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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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
 

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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
 

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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:
 

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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)
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
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
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
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
 

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Discussion Starter #18
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
 

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I hope she has clear title and current state registration?
 
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