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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just received a quote to rebuild the Atomic 4 motor on my 1979 C&C 34. I was shocked at the $6,640 price tag for this job and I asked them to hold off on the repairs while I consider alternative options.

During haul-out this season, it was noticed by the yard crew that the motor was creating knocking sound and I ordered the engine be pulled from the boat for inspection. A few weeks later I received a diagnosis of the problem...here is what they said:

"There was a bad connecting rod that was causing the banging. Also the cylinders are worn out and need to be bored out and larger pistons & rings installed. Along with a bad exhaust valves, bearings and valve guides."

They are suggesting a total engine rebuild. I am concerned that the value of the boat does not warrant such an investment and was hoping to get some feedback from the SailNet community.

The engine needs some work, I understand that, but is a rebuild my best option? I plan on selling the boat in about 3 years for an upgrade, but I can't use/sell the boat with a compromised engine.

Questions:
-Do I ask them to repair the connecting rods and handle the minor repairs myself?
-Do a full rebuild?
-Go all in and do a diesel swap? (hoping that I can extract 50% value when I sell)
-Look online for rebuild motor and have yard install?

Any insight, thoughts, words of wisdom, etc... would be appreciated. Thanks for reading!

-Chris
 

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I think a diesel Atomic 4 replacement from Beta Marine will cost about $9000. So it's $5000, or $9000.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the quick replies everyone. The diesel option is definitely more expensive, but can I expect to receive a greater return from that as opposed to just rebuilding/replacing the patro Atomic 4?

If I buy a used/rebuilt Atomic 4 online and have the yard install it the costs will be similar to just rebuilding the Atomic 4 I currently have...

Thoughts?
 

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Thanks for the quick replies everyone. The diesel option is definitely more expensive, but can I expect to receive a greater return from that as opposed to just rebuilding/replacing the patro Atomic 4?

If I buy a used/rebuilt Atomic 4 online and have the yard install it the costs will be similar to just rebuilding the Atomic 4 I currently have...

Thoughts?
A fiend of mine T37Chef just replaced his engine, similar size with a beta. His total costs were greater than $9000 and he did a fair amount of the work himself
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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It is not just the cost of the engine alone you need to think about. If you went with a diesel you would have to overhaul your fuel system too.

For the price you have been quoted I'd call Moyer and get their price on a trade in for a rebuilt engine. I'm pretty sure it is about the same $6K.

You can find used A4 engines available that may be in better shape than your old one. You should not have to spend more than $2.5K for a used A4 in working order. With used engines though it is difficult to see how far gone the internals are unless you tear it down.

How handy are you with a wrench? You can cut the costs a lot if you can do much of the work yourself.
 

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Barquito
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If I needed to replace my A4, and wanted to sell the boat sometime soon, I would find a used replacement. Just do a good bench test on the prospective used A4. Not worth dumping that much cabbage into a boat you are going to sell. Maybe put the lump back in yourself, and save a little more.
 

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Rebuild it yourself, They are very simple engines and if you do your own boat maintenance you can do the engine. It's an extremely satisfying experience to light off an engine you rebuilt yourself as well.

With the assistance of Moyer, anyone with wrenches should be able to do it.

As to your original questions, connecting rods can't be "repaired". They can be rebuilt if they are only worn & not damaged - sleeved wrist pin bushings, resized big ends, new bearings etc. It sounds like your engine needs a full rebuild - you might ask around at regular engine rebuilding shops - don't forget the yard is quoting the price to rebuild a BOAT engine. ;) Regular engine shops rebuild zillions of 4 cylinder engines that are a whole lot more complex than an A4 and they don't charge $6K or anything near it.

Swapping to a new diesel, while the ultimate choice, also has the ultimate price. It will likely cost 50% more than the cost of the engine by the time you're done, even if you install it yourself. Rebuilding the A4 is an easier job than doing an engine swap, particularly in the usual C&C engine compartment.

A recent diesel will definitely make your boat more marketable in a couple or three years but you won't get a whole lot of the cost back - MAYBE 1/2 of what you spent at best. My experience is that boats in the 30' range with A4's generally bring in the range of $5-$7K less than diesels but are quite a bit slower to sell.

There's lots of stuff on the web about rebuilding A4's - check it out and see if you think you could undertake it. There was a lot of stuff in Good Old Boat mag a while back about Rob Mazza (the ex-C&C designer) doing his own at home.
 
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Dirt Free
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I did a quick look in soldboats.com. It looks like your boat with a gas engine sells for about $20k here in Ontario while with a diesel gets close to $25k. So it looks like you'd get about half your money back (in todays market).
 

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ASA and PSIA Instructor
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Have the A4 professionally rebuilt and professionally installed. Replace all the extras: alternator, starter, cooling stuff while you are at it. $6,600 is on the plane of chump change for re-powering a34 foot boat. Going to a new diesel would be three times that amount. I do not think you would get back even half of a diesel repower, but would get back most of the A4 repower (its just not much money...).
 

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I gotta admit that I find the market rate for atomic 4 rebuilds stunning.
It's a tractor engine. pushrods, single carb, side valve, flathead, mechanical distributor.
if it was any simpler it wouldn't run.
i think a competent mechanic would be hard pressed to put more than 10 hours into a teardown and rebuild, while an amateur fumbling through his first one might invest twice that in total manhours on the tools.

From a parts standpoint, using moyer pricing, 4 con rods, $300, new crankshaft $400, new pistons (overbored) $300, new bearings (big and little) $400, new valves etc. $400, flywheel is $75, now you have a whole brand spankig new rotating assembly and valve train. Add a $100 gasket kit and $50 worth of hardware and you've just rebuilt the engine. add a few hundred bucks to machine 4 cylinders and clean up the block and head and you're still well under $3K. add a new carb for $200.
You now have damn near a fully rebuilt engine. In other words much more work than in your quote.
For $3K.
at $100/hr for labour, (a stunning figure, considering that a high school shop class would be hard pressed to screw up an atomic 4 rebuild- this does't require a master tech with a 24 drawer roller cabinet full of tools.) there's 35 hours of labour to get to your quote.

There's no way a 4 cylinder sidevalve engine needs that much labour for a professional to strip and rebuild.

And there's no reason why an average person who can turn a wrench or a screwdriver can't do it himself.
think about how many hours it takes to earn the money to pay the guy fixing your engine. why not put those hours toward doing it yourself?
 

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Old soul
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Chris, 10 years ago our A4 died. Went to a local shop. They happen to have a rebuilt A4 on hand (they supported a charter business). Removal of our old A4, and install of this "new" one cost us about $2,000.

This was a decade ago, and the engine has already been rebuilt, so not directly comparable to your situation, but still ... $6,600 sound like a lot to me.
 

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Yeah! $6600 for just the rebuild, plus re-install yet; sounds like he's tryin' ta sell ya a new motor (or a bill of goods !). $4600-4900 for the MMI and IIRC, ya get a core chg back? I had a large Onan 4 cyl genset rebuilt a coupe years ago to near the same extent and it was only $1100 ! And Onan charges near Harley prices for parts! ;)
Conversely; find a solid used A-4 ..I've seen some in the 1200-1700 dollar range...and have a pro go over it. Tweak as needed and yer into less than $2500. Pop it back in yerself and it's all good :D
While I'd opt for a diesel; the change over costs would be prohibitive, so stick w/gas and go, go...go ! :D
 

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I am not sure where you are located but I would look for a place that does agricultural or industrial tractor motor repairs, away from the boat yards.
 

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Sounds like a "marine premium" to me as well. Have them break out just the engine work from the quote and get your own engine, I have to assume that the $66oo quote includes turn key re-install.
 
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