Atomic Four Enigne Bad Idea? - Page 4 - SailNet Community
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post #31 of 35 Old 05-22-2007
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I enjoy smoking crack cocaine while out on a sail. The threat of blowing myself up doesn't come from the A-4 but from the propane blow-torch I use to light the pipe. The threat of falling overboard while out-of-my-mind high also seems to be elevated at these times. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
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post #32 of 35 Old 05-22-2007
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"So when that machineing is done incorrectly it will cost 4 times as much."

Its a flathead, surfacing (milling) the head costs about 100.00.

valve job (the hard part is that the seats are in the darn block, carting that thing around in the trunk of a subaru ain't pretty) cutting/lapping the seats is about 150.00, or installing new seats is 250.00 (including parts)

most smoky machine shops have at least one cranky old fart that chomps his cigar and remembers the "good old days" when hi-performance meant nickel plated heads and a 3 duece carter intake

We are not primarily on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through

Some people are like slinkies: not really good for anything... but you can't help laughing when you push them down the stairs
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post #33 of 35 Old 05-22-2007
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I have to weigh in on the side of not discounting buying a boat with a decent condition Atomic 4. I have owned quite a few boats with Atomic 4's and one with a 1939 Universal Blue Jacket, the two cyl version of the AT 4. They are extremely easy to work on and frankly have proven as reliable and cheap to run as the diesels that I have owned.

Yes you have to learn to run the blower, sniff the bilge, check the points, and occasionally set the fuel mixture. Maybe once year pull the carb bowl and clean it (or else add a modern fuel filter/water separator). Its all pretty basic stuff. No easier or harder than diesel stuff.

My experience with Atomic 4's vs Diesel in the same model, 30 footer was that the AT4 burned roughly 3/4 gal per hour and the 2 cyl Volvo diesel burned something over 1/2 gal per hour. Frankly with 25- 30 hours a year of motoring in a big engine use year, it was not a big deal.

To me, part of the fun of owning old boats is that they are bound to have a vast need for TLC with the downside being that in most cases they also have a need for cash infusions that are way beyond the initial cost to purchase one. Old boats are not for tight of buget, weak of heart or the mechanically inept. Reliability and ease of use come at a price. The Atomic 4 in an engine compartment is the least of the problem.

Lastly, as CardiacPaul says in his post, in all of my years of sailing and being around boats, I have never heard of a sailboat with an Atomic 4 blowing up. In fact, with exception (an ancient wooden boat with no bilge blower and a leaky filler hose that filled its bilge with gasoline at a fuel dock) the only sailboats that I personally know of that have blown up have had diesel engines and propane stoves.

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post #34 of 35 Old 05-22-2007
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Not at all. What you do is to find a couple of poorly maintained but running A4s that are being thrown out by someone convinced that a Yanmar is the holy grail of weekend daysailing. You end up with enough parts to last you some time. And if not, you can get an entire crankset for six hundred bucks or so. That's what it costs me in 2004, when the Canadian dollar was 70 cents to the U.S.

I should have waited, I guess!
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post #35 of 35 Old 05-22-2007
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Originally Posted by Jeff_H
Frankly with 25- 30 hours a year of motoring in a big engine use year, it was not a big deal.
Ah, another voice of reason. You have to do powerboat levels of motoring to justify a diesel in anything under 36 feet or so, I think. The guy I loaned my A4-equipped 33-footer to said that he had some blow-by issues when he ran the engine at cruise speed for an hour. I said "did you keep the blower on, or did you turn it on and off when you smelled the blow-by?" He said no, and I said that perhaps it's because the new rings are still seating from the 2005 rebuild. He said "still? But that was a season and a half ago!"

He used the boat's engine yesterday for 10 minutes to get out into his club's bay and head to wind, and about the same amount of time on his return from three hours of sailing. He said the problem of blow-by did not reoccur. I said "There you go: we haven't put 10 hours on the engine since the rebuild."

This pattern of usage argues for a gas inboard over a diesel, or even an outboard in a well. Ten minute runs are very hard on a diesel, whereas the low-compression Atomic 4 (95-115 PSI on the cylinders) doesn't care if you start it and stop it all day long.

I have to wonder if a modern version of the Atomic 4 was bought for the way most people sail if it would sell. I believe Don Moyer of the celebrated Moyer Marine was considering casting new blocks himself at some point.
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