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Fuel Gauges not working

Marine Fuel Systems

Section - Is their a way to find out how much fuel is in a fuel tank ...
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  1. #1
    Status : Offline
    Member Since : May 2012
    1991 Wellcraft 3200 LXC
    Posts : 1

    Default Fuel Gauges not working

    Is their a way to find out how much fuel is in a fuel tank that has a curved fuel filler tube? In the old days on my dad's boat I used to use a wooden stick to check the fuel level because we didn't have fuel gauges and the filler tubes were straight. I just got this boat and need to find out how much fuel is in each tank....I know I could fill them both up, but don't need to be cruising around with 220 gallons of fuel. I have a 1991 Wellcraft 3200 LXC.


  2. #2
    TimG's Avatar
    Status : Offline
    Member Since : Dec 2009
    Home Port : Olive Branch, MS
    Boat's Name : "WooHoo"
    1986 Cruisers Elegante 297
    Posts : 3,017


    Hi Z and welcome aboard. First I would try and determine why the gauges are not working. This article should help troubleshoot them pretty quickly, you are basically dealing with 3 potential problems, bad gauge, bad wiring or a bad float/sender.

    If the tanks are of a regular shape, square or rectangle etc then you certainly can estimate how much is in there. But in the end if you plan on just "dipping the tanks" to check fuel level, you can place a suitable object in the filler hose and mark it for now, but you still have to mark a "full of fuel" line for comparison, and the only way I know how to do that is to fill the tank up.

    I would troubleshoot the system and if necessary pull the sending unit and floats. My boat was an 86 an had a very simple system of a piece of cork that rises and falls. The sending units are normally mounted on the top of the tank (usually under an access hatch). If you pull them you can stick a yardstick in to determine the level and do a little simple math. But you still have to mark whatever you choose to stick down the fill hose.

    I don't know how successful you will be in finding a suitable object to dip the tanks, but an electrical fish tape would be flexible enough and long enough (cut it to suit).

    I know you aren't too keen on topping off the tanks but here is an idea for you. If you top them off and keep them topped off for a few trips on the water you can get an idea of the fuel burn. This will come in handy if you plan on taking any trips with the boat. After each trip note the engine hours and note how many gallons it takes to top it off and you will get gallons per hour of burn.

    I even went a step further and made a RPM vs Speed vs Fuel Burn graph for my old boat. This takes some time but now I know if I am at 2900 rpm I will go X knots and burn Y gallons of fuel per hour. Using that info on a graph and I can find my most economical cruising speed.

    As I said this takes quite a few trips on the water to get enough data but was definitely worthwhile. I can explain the steps to do this in further detail if you are interested.

    Those are just some thoughts for you to consider. Let us know what path you take and we will provide all the help we can.
    ~ on the hook ~

  3. #3
    Cap'n Ray's Avatar
    Status : Offline
    Member Since : Sep 2011
    Home Port : SW Florida
    Boat's Name : Bali Hai
    1988 Carver 3207
    Posts : 1,828


    Welcome aboard Zfactor! Tim has the best and lowest cost (atleast initially) solution- troubleshoot those gauges for the simplest long-term fix.

    An alternative would be to empty the tanks with a suitable siphon or pump. Borrow a couple 55gal fuel drums if you have to, and note the quantity you get out. May not be exact, but you'll have a starting point.

    Best of luck on this, post up some pix of your new boat when you have a chance.

  4. #4
    Status : Offline
    Member Since : Jul 2014
    Home Port : Canada
    1992 Wellcraft 3200LXC
    Posts : 1


    Hi Zfactor,

    I have a 1992 3200 LCX and have the same problem. Did you ever solve your problem? From what I understand the senders are bad (electronic?) and need to be replaced. Not much room, only 6 inches or so. Can they be replaced without having to make an access hole in the floor?


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