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HMSVictory 07-31-2016 11:26 AM

atomic 4 mini explosion
 
1 Attachment(s)
went on my friend's "new" columbia 1962 29'...in real piece condition with blown out torn up sails and the one concerting aspect of the sail to me being a supposedly reliable atomic 4...
guy who owned the boat before jury rigged a lot of stuff on it, didn't really take care of big problems and after being hard to start the first problem was a screaming alternator belt. But it sounded very irregular thhe whole time, and more so as the sail went on. eventually the motor just went out of control, screaming, making crazy noises of things breaking down and propellers spinning hubs and all kinds of craziness, and we had to just kill it or it might have died on its own can't remember exactly. But without the motor, we were drifting in to shore, and eventually at anchor decided we had to try and start it again. After a few tries we did get it started, only to put it into gear rev it, have it make some crazy noises for a few minutes, then make a loud and powerful explosion in the compartment (no flames that we saw) and fill the boat with smoke for the next 10 minutes even after turning it off and killing the battery switch. ..what in the hell happened? Ideas? I don't know these motors.. do they have a release valve in case of too much compression or something? blown gasket? blown piston ring?

EDIT: even at WOT the A4 barely moved her. Apparently these are 30HP engines. Even with a reef on the bottom it should push a boat more than 4 kn... So I'm wondering if blow by and resulting carbon buildup could have been catching

Ulladh 07-31-2016 12:20 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Victory

You need to find some new friends.

Maybe even some that know how to maintain their boats and not create more derelicts.

Gasoline combustion engines over reving and irregular firing is more than likely a build up of carbon deposits causing pre-ignition.

Loud "explosion"was probably pre-ignition while intake valve was open, or build up of uncombusted fuel in exhaust igniting.

Your friend needs at the very least an engine rebuild.

Jeff_H 07-31-2016 01:30 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Also, if the timing is too far advanced the engine can backfire through the carburetor. It sounds terrible, can make lots of smoke but its at least less serious than an engine rebuild. My comments are predicated on the probability that this engine does not have an updated ignition system.

The statement, "But it sounded very irregular thhe whole time, and more so as the sail went on. eventually the motor just went out of control, screaming, making crazy noises of things breaking down and propellers spinning hubs and all kinds of craziness, " seems extremely unlikely but not imposible. But in any event you are describing a wide range of symptoms that could result from all kinds of causes.

For example, the combination of an engine going out of control and the 'propeller spinning hubs' sounds more like badly adjusted controls so that the throttle was not backing off, and the transmission was not fully in gear. This is simple top diagnose and repair.

There are a whole host of things which could make the engine display the symptoms that you descibe. Without being there its hard to say what the actual cause is. My initial sense is that this is a problem with the ignition system but can't say whether the points are fried or improperly adjusted, the points mounting plate is loose and needs replacement, the distributor cap is cracked, the distributor clamp is loose and the distributor has been left free to rotate, whether the coil is on the way out, whether points cam is worn past its 'use by date', whether the timing gear is shot or improperly timed, whether there is one cylinder that is not reliably firing eventually flooding and so on. It is also possible that the engine is running rich which can also cause backfires, or lean which could cause run on and foul smelling smoke on shut down.

The carboned-up problem that was mentioned is also a possibility.

But, Properly maintained Atomic 4's are amazingly reliable and easy to maintain, but they take basic maintenance and enough knowledge of engines to quickly diagnose when something typical of these engines does occur.

Jeff

Capt Len 07-31-2016 02:15 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
My first thought was 'Is the leg being pulled'

wrwakefield 07-31-2016 03:05 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
My first sailboat had a gasoline fired atomic 4 way back when. It was very quiet and reliable, and easy to maintain.

The engine and transmission shared the same motor oil and sump, and there was no oil filter, so routine oil changes were a must. [IIRC every 40 hrs or 6 months, but verify that...]

Also, that engine required leaded gasoline, so I had to put a lead additive in unleaded gas when in the US.

When I took that boat to Mexico, at that time you could still buy leaded gas at the pumps... In fact, sometimes the 'unleaded' pump was dispensing leaded gas. [I blew up the catalytic converter on my VW van in Mexico that way...]

I mention both of these facts as possible contributing factors in case prior owners were unaware and ignored these requirements.

Cheers!

Bill

JimsCAL 07-31-2016 05:33 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Is the same guy that was going to tow the Mac 65 Zeus to Miami?

Capt Len 07-31-2016 09:09 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
The old time leaded gas lubricated the valves New unleaded eventually burned the old time exhaust valves but this takes longer than even a slow learner figuring it out .Maybe

travlin-easy 07-31-2016 11:10 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
If you read the Moyer Marine A4 repair manual, you will find that a product called Marvel Mystery Oil is highly recommended as a fuel additive. It's a top cylinder lubricant that helps clean and seat the valves, and I, as well as every A4 owner I know, use this stuff religiously. Just 2 ounces per 10 gallons and the A4 runs like a Swiss watch.

