0.124". We'll take the last one and kill two zeros with one stone. Subtract 0.124" from 1.2240", and we're down to 1.1000". Now it's easy. Pick the 0.1000" block and, last, the 1.0000" block. Four blocks, requiring just three wrings, and we're done. But don't forget to clean them first.
About the author
As applications manager, gaging products, at Federal Products Co. in Providence, Rhode Island, Drew Koppelmann provides dimensional gaging applications assistance to companies in a wide range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, packaging and electronics. He may be reached by fax at (401) 784-3246.

John Hasler
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by John Hasler » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:09 pm

asallwey writes:
> Then I remembered that I have a can of Flitz polish.

I'd never let anything labeled "polish" touch a gauge block (if I owned any).

Harold_V
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by Harold_V » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:50 am

John Hasler wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:09 pm
asallwey writes:
> Then I remembered that I have a can of Flitz polish.

I'd never let anything labeled "polish" touch a gauge block (if I owned any).
I'm afraid I'd have to agree. Nothing should coat the surfaces of gauge blocks, especially substances that tend to build up. Keep 'em clean, and in their proper container.

Webber provides a chamois to be used in cleaning the faces. I recommend it highly. And when all else fails, a swipe across a sheet of clean, unprinted paper. One from a pad works well (while still in the pad).

Blocks should wring without effort, and should not have any substance applied before wringing. Anything added will simply subtract from the precision one pays for when buying gauge blocks.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

Inspector
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by Inspector » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:01 pm

The something to keep in mind is the OP said "(the set was used and apparently Machinist made)" so while still important to care for gauge blocks, his may or may not even be up to the lowest grade standards unless there were calibration documents with it at one time. Still very useful for home use but wouldn't be for inspection or calibration. Have to tip the hat to a machinist that could make his own gauge blocks.

asallwey
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by asallwey » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:59 pm

Thanks for the feedback!

Your comments are appreciated and I found the article real interesting. I did note that Mr. K. does say : "To inhibit corrosion from ambient humidity while the blocks are in storage, coat them with a noncorrosive oil, grease or commercial gage block preservative." So I'm good with the RIG oil. He probably would have taken exception to the polish I used, as you did here.

I've attached a shot of the set. The small blocks are ones I picked up to fill missing ones. The top of the box has MS-T 440 carved into it.
Attachments
001.JPG

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SteveM
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by SteveM » Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:06 pm

John Hasler wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:09 pm
asallwey writes:
> Then I remembered that I have a can of Flitz polish.

I'd never let anything labeled "polish" touch a gauge block (if I owned any).
Reminds me of something someone told me:
Never use a car wax that says "polish" on a black car.

You can always tell those that do - they are the ones that are full of swirl marks.

Steve

John Hasler
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by John Hasler » Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:53 pm

What's RIG oil?

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GlennW
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by GlennW » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:15 pm

John Hasler wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:53 pm
What's RIG oil?
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/11807 ... protectant
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

John Hasler
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by John Hasler » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:36 pm

GlennW wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:15 pm
John Hasler wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:53 pm
What's RIG oil?
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/11807 ... protectant
So light oil and mineral spirits, according to the MSDS.

pete
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by pete » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:41 pm

My first set of gage blocks were Chinese and what I could afford at the time. Each block came tightly wrapped with thin oiled paper. The next set I bought were NOS Mitutoyo also in the old grade 2 now reclassified as a grade 0. Those came right from the factory with a thin uniform coat of what I'd call expensive smelling oil. Some people have acitic skin or live in higher humidity climates. Even without either of those issues I still keep the blocks lightly oiled when not in use. And for anything where high accuracy is important there's not a hope I'd use any form of polish or coating other than that light oil that's easy to remove. I have read about using pure lanolin as a recognised product for an anti rust gage block storage product but haven't tried it yet. Paper is mentioned for cleaning the anvil faces and jaws on micrometers and calipers. For carbide faced mike anvils it's probably ok and very doubtful it could do any harm. But a great deal of paper contains clay that is abrasive. That chamois leather seems like the better idea to me for the faces of standard hardened steel gage blocks.

Since the topic is about gage blocks then here's something I just learned from Mitutoyo a few days ago. I don't yet know exactly what causes it but according to Mit. steel gage blocks can grow or shrink up to 1 micron / .00003937" per inch per year. If that affects your shop measurements your doing a lot better than I am, but it was a fact I didn't know before.

Harold_V
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Re: Gage Block Care & Feeding

Post by Harold_V » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:42 am

To limit the amount of movement in gauge blocks, they are subjected to repeated cold cycling before sizing. That they are known to change size is one of the reasons they should be calibrated on a regular schedule.

Interestingly, many folks seem to think that metals are stable. They aren't.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

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