Author Topic: Fixing a Moore & Wright level  (Read 16683 times)

bogstandard

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Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« on: November 14, 2009, 05:22:28 PM »
Before I start on this repair, I will give you a little history lesson about me and this 6" engineers level.

Many years ago, I did a short stint in a metrology lab, a time I didn't really enjoy, but it has helped me now. These levels were the type we used in the factory, and it was one of my jobs to repair and calibrate them (much finer than I am doing here, because we had specialist setting equipment).

A few months ago, Stew asked to borrow my level to set up his machines, no problems normally, and I thought the 6" would be easier for doing the job. After getting it out of my instrument cupboard, I noticed that the vial was empty of liquid, so Stew went away with the 12" one, and I was left with a level with no bubble.
Last week I bought a replacement vial @ 16 squid each (a new level is well over 100 squid), anyway, the company had a min order of 50 squid, so I bought 3 spare vials and a few spare mini vials that are fitted to these levels. No worries, I am sure that another will be broken at some time, or if anyone needs a new vial, I can let them have one without going to the company.

So here is the faulty level, and the very fragile glass vial. The vials aren't too bad, it is the tiny heat sealed tube at the end that is the real problem bit.




The two end holes are where the screws are that keeps everything together, and once removed, everything just comes apart.




The end plugs come out once the retaining screws are manouvered to sitting inside the plugs, and the vial protective sleeve slides off.
If you look into the end, you will notice that the vial is retained in position by a layer of plaster of paris.




The plaster breaks up very easily, and soon the whole lot comes apart. As I suspected, the small sealing tube had snapped off and the liquid had gently drained and evaporated away. I must have at one time, rough handled the level, and caused this to happen. The coloured card is there just to give a background colour to the vial, and you could put almost any colour you want in there.




So now to the assembly.
First off, the backing card is put in and gently followed by the vial. Until the vial is stuck in, it is very fragile because of what was mentioned earlier.




I then centred the vial up in the aperture. This isn't critical, close enough is good enough, but it is better if you can get it very close or spot on.




Once centralised, masking tape was used to hold it in position.
I got to this point yesterday, and when I went into my storeroom to get the sealing plaster, it wasn't there. I must have thrown it out sometime.




So at first light, I was on the trail to get something to stick it in with. We don't have any hobby or craft shops in town, so plaster of paris was out of the question, and I decided to use fast setting, non shrink, crack repair, that is used on plaster walls. That should be perfectly good enough.
It was mixed up to a consistency where it would stand up in a peak and not collapse, just like when making meringue.




This was then put into the tube to a depth of about 3/16" on each end of the vial, taking great care not to damage the glass seal.




After an hour, it was set enough to clean up the overspill and assemble the unit back up.




The bubble length in each individual vial is a different length normally, so each level has to be set up to that bubble length, getting it spot on central.
But unless you are in a metrology lab, you will be hard pushed to find something that is perfectly level. If you can find somewhere that is a nice flat surface, and somewhere close to level, you can use that for your setup.
I used an area on my mill table to do it, and marked up an area that was to be used, so that the level is set up on the same position each time it is turned around. As you can see, my table isn't level, it is maybe six thou out over the 3ft table length.
You use a combination of slackening and tightening all four screws to end up with, when the level is turned thru 180 degrees, the same reading.
This is the first side.




Turned around, and this is the second reading. Very, very close, and this will do for now. I will let the plaster set for another day or so, then recheck and fine tune it if needed. As you can see, the table is one division out of level on both ways.




I popped the 12" onto the table in the same sort of position, and again, that shows one division out.




So I am now happy that the repaired level will be plenty good enough to be used in my shop.

Bogs

Offline GordTopps

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2009, 06:01:13 AM »
Great write up bogs.

Somewhere perfectly flat would be a piece of wood or similar material floating on a bowl of water. But of course there is no stability on that, but at least it would be convenient to check the level?

Gordy
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bogstandard

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2009, 06:58:57 AM »
Perfectly true Gordy, but I think keeping it level whilst working would be a major problem, and how long would it take for the water to eventually settle down once disturbed.

I think I will stick with how I do it.

Bogs


BTW, the reason the Polish water skiing team hasn't been seen recently is because they are still looking for a sloping lake to practice on. :lol:



The oldies are always the best.

