The first Comtorgage product was designed by Philip Darlington in 1928. Described as a “dial indicating system for use with a flexible plug gage,” he referred to it as the “Comtorplug.” This gaging device provided a means of determining the “actual size” of a shaft, and the size of the bore in which the shaft would mate at assembly. In essence, they were a means of establishing dimensions and statistically analyzing production quality. The bore gage was so accurate and dependable that its basic concept still forms the core of the company’s product line, even as it has expanded over the years to include gages for internal grooves, keyways, and other dimensions that need to be measured.
“Every gage we manufacture is for a particular purpose,” according to Walter “Kim” Gradolf, regional sales manager. “And apart from their precision and ease of use, these things really last.”
Stated simply, the Comtorgage system is comprised of three components: an expansion plug for sensing size variation; a mechanical or digital indicator to display this variation; and a master for setting the gage to the mean dimension, as well as for periodically checking this setting. Mastering is quick and easy, achieved by retracting the plug, inserting into the master and releasing the retraction button, and loosening the bezel lock and rotating the dial until zero aligns with the indicating hand. Then just tighten the lock and you’re ready to go to work. Bore gages come in two- or three- point contact designs. Some examples of internal measurements that can be made with customized models include splines, threads, sockets, spherical, dovetails, grooves, and blades. External measurements can be made to determine hub, distance, shaft, spline, and thread dimensions. Available setting masters include reference rings, master blocks, thread masters, and taperlock/trilocks.
Comtorgage’s customers can be found throughout the United States, and it exports globally. When a company has been around for more than 80 years and has a reputation for quality products, a great deal of business arrives via customer referrals and word of mouth. And even though some of its customers place orders for multiple gages—those measuring plastic parts in particular, or anything produced in high quantities—the fact is that some manufacturers only need one custom gage and that they can last for years, if not decades. That’s why it’s so important for Comtorgage to attract a steady flow of new clients. While this may seem daunting, when your products are necessary for QA operations in just about any market, there’s always a new company to contact.
“I’ve been with Comtorgage for the past 12 years as a full-time employee, and I represented them as an independent agent before that,” Gradolf says, explaining that its name is a conflation of the word “comparator,” which is a type of measurement gage. “And the fact is that you don’t stick with a company that long unless you really believe in it and the products you’re responsible for introducing into the marketplace.”
Comtorgage has remained a privately owned company since its earliest days. Pauline Brodeur is the current owner. Having joined the company in 1974, she purchased it in 1984. Her dedication to quality and attention to detail have helped the company solidify its infrastructure. “If a gage doesn’t meet her expectations,” Gradolf says, “it doesn’t go out the door.”
As he travels the country meeting with potential and existing customers, Gradolf says he will sometimes encounter product managers or purchasing agents with companies that have been relying on Comtorgage products for years, but who believe it’s time to seek out new technologies. “What will generally happen is that they will spend a lot of time looking for something different only to realize they already have exactly what they need,” he says. “It’s a device that was designed with care to begin with, and it has only improved over time. That’s our reputation, and it’s something we work hard to maintain every day.”