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Measuring tape won't retract or advance

Lufkin 50 Chrome clad HC253

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If it has gotten wet, muddy, or sand and grit in it you can spray WD40 in it and slowly move it in and out cleaning it as you go. do not pull it out to far ( no more than 6 inches past 49 1/2 feet. If ytou pull out a tape measure to far it will uncoil the spring and you will either need a replacement refill or just get rid of it and ask Santa for a new one. I have used broken tape blades for "measuring sticks". Simply cut them into 1 or 2 foot sections for hard to reach areas.....Joe

Posted on Dec 21, 2008

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Here are some tips for maintaining a functional tape measure: The right lubricant applied to the blade will often help one that is recoiling poorly. Wd-40 will cause the print on stanley tape measures to peel away. I'm not sure of other brands. Neumatic tool oil seems to be an ideal lubricant, but vegetable oil isn't as it seems to break down very quickly. Don't pull your tape measure out so far that it gets too close to it's maximum length. I've had them break at 6" to 10" short of their "maximum" lenght. If it didn't break when pulled out too far, it's possible that the recoil mechanism was locked up. If it is locked up while nearly fully extended, pull it out just an inch or so more and then release. It seems the recoil mechanism can get hung up when the tape is nearly fully extended. You'll notice it's tense and not pulling out as easily as you think it should. Keep trying until it coils back up, each time pulling it out just a little further If it's locked up while nearly fully extended it's probably about to break so be careful and don't pull it out too far or too hard. When it releases there will likely be a lot of recoil sending the tape coiling back into it's housing very quickly. Be careful not to have your fingers near the tract opening unless you don't mind getting cut. If the recoil doesn't kick it out of your hand, it's probably best just to intentionally let go of it and drop it to the ground where it will continue to coil up all on it's own. Keep in mind the problem could be sawdust etc. build up in the lever lock mechanism that is preventing it from fully unlocking. Your tape measure may appear to be unlocked yet the blade is still stiff. You can also try moving the lever lock back and forth a few times and a dripping a few drops of oil into the lock might both help. If the tape is just sticking lightly or gets stiff on the recoil several feet out or so you can try extending the blade out and then lock it so it stays out hands free. Now you can put a couple drops of oil on it every few feet along the blade. I prefer to wipe the oil down the blade running it between my fingers (carefully so not to get cut) so it doesn't take so long to spread around by itself or too unevenly (don't use too much oil where it's dripping around on the blade). This is also a good way to clean any grime off the blade helping it to recoil smoothly. Water isn't ideal to clean the blade unless you're prepared to dry it off. Small scratches in the blade coating where metal is exposed will rust and become weak points where the blade will eventually break. If grime doesn't appear to be an issue simply try pulling the blade out a good distance past the point on the blade where it likes to slow down or stop recoiling, then just let it recoil. It seems sometimes the blade doesn't coil up tightly after making lots of short distance measurements and this is a quick fix for that. Happy measuring.

Posted on Mar 29, 2014

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