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Interesting and/or cool gear you have

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So, a question and an invitation to post about your cool and/or odd geocaching or related equipment.


I have a lensatic compass I inherited from my father. I'm told by my mother that they found it on a beach in California, probably left by some soldiers on training or something. Anyway, it's been my dad's compass for as long as I can remember- I'm sure he had it before I was born (1969).


It's an amazing instrument and I have never used a better compass- it's rugged, reliable and although I don't think it's very waterproof (and have no intention of finding out), I love the thing, probably not least because it reminds me of my dad every time I crack it open to take a bearing.


I've done a bit of research, and it seems to be a fairly common version of the military lensatic compass referred to as the M1950. They were made from 1949 until modern times by various manufacturers and many used vials of tritium to illuminate the disc. Mine doesn't, or doesn't have any radiation warnings. Certainly, any tritium would have long since ceased to glow; they stopped glowing after a few years.


The thing I'm curious about is that my compass does not have the radiation warnings for the tritium-based ones, and was made by a company that only made the M1950 for the military in 1960. Their series were 3-60 and 5-60 (March and May), and were supposedly all made with the radioactive warning label because of the tritium in them (nasty stuff, I gather). Mine says 1-60, and has no radioactive warning label.


The compass says "U.S." and under that "1-60" and beneath that "Manufactured by Waltham Prec. Inst. Co. Waltham Mass."


I'm curious if anyone has any more information about the history of this compass and its manufacturer- I find it odd that although there's very little data about this series online, what little there is omits the particular one I have.


A couple of pics:






So, what interesting and/or really cool equipment do you take on your caching runs?

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I'd be nervous about the radiation, though.


I wouldn't. It's tritium. It's often used in "glow-in-the-dark" watches and gauges. As long as it stays encapsulated in the little vials it is perfectly safe. Tritium cannot penetrate the skin. I'd recommend against eating it.

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Radiation warnings about things like Tritium didn't start coming out until the 70's. Anything before that won't have the labeling. The truth in advertising concept hadn't quite taken off yet.


Other compasses with the tritium vials made by this company did have the warnings in 1960. This one, near as I can tell, never had the tritium in it. Even if it did, it's long since stopped glowing (it only lasts about 10 years).


As long as I don't break it, I'm not going to worry about it too much. I'm more pleased with the fact that it seems to be not only cool, but fairly unique.

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I have a German compass that I've been told IS radioactive. :lol:


Like you I started a thread about it. LINK


In my thread is a link to CompassCollector's profile, he told me a lot of information about mine, and warned me that it was Radioactive. Needless to say I don't take it caching. :D

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So, what interesting and/or really cool equipment do you take on your caching runs?


Now that brings back memories. I used one like it many times. Wondered why I would always find myself to the right of the point to be located. Turns out while I am right handed I am left eyed. Cross dominance. Once I figured that out I started to not only take my readings left handed but also to fire my weapon left handed. Raised my range scores and made better times on the land navigation courses.

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According to the instructors in my Radiation Safety Officer Course, compasses that old did not use tritium, but radium. In addition, radium has been discontinued because it is dangerous. Also keep in mind that just because it no longer glows, that does NOT mean that it has decayed to the point that it is no longer dangerous.


If it did contain tritium, it would still be glowing...H3 has a pretty long half life.

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