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  #1  
Old 07-24-2007
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Unhappy Overheating HELP !!!

Ok...so here's the problem....
Today I fired up the Atomic 4 I have in my boat and the engine started smoking white steam from the exhaust. The temp slowly rose to above 240 degrees. I turned it off, dove in and pulled a long grass from the intake underwater (yes I know what strainers are, no I don't have one...I don't know what I was thinking). After turning it back on some water started flowing, but still its steaming and still running real hot. What do I do?

I can force compressed air into the intake and hope it blows through. I can force water into it. I can try and find where the heck the impeller that sucks the water in is, take that apart and try and rod it out in reverse....
Anyone know of anyone that wants to tackle this problem? I'm in Chicago at Belmont Harbor.




-Nick
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Old 07-24-2007
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chill bro...

nick, you should fix this yourself! your impeller should be changed at least once a year, so you should know where it is and have a spare or two onboard. its wicked easy. mine was gear driven located on the stb. side of the engine twards the back of the block. follow the water intake and you should figure it out. another possibility could be your crossover tube (if you have one) its located at the front/top of the "head" and connects to your exhaust man. looks like a streched wide "u" with four bolts. anyway, getting to know your boat by repairing things like this could save your hide someday goto this website www.moyermarine.com theyll have everything youll need including a atomic bomb repair manual....cheers
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Old 07-24-2007
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The long and short of it is that you need to either flush it out or take it apart and clean it out. Thick, white, smelly smoke and overheating can be a sign of a blown seal in a gas engine, water in the oil, but thats worse case scenario. I am not familiar with the atomic 4, there are plenty here who will help tomorrow, I am sure, but whether it is raw water cooled or has a separate cooling system, it needs to be completely cleaned of what ever is in there. And get a strainer!
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Old 07-24-2007
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You really need to learn where the water pump impeller is and how to change it. If you have a problem when you're not at a dock, say 50-60 miles off shore, and the motor quits, not knowing may get you killed IMHO.

If the impeller is shot, it could have broken off blades and they could be clogging the cooling passages in the system. The reduced water flow could account for the exceptionally high temperatures.

However, more worrying is the white smoke/steam. The white smoke coming from the exhaust is actually the steam, as BF has pointed out, which indicates that water or antifreeze is being burned along with the fuel and air mixture in the engine. Water or antifreeze if mixed with the engine oil entering into the engine cylinder can damage the engine seriously. This should be checked out immediately. The blown seal could have been caused by the overheating, where the pressure in the cooling system rises beyond what is normal, as the temperature goes up.
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Old 08-05-2007
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Ok...I solved the problem fairly quick when I got to it, but here's what happened.... I took the entire cooling system apart one piece at a time trying to isolate the problem by checking for water flow while the engine ran a few seconds at a time. I also changed the impeller (didn't look bad but what the heck....) then the thermostat. The problem continued. So....I checked the through-hull fitting. It was bringing water in but I never let it flow without a hose so I didn't know how much should have been flowing. After trying to run a wire through it and failing miserably due to the 90 degree brass angle I tried some real thin stainless rigging wire pushed in hard with pliers. The water GUSHED in after the wire ran through. Basically what was happening is there was a restriction but not 100%. Just enough to fool me into thinking the fitting wasn't clogged. I needlessly spent about $100 on a thermostat and impeller but its a lot better than the $110 per hour in labor that the mechanic quoted me.
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Well, if you didn't throw out the old impeller or thermostat, then you'll have spares/backups... And this has added points to your black box account.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
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Good, glad we were all wrong and it was simple. And now you have a back up impeller and thermostat for cruising.

Edit - Darn you SD and your super duper high speed connection!
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Old 08-05-2007
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LOL... we love having a fiber optic internet connection.

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Originally Posted by bestfriend View Post
Good, glad we were all wrong and it was simple. And now you have a back up impeller and thermostat for cruising.

Edit - Darn you SD and your super duper high speed connection!
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a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 08-05-2007
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what is proper temp for A4?

