Remounting the Compass or Small Projects That Threaten to “Do You In”

How hard is it to cut two circles with a saber saw?  All you have to do is follow your scribe lines, right?  Sure…

Well, you should make sure the circle you are cutting is not too tight, otherwise the blade will bind and you won’t be able to stay inside the scribe lines.  Also, if you don’t have your piece clamped adequately the work will vibrate, and could break along the grain.  How do I know these things…?

Grrr. I’ve done this before with the same result. I’m a slow learner.

But before I get into the frustrations of my own short-sightedness, let me outline the project and elements involved.

I wanted to remount the bulkhead compass.  The old plastic mounting ring was badly degraded by UV and it looked crummy.  So what needed to be done?

1.  Dismount Compass

2.  Check for replacement for burned out lamp that (no longer) lights the compass card at night

  • I could have ordered the exact lamp for $9 plus shipping.  Instead, I got a teeny weeny automotive-style bulb and soldered it in line where the original was – I’ll see how it works out.

3.  Cut out new gasket to replace old, broken gasket

4.  Cut out new finish ring from oak stock

5. Clean bulkhead

6.  Reassemble in reverse order of taking apart… (this is where I had trouble)

It’s a very clean look

Okay, it is also helpful to think through each step of a project.  Especially the projects that you think are going to be very simple and straightforward!  These are the most dangerous projects for tripping you up with forgotten steps that lead to making a bigger mess than you anticipated.

As you have seen already, the oak ring didn’t work out.  That was my only piece of stock with enough area to do the job.  I could have laid up a board out of teak stock that I have, but it would have taken at least another day, and there was no guarantee I could have cut that without breaking it either.  I’m thinking a hand-held jig saw isn’t the tool for that, since I’ve had trouble with this twice now.  Instead, I used some white plastic similar to Starboard that I had in my scrap box.  I had no trouble cutting this out.

The white plastic Starboard-stuff

The original bulb is on the left.

I have all the elements ready to assemble.  Thinking through the assembly, I didn’t realize the lamp needed to be mounted before the compass.  In fact, I did it wrong two more times (the wires were fed in the wrong direction.  Twice more.  Sigh…).  But by this time I have sealant applied to the mating surfaces.  After taking apart the assembly 3 times, I also had sealant all over my hands, the bulk head, my tools, that area of the cockpit, and anywhere else I randomly touched.  And I forgot to wear latex gloves.  Again.  I finally have all the wires in the right place and now I can’t get all the studs to thread through holes at the same time.  What is wrong with this?  All the holes align.  Well, the studs are bendy nylon (it’s a compass remember?  No steel can be used), and they are not straight, especially if there is any unfair pressure on them.  So because there were actually three holes to thread, one of the studs didn’t thread through them all and needed special attention.  That took 15 minutes.  Now I’m tightening the nuts on the four studs, pulling it closer to the bulkhead.  But something keeps the studs from pulling down all the way.  Okay, now I see.  There is an alignment flange on the compass for which I didn’t make a cut-out on the trim ring.  Maybe I can do this without taking apart again. Dremel time.  The current tool in the Dremel is jammed.  I have to use two pair of locking pliers to get it apart.  Now with the right bit in the Dremel, it’s a matter of 50 or 60 seconds to notch the trim ring.  I finally get it all aligned, fitted and pulled down tight against the bulkhead – and it looks good!  Whew. That was ‘way too much drama for such a simple job.

The trim ring is centered symmetrically on the compass, but the perspective from this angle make it look uneven.

Moral of the story?  Well, I’m not sure!  I was reasonably sure I had thought it through before I leaped, but turned out being unprepared and precipitous at several stages.  Fortunately, most of my projects don’t go this poorly.

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