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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

Seems every time we almost find that right first boat, new questions/concerns arise. There actually 3 boats in our sights...1975 Northern 29, 1981 Mirage 27, both of these have atomic 4 gas with sail drive. The third is a 1979 Mariner 28 with a Yannmar Diesel. The Northern and Mirage are completely equipped the way we had hoped for and are around the same price range....7k. The Mariner needs a few items we had hoped for, but has the diesel engine and looks great and I know I can get it for 5k.
My main concern is the Atomic 4 gas with sail drive. Both owners have regularly maintained their engines?

Can you comment please, I look forward to your advice.

Thanks,

Ron
 

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72 C&C Corvette
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I haven't seen a A-4 coupled to a sail drive before but, I've got a 40 year old A-4 been rebuilt once if well maintained they are a solid reliable engine. and all parts are readily avalible.
 

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My A4 is fine

In all reality the fact that it is a diesel or the A4 does not matter much the condition is what matters



The boat should look like this as we need to understand what you mean by saildrive as they were not used on A4s
 

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Not a fan of gas engines, when diesels are so available. Many seem to like their A4s though.

From the sounds of it, however, you will not get the $5k boat to match your satisfaction with the $7k boats for the difference.
 

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atomic 4 gas with sail drive.
If it's gold/bronze/copper color it's an Atomic 4 (atomic bomb) gas engine - lots of these around and outfits established as quality rebuilders (have never seen one with a saildrive either)

If it's not it's an OMC Saildrive (snail drive) - basically an outboard motor power head with no casing installed inboard, coupled to a stationary lower unit leg - considering the age and rebuild parts are increasingly harder to find

I'd weigh the cost of the extras you are looking to add to the diesel powered boat compared to an Atomic 4/OMC engine rebuild/replacement, and also consider the age and condition of the features existing on the gas powered boats that may need replacing.
 

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I'm with tommays - VERY unlikely you're looking at an A4 with a saildrive. It's most likely a standard shaft and propeller arrangement. I wouldn't rule out an A4 in your price range. Overall condition is more important.
 

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Old soul
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My previous boat, recently sold, had an A4. They are good, solid, simple engines. One advantage is that the A4 is a lot quieter than most diesels. The gas fumes thing is no different than carrying propane. Follow proper procedures, and maintain the system, and it's no big deal.

The major downside of A4s is really just a reality about gas vs diesel: diesel is roughly twice as efficient. If range is not an issue (not going long distances, into areas where fuel is hard to find), then the A4 can be a fine engine. If range is important, go with diesel.
 

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Where do I start first? First and foremost, the A4 is very reliable, extremely efficient, easy to work on, rugged, and cost efficient. When it comes time for total replacement, you could install three A4s for the cost of a similar HP diesel.

As for diesel being more fuel efficient than gasoline - not when you compare HP to HP. I'm pushing a broad-beam, 15,000-pound plus Morgan 33 O.I. with a 30-HP A4 gasoline. I get about 9 MPG at 1,800 RPM and cruise at 6 MPH on calm water. I have a friend with a similar boat, a Morgan 321, powered with a 3GM30 Yanmar Diesel. The boat weighs less, has a narrower beam and his fuel efficiency and speed are not as good as my A4. And, when it comes to repairs, the cost of replacing that Yanmar is out of this world.

Some folks believe that gas engines are all dangerous because of the possibility of explosion. If 6 decades of being on the water, and having owned 17 boats, spending an average of 70 or more days every year on the water, I have yet to PERSONALLY witness a single boat fire directly attributable to a gasoline engine - not one. I've seen two dozen fires directly related to electrical short circuits, and two diesel explosions. And, none of those fires were aboard sailboats - not a single one.

If you can find a good boat at the price you want to pay, I wouldn't worry whether or not it had an A4 or a diesel engine, as long as it the engine has been well maintained and in good condition.

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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If all you want the engine for is to push you in and out of the marina then an A4 is fine.

However if you want to use it for long periods of upwind motorsailing then I would go for the diesel.

You don't see many A4s in the Eastern Caribbean.
 

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One of None
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wondering.. your looking at fairly old boats.. is it a budget question? I'd go for diesel, never had one until now, and have grown to love the little thing chugging away hour after hour. Also think about size of boats your seeking. Almost as soon as you buy one you will a larger one.... but then maybe not ..."jus saying"
 

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If all you want the engine for is to push you in and out of the marina then an A4 is fine.

However if you want to use it for long periods of upwind motorsailing then I would go for the diesel.

You don't see many A4s in the Eastern Caribbean.
True if the A-4 is tired with low compression but I have run my A-4 for 7 to 8 hrs a day, day after day for weeks running the ICW. Even a 26 hr nonstop run back from the Abacos. I wonder if the size of the boats you usually find A-4s in is more the reason that there are few in the E C. Dan S/V Marian Claire
 

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Tundra Down
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We have an A-4. Simple, reliable, relatively quiet and safe. Our boat has a 20 gal fuel tank. The engine pushes the boat at about 5.5 knots, with no sails up, burning 3/4 of a gallon per hour. (With sails up we can cut the fuel consumption in half and still have the advantages we were running the engine for.) These are rough averages and are on the conservative side. That gives us about 30 hours of motoring with a 10% (reserve) on a full tank of gas. There are seasons we don't use the engine 30 hours for the entire season. It is a sail boat? Granted cruising in remote places we carry another 10 gallons of fuel. It has never been necessary to rely on that 10 gallons. We use it up if we need to top off the tank but that has always been instead of making the effort to buy gas along the way. Gasoline is available everywhere! So. With a little motor sailing thrown in and a couple of 5 gallon jugs we have an effective cruising range of 200 to 300 miles. It isn't a particular handicap for us when it comes to cruising range. I have never motored for 30 straight hours with no sails on our boat. Delivering another boat where the schedule is paramount it isn't unheard of.

