Calipers can measure any length up to 7.5 inches accurately to within .001â€?(1/1,000 of an inch). All of them are very handy and easy to use for a quick check of engine components. There are three major styles of calipers. You can choose them depends on how much you are willing to learn, and how much you want to spend on them. If the measurement you want to take beyond 7.5 inches, extended calipers are available, however, you wonâ€™t need such large ones for engine work.
The smooth calipers have no measuring scale on them at all, and those are just for transferring a particular dimension to another measuring device, such as an inside micrometer. They can be handy for getting into tight places, and when combined with micrometers, can provide accurate information. It does require some skill and experience to use them, as two measurements have to be taken instead of one.
The vernier caliper is the most accurate and durable caliper . The device is called that because it has a vernier scale etched into it that tells you the dimension you are measuring to the thousandth of an inch. Vernier scales can be a little confusing until you get the hang of reading them.For another thing, most professional machinists will use nothing else. If you donâ€™t want to bother with the vernier scale, for a few bucks more you can get a dial . These have an analog dial built into them that will tell you dimensions in thousandths of an inch. You just zero out the dial with the calipers closed or zeroed on a measuring standard, then take your measurement. If you buy a quality dial caliper, accuracy will not be a problem and they are easy to use.
The most expensive of the choice isâ€”the digital caliper which has a new kid on the block. There is a batteryâ€”powered digital readout that is simple to comprehend, but it becomes a paperweight if the battery dies. Digital calipers can also be confining in the same way that learning to drive a car with an automaticâ€”but never mastering a standard shiftâ€”can cut down on your options. Someday you might be in a situation where all that is available to you is vernier caliper, and you wonâ€™t be able to use it if you have never learned how.