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Old 07-07-2013, 09:50 AM
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platypus20 platypus20 is offline
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Default Harbor Freight #623 Dial Indicator

A while back I bought a cheap HF dial indicator, #623, a 1" travel x .001" increments, I paid roughly $14. I expected that it would be marginal and basically a one time use tool. I am absolutely surprised with the performance, I used the indicator to align the feed pump coupling, the reason it was bought and I found it to be butter smooth and repeatability is great.

I used it to set up a fixture on the mill, then rechecked it with a Federal brand indicator, and got the exact same results. I'm going on 6 months and it seems to be the go to lathe indicator, I not sure if it because it works and easy to read or if its the fact if it get broken, I will feel far less of a loss than with one of the Brown & Sharpes, Starretts or the Mitutoyos I own.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:37 AM
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Norm W Norm W is offline
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I have two of them. Use them for to lathe, mill and making reeds. I made reed checking tools for former students and used those indicators and some scrap stock. At that time I think they were $9. As far as I know they are still working for them.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:04 PM
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eggman918 eggman918 is offline
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I have had equally good results with them,at the lase "old school" repair shop i worked at we had one of them and the H-F mag base on each lathe we would buy them when on sale and they would last surprisingly long.
In this shop we rarely chucked up anything that would be considered easy or designed to fit in a lathe,often it would require a forklift to do the setup
so when they failed it was almost NEVER from old age well worth the money.
Another H-F "cheapy" tool that works well is there 4" angle grinder buy them on sale use the hell out of them and when they fail toss them,they cost less than it costs to overhaul a quality one and they will last 6 months to a year of hard use
and a quality one will need brushes/bearings after that much hard use.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:26 PM
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Tim KS Tim KS is offline
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Default HF Tools

I've had good luck now & then with some HF tools. In particular, in 1980 I bought an half inch drive pnuematic impact wrench that has worked as good & outlasted ones from Chicago Pnuematic (CP) & Snap-On. It looks like it's been run over by a truck (several times) but still works great.
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Old 07-07-2013, 06:11 PM
Arp32 Arp32 is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Phoenix
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I hear stories like this and remember my Harbor Freight heat gun (caught on fire), and grinder (smoked out after 2 minutes).

Decided to only buy "non moveable parts" tools from HF, but then the shovel broke in half and the 48" level leaked water (from the dial).

Borrowed a buddy's HF wet tile saw and it ran like a champ.

Secret seems to be who purchases the tools (i.e., not me!).

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Old 07-07-2013, 06:29 PM
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Windy_Acres Windy_Acres is offline
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Its a pig in a poke, Ive bought 3- 1/4" pneumatic Right angle grinders, before I got one that lasted for more than 5 minutes use, bought one of those tiny pneumatic sawzalls, been through 3, 3rd one died, I dont think any one of them had more than 5 minutes run time, then there was my ultrasonic cleaner, probably got about 2.5hrs of run time out of it before it puked..

I do have an LCD 6" caliper that Ive used for several years, some of the newer pittsburgh pro tools, rival craftsman quality. Ive got one of the mobile tool carts that is a POS, but I like it for what I paid. Oh, and the continuous pumping grease gun, Ive run several cases of grease through one of those, and its still trucking (probably 3 years old). Ive got some other HB nick nacks that are worth what I paid, but Ive had more than a handful of epic failures too.
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:03 PM
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LW Hiway LW Hiway is offline
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Jack, I have not bought any of the HF precision measuring tools, not to say I won't should the need arise and I can feel a tad of the warm fuzzy in trying. Sounds like you got a good deal on that DI

1980 I bought an half inch drive pnuematic impact wrench that has worked as good & outlasted ones
I don't think I saw my first HF catalog until 82 or so. A friend with an automotive/truck repair shop suggested my getting my own catalog as I was trying to sneak out of his shop with his in my back pocket.

He ordered 3 or 4 of the 1/2" drive impacts and ordered a pair for me.

Today all these years later, I still have those two and the high dollar CP bought 10 years earlier. All work just as well and beat the heck out of my impact sockets as a new one would.

With the time I've spent in the shop over the last few years, all of my tools will probably last my lifetime.

Forgot to mention their pneumatic jitterbug pad sanders. I have two of those and they get used on metal and wood and between the two they probably have 50 hrs of use.
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Last edited by LW Hiway; 07-07-2013 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:35 PM
shopsmith shopsmith is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: manassas, va
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If it's a hand tool I might take the gamble. I even have a couple pneumatic tools from them. But if it's a machine tool, lathe, even a router...I've had bad experiences. So much so that I ask myself if it's worth more money to use it out of the box or buy cheap and have to fettle the thing for hours. Vice's, milling tables, forget it. horrible quality. I pity the fools who buy some things and cant tinker them to work right.
I've been surprised by the recent air hammer for $10. It works well. I also am surprised by their polished ratchet sets.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:45 AM
jimkinney jimkinney is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Florida's Space Coast
Posts: 195

I have one of those also, and built a bracket to clamp it to the ways on the lathe. I don't worry about chips and oil dripping on it. I think I paid $10 on sale, so watch the coupons.

My daughter pointed out that they're opening a new H-Freight store about a mile from the house. Not sure yet if that is good or bad, may have to look at the 12 step program early.

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