Offline GordTopps

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2009, 07:06:11 AM »
Bogs.....

That's not olden.....it's golden!  :lol:

Gordy
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Offline mklotz

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2009, 11:55:29 AM »
Quote
It was mixed up to a consistency where it would stand up in a peak and not collapse, just like when making meringue.

You're already a master machinist and now we find out you're a chef as well.  A true Renaissance man - he can make both the stuffed pheasant and the knife and fork with which to eat it. :)
Regards, Marv

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Offline JimM

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2011, 05:43:09 PM »
Know this is an old topic but I've just followed this guide to repair a broken M&W level I picked up on the bay and thought I'd give a quick update on where to get the vials.

They can still be had from Moore & Wright direct, currently priced at 20.40 inc VAT each but still a minimum order of 50 but theres no P&P charges.

Alternatively they can  be purchased individually from Cromwell Tools at 19.20 inc VAT plus 4.95 P&P (part number is ELS06)

HTH

Jim



 
Location: Chessington, Surrey

Offline Bogstandard

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2011, 12:39:39 AM »
Jim,

Many thanks for the update on where to get the vials from individually. That will certainly help someone if they have one of these levels to repair.

I hope the guide was good enough for you to get your level up and running again.

If it did, that means at least two people (excluding myself) have been helped by the post, which is absolutely great, and is what passing little snippets of information on is all about.


Bogs
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Offline dickda1

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2011, 10:47:35 AM »
Ah, another very useful project.  Since an engineer's level is very expensive and a vial is somewhat less, what is your opinion on the possible construction of a level?   I have a couple of precision vials from an old job and was wondering about building a frame to put them in  Have long wondered if one had a supply of stable nodular iron, a surface plate and a substantial amount of time on one's hands...

-Dick (with a substantial amount of time on my hands)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 11:03:19 AM by dickda1 »
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Offline Bogstandard

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2011, 12:38:14 PM »
Actually Dick,there is nothing that is top secret in a level.

Basically, just a flat base with a couple of forks sticking up to stop the vial holder from swinging side to side, a tube to hold the vial safely and four adjusting/clamping screws to level it up.

With a nice piece of cast iron (only for longevity) of whatever length you want to make it and a bit of ali tube and of course a vial plus ancillaries, I reckon a very usefull level could fairly easily be made up. Both my M&W levels, 12" & 6" use the basic same centre piece with vial inside, it is only the bases that are a different length.


John
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Offline JimM

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 04:03:02 PM »
Jim,

I hope the guide was good enough for you to get your level up and running again.

If it did, that means at least two people (excluding myself) have been helped by the post, which is absolutely great, and is what passing little snippets of information on is all about.


Bogs

Hi Bogs

Your guide is perfect, when I started my repair I was doing it from memory of reading this some time ago but was having problems trying to get the retaining screws out, a quick refresher on the procedure here and I realised that they were hex head screws not Phillips  :doh:

Dick, I think you could make a very useful level with just the vial and a few bits of scrap. Even if the base of the level isn't pefectly flat it should still work -  I imagine 99% of the time mine won't be used to get things perfectly level but just for comparative measurements  eg my lathe bench has a slope from left to right and front to back but by shimming the level with a couple of gauge blocks I've still been able to get the bed perfectly aligned.

Cheers
Jim
Location: Chessington, Surrey

Offline Ned Ludd

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2011, 07:41:35 PM »
Hi Guys,
I seem to recall that there was an article many years ago in MEW on making your own vials and possibly the whole level, but memory fails on that point.
Ned
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Offline j45on

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2011, 06:21:51 PM »
Hi Guys,
I seem to recall that there was an article many years ago in MEW on making your own vials and possibly the whole level, but memory fails on that point.
Ned

Issues 10,33,36 and 77 have articles on making your own
Jason

Offline Shadow

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2011, 09:20:31 PM »
I have repaired surveying equipment replacing numerous vials. With older engineer's survey levels it was often a requirement under some government contracts to supply a spare vial with a new instrument. Some vials were 8" long. As these levels were furnished in nice wooden finger joint boxes/ carrying cases, a wooden block of suitable length was bored endwise and the tissue wrapped spare vial stored inside. The block was secured to the box with brass wood screws providing a safe haven for the spare, not a bad idea for a precision instrument.

