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Old 08-06-2009, 17:51   #16
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Good lord, take the Chiefs advise and send off to Moyer for the parts you need or yank the engine and send it in to Moyer for a complete rebuild. It won't take long and it is not a big job to pull the thing out. Don't forget to clean and paint under the engine.

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Old 08-06-2009, 18:15   #17
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Christian is right. Get to Moyer and do a core exhange and you'll have a new engine for $4k. I know two people who have down it and are really happy. One even switched to fresh water cooling when he exchanged. Call Don Moyer! He IS the A4 guru.

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Old 08-06-2009, 19:29   #18
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I guess I see this from a different perspective. If faced with this dilemma, I would be inclined to see if I could repair the engine that is there, for now, and if I could get a couple of seasons out of the engine so much the better. During that time period, I would be saving up the money I would need to buy a replacement diesel and plan to do that during the off season when I didn't want to be out on the water anyway. If you spend 4k on another gas engine, when it comes time to sell the boat, you still have a gas engine on the boat. Which will limit it's appeal, for me, I am not a big fan of gas engines in boats.
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Old 08-06-2009, 19:44   #19
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Alexei, I had same kind of problem years ago with a A4. These are flathead engines which means the valves are in the block not the head. A bit of water along with the carbon can lock the valves in the valve guides and not let them close completely. The valve springs in mine were the lightest I have seen in an engine so it is not hard to see how this could happen. Take the side plates off the block [if I remember right they are on the carb side of the block] and see if the valves are "hanging up" on your bad cylinders. What I did then was take the plugs out and soak those cylinders and the valve stems with a strong penatrating solution and worked those valves free with a long screw driver. Took a while if I remember right but they freed up and that engine was running fine for many years. Dave
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Old 08-06-2009, 22:48   #20
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How important is this boat to your lifestyle?

This boat is going to cost about $5k each year. If you like having it, and you can afford it, then get your engine fixed. Don't drop it on your fingers in the process.

If money is a little short right now then why not sell it?

There are many boats in this world, and many ways to enjoy them. Ownership is only one.
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Old 09-06-2009, 04:25   #21
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Option 5: Buy a workshop/rebuild manual for the Atomic. Pull it out yourself. Dismantle it yourself. Take the block and head to a local machine shop to measure bores, crank journals, valve guides, etc. -- this will cost peanuts. While you're at it, show them the camshaft, cam drive sprockets and chain, and other bits -- they'll give you free advice as to whether these bits are knackered or not.

Based on all of this information, you'll know what the scope of work is. Assuming the worst, you will have to rebore or reline the block, grind the crankshaft, replace the camshaft, replace the valve guides, mill the head and/or block to flat, replace pistons.

The last time I did this kind of thing myself (on a car it was, but your Atomic 4 is much like a 4-banger flathead car motor from the '30's.) was decades ago, but it cost me peanuts, a few hundred bucks. I can't imagine that a bit of machine shop work, a set of pistons, valve guides, valves, bearings and so forth will cost more than a grand or so, not counting the cost of your labor.

If you're so short of money -- speaking from experience, having been in that position -- I would never pay someone thousands of dollars to rebuild it for me. I'd do it myself. It's not nuclear science (so to speak -- LOL).

Be very careful and methodical and do it strictly by the book. Use a torque wrench and be very careful with nuts and bolts. Use Plastigage and double check bearing clearances. Don't use any exchange parts -- use either your own parts, which you send out to have machined, or new ones.

This is vastly better than some crappy used or exchange Atomic 4 or diesel. You will have a basically new engine which you know was done right, because you did it yourself and didn't cut any corners.

Furthermore, you will now be intimately familiar with the engine and will feel much more confident being out to sea with it.

The only downside is it will take up a lot of your time. But if you are on a tight budget, that is the right tradeoff. Never pay someone to do something for you who earn more than you do, IF you can do the job competently yourself.
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Old 09-06-2009, 05:20   #22
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Wow! Freeport Dave has the 411 on this stuff. His experiment should be FIRST on your list!

Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged women!
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Old 09-06-2009, 06:31   #23
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The question is, do you want to spend your time rebuilding an engine or sailing. Been there, done that with a Gray Marine 25 (predecessor to the A4). If you are not an engine mechanic the learning curve is fairly steep and you will spend a lot of time undoing and redoing and second guessing yourself. In the middle of the night you will wake up thinking "did I torque #3 bolt correctly?". You will also never have quite the right tool and need to buy one. From spring compressors to ring installers, etc.There is enough maintaintence on a boat without having to rebuild an engine.
The Sabre is a good boat. If you like it, and it is sound, get it fixed and consider it a long term investment.
Just my $0.02
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Old 09-06-2009, 06:37   #24
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AS others have said, run away very fast from a 6-7k rebuild. Personally I would use a mixture of methods; Plan on working on the motor yourself. In the meantime put an outboard bracket on the transom, find a decent 9.9 for around 500, and use that to move the boat. THis gives you the time and space to work on the Atomic as and when you have the cash, and be using the boat at the same time. Or you can take out the Atomic and stick in a small diesel at some time in the future. By the by I was just up at Bacons in annapolis and they have a small working Isuzu diesel ( 50hp) for around a grand. allow another grand for the installation, changing of the beds etc. If you do this you could get the motor to Bobby Mullers yard on Back creek and have him drop the engine into the boat for a hundred or so.
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Old 09-06-2009, 06:57   #25
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1) Don't let those guys back on the boat.

2) Follow Freeport Dave's advice FIRST

3) If that doesn't work, pull the head so you can see the REAL extent of the problems. Then evaluate from there.
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:23   #26
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At worst you are looking at 2 hours to remove everything needed to pull the motor, and 2 hours to put it back. Anybody who can unbolt an alternator, and tag wires for putting them back in place can pull this motor. After the motor is prepped it's another 15 minutes to get it into the back of a truck.

You will never get your money back putting in a deisel. The BOMB, A4, is a great motor, and it's way cheaper. If you are going to keep the boat the rest of your life then think deisel.......i2f
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:45   #27
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If I were in your shoes, I think I'd try all the DIY options mentioned by the others, and if the motor appeared hopeless, I'd probably purchase a used 2-stroke 9.9 outboard, and mount it on the transom. Then eventually, I'd repower or pay for the repair, and use the 9.9 for a dink motor (or resell).
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Old 09-06-2009, 10:09   #28
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The A4 is dead simple and a rebuild is a no brainer. I could pull the one in my old Pearson 30 and put it back in an afternoon. It weighs only a couple of hundred pounds. They are so lightly loaded that they almost never wear out. When I took mine apart after 20 years the main bearings were so good that the weren't even completely worn in. Parts are readily available and Moyer is a great place to start. With a little ingenuity you can do the rebuild with a socket wrench set and some hand tools. It seems foolish to give up a perfectly good boat that has lost most of it's value just because the engine needs a few hours of work. I'd disassemble it and, if there are no major faults like cracks in the block, fix it. BTW, the yard didn't properly winterize mine one year and I had a cracked block. I had them welded and, as of last year, the engine was still running.

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Old 09-06-2009, 10:42   #29
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Thanks for the input!

Thanks a lot, guys!

Believe me, I would love to avoid a huge $ outlay. That said, the boat's in Annapolis and I live in Charleston now. I don't really have the time to pop back and forth to work on the engine myself (I took leave to come up here for the trip down the Charleston, but if that's not going to happen I need to preserve my remaining leave days for future events like Christmas). Even if I did, while it might be less expensive in $ alone, the opportunity cost of working on the engine for who knows how long when I have a wife, 2 kids, MBA classes, normal work, karate, and professional military education courses to juggle is pretty high.

If the boat was located in my town, I'd consider tinkering on it, but as it's not really an option.

So it comes down to finding the best price quote and deciding how much I want to go into hock to keep the boat. I enjoy her a lot, and it's not a fun thing to ponder selling her, particularly in the market and in her current condition.

That said, does anyone have a feel for how much I could expect to get? I wonder if I could even get $5k....??

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Old 09-06-2009, 14:43   #30
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I'm far far from an expert in much of anything outside of how to learn a foreign language, but I've spent enough time on ebay and yachtworld to know what some of the prices are like.

The way I see it you have a 35 year old 28 foot boat that would cost more to fix than many newer, larger boats would cost to buy (with a good engine).

Why don't you put it on ebay, see how high it goes, and if you do get over $5k take it. There might be someone out there with a good engine looking for a boat to put it in.


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