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Small bubble in Silva compass

Sep 4, 2005
Hey. I've had a Silva Ranger compass since I was 6 years old. It has been on many adventures and has great sentimental value to boot. I noticed the other day it has a small bubble in the fluid. Is this bad? It doesn't seem to affect it. How do I get rid of it? Is this a sign of impending break-down? Let me know. Thanks
Since there's an emotional attachment to that compass, I'd just set it aside and buy a new one to use. The bubble will (likely? possibly?) get larger and larger until it interferes with the action of the needle. It may also become suddenly worse with a barametric change, either due to elevation gain or changing weather.

It might last for years and years with only a small bubble, but I wouldn't want to depend on it. Better safe than sorry and all that...

Good Luck,
I have had a Silva Ranger compass with a fairly large bubble for over thirty years and it still works fine. The liquid helps to dampen the needle movement so even if it was completely dry due to the liquid leaking it should still function correctly. I have seen several older ones and they all had a bubble of some kind.

If it just bothers you I would contact the company. I am fairly certain they would replace it. They volunteered to do that with mine years ago but I didn't want to lose that particular compass for sentimental reasons. Mine has the old aluminum housing. The newer ones (from the last decade or so I believe, maybe longer) have all plastic housings.

Are you sure it didn't always have that bubble? They often have a bubble and a domed crystal -- center the bubble and the compass is level. The curvature is very slight, for precision leveling.
I have a few "disk" pocket compasses. One of them has a bubble that is big enough that it makes the compass unusable. If you shake it so that you get lots on tiny bubbles, you can disperse them equally around the disc to get an accurate reading. That said, I would not take this particular compass into the woods.

I can't imagine that a bubble could have much of an affect on a compass that relies on a needle (as opposed to a disk.)

A compass with a bubble will still point mostly-North, but if the bubble is large enough it can press against the needle and keep it from getting an accurate reading. Good enough for casual wandering, not good enough for shooting bearings.

Same thing if the fluid runs totally try. It'll still point mostly-North, like a Cracker Jack compass, but the movement won't be smooth enough to get an exact reading.

Maybe if the bubble were centered in the exact middle of the compass it wouldn't have much of an effect, but I still think it's time to start shopping for a new compass.

Just my experience...