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Your favourite compass.

johnalison

Well-known member
Joined
14 Feb 2007
Messages
26,595
Location
Essex
My handbearing compass dates from 1972. The idea of such a small item was then fairly new. I think mine is just called a Mini-Compass, and of course the light no longer works, but the compass is otherwaise as good as new. Back then, handbearing compasses were mostly smallish compasses mounted on a handle, thus much heavier and bulkier, more suitable for use on a warship than a small yacht.
 

johnalison

Well-known member
Joined
14 Feb 2007
Messages
26,595
Location
Essex
I bought a mint one of these second hand at a good price, but it's so sensitive to tilt that I have never even taken it to the boat. Do you find that in practice it's not an issue or is there a lot of learning needed?
I have only played with these but I think the routine is to take several bearings and average them or reject the obviously bad ones.
 

ltcom

Active member
Joined
27 Mar 2017
Messages
652
Location
mainland uk
My handbearing compass dates from 1972. The idea of such a small item was then fairly new. I think mine is just called a Mini-Compass, and of course the light no longer works, but the compass is otherwaise as good as new. Back then, handbearing compasses were mostly smallish compasses mounted on a handle, thus much heavier and bulkier, more suitable for use on a warship than a small yacht.
This possibly pre-dates yours but with the handle it is large. Too large for my boat sadly. But the prism magnifies the dampened card superbly. It takes AA batteries in handle for light. It can even be used whilst in the wooden box !!! Vintage kit can be great.
Vintage Weems & Plath Hand Held Maritime Bearing Compass W/ Viewing Box | #1622686610

weems vintage compass - Google Search
 

duncan99210

Well-known member
Joined
29 Jul 2009
Messages
6,006
Location
Winter in Falmouth, summer on board Rampage.
My bestest compass is one I inherited from my father-in-law. It’s an military issue prismatic compass, dating from 1940, that he “lost“ on the retreat to Dunkirk. I was in the army myself and was still using the same basic compass for most of my career. Easy to use and accurate. However, it most definitely doesn’t go on the boat: too much history to risk losing it.
A79B7070-7690-47E9-A569-F8D4DB56079A.jpeg
27E43C8D-C04A-4F54-A2D1-0C5643D5E6BF.jpeg
For general use, it’s hard to beat the Iris.
 

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,971
Location
SW Scotland
My handbearing compass dates from 1972. The idea of such a small item was then fairly new. I think mine is just called a Mini-Compass, and of course the light no longer works, but the compass is otherwaise as good as new. Back then, handbearing compasses were mostly smallish compasses mounted on a handle, thus much heavier and bulkier, more suitable for use on a warship than a small yacht.
Sestrel sold small compasses on handles under the name "Mini compass", like this



They used to be very expensive secondhand, but you could get one cheaply - as I did - by buying a Seafarer RDF set when the system was being phased out, because the compass above the radio and (I think) the handle below were the Sestrel Mini Compass kit.

 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,295
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
I replaced my old Plastimo bulkhead with the Contest 100 ... the old one well past its useful life ... sun had destroyed the plastic 'glass' such you couldn't read it ...
I did dismantle it but it was so old - it was beyond saving.

In the cabin in its mount is a Suunto Commander Hand Held .... with the locking button. Lets put it this way - I would not buy another !!

My Compasses : (with marks out of 10 ... 10 being perfect)

Plastimo Contest 100 - good steering compass ( 7 / 10 )



Suunto Commander (4 / 10 )



Setrel (has seal problem - develops air bubble and prism was knocked by previous owner .... need to seriously fix) ( 4 / 10 )



'Camping shop' Army Marching compass ... actually VERY good ! ( 6 / 10 )



I also have a bench flat Suunto compass but it is not for a boat that heels too much ... it needs to be modified to be in a gimbal.
 

ltcom

Active member
Joined
27 Mar 2017
Messages
652
Location
mainland uk
My bestest compass is one I inherited from my father-in-law. It’s an military issue prismatic compass, dating from 1940, that he “lost“ on the retreat to Dunkirk. I was in the army myself and was still using the same basic compass for most of my career. Easy to use and accurate. However, it most definitely doesn’t go on the boat: too much history to risk losing it.
View attachment 90998
View attachment 90999
For general use, it’s hard to beat the Iris.
That is a treasure.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,295
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
Sestrel sold small compasses on handles under the name "Mini compass", like this



They used to be very expensive secondhand, but you could get one cheaply - as I did - by buying a Seafarer RDF set when the system was being phased out, because the compass above the radio and (I think) the handle below were the Sestrel Mini Compass kit.

