Fuel tank sending units / gauges - SailNet Community

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Old 05-18-2014
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Fuel tank sending units / gauges

"Oh, by the way...." the boat's former owner said, as he handed me the key, ".... the fuel tank gauge doesn't work. Not sure whether it's the sender or the gauge." Ah blast - thought I - another "little" job. He told me how much fuel the engine burns per hour and that will help if I remember to record the hours every time we motor somewhere. Or I can do what at least two friends did to deal with the same problem: get a stick that would reach to the supposed bottom of their tanks, calculate the number of gallons a full tank would hold, mark the stick in units of one's choosing (usually gallons) and move on. I'm a bit more uptight than that about reliability and accuracy so I am considering replacing whatever has failed in the system. Components I can think of: sending unit, wiring and gauge. Is there anything else hiding in there? My real issue is the difficulty accessing and replacing the two terminal units, the sender and the gauge. I haven't investigated either but expect that like most items on sailboats, they will not be simple. Any words of advice (short of " hire a mechanic, stupid")? Anecdotes are even welcome. My research so far reveals a bunch of sending units and gauges available out there, none of which look "universal". On top of that the boat, a C&C 29 MK I, was re powered from gas to diesel some time ago and there don't seem to be a lot of associated service records in anyone's files. Words of advice joyfully accepted; commiseration appreciated; sympathy probably wasted - it's my own damned fault.
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Old 05-18-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

Troubleshooting Those Pesky Marine Gauges! - BoatingHowTo.com


This or there is much info in google "how to test boat gauges "in text and tube

It is pretty simple once you understand the basic functions
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Old 05-18-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

Actually the units are (mostly) pretty universal. Circuit is pretty simple - the sender and gauge in series. The sender's resistance changes as the float moves up and down. Most common range is 240 to 33 ohms. This varies the voltage at the gauge. The Gauge is basically a voltmeter calibrated in tank level rather than volts. You can trouble shoot the system easily with a basic digital multimeter.
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Old 05-18-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

BOTH the sender AND the gauge need to be properly grounded... DAMHIK.
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Old 05-18-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

Don't shoot me. Make a list of all the things you should repair, replace, or modify concerning the fuel system. Then arrange the current sender-gauge project to make
it as simple as possible and perhaps solve others at the same time.
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Old 05-18-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

I replaced my sender with a mechanical unit. The guage sits on top of the tank. It's totally reliable. Depending on where your tank is this may be an alternative for you.
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

You know, Steve, you are on to something. I like it. I will take a serious look at following your lead. Thank you.
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

When my boat was built in '87, the manufacturer installed a Moeller fuel gauge on top of the tank, which could not possibly be viewed by a human. The cockpit was about 2" over the gauge, and this was about 12" away from the lazerette. Here is a pic;

Fortunately, this gauge was set up to be used as a sender if a gauge was installed. Why they didn't install an electric gauge?? I can only guess... You can see the nuts that are used as contacts on the sender.

I installed an electric gauge next to the electrical panel, and initially figured that the ground for the electric gauge light was the ground for the unit.

When I went to try it, no reading... After hours of troubleshooting, and being trained to install gauges by the MMTA (see my signature), I went out and bought a new sender. More hours of installation and troubleshooting, and the I got the same result. "It must be a DOA electric gauge," I thought, and so returned the one that I had been trying to install. I installed a new gauge, same result...

Finally, I noticed the other ground lead on the electronic gauge and connected it. Voilla!
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

We we replaced the tank in my boat with a poly tank from Moeller the sending unit worked fine for that season with the old guage. after that it stayed on 1/2 ever since.. I'm still not sure if that's 1/2 full or 1/2 empty.. ... But it's not a big issue I just open the lid to the laz and can see the fuel level.

Hopefully the new fuel gauge will work on the "old" Moeller sending unit.
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Old 05-19-2014
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Re: Fuel tank sending units / gauges

Sight tubes. yer done. simple is good.
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