Level Talk

 
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Old 06-04-2017, 08:57 AM   #1
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Level Talk


Well it always seems to be the argument between masons on which is the best level. I have been using stabila for about 3 years now. My brother recently bought a set of 3 piece crick levels and I got a little jealous honestly! So, i just bought a set on ebay I was somehow able to pick up a 48" and 24" 5 piece crick in perfect condition for $160.00 (practically stole them) My only question is I have always had a level with green vials and these vials on the cricks are clear. Was wondering if anyone has ever used a clear vial? and if so are there any downfalls to clear vials or is it just personal preference?
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:52 AM   #2
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Re: Level Talk


I prefer cricks because I prefer wood levels. Every couple of weeks oil them down with linseed oil and they will last forever. Keeping them oiled makes them easy to clean. Cricks have glass windows so they will crack but they are replaceable. Only issue i have with the windows is that mortar is difficult to clean where the metal retainer ring and glass meet. Usually i am in a hurry to leave work and get lazy with cleaning and mortar builds up in there. A tiny paint brush and a very mild solution of acid cleans it right up.

To answer your question i have both green and clear viles and the only difference is that the clear is sometimes hard to see indoors or low light conditions, usually no biggie since i am usually outside during the daytime working


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Last edited by Windycity; 06-04-2017 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:54 AM   #3
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Re: Level Talk


Had a Smith for years that had clear vials, just a matter of preference but I will admit that as I get older the green ones are easier to see in the bright sun.
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Old 06-04-2017, 01:23 PM   #4
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Re: Level Talk


Well this is an interesting and previously discussed topic. I'm like most masons,love the look,feel and heft of a wood level. However.........curved glass vial levels are totally archaic. Have never owned a Stabilia,hear and believe they are good levels. Over the winter,I purchased a 2' & 4' Sola level,love them beyond measure. Sola is the oldest and largest level company in the world. Reason many have not heard of them is because they just entered the U.S. market in 2007. They have magnified vials(love that feature as time marches on)+ they are a tad less costly than Stabilia.

Bottom line,if you want a pretty level,buy a Crick or Smith. If you want a dependable,accurate level that reverses itself first time every time,buy a Stabila or Sola. Solid block acrylic vials are the technology to have. Curved glass vials are passe'.
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Old 06-04-2017, 03:04 PM   #5
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Re: Level Talk


Look lke nice levels FJN, top down is the future, leaning to look at bubbles, no thanks !
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Old 06-04-2017, 04:21 PM   #6
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Re: Level Talk


I've owned smith and stabila...both are nice. I'd say Fred put what to use in a very concise way. I've seen sola and liked the way they looked too, but I've never used one.
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:05 PM   #7
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Re: Level Talk


We only sell Smith, but I only use Stabila, my wood levels are decorations.
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:21 PM   #8
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Re: Level Talk


I have said this before in a past thread. I own a 2' & 4' set of Smith and crick that NEVER made it to a job site. Reasons being,cannot get them to read the same between sizes or reverse themselves in all plumb positions. And that is after they were sent back to factory to be tweaked !

In one of those conversations (don't know which company) I begged them to at least offer solid block vials as an option if they did not want to totally "convert". Well,here it is probably 6 yrs. later,business is still as usual.

They need to get up to speed or they will go the way of buggy whip makers. It is sorta like the phone company,if it was not for "old timers" myself included,land lines will be a thing of the past. The young generation,don't want them,don't use them,won't pay to have them.
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:41 PM   #9
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Re: Level Talk


I remember breaking the glass on an exact level hours after buying it. Good times...
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:32 PM   #10
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Re: Level Talk


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
We only sell Smith, but I only use Stabila, my wood levels are decorations.



