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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Oh, boy. We are new sailors, just learning, and at first we wanted a Pearson Ensign, but they are not too easy to find. Then we rented a boat for a night, just hanging out in the bay, and it was heaven!! We loved it, and are wanting to get a boat big enough to spend a weekend on. What complicates this is that my husband is 6ft 7 in, so the Catalina 22s we thought we might buy when we started our search are way too small for him. :laugher Just me, they would be great, but this guy needs a bigger boat.

I also liked this Ericson, it is gorgeous and in good shape, but it has a gas engine in it, and I have read many people saying NEVER get a gas engine. The engine is supposed to be good, it's an Atomic, but still...I have heard too much advice against the engine. The price seems reasonable for the boat, it is in good shape, the sails are practically brand new, everything is good except for that gas engine.

Do any of you have experience with this boat, and/or a gas engine? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!
Nancy



http://www.yachtworld.com/core/list...1348178691000&photo_name=Photo+0&photo=0&url=

The other boat we liked is a 1974 34 foot Tartan.
 

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Here's the thing. People use gas engines all the time, you just have to be (very) careful. If you like the boat, the fact that it is not diesel should not be a deal stopper. What is a deal stopper is THE Condition of the Boat! If you are new to owning this type of boat, you need to get expert advice. Look the boat over with a very critical eye. Keep lists of what needs to be done, and an estimate of the time and price involved. Get a professional mechanic to look over the engine with great attention. If you are still serious, have a professional surveyer look at it to nail down what needs to be fixed. Old boats can be money (and time) pits. They can also be absolutly great. The Erickson is a fine boat, and if it passes your tests, it might be a great boat for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Scotty,
Thanks for the great advice. We had planned on getting a marine survey, but not the mechanic. Since we are such newbies, we will definitely do that. The asking price is in the low 20s, it seems very clean and cared for, but what do I know?? Nothing. So thank you.
Nancy
 

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The atomic 4 is a fantastic engine. Very reliable and easy to work on. They are also very common so it isn't too hard to find someone to work on it if you aren't handy yourself. I have an Ericson E32 and love it. I bought this boat to flip but ended up falling in love and have no plans on getting rid of it any time soon. My boat hadn't seen water in over 14 years when I bought it and I was very concerned about the engine. It had old gas in and the carb was a mess gummed up. After putting fresh gas in and cleaning out the carb it fired right up and needed very little additional work. It purrs like a kitten, not bad for a 43 year old engine!! I do not see any evidence that the motor has been rebuilt in any way so as far as I can tell it is all original. Parts are very cheap and can be found all over. Check out the links below for more info.


Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts
 

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Love is fun! I sail every week with gas in my boat, no choice with an outboard. If gas was an auto fail then lots of boats wouldn't be out there making people happy. Now having said that...

THIS THREAD IS WORTHLESS WITHOUT PICS :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your advice! Here's my Neurotic Nancy question.

With our SeaRay, we have to put the blower on for a few minutes before firing up the engine and I understand this is the same. That takes a few minutes. Is there ever a situation when sailing that a few minute delay in getting the engine on would be very dangerous? Like, do you ever have to get that engine on ASAP?

Thanks for all of your generous advice,
Best,
Nancy
 

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Sigh.

If you have developed a prejudice against gasoline engines or the Atomic-4, I'll never change your mind, but since you asked...

1. Yes, running the blower for a couple of minutes prior to use is normal, and the same as done on your SeaRay.

2. Usually, Atomic-powered boats have a vent facing forward and another facing aft. One forces air in, and the other draws air out while the boat is moving (even under sail). For this reason, you are often safe to start the engine with only a short moment on the blower in an emergency situation.

3. If your fuel system is tight, with no leaks, and the tank is vented outside of the engine space, there should never be combustible fumes in the engine compartment. The blower is a "just in case" preventative measure.

I have nothing against diesel engines. If my boat had been equipped with a diesel engine, I'd be just fine with that but it wasn't. It has an Atomic-4, so I studied the engine with an open mind before trashing it.

My A-4 starts immediately whenever called upon to do so. It idles and runs under load perfectly. It consumes .7 gallons per hour at 1/2 throttle, where a similar diesel will consume .5 gallons per hour. It's not as efficient as a diesel, but that's not a big enough difference to warrant a re-power. I'm on my third year with this boat and engine.

In summary:
If the Ericson's Atomic-4 is healthy and running smoothly, enjoy the boat and leave the engine the hell alone. If the engine has problems such as low compression or steam in the exhaust, walk away or re-power with a Beta diesel, if you really love the boat.

Don't do a re-power just for the sake of doing a re-power, and don't be afraid of the Atomic-4 just because it's a gasoline engine. They are strongly supported with advice, service and parts.
 

