Monthly Archives: March 2012

More on the microscope problem

I’ve been trying (since shortly after Michael’s death) to get my supplier to provide a good photo (or ANY photo!) through the new scope — unsuccessfully. I have managed to take a ‘decent-enough’ photo through the reticle. If you’d like a higher-resolution version of this photo, please let me know.

Through the universal scope

A week or so ago, I met for a couple of hours with a microscopy expert and he is helping me find a company that will manufacture microscopes to my specifications. I’m hoping to go back to a scope as close as possible to the ones we used a few years ago, which were of higher quality and had finer/better reticles. (Remember these?)

Old-style scope

That means (if I can find a good-and-affordable mfg, which this expert thinks I can) that Micro-Metrics will be going back to using the metric-only-marked reticles (i.e., 20-microns between hashmarks) for customers who want them and English-marked reticles (at 0.1-mil per hashmark) for the others. It is my plan, depending on how much the new scopes turn out to cost, to offer a reduced price to the folks who’ve bought the current “universal” scopes, for them to send their gauges in and have the universal scopes swapped out for the new scopes. (And yes, that’s a staggeringly huge job (which I will have to schedule so as not to be swamped by several hundred gauges at once!) — but I very much want to get the so-called “50-micron / universal” scopes out of circulation!)

The old-style scope in an OG202

I am also hoping to be able to have made scopes with a 75X magnification and hashmarks at 0.0005″ (for customers who may desire that fineness) — however I will not be able, at this point, to consider making those scopes in a metric version. (Design and set-up charges, ordering quantities, and pricing, you know?) I do not know if the finer-measuring English version would be desired in Europe (and other metric locales), but an English-version at this level is a possible next step after (or perhaps while) replacing the “universal” scopes.)

I welcome comments and suggestions and information about your microscope needs. I know getting to the ‘old-scope versions’ back in place will go a pretty good way to making Tooke Gauges more useful. But I want to make Micro-Metrics responsive to customer needs.

Some administrative stuff

Some of you may have noticed that old Post Office box remittance address (PO Box 13804, ATLANTA) has disappeared from the site, and the only address listed is the office address (4450 Ansley Lane, CUMMING). The Post Office box is still active, and will be till the end of 2012, so everyone has a chance to switch over their Accounts Payable systems, but I am planning on closing the box at the end of this year. (So, please, if you’ve not updated your Accounts Payable file, make the PO Box address disappear. Thanks!)

A little “back-of-the-house” stuff: I have dissolved the original corporation (Surco Southern Corporation, doing business as Micro-Metrics Company) and created a new Limited Liability Company (SnowTao LLC, doing business as Micro-Metrics Company). I’m sure, had Ray Tooke (and Mike Laurence) had the option of creating an LLC instead of a “C”-class corporation (way back in 1961!), they’d’ve taken it. I do have that option, and it ends the double taxation that C-corps are heir to! That doesn’t change anything for our Micro-Metrics customers, except that if you pay by bank transfer (wire transfer, OTT, whatever you call it), there is a new bank account number you will need to use.

(Elenor’s aside: Dissolving Surco Southern was an emotional wrench: Some of the changes I am choosing (or having) to make are easy, some feel like I’m … abandoning … Michael still further. But, for the Micro-Metrics Company to carry on and grow, some of the “less-than-optimal” choices made by Michael (or his dad) need to be replaced or modified. I actually have a good deal more business experience than Michael did. (My resume: Michael was a historian and a warrior: he used to jokingly (and wryly) say that he had fallen back on the last refuge of the ne’er-do-well — the family business. As you all know, he was a superb and conscientious businessman, but there were and are many things that he did not have the time or the inclination to address.

When we met, I described to him the concept of the company as “golden handcuffs” — too painful to wear, too good to take off — and he instantly recognized that was what Micro-Metrics was to him. To me? It’s an enjoyable (if sometimes stressful) challenge. Unlike Mike, I enjoy business, I like managing all the facets of a company, and I actually really like Micro-Metrics as a company.

Elenor and Michael, cruising 2010

I am still working to organize and streamline Micro-Metrics. There are still a number of supply chain problems to work out (as some of you have noticed {wince}). Some of it is lack of familiarity: Mike knew from long experience that this-or-that supplier was slower than one might expect; I am learning that, to my dismay, when the parts I need take several weeks longer than I had planned for. But, of course, that will be fixed by experience. I am trying to make sure I have all the raw materials I need on hand at all times, so I can stay ahead of ordering… And, of course, changing over from the “bad machinist” to the two new ones means, going forward, I can get parts as I need them. Obviously, the Microscope Problem still exists. But I’m working on it.

