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Old 22 March 2012, 19:51   #1
Country: UK - England
Length: no boat
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 521
VDO Gauges A Story of Outstanding Service and Value

If you’re looking for a new gauge then may I thoroughly recommend the VDO Viewline range and, more specifically, the guys at Continental Automotive in Birmingham (Continental now market the VDO brand) who have recently gone way beyond the ‘extra mile’ in providing a solution when Suzuki were unable (or unwilling?) to do so.

My problem started when I purchased a new Suzuki DF25 V-twin over the winter and fitted it to my Avon Rover 340. Keen not to fall foul of Suzuki’s ‘running-in’ schedule, which specifies maximum rev limits over the first 10 hours of use, I decided to add a tachometer. Somewhat bizarrely, although Suzuki offers both 2 inch and 4 inch tachos, only their 4” version is compatible with engines under 40hp (strange when logic suggests that a smaller engine means a smaller boat/console). Predictably, there was no space for me to fit a 4” gauge so I started looking for a 2” after-market tacho that would be suitable for my need.

The first purchase, an admittedly very cheap model, proved unsuitable as despite having several settings for different cylinder numbers it read way over the actual revs of the engine. Further research identified that there was a 2” tacho in the VDO Viewline range which is software programmable to read anywhere from 0.5 to 99 pulses per revolution. I spoke to the guys in tech support for VDO gauges in Birmingham (Steve Wilson & Gary Naisbett) and, even though the 2” Viewline tacho had not yet been added to the UK Sales Catalogue, they offered to get one over from Germany and to programme it for me. All I needed was to give them the pulses per revolution that the engine sends down the tacho signal cable.

I contacted Suzuki UK’s Customer Services team in Milton Keynes to explain my dilemma and to ask them for this data. I was astonished when they said they were unable to provide the information I needed, claiming that it was not something they had access to!!!!

Despite my suggestions that someone within Suzuki MUST have this information (or how else could their own tachos be calibrated?), they continued to claim otherwise, saying “the gauges are preconfigured by the factory in Japan and so your requested data is not information that we can supply”.

No worries said Steve Wilson, just let us know how many coils there are on the magneto and we’ll programme the gauge accordingly, and if it’s not right then send it back and we’ll re-programme it free of charge.

So, last week the gauge arrived (programmed for 18 pulses per revolution). I fitted it over the weekend, ran the engine and got a reading of approx 300rpm at idle speed, about a third of the actual revs. So, on Tuesday morning (I was busy Monday) I called and spoke to Gary, explained the situation and suggested I send it back. “You’re in Southampton aren’t you?” he said. Yes, I replied. Why? “I have to go to Poole on Wednesday. If you like, I’ll bring the kit with me, meet up with you and re-programme it there and then” he said.

So, yesterday I met Gary at Rownhams Services on the M27 and, true to his word, it took no time to plug in his laptop and change the pulse setting to 6 per revolution. Today I have re-installed the tacho and bingo, it works perfectly.

And how much did all this cost me? Well, given that the Suzuki gauge would have cost well over 200 and wouldn’t have fitted anyway, I have to say that the 87.96 I’ve been charged by Continental (and that included the ‘optional’ chrome bezel), is fantastic value for money.

So, if you’re looking for a new tacho (or other marine gauge), I strongly recommend you take a look Continental’s VDO Viewline range.

VDO - Viewline

PS> I have no connection with Continental/VDO, and no I'm not on a commission! I'm just one very happy customer.
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