First thing in the morning, the FTO "coolant temperature" gauge takes less than two minutes to reach its normal position. This is no good at indicating when the engine is fully warmed up, and if I'm going to be taking it to 8000rpm that is one piece of information I really should know! What I needed was some way to get hold of the oil temperature.
It turned out that Repco carried the VDO range of gauges, so it was straightforward to track down a store with one in stock. It was a little more challenging finding the best sender unit, but the gauge needed to be fitted before any wiring up occurred!
My wife complained quite a bit when I explained that the new gauge was going to replace that dodgy old clock in the centre gauge cluster - it seemed she liked the clock! I took on board her reasoned comments, and said I would think about it. I then snuck out and proceeded to rip out the clock and throw it into an old shoebox in the back room. If she wanted it back in the car, she'd have to find it first!
Besides, the stereo head unit displayed the time. So did her mobile phone. And we both had watches. It was a dumb clock anyway...
With that issue resolved, the process of building the new gauge mounting began.
The gauge components were assembled and fastened to the centre pod unit. It was a perfect fit...
Following the gauge fitment, I needed to fit a suitable VDO electrical sender unit. These were best obtained direct from AISAT Instruments right here in Welshpool, Perth.
To begin with, I tried a sender unit that replaced the standard oil dipstick - a small probe at the bottom of the dipstick read the oil temperature, and you simply connected a sender wire to the plug at the top end.
Unfortunately, this was less than satisfactory. Indeed, it caused quite a bit of hassle. A tiny section of chrome metal flaked off the bottom of the sender dipstick on its first insertion down to the sump - not a good thing to have floating around in the engine oil!
This unit was promptly returned, and exchanged for a "proper" solution - a screw-in sump plug sender. I'm pleased to say that AISAT Instruments handled this issue very well, and were focused on getting the problem resolved to my satisfaction.
Crockenberg Motors arranged to have the sump removed and a separate mounting position welded in place. This meant the sender would never need to be unscrewed again (unlike the FTO original sender unit, which was in fact a fancy sump plug with wires). Mal Crockenberg also found the aforementioned chrome flake and extracted it from the oil pickup filter!
As it was not far from the exhaust, the sender wiring was protected from extreme temperatures with some heat-resistant sheathing from Cypher Industries in O'Connor.
Once wired up, the gauge worked perfectly. I was surprised by the length of time actually taken driving before the oil reached normal operating temperature - up to 15 minutes in the morning. I am now always aware of the oil temp before choosing to plant that right foot. This will certainly pay dividends in terms of engine longevity!
The following may be of assistance to other FTO owners. While I have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of all information here, I take no responsibility for consequences of using it.
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