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Old 08-06-2009, 16:44   #1
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Big $$$ Repairs - Tough Choices

Hi folks,

Well, things have gone from bad to worse on my boat. My ICW trip is officially cancelled while I figure out what to do about my engine.

The Atomic 4 techs came down today and ran some more diagnostics, and it doesn't look good. Apparently the valves on cylinders 3 and 4 are completely rusted, such that they don't fully shut - hence the exhaust backflow into the carborator and cabin. Their opinion is that they rusted out because of water leakage from the exhaust system. So at least the valves and the exhaust system will have to be remade. As if that weren't enough, they did a wet compression check that points to probable issues with the piston rings.

I'm getting official quotes from them, but it looks like there are a couple options here:

1) Do the valve and exhaust work for about $2.5k and about 2-3 days. I'll still probably have to get the pistons and cylinders fixed later.

2) Basically pulling the engine and doing a complete overhaul for about $6-7k and about 2-3 weeks. This would take care of all the issues and leave me with an engine in a known state.

3) Pull the engine and re-power to a diesel for something like $10-12k and however long that takes. This costs more, but would leave me with a brand new engine.

Whatever of those options I do, I'd have them replace and upgrade my engine indicators, since several of them are broken.

And then of course there's the final option.

4) Put Icefire up for sale and take whatever I can get for her.

Option 4 is my least favorite one, but considering that I don't have enough petty cash lying around for option 1), let alone the others (Dad has offered to help with the costs, but I'm not sure how much he'll be able to do), it's looking like that might be how I have to go. Of course, the question then becomes how much could I really expect to get? I paid $17k for her back in 2006.....in her current condition we're talking.....what....$5k? $6k? That's quite a hit to take, but then again my previous expenditures are sunk costs and have no bearing on what I do now. Still, if I did sell her, I could take the proceeds and the money I'm currently spending on insurance and put it into an account, along with any rent I could get from renting out my mooring in Charleston, and in a few years time (when the kiddies are bigger and Mommy's able to enjoy the boat more without worrying about them incessantly) I could use those funds to get another boat.

What really sucks is that I plopped down about $2k in safety gear in preparation for this aborted journey. Oh well, at least I just finished paying off the boat loan, so I can simply take any offer I get.

Oh, btw, I don't have any good place to keep the boat up here in Annapolis, short of just tying her to a Navy mooring buoy in one of the creeks.

Overall, it's a totally crappy situation.

What would you guys do in my place?


-Alexei
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Old 08-06-2009, 16:52   #2
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You sir, are getting hosed.....

An Overhaul at 6-7K? Run like the devil from these guys.

BTW if they did a compression test....3+4 whould show no compression....how then did they say it is rings also.
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Old 08-06-2009, 16:56   #3
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wow, bummer

I would not rebuild the atomic 4, not for that much. Universal diesal makes a direct replacment for that engine....I t hink its a Kubota. Maybe Beta Marine in NC has one. are you sure it's that much money? Your boat will be worth more with the diesel in it, but you wont recoup it all either... You could do just the valves and hope the rest isnt too bad... Tough choices for sure. If your boat is good shape and you want to keep it, might be worth the new diesel. I would call around and get prices for the direct replcament diesel before making a decision....
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Old 08-06-2009, 16:57   #4
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Any way to rig an outboard?Seems to be lots of them for sale cheap on craigs list.
And hope to resell it later and get some $ back?
Longer term I am also seeing small diesels for sale on craigs list for less than $2k.If you got lucky and found a good one and got it installed for a total cost about $3k,it would add that much value to your boat.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:00   #5
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hmmm.... I just relooked at your post, your boat is getting really old... Maybe just get a head rebuild, (get another price!) take your trip, then sell it and upgrade!
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:08   #6
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Actually, You'd be surprised at how simple rebuilding engines can be. especially if it is just the top end. You could take the head off yourself, find a new head gasket, find a REPUTABLE machine shop, get them to rebuild the head and you might be good to go!

One key is take LOTS of pictures so you remember where to put things back. Don't take apart the fuel distribution unit, just hope there is nothing wrong with that. They are expensive and you need proper tools and knowledge to rebuild. Even if you have to pull a crank and put new rings and bearing in, it is not that hard. Make sure you get a good torque wrench, and a manual on the engine would be very good to have.

That's a 5th option!
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:10   #7
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Quote:
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You sir, are getting hosed.....

An Overhaul at 6-7K? Run like the devil from these guys.