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I have never had a situation where I needed the motor running ASAP. The issue with the exploding gas is really over-hyped and a lot of people have an irrational fear of gas. Yes, it does happen and it always makes the news when it does because exploding boats is headline news but it isn't as common as some people would like you to believe. Millions of gas boats are started every day without exploding. If you factor in all of the fishing an pleasure boats the number of gas far exceeds the number of diesels (at least here on the Great Lakes.) In my home port it is easily 5 gas to one diesel. You just have to take normal precautions and be strict with your maintenance. Keep your fuel lines up to date, make sure there are no gas leaks around your carb or filters, be careful when fueling, etc. My engine compartment also has passive vent so it always has some airflow (especially while sailing) and it is never sealed up tight. If you are overly concerned you can get a fuel vapor detector for about $150. If you had to fire up the motor right away in a MOB or similar emergency I would not hesitate to do it without first running the blower but I am also confident that my fuel system is in perfect working order and I inspect it often. You really don't have anything to worry about.
 

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that atomic 4 looks to be in nice shape...x2 on bh advice

for info and parts moyer marine...they also have a huge following and advice and info can always be had...not the same can be said for many old unsupprted diesels.

dont get sucked into the hearsay fear game...

ps. they are smooth as heck, clean and very quiet compared to a rattly old diesel

just so you know

per that 1 pic I can tell you that the heat exhchanger hasnt suffered a common issue which is a hot spot right at the circle in front...this happens when the internal passages are clogged...the wiring and alternator look well installed and the carb intake is nice and clean with the hose correctly installed over it...

there is an interesting wire to the flywheel but I BETCHA its a nice new tachometer that read off the flywheel

looks good

decent compression should be hovering around 110psi...with 5psi diff max between cylinders...my old atomic had 100 all round with number 3 I belive at a slightly low 95...

however these engines can run as low as 60 and still be fine...

anywhoo
 
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+1 on what Bubble said.

I can't seem to find where you said you were considering a re-power, but if I missed it, having done one, keep in mind that you will pay close to the selling price of the boat mentioned in your original post to get a brand new engine. Re-built slightly less.
 
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The value of the boat will go up with a diesel, but it won't increase by the value of the labor and diesel you put in. If you plan on keeping the boat for a long time, then the investment can even out and be worthwhile. If you aren't sure, then it's an expensive investment if you plan on turning around to sell the boat in a few years.

Personally, I wouldn't own a boat with an Atomic 4. Flame away, but when we looked at boats, it was an immediate turnoff for us on several boats. The idea of having to keep gas on board made me really uneasy and I know that I would end up worrying about it. I know people think we're being paranoid, but it's one less safety critical item to worry about on the boat and one less thing to forget.

We had the choice on our "must have" list and diesel was definitely on there.

Personally, if I loved the boat and it had an Atomic 4, I'd heavily negotiate the price based on the idea that I'd have to repower, expecting that (if you don't repower) buyers later down the line are likely to do the same thing.
 

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...

Personally, if I loved the boat and it had an Atomic 4, I'd heavily negotiate the price based on the idea that I'd have to repower, expecting that (if you don't repower) buyers later down the line are likely to do the same thing.
First though, check with similar boats for sale and make sure that the price isn't already adjusted for it. I'm coming across that in our boat shopping. Boats with a certain engine brand are considerably less than the similar boat without.
 

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I can say that after having a diesel and the atomic 4, I would not go back to diesel. The A-4 is one of the smoothest engines you can get and darn near bullet proof. But in the unfortunate event that something happens to my A-4 I bought a spare motor so I can put the same thing right back in there. There really isn't anything scary about them. Check out the forum on the moyer site. It is probably one of the most active forums you will find dedicated to a single engine.

Also, it would be a very poor decision to re-power the boat. You would have almost 50% of the value of the boat into it and you would never recoup that. The conversion itself would cost almost as much as the new motor. You have to build new mounts, new gauges and controls, new exhaust, new electrical. It's a lot more labor intensive that a direct swap would be. If you want diesel over gas, go buy a diesel. You will be money ahead. The best thing you can do is take the boat out for a test drive and see how you like it.

P.S. I think diesel fuel distributors must be pumping out some subliminal messages putting irrational fear in people's minds. hahaha
 

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P.S. I must confess, my opinion is biased. I am an Ericson owner with an Atomic 4 and I love them both. The old Ericsons really turn heads at the Yacht club. I can't tell you how many compliments I have received on it.
 

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Personally, I wouldn't own a boat with an Atomic 4. Flame away, but when we looked at boats, it was an immediate turnoff for us on several boats. The idea of having to keep gas on board made me really uneasy and I know that I would end up worrying about it. I know people think we're being paranoid, but it's one less safety critical item to worry about on the boat and one less thing to forget.

We had the choice on our "must have" list and diesel was definitely on there.
...
I had the same attitude when we looked for boats. Then I learned about the Atomic 4. This is about the most reliable auxiliary sailboat motor in history. Yes, they may need repair and service but keep in mind the YOUNGEST of them is nearly 40 years old (the oldest twice as much). Do you really think a 40+ year old diesel does not need some care?

As for safety, there is nothing special about having gas on board. First, most of boats today are powerboats, and nearly all of them have gas motors. Are you nervous getting on a powerboat just because it is a powerboat (and therefore is gasoline powered)? Second, even if your sailboat has a diesel engine, most likely you still have gas on board. Except if your dinghy has a diesel outboard (yeah, right), or an electric outboard (at least they exist), or no outboard. I for one would be much more concerned about a jerrycan with 5 gallons of gas for the outboard somewhere thrown in a cockpit locker, than about a properly installed and vented gas tank for the main engine.