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I read alot of posts on this site regarding gas or diesel. Perkins or Yanmar, etc. etc.
I think the most important thing to look at, besides condition, is easy access to the engine, transmission, stuffing box, electrical system etc.
 

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Where do I start first? First and foremost, the A4 is very reliable, extremely efficient, easy to work on, rugged, and cost efficient. When it comes time for total replacement, you could install three A4s for the cost of a similar HP diesel.

As for diesel being more fuel efficient than gasoline - not when you compare HP to HP. I'm pushing a broad-beam, 15,000-pound plus Morgan 33 O.I. with a 30-HP A4 gasoline. I get about 9 MPG at 1,800 RPM and cruise at 6 MPH on calm water. I have a friend with a similar boat, a Morgan 321, powered with a 3GM30 Yanmar Diesel. The boat weighs less, has a narrower beam and his fuel efficiency and speed are not as good as my A4. And, when it comes to repairs, the cost of replacing that Yanmar is out of this world.
Gary :cool:
These statements are just not correct. Moyer charges about $5000 for a rebuilt direct drive A4. I bought a rebuilt Universal 5411 diesel (with the transmission) for my last boat for about $3000. A larger rebuilt Universal or Yanmar would be in the $4000 to $5000 range. Pretty much a wash.

A gas engine is NOT as efficient as a diesel if you compare the same horsepowers. At the same POWER, a diesel will consume about 30 to 50 percent less than a gasoline engine like the A4. Really has to do with the diesel's high compression ratio and fuel injection vs the gas engine's lower compression ratio and poor fuel-air mixtures with a carburetor.
 

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sailing soon
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I will say that I have looked at hundreds of boats in person and a whole lot more on the internet and never saw an A-4 with a saildrive unit on it. If you have found two of them then you have strange luck, LOL. I would stay away from any OMC SailDrive boats, the thing just really is not a happy setup.

If it is just an A-4 with a regular transmission and shaft set up then comparing the diesel powered boat to the gas powered ones I would go for the one that I thought best met my needs and desires with one exception, if you are planning on making longer blue water passages, I would recommend the diesel, it will be more fuel efficient and it will have far higher torque to fuel ratio, meaning it will move the boat better for less fuel.

Any used sail boat should have the tanks purged, the lines purged, and the fuel system serviced unless you are 100% positive that it has not been sitting without having proper maintenance done on it regularly. Replacing all the little fuel lines and hoses that look to be brittle, dry, or just suspect will save you a ton of money and headaches in the long run.

If you get a diesel you will be well advised to set up a multistage filter for fuel polishing if your boat does not already have it, and it does not hurt to do the same with gasoline. Clean tanks, clean lines, and clean fuel will help keep any engine running well a lot longer.

I hope you get the boat you want at a good price and that you enjoy it for a long time to come.

Mark
 

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Barquito
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I have a A4. I like my A4. However, I think you will find that a boat with a diesel will have a higher value (all else the same), for the reasons stated.
 

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I had a A-4 on a Sabre 28 for 22 years and a Yanmar 2gm on a C&C for 4 years. Both have pros and cons. If the Yanmar is FWC then it is a big plus. If it is the one cylinder gm10 or gm8 you won't like the noise and vibration. An 81 Mirage 27 probably has one of the last A-4s built. Provided that all of the engines are in good shape here are some things to consider: the Northern is a bit pinched in the ends and would be a little twitchy with a following sea. The Marine 28 is similar to a Sabre 28 and potentially is the fastest of the bunch. The Mirage is a bit slower than the Mariner. All 3 could be an acceptable first boat depending on their condition and your maintenance skills and/or resources.
 

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I've had both and they're both fine as long as they're in good shape.

Short answer is that there's no reason to rule out an A4. You should make the decision based on the quality of the boat and engine, not on the nameplate in this case. In fact, depending on the model, I might rule out the Yanmar - I had one of those little one-cyl 10hp jobbers and it sucked. Loud and underpowered. A4s can work fine if they've been well-kept and judiciously upgraded. They can be a real pain in the ass if not - but that's true of any engine. Parts are easy to come by and relatively cheap.

Unless one of the engines is in really good (recent rebuild or repower) or really bad (in need of work/rebuild) shape, or if the Yanmar is one of the small 8-10 hp models (not enough for a 28' boat), I'd consider it a tossup and make your decision on other grounds...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks All,

Gary your comments are appreciated. I made a mistake in my original posting. The sail drives are c/w omc inboard.
My price range is anywhere between 5k and 9k. Any of the boats we have looked at are for their age, priced right or the owners truly believe they will get their inflated price. The cosmetics don't really bother me, it's the mech. and struct. issues that I don't want.
I'm glad to hear different opinions on gas vs. diesels and glad not to hear of any explosions either. You really can tell those owners who maintain any of their equipment?
The way some folks show their boat is truly questionable!

Cheers,
 
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