Have you guys ever thought of offering one of the other discussed brands ?
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:56 PM   #11
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Re: Level Talk


I don't plan on getting rid of my stabilas. Just wanted a wood to give it a shot and I like the way my brothers felt as we were running up a 16"x16" brick pier. Also, I like how the bubble slowly moves rather then erratic like the stabila. My stabilas are only about 3 months old beings as though I just bought them I'll hold on to em and just have twosets on the truck. This brand SOLA that was brought up was interesting I might have to look into that because stabilas customer service on repairs is horrible. Every time I sent a level back they would come up with some bull**** excuse on why they couldn't warranty the claim. I had a 24" I sent to them that was out of level. They sent it back and said it was bent. I laid that level on 100 different surfaces 100 different ways and I can tell you that nothing was wrong with that level stabilas warranty is just a scam. Not taking anything away from the level at all just the service on warranty claims
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Old 06-04-2017, 08:42 PM   #12
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Re: Level Talk


This brand SOLA that was brought up was interesting I might have to look into that because stabilas customer service on repairs is horrible. Every time I sent a level back they would come up with some bull**** excuse on why they couldn't warranty the claim. I had a 24" I sent to them that was out of level. They sent it back and said it was bent. I laid that level on 100 different surfaces 100 different ways and I can tell you that nothing was wrong with that level stabilas warranty is just a scam. Not taking anything away from the level at all just the service on warranty claims


Well,I don't have any knowledge regarding Stabilia warranties. I did call a Sola rep. before I purchased my levels to inquire about warranties if needed. He informed me to just take it to any dealer (Home Depot is one) and as long as frame is not bent,they will exchange it. Just hoping I don't need that service.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:16 PM   #13
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Re: Level Talk


[QUOTE=fjn;6008698]This brand SOLA that was brought up was interesting I might have to look into that because stabilas customer service on repairs is horrible. Every time I sent a level back they would come up with some bull**** excuse on why they couldn't warranty the claim. I had a 24" I sent to them that was out of level. They sent it back and said it was bent. I laid that level on 100 different surfaces 100 different ways and I can tell you that nothing was wrong with that level stabilas warranty is just a scam. Not taking anything away from the level at all just the service on warranty claims


yea I've sent two levels back before and they just sent them right back to me one was iffy another there was definatly nothing wrong with
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Old 06-05-2017, 01:30 AM   #14
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Re: Level Talk


[quote=Jalliano1;6008810]
Quote:
Originally Posted by fjn View Post
This brand SOLA that was brought up was interesting I might have to look into that because stabilas customer service on repairs is horrible. Every time I sent a level back they would come up with some bull**** excuse on why they couldn't warranty the claim. I had a 24" I sent to them that was out of level. They sent it back and said it was bent. I laid that level on 100 different surfaces 100 different ways and I can tell you that nothing was wrong with that level stabilas warranty is just a scam. Not taking anything away from the level at all just the service on warranty claims


yea I've sent two levels back before and they just sent them right back to me one was iffy another there was definatly nothing wrong with


I just sent in a 17 year old 6'-8" level and they sent me a brand new one, no issue.



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Old 06-05-2017, 08:55 AM   #15
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Re: Level Talk


We have tried, but Crick/Smith have the market wrapped up.
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Old 06-05-2017, 10:40 AM   #16
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Re: Level Talk


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
We have tried, but Crick/Smith have the market wrapped up.
What are you referring to?
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:12 AM   #17
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Re: Level Talk


Crick/ Smith levels both use what at one time were longer/ larger easier to use vials that are were/are easier to read then the former "top dog" levels, 'Vemeer' produced in Chicago with mahogany wood, (unlaminated, the natural grain had a tendency to twist, etc) I have a set of the old man's, from the early sixties, mostly in working order, but harder to see then the big vial, and now of course, irreplaceable as heirlooms to use on high scaffold....or around crazed forklift/crank up scaffold operators....

And of course the stainless 'furniture' that protects the straight edges somewhat over the old school bare wood... The slightly larger Vial force the makers to enlarge the wood beam ~1/8" deeper, which made the sticks a little stiffer compared to the previous designs...

