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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Gas > Atomic 4
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Old 11-23-2010
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Starting an Atomic 4 after heavy snows

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Last edited by fahnke; 12-13-2010 at 01:09 AM.
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Old 11-23-2010
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Was it winterized ?

1. open seacock

1. Ventilate Ventilate and then Ventilate with the bilge blower and then be sure you take a sniff

2.Full choke and a bit of throttle (your going to have to learn what the motor likes)

3. depending on weather after it starts you will also have to learn how much choke for how long but it should be less than 1 minute

4. check oil pressure and water flow ASAP after it starts

5.If it does not start DON'T keep cranking without draining the water lift muffler as it needs the motor running to push out the water

If its going to get cold you would need to winterize again to protect against freezing
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If a dirty bottom slows you down what do you think it does to your boat
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Old 11-23-2010
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The engine will start the same as any other time of the year except that it may need more/longer choke due to the more dense air (since it is colder). It is just a gasoline engine like in your car (maybe in a car from the 60's).
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Old 11-23-2010
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you may want to see if you have a heat exchange unit. iirc not all a4 setups do, and you want to make sure that both; during the winterizing process you heat ex was drained of h20 (as freeezing temps can break a seam=yanking and brazing) and that the fluids are replaced after thaw.
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Old 11-23-2010
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i would check with moyer marine, if nothing else their manual is top notch and is good to have around.
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Old 11-23-2010
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The A4 was originally designed as an industrial/tractor engine.... all you should need to start the beast when the temp is below freezing is 20 wt. oil in Crankcase and a full charged battery.
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Old 11-23-2010
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I'd take a look at the engine and engine compartment, i don't remember what the A4 has but almost all engines have 'freeze plugs' in them, and if any water in the block DID freeze, they are designed to pop out and prevent further damage. They're one-shot, one use, if any have popped you'll be pumping water all over when the engine starts up.
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Old 11-25-2010
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My boat has an A4 in her and I've done all the maintenance myself, including a head gasket change. I highly second the advice to get over to the Moyer Marine site, as they have top-notch support for the engine in both the forums and from the owner, Don.

First thing I'd do is check the oil and make sure it's not too dirty and there's enough of it. Straight 30W is the recommended oil. If you need to change the oil there's a square plug down low on the block just aft of the carb. You take that out and use one of those manual oil extractors ($25 at WalMart most likely) to slurp out the old stuff. If the engine has been maintained you can most likely go with the old oil just for the first start.

If it's raw water cooled, do not open the seacock first. If you have to crank her for more than a few seconds to get her going, you don't want to pull water into the cylinders, which will happen if the engine isn't running to force the water out the manifold and into the exhaust system. Once it's running you can reach down there and open the water flow -- it won't hurt her to run for a few seconds without it.

Basically, this is what I'd do: (1) make sure I have quick access to the raw water input. (2) Make sure any shutoff valves on the fuel line are open. (3) Run the blower for five minutes and do a sniff test below. (4) Pull the choke all the way closed. (5) Crank her up. Once she fires, go below and open the raw water input and check to make sure you have flow out the exhaust. (6) Push the choke back in to open her up after 15 seconds or so -- you can tell when she doesn't want to be choked any more after you get used to her, as she'll start to run a bit rough within a few seconds of starting.

If after all that you have a running engine, congratulations. If not, it's time to start running through the air/spark/fuel checklist. Come on over to Moyer Marine and join us there -- we'll get you running!

Good luck!
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Old 11-30-2010
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The A4 was originally designed as an industrial/tractor engine....
This is a common misconception that just won't die. The Atomic 4 was designed from the ground-up as an inboard auxiliary sailboat engine. In fact, the very first engine built by the future Universal was a marine inboard engine. It is true that Universal made engines for many uses other than marine propulsion, pumps and generators and the like, but the Atomic 4 is no more derived from a tractor engine than the current SHO Ford engines are derived from the flatheads. There is an interesting history of the Universal Company at History of the Universal Motor Company 1
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Old 11-30-2010
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msmith, that's not the impression that web site gives me.

Universal's first engine in 1895 may have been a marine design, but by 1924 "...the Universal Model K series of 4 cylinder industrial engines was developed for use in powering generators and pumps."

So long before the A4 engine was designed, Universal was designing and selling purpose-built non-marine engines. Which one of them was the design basis for the A4? Really? How do we mind-read the inspiration for the design?

Certainly with a compression so low, it doesn't seem like a purpose-built recreational boat engine, where weight and performance count as much as durability does. That part of the design alone would seem to indicate it was inspired, or based on, something designed for extreme long-term use, i.e. an industrial or perhaps tractor engine. (Although I've never heard tractor accusations before, except for SAAB's? 3-cylinder.)

Either way it certainly has outlived an awful lot of their other designs!
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