Good luck,

Gary :cool:

Lazerbrains 08-01-2016 09:08 AM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimsCAL (Post 3599697)
Is the same guy that was going to tow the Mac 65 Zeus to Miami?

I remember back when he was going to sail a Sunfish for 60 miles in one day - I wonder whatever became of that adventure???

Capt Len 08-01-2016 11:16 AM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
When the old girl finally fails you replace the valves and seats with 'stelite' during rebuild. Admit I don't know if A4's are eligible for this treatment as my experience is mostly automotive. An aside... when the Canadian gov't banned tetra ethyl lead ,we the people paid big to the producer in Cal for their loss of revenue. (figure a bit of drift in this thread keeps up the interest)

SloopJonB 08-01-2016 11:38 AM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Since lead has been gone from gas for more than 40 years I doubt if there are any valve seat inserts left on shelves that won't work with unleaded.

Incidentally, the problem was never with the valves, it was with cast iron seat erosion and it was a very slow process - 75K miles in bad cases.

RichH 08-01-2016 11:41 AM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Capt Len is probably spot on ... The exhaust valves in the A4 are notorious for sometimes 'sticking' and not fully closing due to 'rusty' valve stems, - especially if the engine has been long term stored in 'humid' environment and the engine wasn't properly 'prepped' for long term lay-up.
A squirt of penetrating oil on the stems and valve stem guides, and a good whack with hammer - or a bent 'iron' shoved into the 'spark plug hole', usually does the 'trick'.

Tetra-ethyl-Lead was added to gasoline to increase the octane value; plus, to provide a very thin 'cushioning layer' on the valve and valve seat faces, so you didn't 'hammer'/deform them into oblivion. Hardened faces and better and closer 'tolerances' have solved the 'hammering' problem.

Capt Len 08-01-2016 01:41 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
40 years?? doesn't time go by when you're not counting. Even the early '60 's need a valve job by now

Sal Paradise 08-01-2016 04:03 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 

HMSVictory 08-01-2016 05:16 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimsCAL (Post 3599697)
Is the same guy that was going to tow the Mac 65 Zeus to Miami?

well it wasn't me but I was going to help. Partially in light of the responses of this forum, I did not help, as a result of lack of knowledge on the part of those who towed her, that boat was improperly anchored, dragged into a boat lift, impaled, sunk, salvaged at the tune of 25k to the city of fort lauderdale taxpayers, and they will never get it back no matter how hard they try. Im sure sailors and anchoring and all that got a bad name in the process. Would that have happened had I Been there? Absolutely not. But sailnet party poopers among other things convinced me not to go... anyway ets leave that topic at rest.

I'm a friend of the girls who own it, and I am helping her with the boat.

perhaps if the sailnet community is this time helpful rather than simply dismissive, rude or even wrongly accusative a few very nice and pretty in their 20s girls will not accidentally blow themselves up

Ulladh 08-01-2016 05:34 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Get an auto mechanic to go over the motor and tell them what they need to do. A more expensive marine mechanic is not what is needed for a gasoline engine.

Replace the mainsail, with a good used sail or new, and when funds are available a headsail.
Check the electrics including charging and navigation lights, and make needed repairs.
Check hull integrity including keel, through hulls, chain plates....
Check bottom paint/barrier coat.

They may have got a bargain but it is still going to cost to maintain.

HMSVictory 08-01-2016 06:23 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the mechanic advice. I'm sure they can find someone cheap. Sadly they didn't get a bargain. The (many explicitives left out) wanted 6 grand for the Royal POS, and when no one would give anywhere near he ended up "letting her go " to a friend for 2500 . In my estimation a no more than 1000 dollar boat.... But she likes the boat and it is nice. Well do our best to fix it

HMSVictory 08-01-2016 06:31 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lazerbrains (Post 3600225)
Quote:

Originally Posted by JimsCAL (Post 3599697)
Is the same guy that was going to tow the Mac 65 Zeus to Miami?

I remember back when he was going to sail a Sunfish for 60 miles in one day - I wonder whatever became of that adventure???

I am not that guy... But do not mock what you only incapable of ! I could do it if I had to! I imagine A lot of people on here could as well

Ulladh 08-01-2016 06:31 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
I hope she has clear title and current state registration?

HMSVictory 08-01-2016 06:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ulladh (Post 3601257)
I hope she has clear title and current state registration?

Oh yes this she can claim!

Turnin Turtle 08-01-2016 06:46 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
OP description is of an engine that needs to be removed from the boat for complete rebuild.

If it can be saved.

Generally when you let the magic smoke out things don't work without a major infusion of $$$ to replace the smoke.

