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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Gas > Atomic 4
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Old 02-17-2013
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Atomic4 Blues

While I do work as a mech occasionally my boss doesn't really take on a lot of Atomic4 jobs so a lot of my knowledge in flat 4 marine engines is lacking. So my problem has involved two mechanics now and myself without a definitive solution so I am hoping some of the old salts here can help me understand.

Near the end of last season I developed an issue while at Catalina island where my trusty little A4 likes to stall after a couple hours of operation and then refuses to restart for like 15-20 min.

Luckily I am friends with the only mechanic on the island and he was nice enough to tow my boat into the harbor and side tie me to his houseboat for the remainder of the weekend. Our best estimate at the time was a dirty fuel filter so we changed it and she seemed to purr like a kitten.

Leaving the island at the end of the weekend she did the same thing to me after taking down the sails and proceeding to my slip. She finally died on me as I was motoring into my slip and she hasnt left since.

Since then I have done the following:

Changed the oil
new plugs
installed a ballast resistor
checked the fuel vent for vapor lock

Now the old oil was black so no fuel or water seepage taking place there
the old plugs came out black with soot

Upon starting the engine (bearing in mind the last two times Ive ran her in the slip has been at night)

I fire her up and go to turn the water on then run to the back to look at the exhaust. for the first two min or so I get some white smoke and the water coming out has almost a brownish hue. During this time she smells VERY rich or almost like I am burning bad fuel (I did smell the tank and the tank doesnt smell like bad fuel)

After that she seems to lean out with no issues and runs great at lower RPM but feels a little rough at higher rpm's in neutral. I havnt taken her out because I havnt reupped my vessel assist so until I do that a sea trial is out of the question.

The motor running rich would certainly account for the smell and the water and the sooty plugs but doesnt really explain why she stalls out (if the plugs were fouling it wouldnt restart until the plugs were cleaned)

One of the mechanics was saying that I might have a dirty spark arrestor that might be restricting air flow and causing the motor to run rich. (still doesnt explain the stalling issue)

I havnt checked the points yet and the coil is still the same one from before.

I am at that place where I would like to just pull the motor and have her brought back to new but the finances just are not there for me to do that.

Ideas anyone?
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

My first thought is failing coil. Do you have EI? Does the engine die slowly, sputtering or instantly as if you turned off the key? You may want to also post on the Moyer site Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts and you will get a bunch of advice and it is focused on the A-4. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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Old 02-17-2013
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I advise you to take this to the Moyer marine forum. They'll get it sorted out.
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

I would replace the coil...Dale
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

Second the recommendation to post this over at the Moyer forums.
Poor performance of your A4 can also be the result of bad fuel in your tank. As water and crud separate out from the fuel it floats BELOW the gasoline so you would not be able to smell anything but gas.
In a case like this draining the carburetor main passage plug helped get the crud out of the carb. If you catch the fuel in a container you would be able to see if there is any crud floating underneath the fuel.
It got so bad in my case that I had to pump out the entire tank. The pic below is of the last bit of liquid that came out.
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Atomic4 Blues-dirtyfuel.jpg  
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

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Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
I advise you to take this to the Moyer marine forum. They'll get it sorted out.
The mods just approved my account there this morning =)
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Superior Sailor View Post
I would replace the coil...Dale
My thoughts too

Quote:
Originally Posted by marianclaire View Post
My first thought is failing coil. Do you have EI? Does the engine die slowly, sputtering or instantly as if you turned off the key? You may want to also post on the Moyer site Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts and you will get a bunch of advice and it is focused on the A-4. Dan S/V Marian Claire
No the ignition is coil distributor. Its hard to say because each actual instance was during my trying to get somewhere but it does seem like a slow spudder (such as with vapor lock) and then a sudden stop. I know an overheating coil can do this (at the time I didnt have a ballast resistor)

I read the same link last night about the signs of sudden stops. it leaves me feeling like I need a new coil and a tank and carb clean out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
Second the recommendation to post this over at the Moyer forums.
Poor performance of your A4 can also be the result of bad fuel in your tank. As water and crud separate out from the fuel it floats BELOW the gasoline so you would not be able to smell anything but gas.
In a case like this draining the carburetor main passage plug helped get the crud out of the carb. If you catch the fuel in a container you would be able to see if there is any crud floating underneath the fuel.
It got so bad in my case that I had to pump out the entire tank. The pic below is of the last bit of liquid that came out.
oh man that is some disgusting stuff.... makes me want to dredge my tank immediately. What year boat did that come out of?
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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

Could your exhaust be partially blocked? Can you check back pressure?

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Old 02-17-2013
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

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Originally Posted by SirRedemption View Post

oh man that is some disgusting stuff.... makes me want to dredge my tank immediately. What year boat did that come out of?
My boat is from 1967. It is more about how long the fuel tank has been allowed to wallow with E10 gasoline in it though. It is the ethanol that phase separates from the fuel over time which picks up moisture and then bacteria (crud) grows in it. This stuff floats on the bottom of your tank so you wont know it is there until you go out on a bouncy day and find that your engine is not feeling so well.
I bought a hand pump that I used to pump about 10 gallons out of the tank.
Beckson Siphon Mate Specialty Transfer Pump
If you don't know when your tank was last tended to it is probably time to find out.
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Re: Atomic4 Blues

Quote:
Originally Posted by downeast450 View Post
Could your exhaust be partially blocked? Can you check back pressure?

water pressure at the exhaust is good and the exhaust is only a couple years old

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalebD View Post
My boat is from 1967. It is more about how long the fuel tank has been allowed to wallow with E10 gasoline in it though. It is the ethanol that phase separates from the fuel over time which picks up moisture and then bacteria (crud) grows in it. This stuff floats on the bottom of your tank so you wont know it is there until you go out on a bouncy day and find that your engine is not feeling so well.
I bought a hand pump that I used to pump about 10 gallons out of the tank.
Beckson Siphon Mate Specialty Transfer Pump
If you don't know when your tank was last tended to it is probably time to find out.

mine is a 1968 and I am almost positive the tank has never been dredged. What did you use to pump the fuel out?
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