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Old 04-16-2012, 11:35 PM   #1
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4 foot level question


I found an old 4 foot level in the garage and am having trouble figuring it out.

In the horizontal and vertical positions, each of those have a pair of tubes instead of one.

One of them have a larger bubble and the other has a smaller bubble. It looks like one is more sensitive then the other, but my assumption is that when both are in the middle it's either horizontal or vertical. But it does not work this way, when one is in the middle the other is tilted to one side, and vice versa.

Does this mean the level is bad, or the second bubble are for a different purpose?

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Old 04-17-2012, 01:46 AM   #2
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4 foot level question


This Thread should be moved to Tools

Do you know the Brand or can you post a pic?

I have not seen that type of level with double vials in each plane.
I agree that one of the vials is probably more sensitive.

If you suspect that one or the other vial is whacked out, here is a way to check:
Place the level on any flat surface and with some very thin shim material at the very end, adjust the shims to where the bubble of the more sensitive vial is perfectly centered. Then carefully lift the level, rotate it 180 deg and carefully place in the same position over the shim material. The position of the bubble should still be centered.

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Last edited by PaliBob; 04-17-2012 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:25 AM   #3
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4 foot level question


Early levels had directional vials, hence two, essentally back to back, so that the level could be held and read either way. I'm quite sure that I have at least two older levels like that, but don't specifically recall one vial being perhaps more precise, as in smaller bubble, so will have to try to remember to look at them. The other possibility, if one of the vials has any manner of markings around it, is that the vial can be turned, in order to read grades, pitch, etc.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:28 AM   #4
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4 foot level question


On the double vial level one vial reads for each long side of the level. Yes sometimes one is more 'sensitive' Normally the middle is for horizontal or 'level', one end for vertical or 'plumb', the other end for 45 degrees
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:42 AM   #5
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4 foot level question


Starrett makes a super precision, super expensive, machinist level with double vials:
http://www.mytoolstore.com/starrett/132-24.html
Because it does not seem to be available in a 4' length and because of its design, I do not think its design purpose is the same as that of the O.P. I am more inclined to agree with Post #5
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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4 foot level question


Are the vials slightly curved? My old wooden level has double vials in each position. The curve goes up in the middle, like an arch.

Find a level/plumb surface, then turn the level 180 degrees. Figure out which of the vials is still in calibration. My beautiful mahogony Empire is a wall hanger now, after I figured out that a couple of the bubbles are slightly out of whack. ('bout drove me crazy first, tho)
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:59 PM   #7
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4 foot level question


I have some pictures.

The level is 4' in length, made by Stanley. It has three sets of bubbles. The top and bottom ones are for vertical, and the middle for horizontal. There is no 45.



The top is a set of bubbles, one large one small. They seem to agree with each other. This measures vertical surfaces.



The middle one is for horizontal, again two bubbles one small one large.



The bottom one is the puzzling one. It seems to be out of whack. One would lean left while the other one lean right? I tried but I can't get the two to line up. May be hard to see from the picture due to poor lighting.



I don't understand why the need for two sets of bubbles for vertical. Is it so that you can read the one closer to you while you are holding it up? and is the bottom set of bubbles a defect?
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:37 PM   #8
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4 foot level question


Maybe I wasn't clear on my original post, but yes, that is what I was alluding to in my first scenario. Notice the lines on the vials. The vials have only one internal curve, so you use whichever vial has the lines at the top; one set when it's held one way, and the other set when it's flipped over. As for the width of the bubble, flip the level over, and see if that changes. The vial with the lines down is not the one that you want to use, as the curve is going the wrong way, and probably has an effect on the width of the bubble. Or, it is possible that air has gotten into them over the years. As for the fact that the top and bottom ones read differently, well, one or both of them are out of whack. Is there a brass plate on the side? Some of the old Stanley's, and others I assume, had a plate that could be removed, in order to calibrate the vials. If you decide to do so, proceed carefully; that's a nice old shelf item if nothing else, so take your time.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:56 PM   #9
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4 foot level question


Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicuse View Post
I have some pictures.

The level is 4' in length, made by Stanley. It has three sets of bubbles. The top and bottom ones are for vertical, and the middle for horizontal. There is no 45.



The top is a set of bubbles, one large one small. They seem to agree with each other. This measures vertical surfaces.



The middle one is for horizontal, again two bubbles one small one large.



The bottom one is the puzzling one. It seems to be out of whack. One would lean left while the other one lean right? I tried but I can't get the two to line up. May be hard to see from the picture due to poor lighting.



I don't understand why the need for two sets of bubbles for vertical. Is it so that you can read the one closer to you while you are holding it up? and is the bottom set of bubbles a defect?

That’s a nice old level, but hang it on the wall in the shop to “look at” and buy a Stabila.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:20 AM   #10
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4 foot level question


There's nothing unique about the level, they're almost all that way (wood ones at least). You simply use the bottom vial (the curve will always be "up" in the middle when in use) at all times. When you flip it over the bottom vial will become the top vial. Newer level technology only uses one vial per lense, as the vials are not directional, but with older levels that's just not the case.....
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:16 AM   #11
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Wow! thanks for the last two posts. Learn something every day
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaliBob View Post
Starrett makes a super precision, super expensive, machinist level with double vials:
http://www.mytoolstore.com/starrett/132-24.html
Because it does not seem to be available in a 4' length and because of its design, I do not think its design purpose is the same as that of the O.P. I am more inclined to agree with Post #5
Yuuuup, I've had one of these for over 30 years. I bought mine when they were cheaper-maybe $150.00. But back then $150 was a lot.

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