If you are thinking of buying a Stanley G-150, a Francis Barker M-73 or a WW2 MkIII liquid prismatic compass, please bear in mind the following points.
If there is a bubble in the compass it means the compass needs servicing. You cannot simply "top-up" a liquid prismatic compass, you have to treat the cause of the leak, not the symptoms.
If the compass is not new and there is no bubble in the compass you should ask yourself why, as many unscrupulous sellers top up old compasses in order to sell them without a bubble, and then when the bubble reappears a month later it's too late - your problem now.
For all the above-mentioned compasses a full service is going to cost somewhere between GBP 130 and 160. If you try to do the work yourself and you get it wrong nobody will then take the work, as most, if not all compass makers refuse to repair other people's mistakes.
Consider the purchase cost of the used compass, plus the servicing costs, and you will see that it is actually almost as cheap to buy a brand new M-73 with 12 month guarantee for the overall price you will pay.
Servicing and restoration of old compasses, particularly the MkIII, is only recommended for compasses with significant historic or sentimental value, otherwise the cost of purchasing and servicing will exceed the value of the restored compass - negative equity.
I recommend only buying used liquid prismatic compasses from reputable dealers, and only if they have been fully serviced, with all seals, fluid and Tritium lights replaced, and with a certificate of re-calibration by a qualified person or company, and a guarantee. Otherwise buyer beware!
Buying Liquid Prismatic Compasses
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4 August 2012
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