• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Wet compass leaked.

Jul 7, 2004
6,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
It's old. It happens to the best of us. My Ritchie HF 72S leaked and the compass doesn't work anymore. Anyone know of a place that refurbs them? New ones are pricey.
 
Mar 13, 2011
163
Islander Freeport 41 Longmont
You can do the work yourself as well. I rebuilt my compass several years ago. They sell all the parts and even the fluid online and it’s really not that hard. Takes about an hour to do the whole job.
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,934
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Ritchie remanufactures them.

At our factory, we recondition Ritchie compasses*. We repair the compass capsule to like new condition with a one year warranty. We have flat rate pricing to do so. To receive an estimate to repair, we can be contacted at service@ritchienavigation.com or by calling our service department at 781-709-3202.

When returning product, please follow our shipping procedure.

*Some Ritchie compasses are no longer/not repairable. Our service department can be contacted about current model replacement options.
https://www.ritchienavigation.com/care-maintenance/service/factory-reconditioning-program/
 
Jan 26, 2019
16
Catalina 30, Mark I At Last Waukegan, IL
You can do the work yourself as well. I rebuilt my compass several years ago. They sell all the parts and even the fluid online and it’s really not that hard. Takes about an hour to do the whole job.
+1. There are several places online that sell replacement gaskets and parts. Youtube will show videos that are your exact compass or close enough. It is easy.

Most compass fluid is mineral spirits. You can buy the official "compass fluid", which is expensive. Or, you can go to the hardware store and buy a quart of mineral spirits for a few bucks.
 
Jan 26, 2019
16
Catalina 30, Mark I At Last Waukegan, IL
No problem. Before I refurbished my compass, I had no idea whatsoever about any of this. I was thinking that I'd have to sink big bucks on a new compass.

Since I just did it this winter, it was relatively fresh in my mind. I attached a photo. The dome on the left was the old, very crazed dome. The finished product on the right shows what is possible to accomplish.

There are all sorts of tricks for filling the dome to minimize an air bubble. It took me several fillings. Each time I'd fill the dome to "full", an air bubble would appear after several days. After maybe three filling cycles, it was good to go. So far, no air bubble has appeared in all temperatures from freezing up to 95 degrees.
56921167410__ACCDA671-028A-4CD7-912D-CC77CF948284.JPG
 
  • Like
Likes: rgranger
Feb 5, 2004
3,934
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Wow, very nice. So, please fill us in on the details of this restoration!
 
Jan 26, 2019
16
Catalina 30, Mark I At Last Waukegan, IL
My problem was obviously a crazed dome. A lot of folks have tried polishing and/or filling scratches with various chemicals. Various levels of success were achieved. My dome was beyond repair as the photo shows.

Some thoughts:
If the compass is simply in need of fluid, then it could be a really cheap fix. Buy fluid at the hardware store. Order a new small rubber gasket appropriate to your model (very cheap) that seals the fill screw. The fill screw will be on the side of the compass, just under the dome and metal trim ring. At the helm, start taking out screws until the fixture comes out of helm. You might have to break sealant. Hopefully, there is enough play in the compass light power cord to pull the compass out and rotate it to access the fill screw and hole (if not, then read more about my project below for tips). Use a plastic syringe jammed into the hole to inject fluid until it spills out. I thought this would do it for me. But, as I said earlier, after a day or two a bubble would appear. So, I repeated the fill process ~3 times over a few days until the bubble did not reappear.​

My project was a little more involved (but still easy) as I also replaced the dome:
Make sure you have the parts specific to your model (although a lot of models use the same replacement parts).
Parts:
1) Big o-ring to seal dome to base
2) Small o-ring to seal fill screw
3) Large rubber diaphragm for bottom of fixture that accounts for thermal expansion of fluid
4) One quart of compass fluid (i.e. mineral spirits) from local hardware store​

When I removed my compass from the boat, I had to cut the compass light power cable. I would cut the cable in the middle. Make sure you have cable to work with for the reinstall on both the "boat side" and the "compass side" of the project. When I reattached it, instead of using butt connectors, I used a quick disconnect fitting (of course marine grade waterproof, etc. is the best). So, when I next remove my compass, I won't have to cut the cable again.

Process for dome replacement (the best I can recall):
1. Remove compass from boat (as described earlier).
2. Once you remove enough trim pieces and screws, the dome lifts right off of the compass body. Replace the big o-ring that seals dome to base.
3. Drain remaining fluid. Remove fill screw and replace small o-ring.
4. Remove some screws from bottom and/or lower sides of fixture. This reveals the rubber diaphragm along with compensating magnets. Messing with the magnets is for another thread (I didn't mess with mine). Replace the diaphragm.
5. Reverse steps to reassemble compass.
6. Go through the fill and then reinstallation processes described above.
7. Have fun navigating!
Finally, I did most of the work at my kitchen table. This produced much better results than balancing things precariously on--and dropping screws into--the pedestal.
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,934
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks very much! Where did you get the parts, directly from Ritchie?
 
Jan 26, 2019
16
Catalina 30, Mark I At Last Waukegan, IL
The Ritchie site redirects you to distributors. You can choose by geographic location or "online retailers".

Here is the online retailer I used. I recommend them. Just make sure you know the make and model and order the proper parts.

https://www.vikingcompass.com
 
Sep 11, 2009
388
beneteau first 42 kenora
Have a brand new one in my boat and the boat is still on the hard!!!
Bubble appeared this spring so it looks like i need to refill the fluid as well
 
Jul 7, 2004
6,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Thanks for all the helpful info! I will try to get the gaskets and refill myself. What do I have to lose?

Now my speed indicator is not reading. Sits at 0.0. Could be my paddle wheel is stuck. I still have GPS
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,277
Catalina 320 Dana Point
Refinishing the hatchboards I asked my wife to pick-up some mineral spirits or thinner at Walmart, she returned with a bottle of low VOC brush cleaner. She said "They gave me a funny look when I asked for mineral spirits and said this is the same". It's not, it's a thick milky something, they outlawed thinner years ago. I'm going to need to drive to Nevada and load up on contraband High VOC liquids and fireworks.
 
Jul 7, 2004
6,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Must be a Left Coast thing. I have Mineral Spirits, brush cleaner, denatured alcohol etc. on my garage shelf. Can get all at the big box stores.
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,158
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 Portland OR
I lucked out and found the only compass repair and adjuster guy in PDX. For about $200. he rebuilt our '88 compass and then we went out on the water and swung it -- all part of the price.
It needed a new jewel pivot, dome, and also a new LED light unit.
Since a new replacement is about $650 to $700. this seemed like a real bargain. Still does.
http://www.ericsonyachts.org/infoexchange/entry.php?87-Compass-Restoration

Anyhow, it is really nice to have an accurate compass - no need close to home, but in rough seas going over the Columbia Bar it was very useful as a course check when the motion was violent enough to challenge the ability of the GPS plotter to keep up with the refresh cycle (!).
Having a "large" directional reference is really helpful.
Model is a Ritchie SP-5 series, and is really easy to see, day or night.

In life, it's always good to have non-judgemental advice to "stay the course", as the saying goes! :)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: Ward H