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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Gas > Atomic 4 > Advice for new Atomic 4, gas, owners
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Thread: Advice for new Atomic 4, gas, owners Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-24-2013 02:46 PM
norahs arc
Re: Advice for new Atomic 4, gas, owners

I have an A4 in my Catilina 27. The first year was difficult. The boat had been stored for several years so there was dirt in fuel lines and corrosion on electrical switches. I was usually single handing so when there was a problem I was unable to sail the boat and trouble shoot the engine at the same time. (I chose to sail the boat.) Finally I found a mechanic who came to the boat and together we got it working just great. It needed a new fuel pump (went electric), new coil, carb cleaning, new fuel lines and filiters, new alternator belt and a general clean up. No wonder it was a problem at first. It will receive regular maintence from now on at least while I own it. Runs smooth, quiet, and has lots of power for this boat.
10-28-2011 11:14 PM
SloopJonB
Quote:
Originally Posted by emoney View Post
As to the age old, "Atomic 4" issue, I've got a diesel now, and quite frankly, while I've had no issues "yet", I'd much prefer to be working on a gasoline motor, as opposed to this one simply because I'm more familiar with them.
It actually goes deeper than familiarity. Shade tree - or should I say dockside? - mechanics are unlikely to have the knowledge, skills and tools to work on high pressure fuel pumps or injectors. They are far too precise to respond to amateur efforts. In contrast, working on an A4 is a lot like the old saying about Chevy's - "All you need is a 9/16ths wrench and a hammer".
10-25-2011 02:15 PM
emoney An echo to Sloop's comment above; today's high performance vehicles don't have timing "systems" they have timing "computers". It's a good thing in overall performance, and something such as octane levels in fuel makes a big difference.

As to the age old, "Atomic 4" issue, I've got a diesel now, and quite frankly, while I've had no issues "yet", I'd much prefer to be working on a gasoline motor, as opposed to this one simply because I'm more familiar with them. And having operated or been exposed to gas powered boats or 40 years, it's all about being "smart" when it comes to any of the systems. You can drown, electrocute yourself, impale yourself, explode, catch some form of plague, etc. etc. etc. Not to lessen the need for operating a blower, but it's wisdom that saves more lives than fuel type.
10-25-2011 12:58 PM
SloopJonB
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Folks have been taught to think "high test" will make their engines run better. Ignoring the new ones with detonation sensors, that's been fooling the masses for over 50 years.

Using low test to run a high compression engine? Sure, that's one way to do it. Or you can start with building a stronger engine. Many ways to skin that cat. The faster the "boom", the faster the pistons can move, and velocity buys more power than just increasing the mass. That's why aluminum baseball bats hit further than wood.
Two problems with that;

1. Detonation sensors work by dialing back timing advance - that really DOES steal power.

In addition to decades of hot rodding, I am also speaking from very recent experience with my wife's supercharged Jag. Obviously it requires high octane, as specified in the owners manual but it didn't specify an octane. Since 92 is the best available in the States, I figured 91 would be O/K here.

It was demonstrating some less that stellar performance - exactly like too little timing advance - it was "lazy" on hard acceleration. I tried some 94 octane that Chevron sells here and problem solved. The computer was dialing back the timing to compensate for the inadequate octane. So much for "stealing power". I expect the car would barely run on low test.

2. You can't BUILD an engine that can withstand detonation - even diesels don't actually detonate. They are fired by compression heat but the fuel is introduced so it burns, not explodes. You'd need solid pistons and engine blocks to even come close to being strong enough. Ask any race engine builder - they routinely run 14 to 1 and 15 to 1 cr's and have to use 115 octane race gas.

You have to use the octane your engine requires. Most cars require only low test and anything higher is just a waste of money but if the engine needs it you HAVE TO use higher octane gas.
10-25-2011 12:02 PM
hellosailor Folks have been taught to think "high test" will make their engines run better. Ignoring the new ones with detonation sensors, that's been fooling the masses for over 50 years.

Using low test to run a high compression engine? Sure, that's one way to do it. Or you can start with building a stronger engine. Many ways to skin that cat. The faster the "boom", the faster the pistons can move, and velocity buys more power than just increasing the mass. That's why aluminum baseball bats hit further than wood.
10-25-2011 04:00 AM
SloopJonB
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Octane boosters just slow down the rate of propagation in the flame front, and STEAL POWER from the fuel. The good lord invented them to fool the masses into paying more for worse fuel, before gasahol was invented.
Nope, he invented octane so we could have high compression engines with lovely, crisp throttle response. Slowing down the flame front with high octane may "steal power" in some sort of lab experiment but in the real world it allows you to boost the compression ratio or the boost level in a turbo or supercharged engine. On average, each point increase in compression is good for a 4% boost in power - going from a typical 9.0 to 1 to a "good old days" 12.5 to 1 gives a 14% increase in power - not exactly "stealing power" or "fooling the masses".
10-25-2011 12:39 AM
hellosailor Galley fires? Sure, had two kitchen fires nearly burn down my building (thank you, neighbors) in the last two years. Alcohol fires on boats? Well documented, and personally I can eat cold food and skip my coffee for days if the only heat source is alcohol.

IIRC gasoline is considered a "low explosive" because it deflagrates, as opposed to a high explosive. Bear in mind that diesel fuel is generally considered less explosive than gasoline--but diesel is the key to an ANFO hyperbaric bomb.

Aircraft and cars also do explode--fueled by just gasoline. Hollywood FX not required. Octane boosters just slow down the rate of propagation in the flame front, and STEAL POWER from the fuel. The good lord invented them to fool the masses into paying more for worse fuel, before gasahol was invented.

I like my gasoline like my women--able to make loud violent noises with little provocation and for loong periods of time, but only in the right times and places. Oh, wait a minute...maybe I've got something confused there. (VBG)
10-24-2011 09:00 PM
tommays The only A4 fire I know of happened on a C&C 35 Gandalf on the great lakes in 2009

Pretty lucky all around as it was destroyed and nobody was badly hurt
10-24-2011 04:02 AM
SloopJonB
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Petrol is supposed to explode.
Nope, that's why God invented octane. Gas is supposed to BURN, albeit very quickly. If it explodes it's called detonation - very bad thing.

As to your other comments, I agree but I would hazard a guess that there are 10 or 100 times the number of galley fires than gas engine fires and few people fret about having a propane galley like they do about a gas engine. You can get diesel stoves and heaters as well but they are less convenient than propane.
10-23-2011 08:07 PM
hellosailor Jon, there still are SOME petrol powered boats that have blown up as a result of petrol itself. I know someone who had to try salvaging a man's leg, after he had a refueling accident, blew up his boat, and augered into the wood fuel dock when he came back done out of the air.

Then in the US alone, there are several gasoline station fires EVERY year, when people refuel their cars. Some being very smart and lighting the cigarettes they just bought at the same station, others from static or other causes.

Petrol is supposed to explode.

The only question is, whether you've properly confined the explosion to the inside of the engine.

Heck, we lose a couple of homes and businesses every year to propane explosions as well, but only the oil and electric companies try to sell folks on "safe oil (electric) heating".

Then there's fireplaces and Christmas lights...Some folks just really shouldn't be allowed to mess around with anything flammable at all.
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