How to restore your Gas Gauge sending unit

Step-by-step tutorials on how to maintain and fix your GL1100
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Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:22 pm
Location: Ukiah, Ca
Motorcycle: 1981 GL1100

How to restore your Gas Gauge sending unit

Post by fishnquest » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:32 am

The bike I am working on is a 1981 GL1100 so the pics are for that bike. First you have to get it out of the tank. I'm doing a restoration on this bike and I did not document that step. If you don't know how to do that, maybe this article is not for you. You can seriously screw up the holding ring if you don't know where and how to smack it to get the unit out of the tank. I think the tank has to be off the bike to get the gauge out but some may disagree with me on that.
My gas gauge sending unit looked pretty sad when it came out:

Soak it in vinegar. Thats all I did. I soaked in white vinegar I bought at the grocery store. I kept it submerged for 13 hours and I think it did not need quite that long. I was concerned about the dis-similar metals involved in a sending unit but it came out fine. The nice thing about vinegar is there is no flash rust problem when you are done; just dry everything real good with compressed air when you are done. The float wants to float so you will need to hold it submerged or do like I did and just soak the float part separate:

After I soaked it I just washed it with a dishwashing scrubber sponge with some dishwashing liquid. If you do this in the kitchen sink like I did, I recommend you wait until the wife is gone. There was chunks of rust coming out of the sending unit cover so I bit the bullet and went a step further. There are 3 small tabs holding the cover on. Use a knife (very carefully) or a very small screwdriver to just open the tabs a little. Then I used needle nose pliers to straighten them out just enough to ease the cover off.

There is a small, very small wire that goes from the top to the sending unit. This same wire continues as many many wraps around that bar. Be careful and don't break that wire or you've just wasted your time. It could probably be repaired but thats at best a whole other subject. I scrubbed the small spaces with an old toothbrush and some dishwashing liquid. The thing looks great and I saved a bunch of $$$. Just put it back together and on with the restoration. I will apply a little mmo after I get it back together. I don't think I want any on the dis-similar metal part of the unit but maybe others know more about that. I'm thinking the part that rubs on the wrapped wire might not want any oil on it. I just dried it all with compressed air.


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Location: Columbia Falls, Montana
Motorcycle: 1973 Suzuki TS185 (sold)
1981 Suzuki GS750L (sold)
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1981 Honda CB900 Custom (sold)
1983 GL1100A Aspencade

Re: How to restore your Gas Gauge sending unit

Post by dakotanator » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:54 pm

Thank you VERY MUCH for your posting. I bought an '83 Aspencade for $800.00, and found that the previous owner only would have needed a little MAINTENANCE to put her back in shape.

Your article DESCRIBED the tee....what was wrong with my sending unit. I followed your instructions, and now it's working 100%. The sending unit looks brand new.......literally. Couldn't believe what simple vinegar can do. AMAZING.

Thank you again. And to everyone on these forums. All your information has been priceless.
It's not WHAT you's THAT you ride.

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Location: Southside, AL
Motorcycle: 1983 Honda Goldwing GL1100I Interstate

Re: How to restore your Gas Gauge sending unit

Post by randall_l_davis » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:25 pm

I pulled mine out of the tank before removing the tank, but I placed it back in the tank and filled the tank with vinegar and it is currently soaking. Mine was sitting for over 13 years so I'll be glad to not have to buy something else to get this beast running again. Thanks.

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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:04 am
Location: SK Canada
Motorcycle: 1982 Honda GL1100 Interstate

Re: How to restore your Gas Gauge sending unit

Post by bvande » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:53 pm

Is there a tutorial on how to get it out of the tank. Sorry never done one of these before

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