I gave away a Seafarer RDF !! Both Compass and the RDF were total rubbish !! It was the second one I had ... first from my Fathers boat ... that wasn't any good either !!
 

awol

Well-known member
Joined
4 Jan 2005
Messages
5,573
Location
Me - Edinburgh, Boat - afloat on the Clyde
I bought a mint one of these second hand at a good price, but it's so sensitive to tilt that I have never even taken it to the boat. Do you find that in practice it's not an issue or is there a lot of learning needed?
It needs to be held flatish. I found (past tense 'cos I usually know where I am on the west coast) that it gave about the same size of cocked hat as the Iris, not that that proves anything. Not much use for following a bearing.
 

ltcom

Active member
Joined
27 Mar 2017
Messages
652
Location
mainland uk
Not much use for following a bearing.
That is why I love the grid system on the Bosun gimballed compass. Whatever the sea is throwing a quick look to check arrow is parallel to grid and I know I am on my bearing. Mine is under tiller where I can see it in a flash.
 

Praxinoscope

Well-known member
Joined
12 Mar 2018
Messages
2,759
Location
Aberaeron
Sestrel sold small compasses on handles under the name "Mini compass", like this



They used to be very expensive secondhand, but you could get one cheaply - as I did - by buying a Seafarer RDF set when the system was being phased out, because the compass above the radio and (I think) the handle below were the Sestrel Mini Compass kit.

I fotgot that I still have one of these floating around in one of the lockers, last time I look at it it was still working fine (about 2 years ago), it must be coming on for 40 years old now and still gives an accurate reading.
 

BlowingOldBoots

Well-known member
Joined
5 Aug 2009
Messages
16,044
Location
Scotland.
It's not one of these is it, by any chance?

Because I have one and it's the nicest hand bearing compass I have ever used, with fantastic damping. The beta lights run out of tritium after about ten years, but you can replace it with two 1.5 x 9 x 3mm ones from www.betalight.nl (£15 delivered) and a drop of superglue.
That’s exactly the model, a joy to use, even on a pitching deck.
 

JumbleDuck

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Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,971
Location
SW Scotland
That’s exactly the model, a joy to use, even on a pitching deck.
I thought it might be, from your description.

Redoing the light is dead easy. You order the betalights (PM me if you want contact details) then you bust and scrape out the old light with a small flat-bladed screwdriver. Once the recess is clean you lay the two new lights (they don't sell a single one which fits) into it, drip a single drop of superglue on them, wait for it to go off and seal everything up with a pea sized bit of whatever sealant you have lying around. Takes ten minutes in total.

Quite apart from the optics and damping, betalights are to my mind infinitely better than the feeble lighting on Iris compasses and the like.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,295
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
I thought it might be, from your description.

Redoing the light is dead easy. You order the betalights (PM me if you want contact details) then you bust and scrape out the old light with a small flat-bladed screwdriver. Once the recess is clean you lay the two new lights (they don't sell a single one which fits) into it, drip a single drop of superglue on them, wait for it to go off and seal everything up with a pea sized bit of whatever sealant you have lying around. Takes ten minutes in total.

Quite apart from the optics and damping, betalights are to my mind infinitely better than the feeble lighting on Iris compasses and the like.
Why not use Hot Glue instead of Superglue and then sealant ? HG would do both jobs in one ?
 

JumbleDuck

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Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,971
Location
SW Scotland
Why not use Hot Glue instead of Superglue and then sealant ? HG would do both jobs in one ?
The betalights are tiny and very, very light. I thought about hot glue, but I think it would be very difficult to avoid disturbing the lights. A single drop of superglue is absurdly easy to do. Hot glue would be good for the protective layer, though.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,295
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
The betalights are tiny and very, very light. I thought about hot glue, but I think it would be very difficult to avoid disturbing the lights. A single drop of superglue is absurdly easy to do. Hot glue would be good for the protective layer, though.
Understood.

My thought was that HG is actually very easy to remove instead of gouging out sealant later ... Isoprop actually breaks its bond.
 

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,971
Location
SW Scotland
My thought was that HG is actually very easy to remove instead of gouging out sealant later ... Isoprop actually breaks its bond.
Good idea. I'm still afraid that the lightness of the, erm, lights would make it tricky.

I find the Iris backlight works fine. Seems to prefer a tungsten bulbed torch to LED to charge it but, apart from that, is more than adequate.
How long do you find it lasts? Maybe it's just my presbyopically failing eyesigh, but when I have tried my crew's Iris at night I've found it useless after being out of the cabin for half and hour at most. The betalit Sowester, on the other hand, is good for years.

I see that "Plastimo Iris" compasses with betalights are being offered for sale on eBay and AliBaba but no reputable sellers seem to have them and Plastimo's website doesn't mention them, so I suspect a hint of fakery.
 
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