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Old 07-31-2008
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Question Ancient marine compass renovation

Hi guys,

I am new at comming on a marine site, but it is the place where I think I will get my answers. I inherited from my father in law a beautiful piece of furniture with an embedded marine compass. It sits on four lion's paw legs and the compass it self is still functional, meaning (in my limited knowledge) that it still points North. I want to keep it and want to revamp it and it really makes for a beautiful marine decoration item.

The compass itself, is about ten inches in diameter (twelve inches including the swiveling mechanism) the bottom part is bowl-like and about 6 inches deep. The glass at its top seems to be held in waterproofness by a top metal ring with 16 small bolts and the seems to be a kind of a gasket.

Now the glass is chipped a bit, so I would like to replace it (the waterproofness is not compromised) and also, the inside of the bowl that seems to be painted in white is filled partly with pieces of peeled off paint and some peeling is present on the inside of the bowl.

The three things I would like to do, are : replace the glass top and its gasket, clean up the bow and repaint it and also replace the liquid inside. Should I use plain water, mineralized water, distilled water or another mix I should prepare ?

I sincerely hope someone out there could help me do this as in my mind my father in law was a real gentleman and I feel like I owe him to fix it corrrectly. You are welcome to pont me in the right direction on the web or with a phone number I could use to call and get more info . Incidently, I am from Montreal, Quebec, Canada a bit off the water, but nevertheless loves it.

Thanks a million

Jean

Last edited by sternmann; 07-31-2008 at 02:33 AM. Reason: forgotten a few words
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Old 07-31-2008
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Jean-

It will probably be difficult to find a replacement glass and gasket. Repainting the inside of the bowl should also be done with caution as most paint will not work in that type of environment. Finally, the liquid may be a form of alcohol, mineral oil, or something else, but i seriously doubt it is water of any kind.

I would highly recommend send it to a reputable compass repair shop instead of attempting this yourself.
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Old 07-31-2008
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Jean.

I agree with SailingDog's advice above about getting professional help/advice.

I don't think you mentioned who the original manufacturer of the compass was? Regardless, you could start by calling Ritchie Compass in Pembroke, MA, USA. They are a leading manufacturer of compasses - have been in business a long time -- and they may be able to help you with a rebuild or point you to someone who can. All the best of luck to you.
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I'll chime in and agree with everyone. I think the glass can be replaced fairly easily, though. It's just a question of getting it out reasonably intact. A quality glass shop can make anything if you're willing to choke up the $$$.

There used to be a place in San Pedro, California that would rebuild compasses, too. Can't remember their name, unfortunately, but they've been around forever and a day. They redid an antique for me years ago, and even cobbled up some instructions to 'swing' it for me.

good luck!
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Old 07-31-2008
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If you're trying to keep the value of the piece then I'd hesitate to do anything to it at all. I'd probably start looking for an antique dealer that specializes in marine artifacts and let them advise you.

Not sure where you live, but with the internet and a digital camera, it really doesn't matter now does it. How about posting a pic or two for us anyway

Tom
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Old 07-31-2008
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There is a great guy, Steve Colt, in Florida that runs
Island

That's islandcompass dot com. He does great restoration and is reliable and reasonable. I suggest you take digital photos of what you have and send them to him with an inquiry.
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I'll second what Cam said, I have used Steve Colt and my 30 year old compass looks brand new. The man does wonderful work.
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