I was using my boat yesterday (A4 engine) and noticed that the temp was up to 180 or 185. This seemed higher than I've seen before. I referred to the manual which indicates an upper temp of 165. I was running the engine for at least 2 hours total yesterday, but there were no appearances of problems. Strainer was clean ( I had just cleaned it the day before), no apparent leaking from thermostat or anywhere else, and exhaust seemed to be normal. Any ideas on whether I should investigate this further, and if so any ideas on where to start? Impeller? Anti-freeze? Although, I'm not sure where that goes.....it doesn't even refer to antifreeze in the manual.
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Old 08-06-2007
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FIRST .... get a bucket of a known volume in gallons, then get a stopwatch or a watch with a sweepsecond hand, then run the engine in neutral at your normal cruising rpm (by the rpm gauge). Hold the bucket AT the exhaust outlet at the stern and VERIFY that you are getting 3 gallons per minute at your 'cruise' rpm.

The A4 is is a bypass thermostat system ..... the thermostat is in a BYPASS circuit so when it heats up it CLOSES the thermostat and sends the water INTO the engine (instead of the BYPASS) !!!!!!!!!!!!!

If less than 3 gallons per minute ... you have a blockage:
1. broken impeller part flushed downstream into the system. 2. engine 'salted' if raw water cooled. 3. exhaust manifold is developing 'slab rust'. 4. worn cam lobe (replaceable cam 'shoe' in the Oberdorfer type water pump) in the water pump or badly worn impeller. 5. etc. etc.

If at or near 3 gallons per minute then thermostat is stuck OPEN (NOT sending water to the engine block). Remove the T'stat and get a new one OR boil/pickle the thermostat in muriatic etc. acid. IN an emergency put a vise grip onto (and close) the hose that goes between brass 'nipple' on the rectangular plate on the (starboard) side of the engine and the thermostat housing on top of the engine ... this will block the bypass and will send ALL the water through the engine. ... then recheck the volume flow of at least 3 gallons per minute at the stern of the boat with a bucket and a stopwatch.

Slab rust is commonly found inside the exhaust manifold of most Universal engines (and most other engines) .... especially those that are 'dried' out or are stored for long periods of time with NO water (or antifreeze mixture in them). What happens with slab rust is the slabs break loose from the cast iron casting and lodge in the exit of the exhaust manifold (exit nozzle in on TOP of the exhaust manifold). A slab that breaks loose will 'sometimes' block the flow through the exhaust system.... most times if you turn off the engine and let it cool down, the slab will drop to the bottom of the passageways in the exhaust header .... and when you start again the blockage will 'magically' disappear. When you are getting 'steam' out the exhaust of a boat with an A4 ... its 'usually' a blocked exhaust manifold. Remedy: - remove the exhaust manifold, go inside the 'water side' with a stiff wire and break up all the rust slabs then turn over and shake out all the rust particles. Apply a garden hose to the one end and block the other end of the water circuit of the exhaust manifold and apply about 40 psi of pressure .... if the manifold leaks (drips) into the 'gas' side the manifold is shot and you need to immediately replace; if no leaks to the gas side reinstall and (IMPORTANT) run the engine for several HOURS at full load and high rpm. This 'heating' will redevelop the protective black/blue (ferrous) rust and will begin to 'convert' the destructive red (ferric) rust inside the manifold. Then never ever allow the engine to 'dry out' on the raw water side ..... for lay-up, use an antifreeze mixture that has lots of rust inhibitor. To keep water IN the engine/manifold shut the raw water intake valve as soon as you stop the engine .... and intend to let the engine be idle for several or more weeks. (The USNavy will hardly ever shut down an engine .... to keep the slab rust from forming).

IF this is a RAW WATER cooled A4, then consider to 'pickle' the engine to clean out all the internal calcium carbonate build-up. Seawater will 'drop' (precipitate) calcium carbonate (this is what rocks are made of !!!!) anytime a raw water cooled engine gets above ~145 degrees F. (or on the raw water side of an engine with a heat exchanger), the calcium carbonate will form inside the engine and eventually decrease or block the water flow. Even in fresh water the engine will form calcium carbonate .... just not as fast as seawater. If your engine is raw water cooled, then get a thermostat that closes at ~135 to 140 degrees (to keep the engine 'cooler' so that you form less of the carbonates). DO NOT use muriatic acid or other inorganic acid to pickle ... as this will convert the protective black/blue ferrous rust inside the engine into destructive red ferric rust. If you need to 'de-salt' or 'de-scale' the engine of carbonates, use an organic commercial boiler descaler such as Marsolve or Rydlyme ... such will not dissolve the engine base metal and will not disturb the protective internal 'ferrous' rust. Then when done run hell out of the engine to be sure that you redevelop the 'protective' form of rust.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by RichH; 08-06-2007 at 10:25 AM.
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