The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how to recalibrate a scale

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

how to recalibrate a scale

Hello all,

I have a Detecto 1001-TBKG (8kg) scale that seems to have gone out of balance. It zeros out, with no weights and the poise at zero. But when I place a 500 gr. counter weight on the left plate and slide the poise all the way to 500 gr. on the right, the scale is off balance, with the left lower than the right. I've tried some of the other counter weights, placing the 1 kg. woth the 500 gr on the right plate and sliding the poise all the way to the 500 gr point, and placed a 2 k weight on the left. Off balance.Could it be the poise is off? How could that even be? Is this a calibration issue?  I have no clue how to recalibrate this. The owner's manual is not helpfull at all. It's mostly a parts list. Actually, it's only a parts list. Any help on what to do would be great.

Thanks,

Kim

 

carltonb's picture
carltonb

Having over 25 bakers scales they are always getting out of alignment. Though there is a way to fix it holding the base very firmly you need to unscrew the platform. Under the platform ther is a cup that hold some lead shot weight. Go to a local hardware store and pick some up, or cut up some small scrap metal. Rebalance, then screw the platform back on.

 

If your scale is old like mine and this has been done a number of times wgere the platform screws are starting to strip out, I have taken some small medication vials and filled them with water to help me rebalance as needed.

 

Any more questions, let me know

Carlton Brooks CCE CEPC

Cedarglen's picture
Cedarglen

Great points to be sure!  Each scale (balance) is a little different and each began its life with slightly different tolerances.  As one commenter pointed out,  a 5 gm error on a 4 Kg load is not worth fussing about.  I use an electronic scale (Salter Model 2001) with tare these days, at least most of the time.  I check it with standard weights periodically and I've yet to discover an error.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to read during use and has limited gross capacity.  My backup/alternate is an Ohaus 700 series with a 2610 gm capacity (about five pounds) that I bought about 30 years ago to support some photo darkroom compounding projects.  When that idea failed, I moved it to the kitchen.   What I've learned over 30 years:

1. Keep it clean and covered when not in use.  Nothing is more important!

2. It DOES require periodic fine cleaning and lubrication.  Do it gently.  I use mostly compressed air and keep any chemicals away from the important parts.  

3. Lubricating oil is necessary at a few points and a very fine, light weight oil is best.  Use the oil minimally or less as it just attracts dust and dirt, especially when used in the kitchen.

4. Use it on a solid, level surface.  If possible, use it where it rests and don't move it unless absolutely necessary.

5. did I mention keeping it clean and covered?

6. Manual scales (balances) have correction adjustments - someplace.  Use them and recalibrate after ever periodic cleaning.  Despite its size, when this balance was new, it was accurate to within 0.1 gm, far more than is necessary for kitchen use.  About 30 years later it remains reliably accurate to about 0.5 gm, again far more than is necessary for kitchen use.  And yes <grins> if recalibration adjustments are necessary, make them AFTER you clean the device.  Dirt has weight...

7. Lastly, if one is really puckered about accuracy, have your calibration weights checked professionally and store them properly as well, perhaps with some desiccant to prevent corrosion. 

8. and again, for kitchen use, let's try to avoid the pucker factor, the OCD stuff and anal retentive behaviors.  Measuring ingredients by weight, not volume is a very good idea.  That said, some stuffs, particularly flour-ground grains will vary their moisture content - and weight - far more than any variance in the scale (balance), so don't fret.  Our great grandmothers and grandmothers measured their ingredients by guesses and estimates that might curdle our blood today.  And their products were probably better and more consistent than anything we produce.  Accuracy and  reproducible precision are good things, but let's don't get crazy here.  If grandma's measure was 'three pinches' and three pinches works, weigh the three pinches for your formula notes and move on.  Scales and balances are nice toys, but for our purposes, that old spring-loaded monster with the 9" face will probably do just fine.  Happy Baking.  -C.

 

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

@Carlton

If it zeros out with nothing on it, what could cause it to be out of balance with a calibration weight?  Broken/dirty bearing?

@Kim

How much weight do you have to add to make it come back to balance? Is this a gram or two, or more?

 

 

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Depending on how I try to see it balance, I get slightly different results. If I place two 2K weights on the left, and put the 1k, the .5 k and another 2k with the poise (.5k) over, it's off sometimes by 5 grams (the poise set at 495 and the scale is in 5 gr. increements). It all seems so slight like the weight of a penny or two at most. What got me to even notice it is that the last three batches of dough I've tried making have failured and they are recipes I've done several times exactly as I did yesterday. The dough ends up with what seems like twice the water. Or half the flour. Not exactly, just that rather than a dough  balling up in the mixer I"m getting sloppy pancake batter with no hope of coming together. It's soupy. As I said, I've already had numerous sucesses with this dough and I haven't changed a thing. Because of the earlier failure I've been extra vigilant lest the problem be with my laziness or I forget something... I don't know. But I quadruple checked my self and my measurements this time and again... soup. It's what made me think of the scale. And it's off by only what seems a litte so I also wonder if the little bit it's off is somehow proportionally more accentuated when I get to mixing large batches.

Anyway, I need to figure out something. Can't really move forward this way.