BTW if they did a compression test....3+4 whould show no compression....how then did they say it is rings also.
Well maybe I mis-stated which test it was exactly. I'm not a mechanic, just an engineer.

3 and 4 showed about 45 on the compression tests, while 1 and 2 showed over 100. In their wet test, whatever it was, they showed 23 or 24 and I guess they expected less? I'm losing some of the details now.....

Anyway, how much do you think an overhaul should cost (they were talking about rigging it off the boat and to their shop to do the job best)?

Bear in mind that I don't have the actual quotes yet, just back of the envelope math over the phone. I'll have better numbers noon tomorrow.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:14   #8
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Originally Posted by Strygaldwir View Post
Actually, You'd be surprised at how simple rebuilding engines can be. especially if it is just the top end. You could take the head off yourself, find a new head gasket, find a REPUTABLE machine shop, get them to rebuild the head and you might be good to go!

One key is take LOTS of pictures so you remember where to put things back. Don't take apart the fuel distribution unit, just hope there is nothing wrong with that. They are expensive and you need proper tools and knowledge to rebuild. Even if you have to pull a crank and put new rings and bearing in, it is not that hard. Make sure you get a good torque wrench, and a manual on the engine would be very good to have.

That's a 5th option!
I hadn't thought of that. However, time is money, and I have limited time away from work to take care of this. I'll consider it though.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:18   #9
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I agree, removing a head is not that tough. Take it to a good auto machine shop and youll have a new head... probably for $600. Meanwhile soak those rings good and see if you can derust and loosen them up while the head is off.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:26   #10
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I was faced with a similar situation the year we got our boat. Although it's a power boat (V8) and probably a lot more room to work on the engine than your sailboat I had to do most of the work myself. With the limited tools I had I managed to get the carb & intake off easily engouh. The exhaust manifolds were a bit more difficult but I managed. Needed a strong bar ($20) to break the head bolts loose etc. It was a bit back breaking but IIRC the whole tear down took about 2 hrs and the heads were on their way to the machine shop. Sixteen new guides, valves, seals and decked and they were ready to go back on the engine ($350) (GM parts not Volvo Penta). The upper end gasket kit which from Volvo Penta was over $500 I got from Felpro for $175. I don't know if there's an aftermarket for diesel engine parts. While the carb was off I had it rebuilt ($90) and a new spacer plate ($50). In the end with an oil change the total bill was about $750 give or take a few sheckles and a couple of skinned knuckles!
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:30   #11
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You could take the first step in the process and pull the head, while the engine is still in the boat, that will tell you a lot about the condition of the engine. If you are pulling 100 psi on the other two cylinders, then the valves being stuck on the other two might be your only problem unless water got into the cylinders and sat. Pulling the head is not a big deal and having the head rebuilt, by a Reputable machine shop. is not all that expensive. If these guys are telling you 6 to 7K for an engine rebuild, run away very fast. After the head is off, you can have another mech. take a look at it and evaluate whether or not you need to go further at this time. There may be an issue with the rings. Though if they were able to pull a compression test, I am assuming the rings weren't frozen to the cylinder walls. Anyway I would do some more investigation before throwing in the towel.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:35   #12
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There is no rebuilding to a head on an Atomic 4 other than checking for cracks and truing it.

With the head off you can see the valve faces....

go to www.moyermarine.com and buy the shop manual

Jeeze for 7K I would drive to SC and rebuild the engine in your boat...as long as I could sleep aboard.....Ha-Ha.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:57   #13
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I'd look for a used diesel or go the outboard route. The lack of an oil filter on the atomic 4s usually leads to scarred journals and having to turn crank and replace bearings. It would be a shame to spend money on the topend then spin a bearing shortly afterward.
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Old 08-06-2009, 18:15   #14
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Here's what you do: Call Moyer Marine (410) 810-8920 and speak to them about an exchange engine (around $4K). Rip yours out and drive it down to them. Be assured that you did the right thing...Reinstall and get moving! Pay credit card bill as the money comes in...
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Old 08-06-2009, 18:25   #15
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There is no rebuilding to a head on an Atomic 4 other than checking for cracks and truing it.

With the head off you can see the valve faces....

go to www.moyermarine.com and buy the shop manual

Jeeze for 7K I would drive to SC and rebuild the engine in your boat...as long as I could sleep aboard.....Ha-Ha.

Well right now the boat's in Edgewater, MD, so if you really want to work the job, I'll take a price quote.
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