So I was replacing the fuel sender for this boat, because... well, keep reading.

A few years ago I put an EFI engine in this boat - a 1989 inboard ski boat - replacing the carbureted engine for better efficiency, ease of operation, and reliability moar power!! In the process, I didn’t realize that I would have a fuel return line back to the tank - I guess the electric fuel pump just runs the same speed so when you’re idling, it pumps too much fuel and it’s gotta go back. Trying to solve the problem quickly, I tapped into the vent line with a T and a check valve, but it didn’t really work. I’m not sure why it didn’t work, but after extended idling, passengers in the back seat would say “geez it really smells like gas back here,” and sure enough, raw fuel was dumping out the vent. So I would open up the throttle and go fast for a minute or two, then it would be fine for a while. Not a great solution.

Enter the Moeller Universal Fuel Sender. This was billed as a sender with a built-in fitting for a return line. Which it had, but the “Universal” part of it was to have the installer bend the float arm to the exact length, which was very specific based on the tank’s depth. Instructions that I saw only AFTER taking a rough guess on the length and bending the arm, so of course it was never right. It never went over 3/4, and at 1/4 it said empty. Better than the other way around, I guess, but it drives me crazy. My attempts to correct it made it worse, so I finally (4 years later) ordered a new one.

They redesigned it! Yay!

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Here it is. The biggest difference is that now it’s two pieces, and the main float arm is detached from the part attached to the mechanism itself. You consult the handy instructions, cut the arm to length, and attach it with the supplied clamp. Brilliant, right?

Problem #1: The package clearly states, “for 6” to 24” tank depths.” However, the handy chart only references depths from 12” to 24” so I had to get creative extrapolate the correct length with math.

Problem #2. I was doing this with the boat in the water. On a Saturday, in July. So there were boat waves, and I dropped the little proprietary clamp INTO MY FUEL TANK through the approximately 1 -1/4” opening for the sender. I spent the next 20 minutes trying various methods to fish it out, and what ended up working was an actual fish hook. WTF, stupid mistake.

Problem #3. Even if you are lucky enough to have the instructions actually tell you the correct length for the float arm - specific to 1/8” - the next step is to “make sure there is at least 1” overlap between the float arm and the mechanism arm where you attach them together with the supplied clamp.” Wait, what? At least? Shouldn’t that be a very specific distance?!? I screwed this up once already and I was determined to get it perfect this time, then I read that crap?


What I will say is, by using a clamp you can easily adjust it by about 1/2” if you need to later. And you can always cut more off the arm. Bending it twice was not happening, that’s the trouble with the first one. The only catch is, you aren’t going to know if you need to adjust it until you go through a lot of fuel, and some fillups, to see how it works. Luckily my fuel tank is very easy to reach, but that is not always the case. I am a little skeptical, however, of the long-term durability of the clamp, it’s just a little phillips-head screw holding it together. No loc-tite, because fuel tank. We shall see.

Anyway, it does “work” in that my fuel gauge reads something, but only time will tell if I got the length close enough to be an improvement over the old one.

Score:

Product design: 7/10 - nice stainless components, included multiple types of - and extra - fasteners and fittings, clamp is a good idea, and the float is not hollow so it should be less susceptible to eventually cracking and filling up with fuel.

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Instructions: 1/10 - better than nothing, but barely.

Ease of installation: 5/10 - pretty easy in theory. Wouldn’t recommend to anyone afraid of messing with their fuel system. Or electricals. And don’t do it in the water, dude (my fault).

Value: I don’t know I didn’t pay retail. My gauge kinda worked before, and now it still kinda works but it’s different, I don’t know yet if it’s better. I just wanted it to be perfect!

Final Thoughts: It’s a boat, man. Bust Out Another Thousand? Nah, more like $50 and an hour of my day. But I spent the whole weekend with my family in the boat and on the lake, so it was all worth it.

tl/dr - Read the instructions, you dope! And if you’re writing instructions? Read them to make sure they make sense. Is that too much to ask?