Digital or mechanical scriber / transfer gage
Mitutoyo two-column mechanical height gages with digital counters can be recommended. These are among the best quality of all mechanical height gages currently on the market.
Be wary of cheap Chinese imitations. Many other "brand" names offer height gages which are in fact made in China*.
Mitutoyo mechanical height gages are made in Japan (as far as we know) and are usually in stock. Accessories and replacement parts are available from authorized distributors. They should never need repair because your are going to be very, very careful with them.
The carbide tipped height gage scriber (60 mm overall length) can be replaced when damaged. The clamp fastens it to the height gage. The dimensions, in cross-section, are 6.35 mm wide by 12.7 mm high. These are made for Mitutoyou height gages. There is no guarantee that these would fit other manufacturers' models.
To use a test indicator with your height gage, you will want to remove the L-shaped scribe and replace it with a test indicator holding bar to which you will fasten a swivel clamp. This can then be used to hold your test indicator either by its stem or dovetail.
Amazon will be your best bet in getting rock-bottom pricing on these height gages. By all means click on "check" price below to see for yourself. By buying from an authorized Mitutoyo distributor or directly from Amazon, you will be assured to get the real Mitutoyo height gage, not a Chinese rip-off. Stay clear of anything with unusually low pricing.
Many of today's height gages, mechanical or digital, which are featured in on-line catalogs are made in China. ProCheck and Etalon are among them.
The one good thing about these gages is the price. You won't be able to find anything cheaper. In appearance they're similar to the Japanese gages, which they have blatantly imitated since the Chinese, under repressive communist leadership, do not respect international patent laws. The drawback will be the fact that repair parts are not available. No one has access to these. When something goes wrong, you'll have no recourse but to scrap the tool. On the other hand, you can probably buy a new Chinese height gage for the same price it would cost to repair a Japanese height gage.
We find that they function accurately, at least when new. The materials may be a bit under-par and the gage won't last as long as higher priced brands. The workmanship, especially "under the hood", is also inferior in comparison, but that's to be expected for the price.
If you plan to put your height gage to heavy, constant or particularly critical use, then we'd suggest - as always - invest in a brand name such as Mitutoyo or Tesa and be sure they're not Chinese imports in disguise. The price will always give it away.
Repairs are almost always possible on the Mitutoyo mechanical height gages with digital counters. (Not true for Chinese–made height gages, regardless of their "brand" name.) Typically, the teeth can be damaged on the gears, the two columns can be knocked out of shape, or the digital counter fails to read correctly. You can shop around for repair shops that might be willing to take the challenge, but your best bet is probably to return them to Mitutoyo. If you are lucky, and the gage is beyond repair, they may offer you a fantastic trade-in price.
Mitutoyo's digital height gages have their advantages: easy to read, convertible from inch to metric, easier repairs (often times all you need to do is replace the digital assembly) and they have SPC output. However, models changed frequently as more and more sophisticated electronic innovations were introduced. Your older digital height gage is probably obsolete by now and parts may be obsolete as well.
Note: Current Mitutoyo DIGIMATIC digital (electronic) height gages are in fact made in China. We can not attest to their worthiness. Fortunately, spare parts appear to be available for current models.)
The High Tech approach to height measurement is really cool and you can do it via the digital Tesa-Hite or Brown & Sharpe Micro-Hite made in Switzerland. They have an accuracy of .0003" They're not for beginners and are available in 16" and 28" heights at suitably high costs. Ask any Brown & Sharpe distributor for details.
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