Anyway, as I said, I bought the boat with the Atomic 4. This was more than 13 years ago! I learned about how to take care it, including the basic safety rules: Make sure you have no gas leaks, and run the blower before starting; as was said even if you have to start the engine without, like in some emergency, it is not a problem if your system is maintained. Out of an abundance of caution I invested 100 bux and installed a gas sensor (useful anyway since it also includes a bilge water sensor and a fire sensor, all of which are useful on any boat). Needless to say, it did not go off a single time in 13 years, except for the times I tested it (a small whiff of gas from a cigarette lighter sets it off immediately, so I know it works and it is very sensitive).

If the boat and the engine is well maintained, my strong recommendation is to go for it!
 

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First though, check with similar boats for sale and make sure that the price isn't already adjusted for it. I'm coming across that in our boat shopping. Boats with a certain engine brand are considerably less than the similar boat without.
exactly...

both as a buyer and seller this is acconted for which makes the deal good or better in many ways especially for the conscious buyer...

expecting an atomic 4 unless completey restored to fetch the same as a repowered beta engine with 1 hour on the clock will be impossible for most sellers to negotiate with...unless of course the rest of the boat was so impeccable compared to others(those boats exist btw...)

you will notice if you search boat listings a lot that atomic 4s have spiked in prices when sold rebuilt lately and that is simply because many people have a new found respect for them after being trashed and bad mouthed for so many decades, they have learned that they are not bad at all.

a well running atomic 4 with a clean sealed fuel system will crap on an equal deisel when it comes to ease of use and maintenance...

just getting fuel to the carb is a million times easier on an atomic 4 versus BLEEDING a diesel.

they both have their pros and cons...but severely talking down the price of a boat because of an atomic 4, even if in pristine well maintained condition shows more fear than anything...

as a seller of a recent cruising boat fully equipped with a very good running atomic 4 Im fully conscious of the cut I had to take when selling because of said engine...I could of easily had another 3-5k in the selling price even if I had an old volvo or leaky perkins 4107 or whatever...just because of the general buyers mentality that diesel is a go no go for a boat.:)
 

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The value of the boat will go up with a diesel, but it won't increase by the value of the labor and diesel you put in. If you plan on keeping the boat for a long time, then the investment can even out and be worthwhile. If you aren't sure, then it's an expensive investment if you plan on turning around to sell the boat in a few years.

Personally, I wouldn't own a boat with an Atomic 4. Flame away, but when we looked at boats, it was an immediate turnoff for us on several boats. The idea of having to keep gas on board made me really uneasy and I know that I would end up worrying about it. I know people think we're being paranoid, but it's one less safety critical item to worry about on the boat and one less thing to forget.

We had the choice on our "must have" list and diesel was definitely on there.

Personally, if I loved the boat and it had an Atomic 4, I'd heavily negotiate the price based on the idea that I'd have to repower, expecting that (if you don't repower) buyers later down the line are likely to do the same thing.
Do you sail with a dinghy? Do you keep gasoline onboard to power your dinghy outboard?

Maybe you don't use a dinghy, but I've heard this argument from several diesel-acolytes who carry gasoline for their dinghy, and sometime store the fuel cans in unsafe manners. It kind of lets the air out of the "gasoline is dangerous" argument.

At least with an A-4, you only have to buy and search for one kind of fuel to power the mothership and the dinghy.

Anyway, like I said- I'm not anti-diesel. I stuck with the engine simply because it came with my boat, it runs very well, and there is plenty of tech and parts support for it, and it's no more dangerous than other means of propulsion. The parts are often cheaper than for many diesels, such as Volvo.
 

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While your questions concerned the engine...gas vs. diesel...and most have opined on this...I would just say that from reading the original post, there is a considerable difference between a 22' boat and a 35' boat in terms of everything, mainly cost. Everything on a 35' boat will be exponentially more expensive...particularly one that is 36 years old...that seems quite a jump in size...just a thought. Not meant to steer you away from it...
 

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There is nothing wrong with an Atomic, they are a great little engine. The problems stem from poor/dangerous electrical, fuel and ventilation systems. I've surveyed hundreds of boats with these engines and have yet to see one that did not have non-ignition protected electrical equipment in the engine fuel/compartment .... everything from non-certified battery chargers to domestic shore power breaker panels and DC connections made with marettes all over the compartment.

Ventilation systems that are not laid out properly and simply don't ventilate the way they are supposed to or send the same air around in circles and engine compartments that are not vapour tight to the accomodation spaces (many with direct vents to the saloon!).

Fuel systems with improperly installed tanks and incomplete or non-existent continuity between fuel fill and engine.

Diesel engines in boats of that vintage were a significant "upgrade" dollar wise and very few (none that I have seen) builders seemed to know/care that gasoline required very different ventilation/electrical/fuel installations.
 
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