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Old 20-07-2010, 08:56   #1
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Leaking Compass

I showed up to my boat this last weekend to find a horrible smell and an oiled salon floor. After being confused for a few minutes I discovered my compass had leaked almost all of its fluid. My first though was to buy an affordable replacement compass but after doing a little research it appears the compass I have might be of very high quality (which begs the questions how it ended up on my 1970's Catalina 27).

I couldn't find a model number but the manufacture is C. Plath Merkur from Hamburg. It is a bulkhead mount with maybe a 5" diameter globe.
My question is can this be repaired/rebuilt economically? It seems like if I get a new seal and compass fluid (is it just mineral oil?) I could do this myself relatively easily.

Here is a photo before it leaked:


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Old 20-07-2010, 09:13   #2
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either send it back to the manufacturer or get a new one .. IMHO.
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Old 20-07-2010, 09:15   #3
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Plath is good stuff. They might fix it. Or some old-timey guy in say, Nantucket or Boston. I'd buy a Ritchie. And put a suncover on it.

I think they're filled with something more like mineral spirits, thus the smell. But I don't actually know....
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Old 20-07-2010, 09:19   #4
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We had a wonderful brass compass on our boat (well, the compass wasn't brass, but everything around it was!) - and we tried refilling it, several times and fixing the leak etc etc, but nothing worked so we just got a new one in the end.
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Old 20-07-2010, 10:11   #5
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There are only two places it can leak from the "O" ring seal for the dome or the "o" ring seal for the fill screw,

I picked up a nice Ritchie awhile back at a resell shop and just ordered new seals and refilled with mineral spirits. it works great and not a leak in a year now.

Little tip put both Compass and mineral spirits into Icebox 24 hours before you fill it this will help in a few ways. Less air in the mineral spirits and after the compass is filled it will never fog up because of lack of air.

Hope the info help.

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Old 20-07-2010, 11:35   #6
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Thank you Dutch, I will see if I can find replacement seals somewhere. The manufacture is in Germany so I will have to look else where. If I can't manage to repair it I will probably just purchase a Ritchie as well.
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Old 21-07-2010, 02:40   #7
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Originally Posted by AHoy View Post
Thank you Dutch, I will see if I can find replacement seals somewhere. The manufacture is in Germany so I will have to look else where. If I can't manage to repair it I will probably just purchase a Ritchie as well.
why not get in touch with the Germans and see if you can get the original parts. If they don'y speak english I can help speaking German.
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Old 21-07-2010, 06:04   #8
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I don't know about this model, but most have a diaphragm that allows the fluid to expand and contract with temperature. Sometimes these can develop leaks, which is what happened to mine. I'm sure there are other places, but Maryland Nautical Sales in Baltimore does repairs like this. They repaired mine. Their number is 800-596-7245 if you want to try them.
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Old 21-07-2010, 07:58   #9
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When I rebuilt a Sunto compass that was leaking. They shipped a 3-4"oring to me and advised me to use Clear kerosene. This worked for me. I also had thought the leaking fluid was mineral oil.
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Old 21-07-2010, 12:07   #10
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I have had a couple of compasses including a Ritchie Globemaster rebuilt with new seals, fluid and globe for under $100.

You can search online for "compass repair" and you will get many results.
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