Acu Gage Ultra 8 Tank Monitoring System Install

Technical Articles
I installed the Acu Gage Ultra 8 tank monitoring system and wanted to share what I think may have been a unique way of installing on the forward water tank, plus other things learned.

First, I would strongly suggest that anyone wishing to purchase and self-install such a system contact Dennis Ferriello ( before proceeding further. He is easy to work with and has years of experience with the system. I especially liked the fact that Dennis ensured that the product delivered was factory programmed for my boat. The welcome screen says, "Sea Shadow, Catalina 320" and the next three screens note in words of my choosing which tank is being monitored. There will be more on Dennis later.

To get the wiring to the forward tank, I ran through the port settee, following the chase for the water line, using a steel fish tape.

On Sea Shadow, hull #808, getting the foils down the forward part of the tank was not possible. On the aft side of the tank, there was about 1/2 inch clearance between the retaining bulkhead and the plastic tank. I simply could not find an adequate way of getting the glue down the side of the tank, then getting foils down to the bottom of the tank, then getting the bubbles out of the foils, and then finally getting the module attached to the foil. See picture 1.

Picture 1 - The retaining bulkhead against the aft end of the tank. Note the marginal clearance between tank and bulkhead.

The solution was to cut a window out of the retaining bulkhead and when finished, screw a piece of plywood over the window to return the structural integrity to the bulkhead. I first tried using a jig saw with a blade cut off sufficiently so that on the down stroke, it would not touch the tank. The problem with this was that on the upstroke, the blade was too short to remain in the cut. I then tried a laminate trimmer (because one was available for borrow from my son-in-law). The laminate trimmer makes short work of vertical cuts. The problems with the laminate trimmer were that it is impossible to control, the cut is so large that I will be still vacuuming up saw dust at 10 o\'clock next summer, and, due to the lack of control, a horizontal cut in the neighborhood of the outflow fitting was not somewhere I was willing to go. Keep in mind that I wanted to get the window to the top of the outflow fitting. See picture 2.

Picture 2 - The window has been cut. Note the C30 tank on a C320!

I finally broke down and bought a Dremel saw complete with a cutting depth gauge as a superb feature. At my age I should not continue to be amazed at how easy a job can be when one has the right tools... but I was! The Dremel was the absolute perfect tool and made short, sure work of the project. In fact, I used the Dremel to cut the hole in the panel to install the monitor itself and this hole was the most perfect hole I have ever cut on a boat. To digress, my next project is a splashdown pump and I see the Dremel being used for that project as well.

Once the window was cut, the foil and sensor installs were the easiest of the 3 tanks. Picture 3 shows the foils and sensor installed to the bottom of the tank and picture 4 shows the piece of plywood added back and the finished product. Note that the plywood can easily be removed for access to the wiring, foils, and sensor for future service or repair.

Picture 3 - Foils and sensor installed.

Picture 4 - Finished product.

For the aft water tank, I was able to fish the wire from the port settee, under the deck and refrigerator, and out to the water pump under the aft bunk, port side. From there, it was a simple matter to run the wire over to the water tank on the starboard side. I then removed the two braces on this tank and, very carefully, gently shifted the tank to starboard while lifting up at the same time. I was surprised at how easily the tank moved and left more than sufficient room to cleanly install the foils and sensor at the lowest part of the tank.

The waste tank should be the easiest of the tanks to complete, as nothing needs to be removed or moved. As with everything on a boat however, I managed to do this tank the hard way. I installed the foils directly over the outflow fitting so although the fit was tight for my clumsy hands, I got them in. When I got to the sensors - same tight fit - I managed to break one. A panic-call to Dennis resulted in a rehabbed sensor arriving by mail in two days at no cost. I then returned the broken sensor to Dennis for rehab and availability for the next do-it-yourself challenged sailor.

Calibration of the monitor was simple : calibrate each tank empty, fill the tank, calibrate full and it is done.

Prior to installing the Acu Gauge, whenever a tank ran dry and I closed that one off and opened the full tank, I had to prime the pump by sticking my mouth over an open faucet and sucking water through. What the monitoring system taught me was that the forward tank fills the aft tank. In other words, say I am running off the aft tank and the forward tank is closed off. Once the aft tank is empty, I would open the forward tank but NOT close off the aft tank. It would take 30-45 minutes but the forward tank would eventually fill the aft tank and, at the same time, restore pressure to the pump. By using this method, I never had to suck water through the faucet again.

Later, I upgraded the water pump to a Sensor Max VSD that gives constant water flow, is very quiet with no hammering, and is self-priming. In addition, I found that I had no need for an accumulator tank. Since installing this pump, I have left both tank shutoffs in the open position, monitor the tank levels (as long as the forward tank has any water, the aft tank is always full), and simply fill the forward tank when required. No more climbing under the aft berth to find the shutoffs plus the project of moving the shutoffs to under the galley sink was eliminated from my Sea Shadow To Do List!

Allan S. Field
Sea Shadow - #808
Herrington Harbour South
Rosehaven, MD

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Hi Alan I had the opposite experience to you on the foward tank. I found that I could reach over the brace and get the foils applied to the front of the tank with only a minor bit of contortions. Also I ran the wire down the starboard side, as I chose to install the monitor unit on the same side as the battery switch, just next to the windlass breaker. My big challenge was the aft tank. I literally had to disconnect the line leading to the pump in order to get enough clearance to push the tank aft. My foils are installed on the forward edge of the tank as close to the center bilge as possible. Once I reconnected the pipe, and filled the tank with water, I am 100% certain that the foils and the sensor will not move, because they are solidly pressed into place by the weight of the tank and the water it contains. I highly recommend the Accugauge unit as it is easy to install, and it has saved me needless trips to the pumpout station, because I can monitor my holding tank more closely. Addison Chan Second Star #939
If you need any help please keep my new email handy.
I find it interesting that my email and letters dated in 2005 are associated with the Ultra 8. I am no longer with that company as I have found a much superior panel and sensors. Someone has used a letter from 5 years ago and reposted it with my current email. My new email is The new company I am associated with is New Providence Marine. Same engineers I have been working with the last 6 years but with a newer much superior panel.
I just wanted to straighten out the fact that I did not pen the letters in 2005 about the Acugage. I have not been with them for at least 3 years. I have formed along with the engineers that designed the ULTRA a new company, New Providence Marine. I just wanted to clarify this as someone is using my name and my new email address to talk about the Ultra 8 panel. I no longer endorse the ULTRA panel Thanks so much Dennis Ferriello
I am posting this because of requests for our unit. I just wanted to let you know that I am giving a very good discount to Catalina Owners on our montitoring systems. I have had a very good response from the 34 & 36 websites. If you are in need of a monitor please go website, and check us out. thanks Dennis
Thanks so much for the kind words. If you need any other information please feel free to contact me at my new email.
I did not reply to that article. I am no longer associated with the Ultra Gauge. I am now associated with New Providence Marine with a new panel that is far superior to the Ultra.
Allen- Thanks for the interesting article and photos, it is an issue that i have thought about often, however, for me what I hate is the unrelaiable fuel tank gauge, and wonder why you didn't use this as the 4th tank? then I thought you must not have the option for 4 tanks so now that you know how to monitor the fore water tank, and refill when it is empty, and the aft of course would be filled, why not remove the foils form the aft water tank and place them on the fuel tank?
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