Original VW split screen fuel gauge working again!

fixing some fuel gauge electrickery on the split screen camper

One of the first little jobs I wanted to get fixed ASAP on the VW split screen camper, was to get the fuel gauge sorted and working! I was assured by the previous owner that the gauge should be working fine, but when I picked it up and filled up the tank before heading home, it was unfortunately still registering empty!

Auto electrics often feels more like a case of electrickery to me, but in theory, the 12v electrics on a vintage VW split screen camper should be fairly simple, and from my previous experiences with air-cooled VW’s, often things can be something as simple as a poor earth connection. The easiest connections to check first are the ones to the gauge itself behind the dash, but these were all good, so off to the back of the bus to investigate further in the engine bay…

As I knew that the camper has had a freshly built 1600cc twin carb engine installed recently, I was hoping the connections to the fuel sender in the fuel tank were also all OK. However when I felt behind the engines fan shroud, the live connection wire was missing – I think we might have found the problem! I guess the wire might have got dislodged when the engine was fitted?

Having a look around the engine bay, I soon discovered the missing wire/connection, but when I tried to reconnect it, it appeared to be a fraction too short, and the tension in the wire just pulled the connector loose again!

I tried to pull the cable through a bit further and bring any slack through, but unfortunately there was no slack and I pulled too hard and caused the cable to break! Not such a good thing to do – doh! Ultimately I was going to have to extend the cable, but in this case, I will now end up having to extend the cable from a bit further back!

Having extended the cable, it was then much easier to reconnect up the previously absent live feed to the fuel tank sender on the fuel tank. Time to go up to the front and check to see if that had fixed it… key in, turn one click, but only a slight movement of the needle to just up to the reserve mark on the gauge? So it appears the gauge is working (a bit?), but I was sure I had way more petrol in the tank that?

Original VW split screen fuel gauge working again!
Original VW split screen fuel gauge working again!

Anyway, I thought I would leave it at that for the time being and continue driving around as before. Unfortunately, the gauge was actually right, and I was completely wrong! Then before I knew it, the camper was spluttering from a lack of fuel! So I put in the spare can of fuel and headed off to the garage to fill up, and surprisingly, once the tank was filled up with petrol, the gauge began to creep up and display correctly once again – happy days!

Clearly I must have been driving around and enjoying myself a bit too much recently, but glad that I now have a working fuel gauge to know when I need to fill up on our trips out and about…

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