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Old 15-11-2015, 17:21   #1
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Replacing the compass

My compass has a large bubble in it. Is there a way to replace/refill the fluid or do I need to replace it? The compass is mounted in the steering pedestal. If I replace it, do I need a binacle compass or can I use a deck mount compass?
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Old 15-11-2015, 17:39   #2
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Re: Replacing the compass

Easy to replace or top off on most compasses. Just mineral oil I think, but check with manufacturer's data. Might have a bad O ring or the rubber bladder thing if leaking. Need to pull off of the binnacle and look at the bottom of the compass.
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Old 15-11-2015, 18:39   #3
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Re: Replacing the compass

Most binnacle (i.e. pedestal mount) compasses are filled with mineral spirits which is not the same things as mineral oil. Vodka works too but is a terrible waste.

I think in recent years they may be using some other fluid that is similar to mineral spirits.

If it has a bubble then it is leaking fluid. If it is a Ritchie compass they can be repaired by a service center. Some FAQs: https://www.ritchienavigation.com/ca...ked-questions/
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Old 15-11-2015, 19:40   #4
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Re: Replacing the compass

Definitely you can top it off, but make sure you pull the correct screws or ALL the liquid will come out! I seem to recall there's some trick like putting the compass and liquid in the freezer so when it warms back up, the liquid will expand so you don't have to get at that very last teeny bubble. I eventually got a service tech to buff it up, replace the gasket, refill it, and calibrate it to my boat....
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Old 15-11-2015, 19:48   #5
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Re: Replacing the compass

My binnacle compass developed a large bubble after 15-years. I refilled it twice and it leaked out both times. I had a hard time finding the tiny little leak. After another two years - I finally replaced the compass with a nice new one that does not leak.
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Old 15-11-2015, 19:54   #6
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Re: Replacing the compass

You can refill it, but chances are the bubble will come right back, unless you also replace the gasket.
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Old 16-11-2015, 03:37   #7
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Re: Replacing the compass

Thanks to all who replied. I'll contact the manufacturer to see what they say. The other part of the question was whether or not a new compass needs to be a binacle mount or if a deck-mount compass could be used. Quite a difference in price.

Sent from my SM-T550 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 16-11-2015, 03:43   #8
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Re: Replacing the compass

It will have a filling plug on it - normally alcohol to stop it freezing - as said Vodka normally works, fill it using a syringe, right to the top so that when you put the plug back some will be displaced.

Did a hand bearing compass last week with this method.
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Old 16-11-2015, 19:20   #9
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Re: Replacing the compass

Quote:
Originally Posted by daviddiscenza View Post
Thanks to all who replied. I'll contact the manufacturer to see what they say. The other part of the question was whether or not a new compass needs to be a binacle mount or if a deck-mount compass could be used. Quite a difference in price.

Sent from my SM-T550 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
You could top your binnacle with a round piece of starboard or teak, and use it as a base for a surface mount compass.
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Old 17-11-2015, 11:05   #10
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Re: Replacing the compass

Put in fluid without first fixing the leak, and you're just pouring money down the drain. Put in the wrong fluid (some are similar to kerosene, others alcohol, and whatever you use if the viscosity is wrong, the compass will swing about too quickly or slowly as well, even if the numbers don't dissolve off the dial) and you've trashed a compass.


I' a firm believer in DIY but you are best off contacting the maker, to find out what they can do for you. Some will swap it for a new compass, at a significant discount. Others will sell you gaskets and the correct fluid for a refill, or even tell you what fluid you can use.


But to just randomly put in fluid, without matching the type or fixing the leak? That's just a kludge job, if you've got no other way to go.


Binnacle compasses tend to be big (6-8" ?) and that makes them expensive. Also makes it easier to read them more precisely, and to know they are on the centerline of the boat. But any kind of compass, wherever it is convenient for you (not near metal, not behind where someone sits...) will work.
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Old 17-11-2015, 11:07   #11
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Re: Replacing the compass

If you have a Ritchie, they do a great job of reconditioning them to like new...

Call them up, and in two weeks or so you've got a brand new looking compass back.

Zach
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