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Old 09-13-2020, 02:35 PM   #1
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Fuel tank level gauge

Purchasing a boat that doesn’t have gauges for the fuel tanks. Any advice as to keeping up with the amount of fuel in tanks ? Or is it worth it to install fuel Gauges??
Thanks for any insights!
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:16 PM   #2
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I have developed a good idea as to how much my engine burns per hour. So, I use my hour meter to get an idea of how much is left in the tank and occasionally I'll dip the tanks to confirm that I'm on track. For me one thing about a diesel engine on a boat is that I never want to run dry. It can be a real pain to bleed the engine to get it to restart.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:21 PM   #3
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I feel your pain, first trawler also had no fuel gauge, but did have a dip stick. The port and starboard tanks deck fills directly over the tank tops. Check you might find a dip stick.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:25 PM   #4
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Purchasing a boat that doesn’t have gauges for the fuel tanks. Any advice as to keeping up with the amount of fuel in tanks ? Or is it worth it to install fuel Gauges??
Thanks for any insights!
If the fuel tank has a valved drain, create a sight gauge using a small diameter polyurethane clear tubing from the drain to the vent line. Utilize a "T" on the vent line and drain.

Add valves to the sight gauge tubing setup and leave them closed except when taking a reading.
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:36 PM   #5
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I'm going to guess that the previous owners were fine with no gauges. It depends on your personal preference, personality/awareness and how you intend to use the boat. Also the number of fuel tanks you have. All of the above mentioned methods work well. Personally, I'd find gauges a must have for water and waste tanks. Welcome and feel free to share as much info about the boat in your profile once you've closed the deal.
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:54 PM   #6
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What type of a boat is it? And what is the capacity of the fuel tanks? What are your cruising plans? All of these would factor into a decision as to whether or not gauges are needed. If it is a single engine full displacement trawler with large fuel tanks then gauges may not be needed since the fuel burn would be low and range long. If it is a planning hull with large twin engines and smaller tanks then gauges are necessary, IMO. Give us some more info to make recommendations on. Good luck on your purchase, hope it works out for you.
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:24 PM   #7
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Our first trawler, the Green boat, had dip sticks. After a season we had a very good idea of our usage. We later added a Flowscan and found it to be extremely accurate.

The second trawler was a North Pacific 39. We had fuel gauges and the Cummins engine management system which showed real time usage and total use. Very easy to keep track of fuel burn.

Our new North Pacific 45 (I know, post pictures) has the above and sight tubes. I guess we have moved up over the years however, the dip stick method worked well and would not be an issue for me buying a boat.

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Old 09-13-2020, 07:34 PM   #8
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Only my dinghy has a fuel gauge. Only my dinghy gives me any anxiety when the gauge is showing less than 1/2 full. I don't actually know how much fuel the dinghy carries in the tetrahedral tank under the bow seat. Once I put 10 gallons in, usually I fill when it needs about 5, due to that anxiety.

In my diesel trawler, getting about 2 mpg, carrying ~600 gallons of fuel, taking 2 to 3 years to consume 600 gal, I have never had any concern about fuel. I usually fill up twice a year, once on the "big trip" and again in the fall, to leave the tanks full over the winter. I keep a log. In it, I record hours from fill to fill, and with a steady rate of consumption at ~2 mpg, a steady 8 knot speed, I always know when to ease up on the nozzle, as I near full.

Stay away from gauges for fuel, they cause anxiety.
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Old 09-13-2020, 08:19 PM   #9
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I have electro-mechanical gauges, like most everyone here. Not worth your time and money to install them.

Fill your tanks, burn some (doesn't require more than a few hours) log your run times carefully, fill and calculate your burn. Thereafter use your clock to measure fuel levels. (This, of course, assumes you know the capacity of your tanks).
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Old 09-14-2020, 05:57 AM   #10
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Tank Tender

