Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

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Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

Postby Dan_Lockwood » Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:55 am

Hello all.

Well I've had my '98 Helix on the road for just over a week now and the poor little guy with just a few miles over 600 on the ticker now has almost 850!

I have not issues cruising 65 to 68 mph and if necessary in traffic, I can hit 70 and maintain that single up. Two up 65 is a "good" feeling speed.

I had some belt slipping yesterday that went away after I rode it for a few miles. When I left the house and throttle up, the belt screeched and I could feel it slipping. It's a brand new O.E.M. Honda belt. Not really worried about it though as it has been flawless for the past 250 miles. Did not balance the tires and I feel no vibration at all.

Now to the question.

The first major two up ride we took was going to be around 125 miles, a week ago yesterday. I had filled up and was at around 100 miles and the fuel gauge was still reading about 2/3 full. But I stopped anyway and filled up. I was almost empty... :(

So yesterday I take off the tank filler cap and get an aluminum wire and a light to look inside the tank. I thought hat the float arm might have been rusted to stop at that level but work from that point to full. I found the arm and float and could raise it up and after a short bit the gauge read full. Then I dropped the arm in the tank and it went back down to around 2/3 full. I had the Helix on the main stand level and stuck a small clean piece of wood down the filler neck to physically check the amount of fuel in the tank. I had about 1.5" of fuel. That should have been around the empty to 1/4 mark.

After a bit of moving the float arm around, the float kind of showed up under the filler neck. What appears to be taking place is there is a baffle inside the tank to slow down fuel slosh front to rear while riding and this also makes the fuel sender more accurate. AND the float is hitting the baffle and NOT going down any further. I tried to see if I could just flip the float around a bit to get it unhooked from being over top of the baffle. But it will not move and is still hitting on the way down.

I'm going to take the plastic back off to access the tank, but was wondering if anyone else has had this issue with their Helix? This has to have been this way from the factory with only 600 miles on the ticker. I know that no one in the original owner's family has had any work done on it and during the purchaser's original 600 miles of riding, there was not much follow up with the son-in-law I purchased it from. So he's got no clue as to the condition of the fuel sender.

I found a picture in my manual and it's pretty straight forward how it "should" work. It shows the float to be straight to the rear, but mine is off the right side of the tank, almost rubbing the side of the tank AND hitting the tank baffle. I can't imagine that the baffle would have been welded in the tank incorrectly as these are all fabbed by machines and duplicates of each other.

Any thoughts on what MIGHT be the problem?

Thanks in advance!

Have a great week everyone... :)

Dan
Dan

3 Harleys
'98 Red Helix
Dan_Lockwood
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:45 pm

Re: Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

Postby Dan_Lockwood » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:26 pm

Well I found out the problem. And I can say it's been going on for quite some time.

Here's what I had when I first tore off the plastic panels. It appears that the gas tank has been leaking. It was even a bit wet when I touched it after filling it up with gas upon my first tries to start it up.

Since the fuel sender float arm was in what I thought was the wrong place, IT WAS!

When I just took off the center plastic and found the retainer ring loose on top of the sender plate. The sender had rotated CCW and was now in the wrong place. It was also leaking a bit and when the tank was full it would leak. I've been smelling a bit of gas when I would park it in the garage.

So I rotated it back to 12:00 and it seemed to drop into place, the tab on the sender that is. Once in place, the retainer ring was easy enough to start and with just a few brisk taps of the screwdriver, it was into the locked position. I went back into the tank with my aluminum trip wire and found what felt like the float arm. I pushed it down and with the key on and waiting about 30 seconds, the fuel gauge went from 3/4 full down to the RED bar on the bottom. I let go of the arm and in a short bit the fuel gauge read 3/4 again!

Problem solved... :)

With all the rust this thing had on the front side of the tank, this was not a recent occurrence. I know the guy I bought it from never really filled it up with gas so it had to have happened back in the late 90's with the original owner. If he had taken it back to have it checked out, I'm sure they would have found the problem.

Here's the picture of the tank when I took it apart the first time.

Image

I cleaned it up with a brass brush and did some pain touchup on it. Not showroom pretty, but good enough for a hidden gas tank. It still looked great today.
Dan

3 Harleys
'98 Red Helix
Dan_Lockwood
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:45 pm

Re: Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

Postby Cosmic_Jumper » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:52 pm

So was the tank rusted to the point of being porous, and if so, what did you do to resolve the leak?
Cosmic_Jumper
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:59 am

Re: Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

Postby Dan_Lockwood » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:52 pm

Cosmic_Jumper wrote:So was the tank rusted to the point of being porous, and if so, what did you do to resolve the leak?


No, the tank was not rusted through or was it leaking due to the rust in any way.

The leak was the un-seated fuel sender and retainer. Being loose and when the gas would slosh around inside the tank, it would leak out the loose sender seal and drip down the tank, eat off the paint and cause the rust.

I brass brushed the rust and then used a brush to hand paint back over to just make it look better and protect it from water damage later on.

The leak has been fixed along with the fuel gauge not reading correctly. Once I found the sender was rotated CCW out of its lug, I put it back in place and then tightened down the locking ring to make a good gas proof seal again.

So ultimately, no rusted through tank, just surface rust from the sender gas leak.

Does that better explain what I did?
Dan

3 Harleys
'98 Red Helix
Dan_Lockwood
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:45 pm

Re: Fuel Tank Gauge Sender Float Arm

Postby Cosmic_Jumper » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:55 pm

Thanks so much for the explanation (again). Sorry I didn't get it the first time. Congratulations on sorting this out.

We all benefit from shared information.
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