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A mechanical tach should be just a rotor and coil setup. The rotor has magnets and induces a voltage and the indicating meter reads that voltage. The clicking you hear is probably the indicator needle getting banged into the low position stop. You could put a full bridge rectifier into the guts so it always has a positive voltage if you can get it apart. ICE motors don't generally run backwards well. OR if it has a zero set adjuster, you could move the needle to 1500-2000 rpm when off and let it be off by that much, assuming you dont rev it that high in reverse.
 
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