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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-06-2010
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Atomic bomb?

Most boats in my price range seem to have gas engines. I would rather have a diesel, but, am not willing to pass-up good boats with gas motors.

So, the question: How dangerous is a gas motor?

I know what the potential problems are (boom). Are there more gas powered boats blowing up than diesel?

I just want to put this risk in context with other risks: propane, getting whacked by the boom, falling overboard, piracy... foot fungus... bad beer...
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Old 05-06-2010
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There are strict fueling and operating procedures that, if carefully followed, will minimize the risk of operating a gasoline engine (refer to Chapmans). A prudent captain will be able to safety manage this risk. If you doubt your ability to take the time and care to follow rigorous procedure,- closing cabin befroe fueling, smelling the bilge before and after fueling and before running the blower, smelling the effluent from the blower after time running and before engine starting , .....If anyone ever called you "anal retentive", then you can excel as a safe gas engine operator. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 05-06-2010
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A boat with a gas engine is worth less than a boat with a diesel. Figure $4-8k. You will burn a lot more gas and range will be much lower. You must run a blower for a few minutes prior to starting the engine, not important with diesel. If you have a spill in bilge you have a problem. A diesel spill will stink but it's not a safety issue. A gas engine will require more maintenance than a diesel.

All that said a gas engine in "good" condition will move the boat and will serve you just fine if you know the disadvantages and service it properly. Me, I won't have one. Actually had one and hated it, ripped it out and put in a nice little Yanmar. Best thing I ever did for that boat.

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Old 05-06-2010
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cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough
Gene,
I respectfully disagree...
in some "newer" boats there is about a 10% differential if any at all between an A-4 and a diesel... now a perryman(sp) or palmer, thats a different story, but they're few and far between.

in anything 25 yrs old or older, there is no price differential between any gas, and any diesel.

You will burn about 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon per hr while at full throttle with the A-4. About the same with a diesel.
Your "range" is totally dependent on the tank size, and in my experience, the "larger" tanks, are on "larger" boats.
Consider Cat 27's and Cat 30's... no difference in tank size between gas and diesel.

Maintenance issues.

I've heard this so many times I should have it tattooed somewhere.

Lets go over it once again shall we?
Oil filter for an a-4, whoops, they ain't gots one.
Oil filter for a diesel?
about 12.00 (and up, and can you walk into your local NAPA and get one?)

Fuel filter for A-4, about 4 bucks. (same with the napa thing)

Fuel Filters for the Diesels? around 15.00, each, plus any Racors you may have.

Cap, rotor, condenser and points for A-4, about 20.00.
None on diesel, mine ran about 3 yrs before they had to be replaced.

Plug wires? 17.50 none on Diesel

Plugs? total, 8 bucks. None on Diesel.
Ok, now on that Diesel, you do have injectors, just throw out a price on a rebuilt one, k?
About 60.00 each.

Lets not forget the changing fuel filters.../crack/bleed/tighten rinse - repeat routine.

I can appreciate the personal preference of a diesel. But thats all it is, a personal preference.

Universal put over 40,000 engines in various boats. They can't have sucked too bad.
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Last edited by cardiacpaul; 05-06-2010 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 05-06-2010
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cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough
Oh, last one...
the fire thing...
I... jeez... oh... c'mon...

Alright, SOMEONE, ANYONE, Give me a news story, not, "someone I knew told me" I want a real, bona-fide news account where sailboat BLEW UP or CAUGHT FIRE DUE TO THE GAS ENGINE.
I don't want "he was fueling with a lit cigar on a sea-ray" stories, I want the above. Go, Look,, find... post.

Oh, wait there is this one...
Fire destroys sailboat Ľ Marco Eagle

alas, it says he went to start the gas motor.
uh-nope. it was a 42 ft morgan, 1971, Charlie dinna use no gas jobs in the biguns.
The "motor" was a diesel.
he was actually starting the GENERATOR (GAS)
nice try, find another one.
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Old 05-06-2010
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I've got an A4 in my 1975 Newport 28. A PO had the engine rebuilt by Moyer Marine in 1993, and I bought her in 2007. I've replaced the head gasket from the old paper one to the new steel-reinforced gasket, replaced the carb and gave it a good overall tune-up and electronic ignition. Runs like a champ, and is quiet and non-stinky. I flip on the blower while I'm putting on the sails, take a sniff before I start her, and leave the blower running while I motor both to bring cool, fresh air to the engine and keep the cabin clear of any "engine smell."

I love that little engine. I understand it through and through, having worked on my own cars back in the '70s -- something I wouldn't have with a diesel. I won't say I'd look for gas engines in all my future boats, but I certainly am not afraid of having a gas engine on board.

I think more boats are damaged by propane explosions in a given year rather than by inboard gas engines, even allowing for their relative populations.
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Old 05-06-2010
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Well

There was one C&C 35 A4 (Gandalf i think ?) on the great lakes last summer that did burn and they were really lucky they got off alive

Fire sinks boat in Lake Huron | Bay City News - - MLive.com

BUT IMHP as and A4 owner when i did the repiar on the motor over the winter i am pretty sure it had and orginal CAP AND ROTAR and for sure was on the ORGINAL fuel pump
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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 05-06-2010
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i have not heard of any sailboats that blew up due to gasoline atomic 4s. i have witnesses stinkpots with huge gas engines explode at the fuel dock because the blowers werent on during filling and boom. i saw a sailboat have a propane explosion due to carelessness. bu ti have never seen a sail boat gas engine have an explosion. i owned a sailboat with an atomic 4----if they work they are awesome if they donot--get diesel..lol......if ye have a choice--in this market i cannot understand why there would not be choice, get a sailboat with diesel--is easier to run than an atomic 4. atomic 4 was called atomic bomb because of the detonation of the engine nothing to do with fuel. kinda like yer car engine--ye blow the engine it doesnt run..LOL....a piston or a piston rod or valve stuck or whatever--not explosive like kapowie.....LOL...have fun and smooth sailing.....
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Old 05-06-2010
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get a boat with an outboard.
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Old 05-06-2010
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Actually you can just disagree with me. I don't mind. I have experience with boat shopping and pricing. It's a hobby of mine (disclaimer left coast of US). I like your prices for parts, I can't even get a set of spark plug wires for my car for $12 (that I would actual use that is). My worst experience with gas in boats is ....... well let me see....which was worst. How about trying to get an A4 running in a rolling sea.......smell of gas...feel bad. Or there was the power boat with 2 350 V's. New engines so why do I have so many problems with them. (granted the A4 is a better application).

Fuel usage. Part of the problem is the A4 is about 30 hp if I remember correctly. A 30 foot boat needs about 12hp. So the fuel consumption on my H28 went from 1 gph to just over a pint of diesel. Personal experience. Don't care if you disagree with me or not.

Maintenance. You don't have problems with fuel system on a gas engine. Dirty fuel, water in gas, diaphragm failure in fuel pump, need to add stabilizer to fuel. After working on 3 different diesels they seem much lower maintenance. But then I am just relating personal experience here. I only know what I know.

I am always surprised at how the A4 is defended. It does have a few advantages. Runs very smooth and good power if in the correct size boat. And while I don't want one I really don' t mind if someone else does. And I don't think less of them if their boat has one.

However I would run a compression check on a gas engine before I bought a boat, only because it is easy to do and tells you a lot.

Gene
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