magnet question

Another thread has an interesting discussion of magnets, which reminded me of an on-topic question [kinda] about magnets.
How do those magnetic bases used for dial indicators work? The lever to switch the magnet on or off seems to have too little resistance to be simple mechanical advantage in separating the base from the iron table it was held to so strongly.
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Alex
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They work fine.
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<g>
In case that was not tongue-in-cheek, I was asking "how", not "how well".
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Alex
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OK, I think I know the thread ;)

It's sliding opposing magnets into place which nullifies the outwards forces. Instead of NNNNNNNN you have NSNSNSNS, so it evens out to nuttin-ish.
Dave Hinz
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Thanks. Makes sense.
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Alex
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The base is made of two separate ferrous pieces separated by a non-ferrous divider (if you look closely you can see the joint between the two pieces). The magent inside the two pieces can rotate. In the ON position, the north end of the magnet is enclosed by one of the ferrous pieces and the south end of the magent is enlosed by the other ferrous piece. In the off position, the magnetic poles are half inside each ferrous pirce. The ferrous metal baiscallu short-circuits the magnetic flux lines. Most of the magnetic field stays inside the ferrous metal and and very little goes out into the real worl.
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