Categories: Shaft Alignment,Machinery Maintenance,Other Topics

The One Tool Missing in Most Aligner’s Toolboxes

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By on January 18, 2017

I am going to pass along to you a gift – one that I believe could potentially cut your alignment times-maybe by more than half!  One that could lessen loosening and tightening bolts, reduce frustration, and increase your “alignment” confidence substantially!  Would you like such a gift?

micrometerWell, here it is – measure your shim thickness with a micrometer!  Now I know what you’re saying:

  • I always do (I bet you don’t)
  • I use precision stainless steel shims – they don’t need checking (Yes they do!)


You don’t need an expensive measuring tool.  You just need to check.  Why?

  • By measuring with a micrometer or caliper, you’ll know that what you thought was a 0.125” shim really is – not a 0.100”. Or even a 0.127”.
  • You’ll be able to measure the entire “stack” of shims under each foot.
  • If the assembled “stack” doesn’t add up to what you expect, then something’s not right.

Here’s a good example.  My laser alignment tool says to add 0.065” under the foot.  There are (3) brass shims under the foot now.  I add a 0.050” and a 0.015”, tighten up, and re-measure.  Now my laser says I’m 0.008” too high.  What went wrong?  Hint: It’s not the laser!

  • I didn’t clean the shims, or the dirt under the foot.
  • I didn’t measure the brass shims, or replace them with pre-cut stainless.
  • I didn’t measure the new shims, to make sure they are to dimension.
  • I didn’t measure the entire stack.
  • I didn’t consolidate, with fewer, thicker shims.

And the end result is, I measure, loosen, re-shim, and tighten again.  And again.  And again!  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  And the result is almost always inaccuracy.

Clean them.  Measure them.  Throw out the junk, and use precision shim stock.  And measure them.

You’re welcome!

About the Author

Stan Riddle joined VibrAlign in 2008. He has over 35 years experience in aligning industrial machinery. Stan received his AAS Degree in Machinist Technology from Surry Community College in Dobson, NC, and also holds a diploma in Industrial Systems Technology from Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC, where he was also an instructor in the program.

Stan began his maintenance career working as a machinist and millwright for companies such as Weyerhaeuser, R.J. Reynolds, and Tyco Electronics. He also has over 25 years experience in Predictive Technologies, such as vibration analysis, thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasonic inspection. He is a certified Level III Vibration Analyst with the Vibration Institute, and is a Past Chairman and Board Member of the Piedmont Chapter.

Stan and his wife live in Yadkinville, NC.

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