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The original precision tank measuring system. One instrument measures from 1 to 10 tanks. It gauges the liquid level in water, diesel & holding tanks.‎Installation & Operation · ‎Pricing / Order Form · ‎About · ‎Pressure Checking
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:55 AM   #11
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I have sight gauges on my twin Perkins diesels and shortly after adding fuel, the level is pretty close to before. What did you mean by “leave them closed except when taking a reading”? I have no dipstick, 250 gallon tanks, and only a sight gauge that pretty much only tells me there is fuel in the system. Beyond “topping off” and monitoring from there, any other options with these sight gauges?
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:51 AM   #12
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I have sight gauges on my twin Perkins diesels and shortly after adding fuel, the level is pretty close to before. What did you mean by “leave them closed except when taking a reading”? I have no dipstick, 250 gallon tanks, and only a sight gauge that pretty much only tells me there is fuel in the system. Beyond “topping off” and monitoring from there, any other options with these sight gauges?
I think I can help here. When I was at sea (a long time back) we had tank sight gauges, large ones on ocean going ships. The test valve was manually operated, normally shut. So if the glass were to break the only leak would be the fuel oil in the sight glass. Boiler gauges are sometimes the same, normally closed but opened to take the level. It's a failsafe design.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:06 AM   #13
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Thanks. I feel like the really novice that I am here! Reading all of the threads, a few mentioned in short, valves are closed, add fuel, open valves to allow leveling, then close valves to operate. I have never opened those valves, so now am I to assume the sight gauges are not giving me accurate readings? Makes sense I guess. But I can’t get my head around if they are both closed, it seems like a trapped level is in the sight gauge. So do you periodically open to reset the level? Gads, am I a novice!
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:20 AM   #14
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I have sight gauges on my twin Perkins diesels and shortly after adding fuel, the level is pretty close to before. What did you mean by “leave them closed except when taking a reading”? I have no dipstick, 250 gallon tanks, and only a sight gauge that pretty much only tells me there is fuel in the system. Beyond “topping off” and monitoring from there, any other options with these sight gauges?
Regarding reading your fuel level. You've got a valve or valves closed somewhere. Or a blockage of some kind. If the sight gauges are open to the tank they will work.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:22 AM   #15
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Thanks. I feel like the really novice that I am here! Reading all of the threads, a few mentioned in short, valves are closed, add fuel, open valves to allow leveling, then close valves to operate. I have never opened those valves, so now am I to assume the sight gauges are not giving me accurate readings? Makes sense I guess. But I can’t get my head around if they are both closed, it seems like a trapped level is in the sight gauge. So do you periodically open to reset the level? Gads, am I a novice!
Yes, you open the valves to read the tank level. Then close the valves for safety. And yes, with valves closed the reading is inaccurate.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:23 AM   #16
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I added Maretron Tank Level sensors to mine... Easy install and the data is transmitted to my MFDs. I also have a site gauge (I have an "odd" configuration, my tanks are all tied together, so only one site gauge)... While I was adding the sensors I also added them for the fresh water tanks... Nice to know where I am at a glance for everything...
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:34 AM   #17
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If the fuel tank has a valved drain, create a sight gauge using a small diameter polyurethane clear tubing from the drain to the vent line. Utilize a "T" on the vent line and drain.

Add valves to the sight gauge tubing setup and leave them closed except when taking a reading.
My electrician also mentioned the Maretron sensors. We just put in the NMEA2K and WiFi this week to send navigation info (Navionics) to my iPad. Thinking of adding engine and fuel sensors as well.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:50 AM   #18
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GaryPete,
the sensors are great. I also added the fuel flow sensors from Maretron as well. Good info, especially for longer trips and finding that optimum burn rate... All of which is DIY type stuff if you know your way around a tool box and basic 12v electrical...
I added the Wakespeed WS500 voltage regulator and finally got rid of the Balmar external regs... Way more control and EASY to program vs Balmar and that STUPID magnetic dot switch "thing" (I REALLY hated that thing!!!)

Next up is the SeaGauge G2 28 function sensor interface unit.... Converts all my old analog engine gauges/signalling to N2K readable info. Also puts the info on a MFD (or an Ipad)...
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:59 AM   #19
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Thanks. I feel like the really novice that I am here! Reading all of the threads, a few mentioned in short, valves are closed, add fuel, open valves to allow leveling, then close valves to operate. I have never opened those valves, so now am I to assume the sight gauges are not giving me accurate readings? Makes sense I guess. But I can’t get my head around if they are both closed, it seems like a trapped level is in the sight gauge. So do you periodically open to reset the level? Gads, am I a novice!
No worries! Experience is the only way to gain knowledge on such things. In a perfect world you would leave the valves at the top and bottom of the sight tube in the OPEN position all the time and then you would easily be able to see the amount of fuel in your tanks. By marking the sight tube with the prior reading such as marking on a strip of masking tape, you can also figure out roughly how much you are are consuming on a long run which is useful to know.

But we are not in a perfect world and the reason that everyone will tell you to close those valves whenever you are not actually checking the fuel level is because the open valves create the possibility of a fuel leak if the sight glass (if it is glass) breaks, or if there is some other fault or damage to the sight tube or its fittings.

So check as often as you can with the valves open, then close both top and bottom before leaving the engine room.

On my new-to-me boat the sight tubes were unrated plastic and they failed survey for that reason. I replaced with Tygon which is transparent and rated for Diesel fuel.

~A

https://www.amazon.com/Tygon-Genuine...02227028&psc=1
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Old 05-01-2021, 12:03 PM   #20
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No worries! Experience is the only way to gain knowledge on such things. In a perfect world you would leave the valves at the top and bottom of the sight tube in the OPEN position all the time and then you would easily be able to see the amount of fuel in your tanks. By marking the sight tube with the prior reading such as marking on a strip of masking tape, you can also figure out roughly how much you are are consuming on a long run which is useful to know.

But we are not in a perfect world and the reason that everyone will tell you to close those valves whenever you are not actually checking the fuel level is because the open valves create the possibility of a fuel leak if the sight glass (if it is glass) breaks, or if there is some other fault or damage to the sight tube or its fittings.

So check as often as you can with the valves open, then close both top and bottom before leaving the engine room.

On my new-to-me boat the sight tubes were unrated plastic and they failed survey for that reason. I replaced with Tygon which is transparent and rated for Diesel fuel.

~A

https://www.amazon.com/Tygon-Genuine...02227028&psc=1
Top valve is usually left open as it connects to a the headspace in the tank. Bottom valve, spring loaded normally closed. Press it to see the fuel level. If it does not change check the top valve is open and connected to the tank. If still nothing then probably something is blocked and needs a looksee. Good luck.
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