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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Gas > Atomic 4 > Starting an Atomic 4 after heavy snows
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Thread: Starting an Atomic 4 after heavy snows Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-01-2010 01:35 PM
LakeSuperiorGeezer If the engine was properly winterized, you will have to assemble the raw water pump. If the engine does not have a heat exchanger on it, I would install one as the engine will last much longer without saltwater circulating through the engine, or maybe you can do a keel cooler.
11-30-2010 07:53 PM
jaschrumpf On page three of the website it says,

The Atomic Four
In 1947 the Atomic Four was introduced. It was a 4 cylinder inline / 1 litre (64.46 cu. in.) / 30 hp engine, Model UJ - 5101 (direct drive) / UJR - 5102 (2:1 reduction gear) / UJVD - 5103 (V drive, 1:1, 1.29:1, 1.67:1, 2:1 reduction gear options) L head (flat head) engine incorporating an integral reverse gear, with roots stretching back to the earliest Universal 4 cylinder engines. It was not a modified Jeep or Farmall tractor engine (the early military and civilian Jeep engine was a 4 cylinder, L head design like the Atomic Four, but it was twice the size of the Atomic Four at 2.2 litres (134 cu. in.) and had 3 main bearings - the Atomic Four has 2. In 1953 Jeep switched to an F head engine) and if anything was based on the successful Utility Four life boat engine. Sales of the Atomic Four grew strongly after 1955 as the recreational sailboat market expanded.
11-30-2010 11:24 AM
hellosailor msmith, that's not the impression that web site gives me.

Universal's first engine in 1895 may have been a marine design, but by 1924 "...the Universal Model K series of 4 cylinder industrial engines was developed for use in powering generators and pumps."

So long before the A4 engine was designed, Universal was designing and selling purpose-built non-marine engines. Which one of them was the design basis for the A4? Really? How do we mind-read the inspiration for the design?

Certainly with a compression so low, it doesn't seem like a purpose-built recreational boat engine, where weight and performance count as much as durability does. That part of the design alone would seem to indicate it was inspired, or based on, something designed for extreme long-term use, i.e. an industrial or perhaps tractor engine. (Although I've never heard tractor accusations before, except for SAAB's? 3-cylinder.)

Either way it certainly has outlived an awful lot of their other designs!
11-30-2010 08:51 AM
msmith10 The A4 was originally designed as an industrial/tractor engine....
This is a common misconception that just won't die. The Atomic 4 was designed from the ground-up as an inboard auxiliary sailboat engine. In fact, the very first engine built by the future Universal was a marine inboard engine. It is true that Universal made engines for many uses other than marine propulsion, pumps and generators and the like, but the Atomic 4 is no more derived from a tractor engine than the current SHO Ford engines are derived from the flatheads. There is an interesting history of the Universal Company at History of the Universal Motor Company 1
11-25-2010 03:31 PM
jaschrumpf My boat has an A4 in her and I've done all the maintenance myself, including a head gasket change. I highly second the advice to get over to the Moyer Marine site, as they have top-notch support for the engine in both the forums and from the owner, Don.

First thing I'd do is check the oil and make sure it's not too dirty and there's enough of it. Straight 30W is the recommended oil. If you need to change the oil there's a square plug down low on the block just aft of the carb. You take that out and use one of those manual oil extractors ($25 at WalMart most likely) to slurp out the old stuff. If the engine has been maintained you can most likely go with the old oil just for the first start.

If it's raw water cooled, do not open the seacock first. If you have to crank her for more than a few seconds to get her going, you don't want to pull water into the cylinders, which will happen if the engine isn't running to force the water out the manifold and into the exhaust system. Once it's running you can reach down there and open the water flow -- it won't hurt her to run for a few seconds without it.

Basically, this is what I'd do: (1) make sure I have quick access to the raw water input. (2) Make sure any shutoff valves on the fuel line are open. (3) Run the blower for five minutes and do a sniff test below. (4) Pull the choke all the way closed. (5) Crank her up. Once she fires, go below and open the raw water input and check to make sure you have flow out the exhaust. (6) Push the choke back in to open her up after 15 seconds or so -- you can tell when she doesn't want to be choked any more after you get used to her, as she'll start to run a bit rough within a few seconds of starting.

If after all that you have a running engine, congratulations. If not, it's time to start running through the air/spark/fuel checklist. Come on over to Moyer Marine and join us there -- we'll get you running!

Good luck!
11-23-2010 11:39 PM
hellosailor I'd take a look at the engine and engine compartment, i don't remember what the A4 has but almost all engines have 'freeze plugs' in them, and if any water in the block DID freeze, they are designed to pop out and prevent further damage. They're one-shot, one use, if any have popped you'll be pumping water all over when the engine starts up.
11-23-2010 08:42 PM
RichH The A4 was originally designed as an industrial/tractor engine.... all you should need to start the beast when the temp is below freezing is 20 wt. oil in Crankcase and a full charged battery.
11-23-2010 08:04 PM
QuickMick i would check with moyer marine, if nothing else their manual is top notch and is good to have around.
11-23-2010 08:03 PM
QuickMick you may want to see if you have a heat exchange unit. iirc not all a4 setups do, and you want to make sure that both; during the winterizing process you heat ex was drained of h20 (as freeezing temps can break a seam=yanking and brazing) and that the fluids are replaced after thaw.
11-23-2010 07:03 AM
nickmerc The engine will start the same as any other time of the year except that it may need more/longer choke due to the more dense air (since it is colder). It is just a gasoline engine like in your car (maybe in a car from the 60's).
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