Sal Paradise 08-01-2016 07:18 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
This thread is funny. In reality it could be anything from a couple of loose plug wires to rusty points (would be my first guess) , to a stuck carb float ( another good guess) to a clapped out motor. There is precious little to go on except that there was a lot of unburned gas fumes in a compartment, some oxygen - and then a spark. A compression gauge is very cheap at HF if ignition and/or carb check out.

SloopJonB 08-01-2016 07:40 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Turnin Turtle (Post 3601281)
OP description is of an engine that needs to be removed from the boat for complete rebuild.

If it can be saved.

Generally when you let the magic smoke out things don't work without a major infusion of $$$ to replace the smoke.

A jar of this isn't real expensive.

RichH 08-01-2016 08:52 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
HAHAHAHAHA ROTFLMAO -
"LUCAS" ignition parts .... Manufactured by the "Prince of Darkness".

;-)

travlin-easy 08-01-2016 09:33 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Believe me, you can rebuild an A4 on a small picnic table and do the entire job in two days if you know anything at all about gasoline engines. It's a very simple engine to work on.

Gary :cool:

SloopJonB 08-01-2016 09:36 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
And there's little that is more exhilarating than when an engine you built yourself lights off for the first time.

albrazzi 08-01-2016 10:49 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HMSVictory (Post 3601129)
well it wasn't me but I was going to help. Partially in light of the responses of this forum, I did not help, as a result of lack of knowledge on the part of those who towed her, that boat was improperly anchored, dragged into a boat lift, impaled, sunk, salvaged at the tune of 25k to the city of fort lauderdale taxpayers, and they will never get it back no matter how hard they try. Im sure sailors and anchoring and all that got a bad name in the process. Would that have happened had I Been there? Absolutely not. But sailnet party poopers among other things convinced me not to go... anyway ets leave that topic at rest.

I'm a friend of the girls who own it, and I am helping her with the boat.

perhaps if the sailnet community is this time helpful rather than simply dismissive, rude or even wrongly accusative a few very nice and pretty in their 20s girls will not accidentally blow themselves up

I think Jeff Goldblum said it best "where would we all be without be without a good rationalization every day" I hope you feel better.

Rocky Mountain Breeze 08-01-2016 11:35 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
No matter the venue people who are not willing to learn at least the basic principles of whatever endeavor they have undertaken are fools. I see it everyday in my world unrelated to sailing, Darwin merely observed what happened naturally in nature if left unmolested. Now people get offended when these same observations are offered concerning someone they know on a personal level. As I once read, if you are sitting at a poker table and you cannot recognize the patsy it is probably you......

oldlaxer1 08-02-2016 10:38 AM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HMSVictory (Post 3601129)
well it wasn't me but I was going to help. Partially in light of the responses of this forum, I did not help, as a result of lack of knowledge on the part of those who towed her, that boat was improperly anchored, dragged into a boat lift, impaled, sunk, salvaged at the tune of 25k to the city of fort lauderdale taxpayers, and they will never get it back no matter how hard they try. Im sure sailors and anchoring and all that got a bad name in the process. Would that have happened had I Been there? Absolutely not. But sailnet party poopers among other things convinced me not to go... anyway ets leave that topic at rest.

I'm a friend of the girls who own it, and I am helping her with the boat.

perhaps if the sailnet community is this time helpful rather than simply dismissive, rude or even wrongly accusative a few very nice and pretty in their 20s girls will not accidentally blow themselves up

My suggestion is to go to the forums at Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts and post your situation. There are some real Atomic 4 experts that are always willing to help sort out a problem. They will virtually adopt you and the motor if you follow their advice.

deniseO30 08-02-2016 01:23 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Here we go again... 3 pages.

hellosailor 08-02-2016 01:23 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Look at the donut-shaped air filter on any older car. There's always a metal screen or grid around the perimeter and that is no coincidence, that is called a BACKFIRE ARRESTOR because engine with carbs can backfire and spew out flames. On a car that is nasty but you can always walk away. On a boat, that can be lethal if you have to jump overboard.

I knew an old Chevy that was running rough. Took off the air filter to look at the carb and found the float had malfunctioned, the entire top of the carb was filled with gasoline, which was overflowing either into the carb or out on the engine. And if it had run onto the exhaust manifold, it would have made a nasty fire.

These things happen.

If the boat is such a nasty old POS, don't even ask what might be wrong. Don't attempt to run the engine until a mechanic has gone over it, because an A4 is a good simple solid engine, but with enough owner neglect? It could be waiting to turn that boat into a bbq pit.

If you MUST play with it, make Real Damned Sure someone is standing by with an extinguisher, with the pin already pulled and ready to use. The girl(s) will not be happy in a burn ward.

Sal Paradise 08-02-2016 02:17 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
or put in a fume detector. Its a lot cheaper than blowing someone up.

