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Thread: Level indicator

  1. #1
    nhengineer's Avatar
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    Level indicator

    Greetings,

    Hopefully someone has already tinkered with this idea and will supply some helpful information. My fuel oil tank is in the cellar; dirt/mud floor cellar. I'm purposely not on automatic delivery. That way I can control when and how much oil I get.

    Problem is, at 74 years old, I have to schelp down really creaky cellar stairs and wade through ankle deep mud to check the Mickey Mouse designed level indicator which may or may not be telling me the truth. I may need to do this more than once during an oil fill cycle to make sure I'm not above 1/2 tank or haven't gone below 1/4 tank.

    It seems like I could use a pressure sensing device like one used in a top loading clothes washer to illuminate an indicator light mounted next to the thermostat that would be activated when the level goes below 1/4 tank. It would need to address a N/O relay that would close when the washer device thinks the 'water' level to be less than adequate.

    It would work in reverse of its original intent of course but, even if the hose were to fail, there would be no danger of oil shorting out the device since oil isn't electrically conductive. It would make a mess on the floor but the floor is already a mess.

    Any suggestions will gratefully accepted.

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    Sleykin's Avatar
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    There are lots of oil tank senders/remote display setups available. Some under $100. I could help you design something that would give you remote indications of fuel level. You could use the resistance between a bare copper wire suspended in the tank and the tank. Resistance would go up as the fuel went down and when the fuel drops below the end of the wire it suddenly goes way up.
    The Fuel Minder Store Remote Gauge Products: Fuel Minder, OEM Rocket, Oil Alert, Krueger Sentry, Petrometer, National Magnetic, Floats, tanks
    Not associated and have no experience with these systems but they sound like a perfect solution.

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    Sleykin's Avatar
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    Or a magnet on a doughnut shaped float around a tube with magnetic reed switches at different depths that would light an LED for you.

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    Hello,
    Here's a wireless gauge that has good reviews...
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/OEM-7000...SABEgIJ5fD_BwE

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    The first job that I had was working for a fellow who restored antique Franklin cars. The gas gauge was operated hydrostaticaly. A tube was suspended from the sender unit with the bottom open to the fuel holding a collum of air. As the fuel went up in the fuel tank during filling the pressure in the tube went up, the fuel seeks to displace the air causing pressure in the tube to rise above atmospheric. The tube was connected to a u tube in the gauge on the dash with capillary tubing. The pressure from the tube would push liquid down on the back side of the u tube causing the liquid to rise on the front side of the u tube, the front side of the u tube exposed to atmospheric pressure. More fuel, more liquid visible in the front side of the u tube. To calibrate the gauge small rods would be placed in the back side of the u tube, less surface area of the liquid presented to the pressure resulting in quicker response of the sight glass liquid in the u tube. This is a rather rough explanation of the principal, but seems to be a good application for your problem. No electricity, no sparks, with patience my old boss would get the gauges Very accurate. Some googling may turn up some more helpful info on hydrostatic gauges. Hope this helps.

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    garage nut's Avatar
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    If you really want to make a project of it you could use an Arduino controller and an ultrasonic sensor and then the shy is the limit. With the appropriate shield it could even send you warnings to your phone.

    Ultrasonic Range Detector Using Arduino and the SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor: 5 Steps
    Last edited by garage nut; 01-03-2018 at 09:05 PM.

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    Don42's Tools
    Quote Originally Posted by nhengineer View Post
    Greetings,

    Hopefully someone has already tinkered with this idea and will supply some helpful information. My fuel oil tank is in the cellar; dirt/mud floor cellar. I'm purposely not on automatic delivery. That way I can control when and how much oil I get.

    Problem is, at 74 years old, I have to schelp down really creaky cellar stairs and wade through ankle deep mud to check the Mickey Mouse designed level indicator which may or may not be telling me the truth. I may need to do this more than once during an oil fill cycle to make sure I'm not above 1/2 tank or haven't gone below 1/4 tank.

    It seems like I could use a pressure sensing device like one used in a top loading clothes washer to illuminate an indicator light mounted next to the thermostat that would be activated when the level goes below 1/4 tank. It would need to address a N/O relay that would close when the washer device thinks the 'water' level to be less than adequate.

    It would work in reverse of its original intent of course but, even if the hose were to fail, there would be no danger of oil shorting out the device since oil isn't electrically conductive. It would make a mess on the floor but the floor is already a mess.

    Any suggestions will gratefully accepted.
    Your solution would work, but anything that can leak eventually will and cleaning up a spill in a muddy basement would be a nightmare -- and if you don't clean it up the stink will be unpleasant. I was once on a technical advisory board for oil heat research. A saying in the industry is: "oil stinks, gas explodes".

    Another solution that could not cause an oil spill would be to use an ultrasonic sensor looking from the top to sense the level of the oil in the tank. Such sensors are available very inexpensively, e.g., $2.99 at
    https://tinyurl.com/y7zwej58.

    You would need some additional electronics, though, and a simple power supply -- which could be just some AA batteries. Perhaps you know of an "electron" near you that would enjoy helping you with this. If you lived near me, I love little projects like this -- but I'm in MN. BTW, at 74, schlepping up and down the cellar stairs is good for you unless you have disabilities or the creaky stairs are dangerous for you. At 76, I no longer zoom up and down the stairs like a horny teenager about to miss a phone call, but I do eventually get there. Did two loads of laundry today -- 4 trips up and down. Changed my sheets today. It ain't Easter yet but I don't like to wait until the last minute, ya know...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleykin View Post
    Or a magnet on a doughnut shaped float around a tube with magnetic reed switches at different depths that would light an LED for you.
    This is an excellent idea, better than the ultrasonic approach that I suggested. Simple and cheap. He'd only need one reed switch if he only cares about a "go-nogo" indication. Reed switches are hermetically sealed and made of glass so they can tolerate immersion in oil with no problem. Sliding sensors like this can be problematic in water because of mineral buildup, but should work very nicely in oil. Things in a oil tank can get cruddy too, but not like in water.

    Well done, Sleykin!

    nhengineer and Sleykin: I'd be glad to correspond. I have both reed switches and magnets in my goody box and I'm willing to share. I'm a widower since 2011 so I keep very busy, but I check email often even when travelling. I'm outta this MN icebox for the FL keys next Monday for some bluewater fishin', but I'll have my laptop and I do keep up with email. If y'all care to correspond, pls use this addy:

    [email protected]

    Delete the 2x3; that's there only to deflect spam bots that don't actually read the material they scan for email addys.

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  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleykin View Post
    There are lots of oil tank senders/remote display setups available. Some under $100. I could help you design something that would give you remote indications of fuel level. You could use the resistance between a bare copper wire suspended in the tank and the tank. Resistance would go up as the fuel went down and when the fuel drops below the end of the wire it suddenly goes way up.
    The Fuel Minder Store Remote Gauge Products: Fuel Minder, OEM Rocket, Oil Alert, Krueger Sentry, Petrometer, National Magnetic, Floats, tanks
    Not associated and have no experience with these systems but they sound like a perfect solution.
    Wow, there's quite a few to choose from in your link but even $100 is a bit of a stretch for me. I think I can make one for next to nothing from scrap bin parts (like I make everything else).

    Regarding the resistance wire idea, how can that work? Oil is not electrically conductive.

  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Hello,
    Here's a wireless gauge that has good reviews...
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/OEM-7000...SABEgIJ5fD_BwE
    Thanks for the link Ed. That's surly what I would like to have but it $100 I don't have.

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