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Old 27-05-2019, 08:32   #1
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Fixing A Leaky Compass

It's an Aquameter Galaxy and it needs a new diaphragm but I haven't been able to find one yet. The closest I've found is a Danforth diaphragm on the Viking Compass site. Most diaphragms they sell go for around $35 but for this one, they want $110.

So I thought I'd try to seal the cracks in the diaphragm with Aquaseal repair adhesive. Initially it seemed to work but I left in a container overnight for a couple hours, came back and found some fluid had leaked out. It worked some but not completely.

I slathered a bit more on the diaphragm and tested that. A few hours later it still looked good. But it failed the overnight test with ever-so-slight leakage.

My next attempt will be brushing rubber cement on it. Any thoughts about taking this route?
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Old 27-05-2019, 09:00   #2
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

No ideas but want to see the replies as I have an old Suunto with the same problem.
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Old 27-05-2019, 09:11   #3
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

We use Baker Lyman in New Orleans for commercial and antiques
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Old 27-05-2019, 09:38   #4
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

new diaphragm or new compass.. your choice.
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Old 27-05-2019, 10:05   #5
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

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new diaphragm or new compass.. your choice.

I'm not giving up that easy.
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Old 27-05-2019, 11:52   #6
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

I believe most compasses are filled with mineral oil (baby oil), at least mine is. It stands to reason that getting anything to stick to something coated in mineral oil is going to be difficult. If you can remove the oil and clean the seal, you may be able to make the repair and replace the oil. Mine had a little air bubble and no way to open it up. I drilled a tiny hole in the very top of the compass, used a syringe to top it off and put a piece of tape over the hole. Pretty low tech, I know. Right there with duct tape and baling wire but I am on a river and so I don't rely on the compass much but it has worked for three years now and I put the money into equipment I actually use.
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Old 27-05-2019, 13:55   #7
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

Some other compass fillings are Varsol, alcohol.
Call Texas Nautical Repair in Houston. Phone number (713) 529-3551
Also known as Land, Sea and Sky. Ask for compass repair dept.

They do a great repair job and will probably give you advice if you call.
Good luck!
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Old 27-05-2019, 14:12   #8
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

Please don't everything use alcohol unless you are 150% sure that is what was originally used. You will render the plastic dome opaque. Only actual glass is proof. maybe if you have a flat topped handbearing compass (Sestrel or similar) alcohol is ok but otherwise a big no no. I used to work for a compass manufacturer so I really do know that. Also alcohol can dissolve the print off the compass card!

If you are struggleing to top up a compass, remember they are filled under pressure so you don't get a bubble in the cold. If you look in the centre of the diaphragm there is often a screw thread showing. pull this out a very little when you refill so when you tighten the filler and release the thread the pressure is restored. If you cannot do this, put the oil in the freezer overnight to shrink it as much as possible.
I would go to a pro!
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Old 27-05-2019, 15:30   #9
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

Looks like Viking Compass are the people to talk to about this.

https://www.vikingcompass.com/003.html
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Old 27-05-2019, 15:38   #10
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

Most modern compasses are filled with Mineral Spirits, a special version that is ultra pure. My compass was so dirty inside it was not usable, and the light didn't work, didn't exist as someone removed the fixture. I was able to take it apart and clean all the parts, filter the fluid through a coffee filter, and repair the light with an LED and some epoxy. I had some acrylic headlight polish which did a great job of clearing up the glass. I topped up the fluid with some standard mineral spirits. Getting the bubbles out was simply a matter of putting the compass in a fridge over night, allowing the fluid to contract, and topping it up with the little access screw. The picture shows some cloudiness which is just the condensation from being in the fridge, it's really clear now. If you can get the diaphragm you should be able to make it like new.


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Old 27-05-2019, 20:36   #11
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

After my last response I took the compass apart again and examined the diaphragm thoroughly for any sign of a crack or split. I could find nothing. Next I cleaned the lip where the edge of the diaphragm sits. It was then I realized I had the diaphragm in wrong the last time.

So I put everything back together again and ran it through another leak test (sitting in a plastic tray). It's been about 10 hours and so far no sign of leaks. How long it will hold only time will tell.

BTW, the Ritchie compass fluid I am using was purchased from West Marine. It says " Composition: Aliphatic Hydrocarbons" on the bottle.

Here's an interesting piece on compass fluids.
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Old 27-05-2019, 20:44   #12
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Fixing A Leaky Compass

Another source of compass fluid.
I believe aircraft compasses use a purified kerosene
https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catal...clickkey=12465
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Old 27-05-2019, 23:55   #13
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules_M View Post
BTW, the Ritchie compass fluid I am using was purchased from West Marine. It says " Composition: Aliphatic Hydrocarbons" on the bottle.
Doesn't tell you much on the face of it as something like half of all organic compounds are aliphatic hydrocarbons, but the commonest mixture of aliphatic hydrocarbons is usually called mineral spirits.
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Old 28-05-2019, 02:17   #14
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

I have filled mine with Johnson baby oil. A bubble remained, but as long as the compass is mounted in vertical position it is not visible.
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Old 28-05-2019, 06:15   #15
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Re: Fixing A Leaky Compass

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I have filled mine with Johnson baby oil. A bubble remained, but as long as the compass is mounted in vertical position it is not visible.
Look for a screw on the side, you should be able to open it with it at the top and add a little more mineral spirits, let the bubble out.
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