New OG200 carry cases are available!

Micro-Metrics is replacing the vinylette-with-snaps cases that the OG202 and OG204 Tooke Paint Inspections Gauges have come in for years, and will now provide a plastic (polypropylene) carry case with foam inserts to carry your Tooke Gauge and spare parts. The outside dimensions are 7.75″ (19.7cm) by 6.57″ (16.7cm) by 1.85″ (4.7cm) and the case comes with a handle and two latches.

New OG200 case

Inside, the foam insert holds the Tooke Gauge, the marker, wrench, spare bulb and spare batteries. (Reminder: Tooke Gauges now come with rugged, longer-lasting LED bulbs.)

New OG200 case

If you carry a Cutting Tip Holder (Micro-Metrics CTH01), you can place the Cutting Tip Holder in the pre-cut battery “compartment” in the foam and, as shown below, cut a bit of foam off the insert to put the batteries along the edge.

New OG200 case

The new cases have arrived and if you wish to replace your old vinylette case with the new plastic one, they are now available for purchase. Cases cost $32 USD (plus UPS shipping), and if you’ll let me know which gauge you have, I’ll put the correct label on the box.

New OG200 case
New OG200 case

I am also looking into cases to replace the current vinylette cases used for the MG402 Microgroover and the H-501 Pencil Hardness Gauge.

The Microscope Problem

When the original source for the long-time scopes (Edmunds Scientific) stopped making them (completely), Michael had to find a substitute, which he did, with the current “universal” scope. As I’m sure many have noticed, this scope is just not sufficient for many of our customers’ needs.

I’ve been researching and looking and contacting folks trying to find a scope with a better, finer reticle. The old scope:
old scope
was divided so the smallest hashmark equaled 0.1 mil.

The new “universal” scope:
new scope
is divided so the smallest hashmark equals 0.2 mil.

I have not found a source for a better scope, so I am looking into having them made specially for Micro-Metrics. If I can manage to get a factory to ‘build’ me scopes with 1 division (hashmark) equaling 0.1 mil (or better? Would that suit? Please leave me a comment!), at a price that won’t make the gauges astronomically expensive, I will do that.

New LED bulbs too!

I’ve found a source for LED bulbs to go in the OG202 and OG204 Tooke Gauges. The manufacturer says they should have an “LED Life time: Long life, 50,000 hours.”

LED bulbs

Starting 1 March 2012, new gauges will ship with LED bulbs. I’m looking for a direct source for these too, so I can sell them at a lower price point. At the moment, I am able to include these LED bulbs without raising the gauge price. I want to keep it that way!

Coming soon – the *new* OG202

Since Michael’s death, Micro-Metrics has been unable to produce the metal bodied OG202 Tooke Paint Inspection Gauge. The main reason was a very frustrating inability to get the machined bodies from the machinist who had made them for a couple of decades. After much stress and trying to get them from him, I found a local machinist who has an astonishing work ethic – and a CNC machine! I had an old drawing (like a blueprint) of the metal body, and a single prepared body that Michael had left behind.

My new machinist and I have been working for several months to decipher, refine, and update the drawing (in his computer) to allow the CNC machine to cut, drill, and mill the bodies. (It takes some 30 steps to make an OG202 body out of a slug of metal — and that’s just preparing the raw body!)

Here’s what the new OG202 looks like: New OG202 Tooke Gauge

Notice the nice chamfered edge to the body.
OG202 Tooke Gauge

The major change is the lack of a cut-through of the body into the battery compartment.

Old-style gauge:
Old-style tip slot old-style OG202

New-style gauge (If you look closely, you can see the tip slot numbering):
New-style tip slot

Closer view of the tip slot numbering:
Tip slot numbering

I hope, by the end of March, to be shipping the new gauges. I already have 13 OG202s on order, and am having my new machinist make 36 bodies to start. (I was able to send out five prototypes of the new version, which have met with a very positive response.)

CTH01 Cutting Tip Holder released!

The CTH01 Cutting Tip Holder, at a little under two inches long, allows easy use of a cutting tip without having to manipulate the Tooke Gauge to make the incision and then manipulate it again to view the incision through the microscope. Make multiple incisions with your most-used tip without having to return the gauge to viewing position multiple times. A tip storage compartment holds two additional tips. Learn more here: Cutting Tip Holder page

CTH01 Cutting Tip Holder

The tip holder comes in a box that slips into your pocket, to keep from impaling your leg with the tip.

CTH01 Cutting Tip Holder