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    Re: Refilling a compass
    From: Henry Halboth
    Date: 2004 Jun 24, 16:56 -0400

    I really do not want to prolong the subject of a glycerin/alcohol play on
    words, as they serve the same purpose in a compass bowl, but my source
    would not be the local pharmacy - Dow Chemical has no problem with either
    understanding or supplying the same. Again, there seems to be no problem
    with Vodka - that also qualifies as ethanol, etc.,  to which I am sure at
    least some of us can testify. My comment about sailors using the compass
    as a source of drink was really no joke, but a real problem of bygone
    days - perhaps glycerin is not quite as tasty and thus found its way into
    use - although I nerver personally tried it. Regardless, it should be
    rather obvious that a variety of fluids may be used in the compass as a
    damping material - the obvious criterion being a resistance to freezing
    and a compatibility in all respects with the card, bowl, magnets, sealing
    material, etc., being used.
    
    On Wed, 23 Jun 2004 15:17:36 -0400 Jared Sherman
     writes:
    > Henry, in the states we generally refer to ethanol, isopropanol, and
    > methanol as "alcohol".
    >
    > Whatever a trihydric alcohol may be...if you went into any pharmacy
    > and
    > asked for alcohol, you would be offered one of the above--but never
    > glycerin.
    >
    > Perhaps more to the point, when is the last time you knew of
    > glycerine being
    > professionally used in a compass?
    > And if it is no longer in use, why was it phased out?
    >
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "Henry C. Halboth" 
    > To: 
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 2:37 PM
    > Subject: Re: Refilling a compass
    >
    >
    > Your dissertation on glycerin is a bit difficult to understand,
    > since you
    > allow that alcohol may be used in the magnetic wet compass. By
    > definition
    > glycerine is a trihydric alcohol, commonly referred to as glycerol
    > and
    > glycerine; further, as most modern compass manufacturers allude to
    > "special" fluids being utilized in there compasses it would appear
    > necessary to perform an analysis to be sure as to what constituents
    > were
    > actually included therein.
    >
    > I have no problem historically with allowing alcohol and water as
    > the
    > basic constituents of compass fluid or that petroleum distillates
    > are now
    > also used, but would respectfully invite your attention to glycerin
    > and
    > alcohol being alternately referred to in texts that apparently
    > predate
    > the experience of both your good self and that of your experts.
    > Please
    > refer to for starters only Knights Modern Seamanship, 10th edition,
    > and
    > Reisenberg's Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service, 2nd
    > edition,
    > in both of which glycerin and water, and alcohol and water are
    > referred
    > to as floatation fluids for the magnetic compass card.
    >
    > For the benefit of those who have otherwise asked, I would quote
    > from A
    > Practical Manual of the Compass, US Naval Institute, 1921 edition,
    > to the
    > effect that "The bowl is entirely filled with liquid, 45% alcohol,
    > and
    > 55% distilled water." My notes of some 60-years ago give the same
    > proportions except that they employ the then alternately employed
    > term
    > glycerin instead of alcohol. Regardless,  I would not employ any
    > home
    > brew fluid to make up a deficiency in a modern compass without
    > completely
    > evacuating and thoroughly cleaning the bowl - or at least consulting
    > the
    > manufacturer.
    > By the way Vodka and water seems to remain an uncontested
    > alternative.
    >
    > On Wed, 23 Jun 2004 11:58:09 -0500 RSPeterson
    > 
    > writes:
    > > I've put myself out front on compass issues, so I best stand and
    > > deliver.
    > >
    > >  From no sources or my experience do I find any reference to using
    > > glycerin and water as a compass fluid.  I've talked to the old
    > guys
    > > and
    > > checked every compass reference known and nothing on glycerin/H2O.
    > > And
    > > I've never seen a compass come across my bench in almost 20 yrs
    > that
    > > contained same though I've seen some strange home-brew
    > concoctions.
    > > My
    > > concern is that glycerin and water will freeze.  Historically,
    > there
    > > have been only two compass fluids: alcohol/H2O and petroleum
    > > distillate.  And all modern compasses use petroleum derivatives.
    > > That's
    > > it.  If others have references, I would like to review them 'cause
    > > this
    > > is an unknown technology to me.
    > >
    > > Ritchie was the first to develop the "wet-card" compass; previous
    > to
    > > that all compasses were "dry-card" compass of the British type.
    > > Kelvin-White (later Danforth)  was the first to develop the
    > > spherical
    > > compass as against the Ritchie flat-top.
    > >
    > > I would like to hear more.  This is a good time of the year for me
    > > to
    > > respond;  "Schoooools, OUT for summer!"
    > > Thanks.  -- Bob Peterson
    > >
    > >
    > > Courtney Thomas wrote:
    > >
    > > > I'd appreciate your information regarding the proper mixture for
    > a
    > > > compass fluid.
    > > >
    > > > Thank you,
    > > >
    > > > Courtney Thomas
    > > >
    > > > Henry C. Halboth wrote:
    > > >
    > > >> It was my understanding that, starting from scratch, compass
    > > fluid was a
    > > >> proper mixture of glycerin and distilled water (my notes give
    > the
    > > >> correct
    > > >> proportions if anyone is interested) - lacking that a good
    > grade
    > > of
    > > >> Vodka
    > > >> was always recommended as the fluid to get rid of a bubble.
    > Many
    > > years
    > > >> ago there was always a problem with sailors tapping the compass
    > > for a
    > > >> surreptitious drink.
    > > >>
    > >
    > >
    > > --
    > > Robert S. Peterson
    > > 31 N Alfred, Elgin IL  60123  USA
    > > 847/697-6491
    > > Compass Adjusting & Repair for Lake Michigan Navigators Since 1985
    > > Physics @ Bartlett HS
    > > e-mail: rspeterson(at)wowway.com
    > >
    >
    
    
    

       
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