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fleetfootedfox

BSA compass pointing south instead of north

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Yesterday I was out on a trail with a fellow scouter doing some preliminary scouting prior to an upcoming backpacking trip. At some point we both took out our compasses to take a reading and were shocked to observe the two compasses pointing at each other. We moved about to make sure we weren't standing over some sort of magnet. It was a rainy day, so couldn't see where the sun was. Fortunately, we had a third compass that my friend happened to have with him (he is "Mr. Be-Prepared"). It turned out that his BSA compass was pointing south instead of north. Both mine and his were the same model. Talk about poor quality control. Anybody else ever have an experience like this? Can you imagine if a group of scouts got lost because their BSA compass was wrong?

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Wait for it... wait for it... Let me guess. Was it a Tates brand compass?

 

www.scouter.com/forums/postings.asp?action=ReplyForm&threadID=185489&forumID=25 -(This message has been edited by SequoiaWDL)

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Maybe the Earth is ready for another flip of the magnetic poles and the one compass was getting ready.

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1. Maybe one was upside down.

2. Maybe one of you was a left leaning commie liberal.

3. Maybe one of you was a right leaning dolphin killing hawk.

2a/3a - maybe the combination of both ?????

4. Perhaps you and the other guy are polar opposites.

 

;-)

 

 

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Not sure about the comment regarding Tates? Link did not work for me.

 

Often, when the poles are reversed, it has had contact with something that caused it. It may have been fine until then. I have one that got stored too near a large metal source and it reversed. I gave it a solid tap and it went back, sort of like the little trick magnet toys. Of course, maybe you just got one meant for the southern hemisphere.

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Sometimes maps are printed with stuff on both sides. They make those compasses to use on the reverse maps.

 

The same is true with nails. When you buy a box of nails, you'll notice half of them have the heads on the wrong end. Those are for use on the other side of the wall.

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Sorry, my link was bad, so I'll just reprint.

 

With credit to wingnut:

 

Tate Compass Co.

There was once a couple named Nancy & Mike Tate, and it was their life' s dream to have a compass company. They finally saved enough money and started the Tate's Compass Company. Luck was with them, for the first contract they acquired was to manufacture 750,000 compasses for the Boy Scouts. Nancy and Mike worked feverishly day and night to meet their deadline, & finished just before the Boy Scout Jamboree was to begin.

On the day of the Scout Wilderness hike, each boy scout was given a Tate's Compass to help them find their way. Unfortunately, it was discovered too late that every single compass was made with the colored point of the needle facing the wrong way,so when one was facing North, the needle pointed to the South. Needless to say, all of the boy scouts got lost & it was the biggest fiasco known in Boy Scout history. The Tate's compass company went out of business, but from this experience came the familiar adage...

"He who has a Tate's is lost." (Say it out loud).

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It can and does happen even with the very BEST quality compasses.

 

I had a Silva type 15 compass - that is the long time favorite and famous 'ranger' mirror-sighting compass - whose magnetism went bad. It was actually a Brunton-labeled compass, but it was designed/built by Silva of Sweden.

 

I haven't a clue what cause it. The compass was stored with some other compasses, but well away from any other magnetic fields.

 

I sent it back to Brunton and they replaced it with a beautiful shiny new compass.

 

The lesson learned is to check your compass before heading into the field. If you're really headed out into wilderness each person in your group should have a compass - they won't all go bad simultaneously. If you're still concerned, you could also carry a small button-style backup compass - just to be safe.

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Thanks for the humorous comments and the practical advice.

 

I have heard that the earth's pole is due for a flip, that this happens every so many 10s of thousands of years. However, one would think then that the other two compasses would also have been pointing wrong.

 

We can also rule out the Bermuda triangle phenomenon as this was in the Mid-western US.

 

I think that the compass was manufactured by Silva, but I have no idea if it was defective from the factory or something that happened to it later. The owner did tell me it was a recent purchase from the scout shop.

 

The trail we were on was well marked and it is not likely we would have actually got lost regardless of the compass, but it was still an eye-opener.

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Lesson...always visually "calibrate" your compass before you start using it the first time. Either use it in a familiar place to verify which end of the needle points north, or use the sun to determine east and west to extrapolate north and compare with the compass (just don't try around noon). :)

 

And if you are in Denver, you don't even need the sun. There's a big wall to your west.

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Embarrassing story from years back. We went on a training hike in the San Gabriel Mountains. We went in near Wrightwood, and our goal was to hike to the head water area of the San Gabriel River. As we prepared to leave, we dutifully spread our topo map on the hood of one of the vehicles to double check the route. It took us two or three minutes to realize our error; and it was a couple of the scouts who pointed it out as we "experienced leaders" scratched our heads trying to figure out why nothing looked quite right. Looking back, all I can say is duhhhhhhh! At least having an unseen nail in a table top makes more sense.

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Yeah, I spotted this during an orienteering course. The leaders were flustered because the compasses pointed different (not opposite) directions depending on where they were placed on the wooden table. Then I pointed out that about 1/2 inch away there was a metal support frame here and there under the surface, not to mention bolts and nails. Concrete didn't work either because of the rebars. So we resorted to the ground.

 

I can't explain the opposite points but if the problem is that obvious, someone should be able to figure out the fix (use the other end of the needle).

 

Edited for Nolesrule: Back when I was very young my family had a place on Bokeelia Island. I would leave in the morning with my canoe and a fishing rod. I'd collect fiddler crabs for bait and catch snappers and other fish to take home. I'd take the canoe out to the end and climb palms to get the coconuts, maybe pick oysters or dig clams. It was the time of my life and I didn't even know it. But I also had an outrigger and a small outboard that I used to get out to Cay Costa or Boca Grande and one day I took my canoe out into the Gulf to fish some rocks I had seen on a chart. Inadvertently I took it out of sight of land. No compass. I learned right there the meaning of 'be prepared'. Fortunately I had fuel and the sun was low so I was able to figure out 'East' and I landed almost exactly where I needed to go. Someday I need to write that stuff up.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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When we go on vacation, I bring the compass, my wife brings the Shout wipes. I keep us from getting lost, she keeps the clothes from getting permanent stains.

 

Overcast in Paris, definitely need a compass if you can't see the Eiffel Tower or the Seine. Even the natives carry a pocket sized map book of the city.

 

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