digital caliper problems

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by accident, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    middle GA
    My Frankford Arsenal digital caliper has served me well for the past year or so but now Its sometimes not maintaining zero.I used it today and it worked ok.I know it's not the most expensive unit out there do you think its time to upgrade?I can get a Lyman for about $50.00.I guess I should call them.I don't think it's the batteries.Has anyone else had experience with this caliper?What do ya'll suggest?I'm thinking about going with a dial type.I've got a jap made metric dial caliper thats worked for 25 years.Not as much to go bad on them but I like the ease of the digital.What do you think? Joe
  2. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth
    It could very well be the batteries. I have two brands, one is a Mitutoyo, the other is Fowler. They both work well and have never had an issue except for when the batteries are weak. If they were dropped or got damaged somehow, that may be an issue. I would replace the batteries and go from there. If you're going to buy a new set, stick with picking up a good set online. Mitutoyo or Starett are the best quality, but others are just fine too. The Fowler set that I have can be found for about $24 - 30 shipped brand new off of flEaBay. Just have to be patient and sort by "newly listed" items and you'll find one in that price range. Mitu's are going to be at least double that.

  3. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    middle GA
    Thanks Wolley.If I had read the booklet,it says when the battery gets low the reading can jump "simmultaneously" and thats kind of what it does.I'll try a battery first. Thanks Joe.
  4. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    Hmmmm...All the more reason to keep on using my 'dinosaurs' - aka purely mechanical, measuring tools.......And mine will keep on truckin' even after the EMP, too !! >MW
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    the one woolley gave me at our last shootout is working fantastically:) Thanks worm!
  6. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    West Virginia
    The easiest way I found to fix a digital caliper is with one of these.


    :D Nothing wrong with a digital I just don't like dealing with batteries if I don't have to.
  7. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    got me one of them too;)
  8. vulcrider

    vulcrider Member

    Nov 6, 2006
    Got my digital form Harbor Freight. Thought the battery was weak when the display kept jumping. Found out that ti was due to the unit getting cold in my basement. If I warmed the battery first or kept it upstairs where it was normally warm, no problems.
    I found the same problem with my Frankford digital scale. Trick is to make sure everything is at room temp before using and to verify with a known item, at least for me.
  9. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I got mine from Harbor Freight for about $12 and it works as good as one of the $50 brand name ones.
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    The Harbor Freight Digital Caliper (I have one and my son has one) eat up batteries even if you judiciously turn them off after every use. They also change zero on their own. I would not suggest using them.

    All the ones from reloading equipment suppliers are way more expensive than you can get better ones from a machinist supply house like Rutland Tool and Supply:

    I have both a set of Browne and Sharp and a set of Mitutoyo, both do metric and english measurements, both are superbly accurate, and I recommend them both. Digital calipers come in all price levels. Rutland also has some East European versions (Prestige Brand??). Based on other prestige products I use with my lathe I suspect they are good too (??).

    Precision measurement, as we often have to do in reloading, are no better than the instrument used to make them. Just because they read to four decimal places does not mean they are accurate to four decimal places. Buy one good set and it will probably last a life time. The Harbor Freight ones are junk, in my opinion. I only bought them to bang around with on garage projects but even for that they are a waste of money.

  11. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Akron, Ohio
    As a former QC inspector I have owned and used a wide range of measuring tools. In my opinion the best calipers being made today (both dial and digital) are Mitutoyo. Expect to pay $100.00-$150.00 for stainless steel digitals. They are worth it and with care will last a lifetime.


    By the way, using calipers properly can greatly enhance their accuracy and life. If your calipers are stopping and then backing off .0005 or so, chances are you are tightening down on the piece being measured and springing the caliper legs. A very light touch does it. If you are checking them against a standard and getting inconsistent readings, then they are worn out.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  12. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    middle GA
    I bought my NSK jap.metric dial calipers 25-30 years ago and they still work as new.Paid about 50.00 off the MAC TOOLS truck.I worked on foriegn cars only then.I'm thinking of getting the Lyman SS dial calipers from Midway but theyre only $25.00.I wonder if theyre any good?Seems awful cheap to be of high quality.Any other recommendations?I can't afford the Starrets unfortunately. THANKS Joe
  13. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Joe, I reloaded for 5 years with a cheap 'made in china' dial caliper and it never let me down.

    Then I was pilfering through my dads old pattern making tools and found 2 old dial calipers, 1 of which I took. It too was made in china but read to .0001" instead of .001". Both have served me well over the years.

    A few weeks ago wooleyworm gave me a fowler digital that reads to the .0005" and it by far is my favorite now. Of course I keep the dials for backup but I dont need 2. If you need 1 ill send you one, no charge;)
  14. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    middle GA
    Thanks for the offer JLA.Hang on to them until my next reloading session I'll know by then if the new batteries in my Frankforts will fix them.If they work ok for me then I think I'll be ok.Very generous offer and I'll let you know if they don't work out.They worked fine until recently and I like the ease of the digital readout.I really appreciate the offer and I'll let you know if I need them.Can't beat the price! THANKS Joe
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    yup.. they aint goin nowhere, theyll be here if you do need one...;)
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