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Old 13-11-2008, 13:12   #1
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Compass Dome Polishing / Restoration

Perhaps this matter has been covered elsewhere herein but give my "Search" skills do not approach those of Grodon May et al I have not been able to find any other reference so I pose this question.

The stock "Marco Polo" Compass on our boat is now 22 years old and dispite being covered when not in use, over the years the dome has become cloudy where ever it is exposed to sun light, though under the shade/night-light cover it remains as clear as a bell. I have tried several different compounds to clean/polish the plastic/acrylic (or whatever) with little improvement and I dispare having to replace a perfectly usable piece of equipment if it can be restored to some reasonable degree of clarity.

I will appreciate suggestions from anyone that has successfully delt with this issue.

s/v HyLyte
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Old 13-11-2008, 13:22   #2
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Suggest you drop islandcompass.com a buzz. I was very satisfied with the quality of the work Steve did for me.
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Old 13-11-2008, 13:44   #3
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I had the glass completely replaced when my compass was knocked from its perch while I was working on the binnacle. I had a Richie Compass and just looked at the web site for compass repair. The guy closest to me was in Marin County (SF Bay) They were listed all over the world.
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Old 13-11-2008, 16:33   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I had the glass completely replaced when my compass was knocked from its perch while I was working on the binnacle. I had a Richie Compass and just looked at the web site for compass repair. The guy closest to me was in Marin County (SF Bay) They were listed all over the world.
Charlie - Look at http://www.safenavigation.com/ they are in Long Beach CA. They did a great job on my Ritchie. Closer than Marin.
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Old 13-11-2008, 17:53   #5
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If it's cloudy from micro fissures (weather cracking) it would take a power buffer and rouse compound to get it out without a lot of elbow grease. You could try several products to fill the hazing like RainX, silicone spray like for wet suites, motorcycle windshield polish, or ArmorAll.

Polycarbonate's break down in ultraviolet over time and the micro fissures have to be filled or polished out. another good substance might be winshield polish for dodger/canvas tops. Be
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Old 13-11-2008, 20:55   #6
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Your chances of "polishing" this kind of damage, even with a "power buffer" are slim. It goes deep into the structure of the plastic.

Best bet, as suggested above , is to have it professionally serviced. A lot cheaper than a new compass, and a lot easier than trial and error on the fix yourself. And this is from a confirmed DIY kind of guy.

Bill
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Old 14-11-2008, 01:42   #7
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My 30 year old compass was brought back with a mild fiberglass/gelcoat polish and a couple hours of work.
I didnt have any visible hazing/cracking.....it was just realy cloudy.
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Old 14-11-2008, 02:38   #8
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Foggy compass dome? Try Brasso!
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Old 14-11-2008, 05:20   #9
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I had a really scratched and cloudy bulkhead compass dome. The scratches where from a PO's power sander and the cloudiness from weather exposure.

In desperation, I found a guy at the airport who polished plastic aircraft windows etc. A week (and carton of beer) later, there were only a very few scratches left and no cloudiness. He stated that the other scratches COULD be removed but it would take a lot more beer. I lived with the hardly noticeable couple of remaining scratches.

Perhaps you might be able to find a similar tradesman at the local airport
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Old 14-11-2008, 07:07   #10
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Thanks guys. I have printed out this thread and will try various of the solutions.

camaraderie--since Island Compass is so close to us (relatively speaking), I have sent an email off to them and hope to hear something in short order.

s/v HyLyte
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Old 14-11-2008, 07:12   #11
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You might also try a 2000 grit wet dry and toothpaste. Be as aggresive as you want, if you can't bring it back you'll need to replace it. Nothing lost?
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:13   #12
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There is a product available at auto parts stores that is called "headlight lens restorer" made for plastic headlight lenses.
It's basically a polishing compound. Takes a lot of elbow grease but I have had decent results on my 1992 pickup.

The airport suggestion is a good one, also.
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Old 01-01-2011, 13:39   #13
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I just did mine. I have had no luck in the past with polishes including toothpaste.

This time, with nothing to lose, I cleaned the surface and sprayed it heavily with O'Reilly's Carb and Choke cleaner. I let the solution dry, and it turned the surface of the compass completely opaque. You could scrape the opaque layer off with a fingernail.

Then, i dry sanded it with fine sandpaper and polished it with toothpaste on a rag.

It worked far better than I expected. The dome had developed very serious yellowing and opacity from sun exposure. There was a palpable line where the housing covered the dome, between the normal plastic and the opaque area. I could not read the compass. Now, it looks normal.

I imagine the carb cleaner dissolved the surface layer and broke the chemical bonds with the deeper plastic.

Don't try this unless the alternative is trashing the compass.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:46   #14
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I'm surprised this thread has leaped back to life.

We tried virtually all of the the suggested cleaning/polishing methods (save the recently suggested Carb Cleaner) and none proved effective. In the end I picked up a Richie SS-2000, new and unused, in the box, from a vendor at a Marine Fleamarket for $100 and was able to buy a Stainless steel binnacle mount from Richie for $87.00. The finished product is the same as the Richie Navigator Compass and has worked very well since being installed. The old compass sits in the box on a sheld in my workshop and is free to anyone that might care to give it a try.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:03   #15
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I have polished out the dome of a compass from opaque to quite clear, by turning it on a horizontal drill pad like a potters wheel, only faster. (I taped it down, dead center, and with the drill mounted to a vice.) Holding it in mu cupped hand, I worked up to 2,000 grit wet / dry sandpaper, then finer and finer polishing compounds. Works great!

I have done similar polishing to my lexan hard dodger, using a Porter Cable random orbit polisher, and soft foam polishing pads with finer and finer compound. I started with 2,000 grit, wet / dry sandpaper...

Both projects worked well, but are a LOT of work!

Mark
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