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post #1 of 29 Old 02-20-2007 Thread Starter
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fluid in compass

I have two compasses on my boat (port and starbord). The fluid in them both turned to a dingey and cloudy amber color. What do I do to clean them and what do I use to re-fill them? I don't know the brand. They go to an S2 as origional hardware in "82".
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post #2 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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Fluid filled compasses are normally refilled with mineral oil, available off the shelf from your local pharmacy. Empty the old oil and refill through the threaded brass plugged fill-hole, located under the base on most Richie models.

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post #3 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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I would contact the compass manufacturer as different compass makers used different fluids...and using the wrong fluid in yours can cause problems... like attacking the materials the compass is made of... If you can't contact the manufacturer, it might be worthwhile to contact a professional compass adjuster/repairperson.

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post #4 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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The first fluid-filled compasses starting around 1860 were filled with an alcohol and water mixture. Compass oil was not commonly used until the 1940's and a pint of oil is only about 8 dollars from Ritchie. Danforth (AquaMeter) uses Exxon Isopar-M as the oil and Ritchie uses Isopar-L, a lower viscosity oil (older models with no label on the bottom use odorless mineral spirits). You can’t use them interchangeable. You can use Ritchie fluid in a Danforth but not the other way around. Some compasses still use a water-alcohol mix using about 45% Ethyl. You can tell by smelling or rubbing the fluid between your fingers if its oil based.

Unless you can draw a vacuum put the compass in a refrigerator overnight before refilling it. Otherwise, you will always have a small bubble after resealing the compass.

Keep in mind it will need some sort of repair first, the oil doesn’t just evaporate.. Danfoth will not sell parts and they own the AquaMeter brand now. Ritchie will sell the parts and a new diaphragm is as little as 12 dollars (list price) for a small Ritchie compass. Most compass repair shops will sell Danforth parts if you want to try repairing it.
All the best,
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post #5 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tartan34C
Some compasses still use a water-alcohol mix using about 45% Ethyl. You can tell by smelling or rubbing the fluid between your fingers
Will Baccardi work?

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post #6 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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Quote:
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Will Baccardi work?
Baccardi and coke works for me but what will we do for the compass?
All the best,
Robert Gainer
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post #7 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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The new boat came with a Ritchie Globemaster with compensators the size of horse balls. I've informally swung the boat (it's steel) and it's pretty good on the deviation, according to both the GPS and the fluxgate also at hand. Frankly, I find it a bit intimidating, probably because it's the size of a man's head and the P.O. told me to continue the custom of leaving an old wool balaclava on it to keep the sun off the fluid. Now I throw a hat on top of that, and if you board on a dark night, the effect is a little odd.

Anyone know of a small bulkhead or binnacle compass I could use on deck at the "outside" steering station suitable for a steel boat, or should I just get a repeater display for the fluxgate?
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post #8 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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I had a compass diaphram fail a few years back. The manufacturer wanted me to send the compass in to repair it, saying I'd never get it topped off with new mineral spirits after replacing the diaphram so there wouldn't be a bubble. They said if I was going to try it, to freeze it and the mineral spirits over night before trying it. I came up with a much easier solution.

I taped a piece of thread to the diaphram. As I filled the compass with mineral spirits, I pulled on the tread, which pulled the diaphram out so I could put more fluid in. While I was putting in the cap, I released the thread slightly so the fluid would start flowing back out the fill hole while I tightened the cap down. The result was no bubbles and a very simple way to get around on those vacuum and freezing procedures.

Ray
S.V. Nikko
1983 Fraser 41
La Conner, WA


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post #9 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente
The new boat came with a Ritchie Globemaster with compensators the size of horse balls. I've informally swung the boat (it's steel) and it's pretty good on the deviation, according to both the GPS and the fluxgate also at hand. Frankly, I find it a bit intimidating, probably because it's the size of a man's head and the P.O. told me to continue the custom of leaving an old wool balaclava on it to keep the sun off the fluid. Now I throw a hat on top of that, and if you board on a dark night, the effect is a little odd.

Anyone know of a small bulkhead or binnacle compass I could use on deck at the "outside" steering station suitable for a steel boat, or should I just get a repeater display for the fluxgate?
While a repeater for the fluxgate is a nice idea, I think having a compass that is not electrically dependent at the helm is a better idea... However, on a steel boat, getting one that will work and can be adjusted for the boat is a problem.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #10 of 29 Old 02-20-2007
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On a different note:

Has anybody else noticed the interfenece a cell phone can cause?

While cruising with another boat, my buddy kept on telling me the course he was steering, I told him he was crazy and that we was off by about 15 degrees.

After reaching port, we figured out it was his cell phone which was on his pedastal right next to the compass that was causing the problem.
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