Last fall, Dorade nipper Nick Bellico got the call: drive to Vermont this weekend and meet with Olin Stephens’ son Sam, grandson Olin IV, and daughter-in-law Carol, and pick up several items that were used aboard Dorade back in the 1930s, including the sewing machine that crossed the Atlantic in 1931, a compass, and a a barometer. Our goal: to restore all of these items to working condition.
Over the last five months Jens Lange led the charge fixing the compass, which had suffered many indignities over the years. The compass itself went to Viking Instruments where it was completely re-built. The team there was able to salvage the diaphragm, but the float chamber had to be replaced. The dial was restored and internal parts were re-painted with paints based on the original formulations from the 1920s. All the mechanics were cleaned and tuned.
The box stayed in Jens’ shop and got a full make-over. The outside of the mahogany had many coats of shellac-based varnish on it which over the years had bubbled up and discolored. Jens’ team removed the old varnish and brought back the original wooden surface. The box itself needed no real repairs but was missing the hatch with glass, which was replicated from pictures of John Bliss compasses of that period.
This week Jens picked up the finished compass and installed it back in its box, so we now have a perfectly working John Bliss compass from around 1929. Thank you to Jens, Viking Instruments, and the Stephens family for helping us restore this piece of Dorade’s history!
For more photos, see below: