Did I flood my A4? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Gas > Atomic 4
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Old 12-19-2011
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Did I flood my A4?

Recently purchased an A4 equipped sailboat. It's on the hard and winterized. However, I did have a mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection on it and we did start the motor, very briefly. I'm talking a few seconds. The mechanic gave me the nod and I went ahead and purchased the boat.

Here's where the fun starts. I decided it would be a "good idea"™ to winterize the A4 again. The guys on the Moyer Marine forum say to remove the t-stat but I was having some trouble doing that as my sockets didn't have enough clearance to get on the bolts (need thinner walled sockets or a wrench and all I had at the time was an adjustable). So I went ahead and decided that if the PO never removed the T-stat in the 8 years he's had it and he hasn't cracked his block in all that time I'll be fine not to as well. So I didn't. But, I did crank, and crank .. and crank .. and crank and she would not fire. Sucked up most of the bottle of anti-freeze in the process and plenty came out of the exhaust.

Question now .. with the waterlift muffler, did I just suck anti-freeze into my pistons with all that cranking??!!!
I wasn't considering the waterlift muffler. I was warned of having raw water come back up the exhaust with repeated cranking when the boat is in the water but not when anti-freeze is sitting in the muffler. Or am I just misunderstanding the whole waterlift thing?
How do I proceed to check and/or correct if so?
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Old 12-19-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smp View Post
...
Question now .. with the waterlift muffler, did I just suck anti-freeze into my pistons with all that cranking??!!!

I wasn't considering the waterlift muffler. I was warned of having raw water come back up the exhaust with repeated cranking when the boat is in the water but not when anti-freeze is sitting in the muffler. Or am I just misunderstanding the whole waterlift thing?

How do I proceed to check and/or correct if so?
Hopefully not.

The water lift muffler should be at a low spot in the exhaust. There should also be a rise to a high spot after the water lift muffler which prevents sea water from siphoning into your engine via the exhaust. Most of the anti freeze should be in the muffler. If there is enough fluid in the muffler it can flow back into the manifold and into the cylinders. You seem to understand this concept.

To check for back flow I'd remove spark plug #4 and insert a rolled up paper towel into the cylinder. If it comes out with anti-freeze on it then yes, you may have a problem. If not then you can probably drain some of this fluid out of this part of the system by either a drain plug on the muffler or removing a hose from one side of the muffler.

As part of a normal winterizing you should be putting something like Marvel Mystery Oil into each cylinder before layup. It is also pink but smells like winter green.
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Thanks. We don't have Marvel Mystery Oil up here in Canada. I'm planning on ordering some from Moyer Marine but I'm in a pickle right now. If there is coolant in the cylinders my understanding is to do the following:

1. remove spark plugs
2. crank motor to blow all coolant out of cylinders
3. pour some Marvel Mystery Oil into cylinders
4. change oil as it may have coolant in it at this point?
5. drain carb if the coolant got this far?
6. start motor and re-winterize???

This time I'll be taking the t-stat out and making sure to do it properly. I'm really paranoid I'll end up with a ruined motor by spring :/
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Old 12-19-2011
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Follow Caleb's advice re: paper towel in #4. You are probably fine.
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I cranked a REALLY long time
Assuming there is water in the cylinders is my understanding of how to deal with this correct?

Thanks
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I think your procedure for dealing with AF in the cylinders sounds about right.
MarvelMystery Oil is really a light weight oil (~5W) so you should be able to use any oil product that is light or meant to be used as a 'fogging' oil.
I'd go so far as to changing the crank case oil now and doing another oil change come spring to clean out the oil reservoir.
Don Moyer told me to change my oil 3 times after I got water in the crank case from a partially flooded boat (no water in cylinders). If you go this route use a cheap oil for the multiple oil changes but finish with a good oil like Rotella T 30W. Not all oils are created equal and some are more equal then others.
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If you got water in the cylinders it would NOT turn over with the starter

The best thing you can do is drain the block with the 1/8 pipe nipple that should be sticking out down by the pulley that runs the Alternator it may take some probing with a wire to knock out any rust clogs

At this point if you run the motor it will fill the block with pure anti-freeze NOT diluted stuff that you have to worry about cracking the block and be fast about it as it was 15 degrees here last night

You can pull the exhaust hose off the water lift and manually drain things as it will NOT work correctly without the motor running

I don't see how pulling the thermostat assures a block full of anti-freeze as pulling it stops the thermostat from controlling unique A4 water flow path were it can go through the TEE or the exhaust manifold as it sees fit
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So I just got back from the boat and I don't think there was any coolant in the cylinders. I took all the plugs out, I rolled up a paper towel really tight and tried the #4 cylinder first .. oily residue and fuel smell. Same for all of the cylinders. Then, to be sure, I put a rag over top of the plug holes and cranked the engine over with the starter. Nothing on the rag. It turns over manually as well. There is a sloshing sound when cranking it manually, I guess that's the engine oil in the crankcase (see below).

With a fresh battery I still couldn't get it to fire. Now that I think of it I should have checked for spark. I did remove the cable that goes from the coil to the distributor (?) and one of the connectors was very badly corroded. I cleaned it off with some sandpaper and still no love.

I'm just happy that the cylinders aren't flooded.

Lastly, the engine oil smelled like fuel and it was dark and thin. The surveyor and the mechanic both checked it and made no comments so I'm not sure if the oil was like that when they had a look or not.
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Good. You dodged a bullet on this one.

If I were you I would not worry about starting up the engine again and leave it for the winter. Come spring you will need to debug whatever starting issue you are having but since it turns over it should be fine for the winter.

I use automotive starter fluid (ether) to check for spark. A quick spray in the flame arrestor should be enough to see if it will turn over for a few turns. If it catches and then dies you know you have spark so it is probably a fuel related issue. Don't tell the folks at the Moyer forum I recommended ether as many of them do not advocate using it.

You need to change the spark plugs, wires, distributor, rotor and especially the oil regularly. We change our oil at least twice a year (spring and before layup) so it is good to have an easy and convenient way to do this. The vacuum pump models come recommended by many: Marpac Fluid Extractor
and it is cheaper then the 12V Shure-flo extraction kit I use. Old engines like fresh oil and it is cheap insurance.
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Old 12-21-2011
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My guess is that the points rusted closed. It happened on A-4 all the time when I had one. Easy fix is to replace. Field expedient is to take them out and clean the contacts with emery paper. Points for the Delco ignition are cheap and available at most auto stores. The automotive ones last about a season. The ones Moyer sells are a better grade with silver contacts and last for several seasons.
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