Thanks

Kim

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Kim - I am having a hard time understanding what you are doing that could go from firm dough to soup with a 5g error.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

that's two of us.

But I'm willing to dismiss the scale and try another line of questioning to understand why the dough did what it did.  This is two separate recipes, both of which have been faithful in the past. But one day when I was making both, both were just loaded with water. As though I'd doubled the water or close to it. I am fairly confident I measured right as far as anyone could provided the scale is right. So without changing a tried & true recipe, with a scale that is fine, what else could account for a dough being so wet? By eye and from memoey, I can't say either the flour or the water seemed extraordinarily more or less what they ever are. But boy, when it's all in the mixer and it starts splattering and slopping and refuses to come together and stays wet and sloppy no matter what...

carltonb's picture
carltonb

I find through use and getting knocked around they just get tweaked and out of alingment. It could be dirty, missing a few paint chips, who knows?

Some of my scales take a few pennies to calibrate while others take less than a wadded up 2" square of aluminum foil. That is why over the years (at least one of the reasons) that I have replaced them with digital scales.

The other being that most of my students have no concept on how to use the scale as a measuring device counting by 1/4 ozs.

The amount of weight needed will depend upon balance needs

 

Carlton

 

 

 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Carlton - thanks.  I have an old Toledo that still works even after I reset the v-block on one side (probably not to factory spec).  Other than short-weighting a customer there is little harm in being off by .1% for most cooking purposes.

 

ssorllih's picture
ssorllih

could it be out of level? Does it balance with 1/2 kg on each pan? Does it still balance when you exchange the weigts? Does it weigh heavy or light? None of this explains the failure with your bread recipes.

ssorllih's picture
ssorllih

Check your arithmatic. This is more like a digit in the wrong column. A slipped decimal would make too big an error. 68 grams of water or 86 grams of water. Transposed numbers can also do it to you.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Been over it a hundred times. Nothing out of whack. And the fact that two separate recipes, one of them twice, did the exact same thing, tells me it isn't my math. I checked, double checked and checked again.


I'm going to try the recipe again in a smaller batch. I have a 42" wood-fired oven so I make large batches. When there's waste, it hurts a lot. The last two times I attempted to make bread I was more or less just wanting to go about my usual business but was hit unprepared. This time I"m on a mission. I'll be hyper-attentive. I'll report back.

Kim

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I guess I am unable to be very helpful until I see what it is you are attempting, written in a form that lends itself to analysis.

Is it a stiff 55% bagel dough, a 66% baguette, or a 75% ciabatta?

Does it have anything besides white wheat flour?

What is the liquid? Levain/Starter? Yeast too?

And how much salt?

 

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

One recipe is for Dan Leader's (Local Breads) Genzano. I've been making it in exactly the same quantity for three years so unless I flat-out did something I've never done before and did so for no apparent reason other than laziness, I can't believe it's the recipe.  In part because the same thing happened to the baguette I was making the same day. Then, on a second day, a second attempt, the Genzano did it again - soupy. So I concluded - or assumed - it could be the scale. I tried being meticulous in measuring. I was realy paying attention. So I have my doubtrs that I simply messed up. But I won't dismiss that all together.

So I tried the baguette in a smaller quantity. I have a 42" WFO and I usually do upwards of a dozen loaves at a time. This time I did two. And, following the same recipe, same procedure, this time it was fine. No soup. I have yet to try to Genzano (need to refresh the levain and I won't have tme to follow through till mid week sometime.)

If the scale is off by, say, 5 gr. with nothing on it, could it be off by more when there's a lot of weight on it? Does that make any difference? Or if it's off by 5 gr. with no weight would it still be off by only 5 gr. with 2.5 K on one plate?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

With a mechanical balance scale, it is hard to conceive of a failure mode that would introduce a scale factor error.

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

That's about what I thought. I'm just throwing anything out to see what happened. My original question about recalibrating is me trying to figure out how I got soupy dough with a recipe I know well. Unless I was just completely asleep at the wheel and blew something basic that I have yet to catch, I just don't know what happened. This week I plan on making a mall batch of the Genzano. If all goes well I'll try the large batch again. Thanks for everyone's input. I'll figure this out yet.

Kim

kimemerson's picture
kimemerson

Ok, I've been called silly, foolish, lazy. And at times I've deserved to be called these and more. So let me begiin with an apology for sounding a false alarm. I have no clue what I did before. I promise I was very attentive when weighing ingredients. And I did two breads over three attempts with the same mysteriuos disastrous results. But now,  as I  type,  there's a batch mixing up and it is fine. No soup in that bowl! And when I play back the tape in my head and compare it with what I did this morning I see no difference. Voodoo? Gremlins? All I can think of is that somewhere along the way in measuring/reading/mixing the doughs before, I spaced a bit - at the same spot each time? - and erred blindly, providing no insight as to what, when, where or how. This time I went crazy in detailed attention, even re-weighing the water twice just to be sure. Again, I have no memory of what I did different but it's all fine now.

Thanks for your efforts. I apologize for dragging you through my silliness but I'm also glad that's all it was. I can't wait for the next bit of lunacy I get up to.

Kim