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"Thickness measurement of plating & paint: B.S.A.-Tinsley tool"

Current question and answers:

March 8, 2021

Q. The steel part first plated Zn-Ni, then painted, what method can be used to measure the double coatings thickness?

cheng wan
- changsha hunan, China

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March 2021

A. Hi cheng. A simple magnetic thickness gauge should offer you the total thickness of both the plating and the paint, but I'm having a hard time understanding why that is very valuable information :-)

If you detail who you are, what you do, and why you care (as well as perhaps offering a little info on the parts in question, the answers can probably be more insightful.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Previous closely related Q&A's starting in:


I acquired some machine tools that I often use in rebuilding auto engines.

one tool in a tool the size and shape of a old doctors thermometer.
The tip is magnetic with a in thousandths of an inch.

The tool is stamped B.S.A. Tinsley, Made in England

What is this tool used for and how is it used.

it's been sitting in my toolbox for a few years now and it still has me stumped.

When I searched the web for BSA Tinsley I could only read a small note that it is used in measuring coating thickness. The rest of the article was only for members and $30 was too much to pay to find out the details of something that I may never get any use out of.

Gary Pfeiffer
farrier services - Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

1st of two simultaneous responses2005

Sounds like a plating thickness tester. They are used to make nondestructive measurements of thickness but are only useful on ferromagnetic based substrates like iron cobalt or nickel. I've no idea how to use it but if you post in a clear photo of the instrument perhaps we could hazard a guess :)

Peter Van de Luecht
- Melbourne, Vic., Australia

2nd of two simultaneous responses2005

It sounds like a magnetic device for measuring non-magnetic coatings on magnetic substrates, i.e., zinc on steel. There's a spring loaded magnet inside a tube which has an imprinted scale. Lower force to lift the magnet = thicker coating.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina


Dear Gary,
I found the same tool at home, too.

I found a page
that offer an similar tool.
Here is the short description:

If the high accuracy of electronic coating thickness measuring instruments is not necessary, the question about a simple and economical alternative sets itself up again and again. For these cases of application now the coating thickness gauge "LEPTO-Pen" was added to the sales program. The LEPTO-Pen works on untempered commercial quality steel substrate according to the known magnetic attraction principle (EN ISO 2178). It is composed of an precision magnet and a mechanical spring balance, the scale of which is calibrated and labeled in µm coating thickness. The handling of the gauge is correspondingly easy.

The magnetic attraction of a magnet to coated ferromagnetic material is a measure for the coating thickness. When lifting the LEPTO-Pen off the specimen, the built-in precision spring is elongated until the magnet snaps off the specimen. The elongation of the spring immediately before snap-off of the magnet corresponds to the attraction force and thus to the coating thickness.

The LEPTO-Pen is applicable for measurement in virtually every position (e.g. horizontally or vertically with magnet to the top - "overhead measuring"). With coating gauges, which operate according to the attraction principle, the working range of the spring is shifted slightly depending on its orientation due to the own weight of the magnet. The LEPTO-Pen compensates for this effect by means of the adjusting screw and a calibration mark on the scale (2).

Greetings from Germany

Bernd Janisch
- Nürtingen, Germany

March 16, 2010

Thanks for this info guys...I bought one of these at a garage sale in beautiful condition in it's own special box...wondered what on earth it was used for
Question answered!

Louise Anthony
- Melbourne,Victoria, Australia

May 9, 2010

Hi ,I Have one of these very handy - here is some more info mine was made by Evershed and Vignoles Limited who are now named Megger who still make them http://www.omnicontrols.com/detail.aspx?ID=126
This will give you an indication whats it's worth; have no idea when it was mine was made?

Peter Moschini
- Perth Western Australia

October 14, 2010

This was used in a automobile assembly plant to measure the thickness of the paint. It was used by specifications' man to check the paint. It was known as a f... stick because it meant the painter wasn't putting on enough paint.
ref: GMC leeds missouri plant. I have one too !

vincent hinkebein
leeds - independence Missouri

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