Capt Len 08-02-2016 02:43 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
The older engines had an updraught carburator so when the float stuck the gas safely ran out on the ground (this is common) Bilge you say. Now that can be a problem. Rebuilding carbs (needle and seat in particular) becomes fairly important . Flame arresters can help putting off having to maintain ignition systems and valves and de coking but no guarantee they'll stop the flames. Probably could learn some good skills easier than having to heal the burn scars

oldlaxer1 08-02-2016 03:22 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by deniseO30 (Post 3602249)
Here we go again... 3 pages.

I'm confused. You have a problem with offering a piece of advice to go to the experts on the subject, or am I misreading your post?

Capt Len 08-02-2016 03:44 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Even if a thread starts off with head shaking or nodding it can form and morph into a learning experience for newbe readers who may avoid some disaster or horrible adventure that we older(more experienced) ,who didn't have the advantage of SN and have the tales and scars to show for it,are willing to share. Exempt are those who already know all or are incapable of getting a chuckle over others limitations Now if there were a charge per post or browsing fee it would lend some importance toit all.

deniseO30 08-02-2016 04:27 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by oldlaxer1 (Post 3602561)
I'm confused. You have a problem with offering a piece of advice to go to the experts on the subject, or am I misreading your post?

Sorry. you don't know about previous things HMS has posted. Getting all the forum regulars and others all into giving advice then getting insulted with name calling

travlin-easy 08-02-2016 07:59 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Capt Len, the A4 has a downdraft carb, comes with a great flame arrestor - never saw one without one.

All the best,

Gary

Capt Len 08-02-2016 09:00 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Most of my old fish boat experience was with Crysler Crowns )6 cylinder flatheads and the big Royals 8 flatheads. Engines were modified auto type set backwards Most boats went to them as bigger and more dependable than the older Easthopes . Can't think of a single fire caused by gas engines. Oil stoves were the culprits as their carbs or drip feed often went wonky.

RobGallagher 08-02-2016 10:18 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by oldlaxer1 (Post 3601993)
My suggestion is to go to the forums at Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts and post your situation. There are some real Atomic 4 experts that are always willing to help sort out a problem. They will virtually adopt you and the motor if you follow their advice.

Great advice and true. They are a great group of people on that forum. I can remember working on my old engine and posting questions with an Iphone1.

Checking the forums for answers to questions with the phone in one hand and a wrench in the other.

Call them and Don Moyer or his son would answer the phone and walk you through a problem.

I'd buy stuff from them I could get cheaper at NAPA because they are so helpful.

They Rock

HMSVictory 08-08-2016 10:59 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
such is deserved for people who return a request for help with nothing but discouragement, insults, claims that such people shouldn't be on the water when they are just learning and ASKING for help...im pretty sure that was the only type of person I've ever insulted if anyone, the type that just wants to shut things down, dismiss, and be as unhelpful and dicourging as possible while encouraging other people who would help to be the same way

all I'm doing here is asking for help, and not even for my own sake!!! if you don't want to lend it, which you don't have to, then kindly get TFO of here and let that be that!

by the way thanks for all who have been helpful. I have directed the boat owner to this thread and they are grateful for the most part, though naturally discouraged by many of the responses as anyone would be.

chef2sail 08-10-2016 04:23 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HMSVictory (Post 3608802)
such is deserved for people who return a request for help with nothing but discouragement, insults, claims that such people shouldn't be on the water when they are just learning and ASKING for help...im pretty sure that was the only type of person I've ever insulted if anyone, the type that just wants to shut things down, dismiss, and be as unhelpful and dicourging as possible while encouraging other people who would help to be the same way

all I'm doing here is asking for help, and not even for my own sake!!! if you don't want to lend it, which you don't have to, then kindly get TFO of here and let that be that!

by the way thanks for all who have been helpful. I have directed the boat owner to this thread and they are grateful for the most part, though naturally discouraged by many of the responses as anyone would be.

Really not necessary. Learn from the helpful ....ignore those who aren't...no need to blast away

HMSVictory 08-10-2016 04:25 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chef2sail (Post 3610737)
Really not necessary. Learn from the helpful ....ignore those who aren't...no need to blast away

at least i didn't mention everyone who was twisting things around on one thread in order to start accusing me of tax evasion, crimes against the good people of the US of A etc...but you are right. there was no need.

timangiel 09-06-2016 07:06 PM

Re: atomic 4 mini explosion
 
I hope the girls have a working blower for the engine compartment and understand what it's for. That will help them to not blow up. I don't think you are going to be able to diagnose your engine problems on this forum unless you can give clear and concise descriptions of symptoms. If you want to help them, help them find someone (competent)locally that can climb aboard and see the issues first hand. Perhaps if we knew exactly where the boat is located someone could recommend someone or would be willing to come over themselves. I wish you the best of luck.


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