Triva: Chicago Union Masons were required to record their levels serial numbers with the stewards to reduce thieving of the nearly identical mahogany levels used by most...

When did it become "Uncool" to have a pair of levels hanging from the Gunracks in our trucks?

Insert Political Rant here....

Clear vials RE: Crick/Smith are alcohol based( yes, Virginia the "Whiskey Stick" exists) they're faster to settle, young studs can read the vial quicker, - If they didn't have some greater ability, why would they still be produced if they didn't work better in some jobs? The colder the more the green fluid viscosity delays the leveling/plumbing process....

If You can't SEE the bubble, who cares HOW quick it settles???

Crick/Smith vials, larger also let in more back light for visibility compared to the older wood sticks, and the white painted surround helps, don't the paint get wet and dingy....caulk the lenses.... buy spare lenses with the level...

Tell the cheap skate Boss the lighting is inadequate for quality workmanship....and safety.

The clear vials also have the bubble change size more as the fluid has greater Vapour Pressure, thus requiring a few extra moments of care in use in temperature extremes.

The vials in the C-S levels, designed/built by former Masons use "borrowed" tech to set the vials in Plaster of paris type of material, that does come loose in levels that struck with a hammer/ trowel or just travel in the work truck/gang box.

Older levels sometimes can be repaired by removing the lines and repainting them, or adding fine black wire as lines...

when I was young and ignorant/poor and worked for others, I never struck my level, (well rarely...), and levels would last up to 3-4 years in daily use... unless the forklift/crankup monsters ate them. Then economics of laying several more units a day will buy several levels prior to their demise.. and rare is the 4 footer that lasts more then year before it gets a little spooky on one or more bubbles....

But a Crick or Smith level WILL last a careful carpenter most of their career, and be a usually a good looking functional Object to be proud of.

Some hints: Buy only in person, Don't mail order, The sellers sell even the below average sticks.... Solid, sans hand HOLES levels will outlast the same stick with large glove sized openings.... but are heavier, and little awkward on chimney scaffold. Five plys do seem to stay a little straighter over the years/months... Rubber ends reduce G forces when dropped on them...

I use my tired sticks to cut down for various tight spot piers etc... a 45" or 38" stick is pretty handy on some over designed nightmares

New levels require caulking if one is to clean them with an Acid based cleaner....

Any mechanic ought to be investing in their tool kit all their career, at least 1% of the gross income for hand tools as a journeyman, about one hour of weeks pay for apprentices/improvers, (2.5%).

Smart foremen/owners always keep a set of basic tools for sale/loan to fiscally immature employees to keep up standards of workmanship/production.

The quickest evaluation of a company's workmanship level would come from observing how their levels are treated at the work site

Last edited by Fouthgeneration; 06-08-2017 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 06-28-2017, 05:51 AM   #18
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Re: Level Talk


My levels are Crick but I was taught by the old school. I have seen Stabilla and wasn't thrilled with the cosmetics. I have heard decent things.

Now that I have been reading about Sola, I think I am sold. I was reading an article and the writer mentioned that they make a mason specific line that you can tap with your trowel? I have looked but haven't found any information matching that. I think I really am gonna give Sola a fair test run.

Nothing will beat the appearance of my Crick set, but I have to see what the red team has to offer.


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Old 10-27-2017, 11:50 AM   #19
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Re: Level Talk


I found an old wood level in a barn on my property. It's from the previous owners of the property so I was surprised to find it. I'll have to check it again but I think it has a very slight bow to it. Does that mean it's junk? I was thinking of giving it to my dad. It works for homeowner stuff if the bow ruins it.

Also, this... https://litemortarboards.com/blogs/news/general-guide-to-levels
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Old 10-27-2017, 01:07 PM   #20
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Re: Level Talk


Interesting talk. I've never heard of Sola, but will check them out. I use Crick levels, but admit I'm a little rough on them, but they still last me about 8-10 years. I'll buy a new set, even though my old set still performs well.....I just like buying a new tool occasionally.

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