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scratchee 12-01-2012 09:59 PM

Winterizing on the hard
Hey folks,

I just finished my first season as a boat owner, and had her hauled for winter the last day of November (a beautiful day for sailing, I'm sorry to say.) So now I'm gathering up instructions for winterizing my Atomic 4, and of course I'm seeing several common steps that required running the engine. Oops. Good learning point for next year.

But for this year, any advice on how to proceed? I'm on the Chesapeake in the Baltimore area, so I expect some freezes, but nothing crazy like they have further north.

To be clear, I am NOT interested in running the engine on the hard using some sort of cooling workaround, unless someone convinces me I have to. Oh, and by the way, I'm also second guessing whether I need to have her hauled for winter at all.

This engine has fresh water cooling if that makes a difference.

Many thanks for any advice you may have.

Mark1948 12-01-2012 10:20 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Absolutely must run antifreeze through the fresh water cooling system. Not a hard job. With my boat I just disconnect the intake hose from the through hull and suck up a few gallons until the exhaust runs a pretty pink. Same with any water lines in the boat. Drain you fresh water supply put a couple of gallons in and pump through. Don't forget the holding tank, head and bildge lines as well. Prevention is cheaper that fixing a cracked anything. Again not a hard job and doesn't really take that long. Use the same antifreeze used to winter an RVs systems.

CalebD 12-01-2012 10:36 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Itchy and Scratchee,
I have owned a raw water cooled A4 for 10 years now up in the NY area. When you say your engine is 'fresh water cooled' that usually means you have a heat exchanger (HX) with a cooling circuit of anti-freeze and another circuit of raw water which requires two water pumps. Raw water cooled engines have no anti-freeze circuit and only one water pump.

-If you keep your boat in the water on the Chessy it will likely be warmer than if you had it hauled onto the hard. The water temps rarely get below 32F down there.

-Raw water intake and HX need to be winterized on your 'fresh water cooling' system. The anti-freeze or 'fresh water' circuit obviously does not need to be winterized. I usually do this by running the engine long enough to suck in a gallon or 2 of RV antifreeze. If you don't want to run the engine then I'd suggest draining all raw water cooling hoses, the HX raw water side, remove water pump impeller to allow water to drain out and figure out how to drain your exhaust system. I'd guess an air compressor might help with some of this to help force the water out.
- fog the cylinders. This step involves putting an ounce or 2 of Marvel Mystery Oil or equivalent 'fogging oil' into the spark plug holes in the top of the engine/head. Once the oil is in there I usually turn the engine over to spread it around. The engine does not have to actually start to accomplish this so the spark plug wires could be detached for this step.

The best A4 advice I have found on the web comes from the Moyer Marine forum. There are several A4 owners from the Chessy who post there.

If you want a good A4 mechanic to show you what to do this winter I'd recommend Will Sibley who lives around Shadyside, MD.

scratchee 12-01-2012 10:49 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Thanks guys.

Yes, Caleb, that's what I meant when I said "fresh water cooled." I understood the need to fill the raw water circuit with antifreeze, but I was hoping to find a relatively simple way to do it without having to run the engine.

And by the way, my hesitation about running the engine was primarily about having to do it with no external cooling water. Is this even a concern? If I was to just run it long enough to do the job with the raw water and that doable?

CalebD 12-02-2012 01:03 AM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Perhaps I am a little confused. Correct me if I am wrong.
- Your boat is still in the water and you are considering having it hauled out?
- If your boat is still in the water you could run the engine as per normal, no?
- Closing your raw water valve seacock and removing the hose to stick into a bottle of anti-freeze is not your idea of fun?

- If you are already hauled and on the hard cooling water may be a bigger deal. You can still get away with running the engine for short periods without any cooling water. By short periods I mean a minute or two, perhaps 5, but don't take my word for it because I run my engine on land with a 5 gal. bucket fed by a hose for cooling water. I can run it almost as long as I like.

Minnewaska 12-02-2012 06:49 AM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
The only worry I have about running an engine on the hard, is the vibration when on the stands. Maybe borrow an extra pair or two and be sure you have them chained across.

I would not worry about the cooling at all. While I'm not very familiar with the A4, I assume the fresh water coolant has a thermostat, which won't even warm enough to open by the time you're done.

The sure fire way to get the job done is to pull the hose off the raw water seacock and stick it in a bucket of antifreeze. If there isn't enough slack, then just get another couple of feet of hose and a coupler. If your strainer is above the motor, as mine is, you can just pour the antifreeze into it with a funnel or large hose. Gravity should remove the raw water from the strainer to the thru hull in that case.

If this is your first year, make a checklist and write everything down that you do. It will make planning much easier next year and winterizing will take half the time.

scratchee 12-02-2012 09:41 AM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Caleb, I've already hauled the boat. After it was blocked, I started looking at the winterizing procedures. A mistake that I won't repeat next year! As far as using a bucket of antifreeze, no problem. But I read a while back about rigging a substitute water source for running an engine out of the water, and that is what I was trying to avoid (unless absolutely necessary...I don't mind the work if required!) But it sounds like it's not required after all.

Minnewaska, thanks for the information. I'm thinking I'll go ahead and do the normal run-and-drain as you described, taking extra precautions with the stands if required.

Cheers everyone,


CalebD 12-02-2012 01:10 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Scratchee, that clarifies your situation quite nicely. Thanks for that.
Instead of re-inventing the wheel I should point you to the winterization procedures as laid out by Don Moyer (of Moyer Marine) here: Winterizing your Atomic 4 - Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Community - Home of the Afourians
I'll also recommend you get the A4 owner's manual that Moyer sells.

chuck53 12-02-2012 01:28 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
If you have a seawater strainer on your engine thru hull, all you need to do is open it up, have a buddy start the engine while you pour a couple of gallons of AF into it. Shut off the engine and you're done. No strainer, then stick the hose into a bucket as suggested above.

scratchee 12-02-2012 01:40 PM

Re: Winterizing on the hard
Caleb, I'm happy to say the boat came with two different manuals for the A4, one from Moyer and one original. All the material I've read has complete instructions for winterizing in the water BEFORE hauling. As I said, a mistake I won't make again next year.

Chuck, thanks for the advice. I'll come back here and either report a properly winterized engine, a seized engine with a cracked block, or a boat that fell off the stands due to the vibration! :laugher

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