|Can I replace the light in my Ritchie Magnetic
Yes, Ritchie has replacement lights
for most models. You can determine the light you need by referring
to our Service Manual. Another option is contacting our service
department at 781-709-3202 or email email@example.com.
With a model and serial number we can tell you which replacement
light you require.
What type of fluid is in my Ritchie Magnetic Compass?
Until 2001, all Ritchie compasses (see exception) were
filled with odorless mineral spirits. Ritchie now uses a fluid
called Isopar L® that has similar properties but some added
benefits over odorless mineral spirits. These can be mixed together.
Exception: Some old style Flat Top Compasses
used a mix of isopropyl alcohol and water. This process was stopped
in the 1960s. If you have a Flat Top Compass, it is recommended
that you test the fluid to see if it is odorless mineral spirits
or isopropyl alcohol.
What are the wires for on my Ritchie Magnetic Compass?
Most Ritchie compasses come equipped with a night light
system which should be connected to the boat’s DC electrical
Why are there two sets of wires on my Ritchie Magnetic
Compass? What should I do with them?
Some Ritchie compasses have two sets of lights. If
this is the case with your compass, twist the positive leads together
(red or white wires), the two negative leads together (black wires)
and connect them to an appropriately fused circuit (usually the
running lights circuit).
Will my compass still work if I do not hook up the light
Yes; unlike electronics, i.e., chart plotters, etc.,
magnetic compasses do not need electrical power to work. The only
part of the compass affected by a loss of power is the night lighting.
Why is my Ritchie Magnetic Compass accurate in one direction but not in another?
Magnetic compasses work by aligning the internal dial
magnets with the earth’s magnetic field. However, the earth
is not the only object with a magnetic field. Objects on your
boat may have a magnetic field which will interfere with the compass’
accuracy. This is known as onboard compass deviation. These fields
can sometimes be tricky to find. You can refer to the “Compensation
Procedure” page on our website for more information
on correcting this problem.
Can I hire someone to Compensate (adjust) my Ritchie
Yes. Although Ritchie provides easy to follow instructions
for performing compensation yourself, professionals are generally
available. These professionals can be a great help to anyone who
has a difficult compass installation. If your compass has a considerable
amount of deviation (more than 20°), the built-in compensators
may not be enough. A compass adjuster is trained to help you locate
potential causes of deviation and make recommendations to reduce
them. A compass adjuster should also have a working knowledge
of deck magnets. Deck magnets can increase the amount of deviation
that can be corrected during compensation. Your local marina or
harbor master should be able to put you in touch with a compass
With the advent of GPS, why do you need a Magnetic Compass?
A magnetic compass is the cornerstone of any navigation
system. The magnetic compass gives you real-time heading for your
boat. This information, when added to the position capability
of the GPS, provides a complete navigation system. Other devices,
such as chart plotters and radars, will add to your navigation
capabilities, but you should always start with a properly compensated
Does my GPS provide heading?
No; GPS can tell you where you are, it knows where
you have been, and it can calculate where you are going. It can
never give you heading. GPS provides Course over Ground (COG).
COG is calculated from historical position data to give average
COG. It is important to realize that COG and heading are both
an integral part of navigation. Conditions such as wind, tide,
current and even physical properties of your boat, can cause differences
between COG and heading. Heading is the only reliable reference
to steer your vessel accurately under all conditions. A properly
compensated magnetic compass is the best device for real time
Why do the compass and GPS seem to disagree?
The factors which cause the difference between Course
over Ground (COG) and heading (see above: “Does my GPS provide
heading?”) have a greater affect at slow speeds. More importantly,
the GPS, which uses historical data to calculate COG, needs a
straight line to give an accurate reading. When you make a turn
at slow speed, you will need to travel in a straight line for
a period of time before the GPS can give you an accurate calculation.
While a boat is at rest, there is no historical data for the GPS.
Therefore, there is no COG to report. The COG given by the GPS
tends to be erratic and incorrect until you resume movement in
a given direction. The magnetic compass, however, will give you
accurate heading information in real time, from stop to go, and
slow to fast.
If I have problems with my compass is it repairable,
if so how?
Yes. Ritchie compasses are designed to be 100% repairable.
Ritchie has a network of Authorized
Service Stations throughout the world that can handle warranty
as well as non-warranty repairs. The factory also has its own
in-house Service Department. Please see our return
procedure for details. Ritchie stocks parts for all models
found in our catalog as well as a number of parts for past models.
If you have an older model you may contact the factory or one
of our Service Stations for parts availability.
Why does my older Ritchie compass seem slow and unresponsive?
Ritchie compass dials are built with matched
hardened steel pivot and sapphire jewel
bearing surfaces. Although you can expect to get years of use
from your compass, certain parts may begin to wear out. If you
notice problems with the dial, contact the factory or an Authorized
Why is my Ritchie compass exactly 180 degrees off course?
Ritchie makes three types of dials that read quite
differently. If you are not familiar with the difference, you
may not be reading the dial properly. The first type is a traditional
open face dial; the lubber line marks your heading at the rear
of the compass. The second is a direct-read dial, most commonly
mistaken for being 180° off course. The key to reading the
heading on a direct-read dial is that you must read the front
of the dial, not the back; if you hold your compass out in front
of you at about eye level you will see the lubber line, which
marks the direction you are facing. The third dial type, the CombiDamp
style dial, combines features of both dial types and is generally
not confused with being 180° off course.
My Ritchie Compass has a bubble or is very low on fluid.
Is this a problem?
Ritchie compasses are designed to not have a bubble;
if you see a bubble, there is a leak. This may seem unlikely to
you, because you may not have noticed any fluid escaping from
the compass. Ritchie compasses are filled with Isopar L® or
odorless mineral spirits. Both tend to evaporate before it is
noticeable. Bubbles may cause a number of problems, so it is recommended
that you have the compass repaired as soon as possible.
My compass has a bubble in the morning, but it goes
away in the afternoon. Why?
Your compass has most likely developed a very small
leak, which has allowed some fluid to escape. When you observe
the bubble in the morning, your compass is cool and the missing
fluid has caused a bubble to form. As the temperature rises, the
fluid expands, thereby taking up volume and making the bubble
disappear. This condition is a good warning that you need to have
your compass serviced before more fluid escapes.
Isopar L® is a registered trademark of Exxon Mobil
If your question has not been
answered, please let us know via email.