I have read that the sealed pip end (just the tip portion) should be left exposed (un-plastered) to negate the effect to temperature expansion strain on the tip. I never found it a problem.

Nice level and repair Bogs.

Offline Balljoint

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2012, 03:37:47 PM »
Hi Bogs

I have just aquired a Hilger & Watts level and was wondering if the links to the photos in this thread could be reactivated as I am interested in finding out all I can about the procedure

Thanks

Balljoint

Offline Phil916

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2013, 05:49:22 AM »
Hi Folks

same as Balljoint, thread resurection trial...
Useless becomed threads without pictures are the death of forums

 :worthless:

do someone have a backup please ?

thanks
Phil

Offline awemawson

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2013, 04:29:08 PM »
I think that the issue is that the OP (Original Poster) hosted the pictures himself, rather than them being hosted on the forum. If for any reason those pictures are no longer available (crashed, corrupted etc) they are gone.
Andrew Mawson
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Offline MrSleepy

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2014, 04:39:49 AM »
I think that the issue is that the OP (Original Poster) hosted the pictures himself, rather than them being hosted on the forum. If for any reason those pictures are no longer available (crashed, corrupted etc) they are gone.

I think the reason for Bogstandard hosting is own pictures ...was the way HMEMs new owners decided they owned the content that individuals had uploaded.

So presumably when Bogstandard inevitably exited from here (as most anywhere he joined)...his photo links were removed aswell.

I hadnt noticed he'd left here.. when did that happen.... I've seen him post on JS sons site...is that his main reside now ??.

Rob


Offline patuca

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2014, 03:53:34 PM »
I've done repairs to optical survey equipment also.   Precise leveling bubbles are usually expensive because of the sensitivity and the symetry of the bubble movement as well as the accuracy of the bubble movement range (20 sec. bubble  etc.).

For sensitive home-made machine levels an ordinary vial from a carpenters level can be rotated and it will become increasingly sensitive as the curve of the bubble lays flatter. 

While a cheap level bubble can't be calibrated for accurate bubble "movement" or range an ordinary carpenters level bubble can be made extremely accurate for dead level, simply by rotating it or laying it so the curve in the vial is flatter (rather than vertical) and securing it.

patuca

Offline briary9

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2014, 07:07:09 AM »
Hello bogstandard,
I to have had the 50.00 min charge thrown at me. I wonder if the spare precision vials you have will fit my imperial Rabone Chesterman machine level. The viewing window in my level is 2-1/2 inches long and the vial is1/2 inch in diameter.

Regards briary9
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 08:29:06 AM by vtsteam »

Offline vtsteam

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2014, 08:37:26 AM »
Briary, not a good idea to publish your phone number and email address on a public forum. I've removed yours from the last post. Usually people PM each other for something like your request.
I love it when a Plan B comes together.

Offline briary9

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2014, 11:22:07 AM »
Thanks for the tip, I will look out for future posts.
briary9

Offline philf

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2014, 12:23:45 PM »
Hello bogstandard,
I to have had the 50.00 min charge thrown at me. I wonder if the spare precision vials you have will fit my imperial Rabone Chesterman machine level. The viewing window in my level is 2-1/2 inches long and the vial is1/2 inch in diameter.

Regards briary9

Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply from bogstandard - he no longer posts on here.

I had a vial replaced by Starrett a few years ago. I can't remember how much it cost.

Have a look at http://www.leveldevelopments.com/products/vials/ground-vials/5895101-ground-vial-58x12mm-sens-0-05mmm/ - this one may fit. (Again I don't know how much it would cost or what their minimum order is.)

Phil.
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Offline Arbalist

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2014, 01:36:22 PM »
He did post on one of the forums the other week, trouble is I can't remember which one! :(

Offline PTsideshow

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2014, 07:41:41 PM »
John "bog" has been banned from this forum. He was given more than a few chances to change is posting behavior. He choose not to. I believe he was on http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/index.php
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Offline philf

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Re: Fixing a Moore & Wright level
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2014, 04:00:24 AM »
Cromwell tools sell the Moore & Wright vial for 22.08 inc VAT but there's 4.99 (inc VAT) postage on top. If you spend 50 the order is post free. The vial is 85mm long (it doesn't mention the diameter).

https://www.cromwell.co.uk/M%26W3982106G

Phil
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