Compass Fluid, what to use? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 12-01-2012 Thread Starter
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Compass Fluid, what to use?

Hi, I got the spare clear sphere for my Ritchie SP5 ompass that I broke last week but the local company that supposedly sells the odourless mineral spirit seems not to work any more. Not sure if Ritchie guys can ship it considering it is sort of a chemical, so what other fluid can be used instead that will have similar properties? Can ordinary rubbing alcohol be used, or something similar?
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post #2 of 13 Old 12-01-2012
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

It is not alcohol, it is mineral oil. You will probably get a lot of good (and not so good) suggestions, but one readily available source for mineral oil is Baby Oil, like Johnson and Johnson. It is pure, clear mineral oil and does work. I have used it in the past.
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

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Hi, I got the spare clear sphere for my Ritchie SP5 ompass that I broke last week but the local company that supposedly sells the odourless mineral spirit seems not to work any more. Not sure if Ritchie guys can ship it considering it is sort of a chemical, so what other fluid can be used instead that will have similar properties? Can ordinary rubbing alcohol be used, or something similar?
Ritchie compasses now use Isopar L which is a very refined & purified version of Ordorless Mineral Spirits. From 1960 through about 2001 Ritchie used Odorless Mineral Spirits. Using mineral oil will change the damping of the compass and is not advised... Hamilton Marine sells Isopar L & any hardware store sells Ordorless Mineral Spirits..

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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

Well, my mistake, I guess. I just bought Odorless Mineral Spirits at the local Home Depot, by the way. It shouldn't be hard to find. (The compass I used mineral oil in was pretty darn old, and long gone by now anyway!)
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

Kerosene is a good alternative
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

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Well, my mistake, I guess. I just bought Odorless Mineral Spirits at the local Home Depot, by the way. It shouldn't be hard to find. (The compass I used mineral oil in was pretty darn old, and long gone by now anyway!)

Not a mistake. Some compasses used mineral oil and some used mineral spirits. Ritchie just happened to be on the OMS camp..

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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

Baby Oil is generally mineral oil with added fragrance and other ingredients. If you want mineral oil, you buy plain "USP" pharmaceutical grade mineral oil at any pharmacy, at least here in the US.

Mineral spirits can be a blend of almost anything and when sold under that name, are best suited as paint brush cleaner only, because you don't know what the blend is. The primary and typical ingredient is naphtha, and several grades of naphtha are usually sold in any paint or hardware store. The cheap stuff leaves some residue, the better stuff is purer--and more expensive. Also sold in graphic art supply stores as "rubber cement thinner", and as "Ronsonol" and other brands of cigarette lighter fluid.

Ritchie can definitely ship "compass fluid", and under US law they have to make available an MSDS that also tells you just what the stuff is, more or less. If the fluid is classed as hazardous material (hazmat) it has to be shipped by ground, at a surcharge, but it still can be shipped.
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

Hi Guys,

I spoke to a local compass repair shop. As they do not usually sell that stuff but use it for repairs, they directed me to a local art store which is selling Stevenson odorless mineral spirit which is paraffin based and Ritchie are recommending to use it as an alternative to Isopar L which they sell. They have used the same stuff in their compasses from 1950 to 2000. I got a gallon for $30.
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

"Stevenson odorless mineral spirit which is paraffin based"
What the UK calls paraffin, the US used to "paraffin oil" but now calls "kerosene". The top grade, water-white kerosene for indoor heaters and the like, might cost 1/3 of that in a US store. Art supply stores...I remember what I used to pay for some of the brand names there. What can you do, that's a convenience tax. Must be doubly so when it all has to be shipped in by ocean or air freight.

Isopar L is an ExxonMobil product, apparently similar to kerosene:

Isopar™ L Fluid - ExxonMobil
http://.exxonmobilchemical.com%2FChe...IQhjgAhPWJ0SPg

"Isopar™ L Fluid is characterized as a synthetic isoparaffinic hydrocarbon solvent ... Isopar L Fluid is a liquid solvent used in paints and coatings, consumer"

Of course, now you can decant off the extra two pints and sell them to other sailors in the same situation. (VBG)
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post #10 of 13 Old 12-01-2012
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Re: Compass Fluid, what to use?

What would be the actual effect of using the "wrong" one of these very similar distillates? Seals start leaking or something? I can't imagine there would be much effect on their damping properties.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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