Replacing compass oil?

Does anyone have a way to change the oil in a 70 P compass (the typical compass that fits into the recess in sea kayaks)?

The oil in mine has turned amber in color and has become very difficult to read the numbers.


Compass Oil
You might try the man. If they have a web site thay should be able to help. It might even be under warranty

Two options
If you contact Brunton (the current manufacturer), they will probably replace it under warranty. I contacted them about a leaking 70P and I was surprised that they offered to replace it and another one I had with a minor issue (the numbering had turned pink). Great company!

If you prefer to change the fluid, it’s not oil, it’s mineral spirits, a.k.a. “paint thinner” (NOT lacquer thinner), which you can get at any hardware store or home center. There is a screw plug on the underside of the compass for draining and filling it.

Not mineral spirits…
According to the faq on the Brunton site (, it’s mineral oil, not mineral spirits:

“What are the Brunton Compass vials filled with?

Mineral oil and an anti-static substance.”

They’re two very different liquids.

Open one sometime…

– Last Updated: Nov-28-10 10:26 AM EST –

...and the scent will make it very obvious what it's filled with. Moreover, mineral oil is much thicker than mineral spirits (which is like water) and it gets thicker as the temperature drops, which is not a desirable quality in a compass.

Perhaps they've changed the fluid type since I last drained one, but mine definitely WAS filled with mineral spirits, not mineral oil. I know a few other people who have found the same thing. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the text on the site is just a typo.

Regardless, the best thing to do is to contact Brunton, since the compass will probably be replaced under warranty.

replacing compass oil
You can send it back to the maker or use mineral spirits. DO NOT use Alcohol or the #'s and letters will dissolve. Good luck. Vaughn Fulton

Compass oil update
Thank you to all who offered help.

I ended up sending the compass in to Brunton (even though it didn’t say Brunton on it anywhere).

Brunton cheerfully replaced my 11+ year old compass under their warranty policy.

Thanks to another company with great customer service!!