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Old 03-02-2009, 07:45   #16
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Diesel, always diesel. Not long after I moved to the island I got a call one night, my friends boat as on fire. At 6 am I walk down to the dock and all that is left is what was below the water line. It wasn't carelessness, it wasn't human error, it wasn't anything anyone could have predicted. But his boat was gone and with no insurance he wasn't replacing it anytime soon, so we did, but that is another story.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:59   #17
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I've seen diesel fires also. And they burn so hot, they are tough to put out. I'm not saying I'm going to run out and get a gasoline engine. I would rather have diesel. But if it's a good deal on the boat and the engine runs fine, I wouldn't nix it because it was gas. But I would also read up on all the safety precautions. There have been thousands of people who had the atomic with no problems. Twisty, to see your friends boat burn due to gas would definitely effect your bias towards the engines. I know it would mine.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:05   #18
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I've seen diesel fires also. And they burn so hot, they are tough to put out. I'm not saying I'm going to run out and get a gasoline engine. I would rather have diesel. But if it's a good deal on the boat and the engine runs fine, I wouldn't nix it because it was gas. But I would also read up on all the safety precautions. There have been thousands of people who had the atomic with no problems. Twisty, to see your friends boat burn due to gas would definitely effect your bias towards the engines. I know it would mine.
Oh yes it definitely does bias me, but my point was if it had been a diesel it never would have happened. From the fire pattern we assume that the bilge kicked on, shorted and created a spark that ignited the gas fumes. If it had been diesel it never would have happened. Now the boat might have sunk, but it wouldn't have burnt. The lesser of two evils I guess. LOL
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:26   #19
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The engine in question is the Atomic 4. Honestly with proper maintenance I do not think these are any more dangerous than propane, or I am guessing the pressurized alcohol stove that was on most Catalina's of that vintage. Is it as safe as a diesel, no. Is it a ticking bomb, I think not.

Check out Moyer Marine - Moyer Marine Atomic 4 Engine Rebuilding and Parts for more on the Atomic 4. When I had my 83 Catalina with the Atomic 4, I did most of his upgrades myself, and I am a solid believer in the engine design and safety.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:38   #20
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One other quick thing for those that are against long distance cruising with an Atomic 4 or any other gas engine.

The reality is that good diesel mechanics are rare, but everywhere in the world, I have found knowledgeable gas mechanics.
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Old 03-02-2009, 20:10   #21
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There are probably more gasoline powered boats in the world than diesels. If they were such a big problem our water ways would look like shock and awe during the gulf war. If you are mindful of the potential dangers and govern yourself accordingly the danger is manageable.
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:36   #22
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Think about it another way. For everyone who says the gas engine is just going to blow up, what does you car run on? Yes they can catch on fire (cars or boats), but really now what's the odds. If it takes a gas engine to get out on the water etc., do it!
I'm with you on this Don...I have probably seen 2 car fires in many many years and only one boat fire. It was in Santa Cruz, Ca. Believe it or not the 14 year old fuel attendant stuck the gas nozzle in the fishing pole holder and filled and filled and filled. The bilge pump came on...WOOOSH!!!
They were smart enough to set it adrift from the pumps.
Yes, gas is dangerous. So some precaution is necessary. It could be argued too that propane is even more dangerous, yet most boats have it on-board. Again...precaution is the key.
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:58   #23
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How many here carry gasoline for their dinghy outboards? Is your gasoline stored in an unvented locker down below? You'd be surprised how many times when I find a jerry can with gasoline in an unvented locker that would drain spilled gasoline into the bilge.
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Old 04-02-2009, 04:47   #24
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I've seen two boat fires. Once the glass starts burning it takes a full fire hose to put the fire out s long as you can get to the boat from shore. They always cut the lines and cast the boat adrift. Once a boat gets any type of a fire it can become self sustaining and at that point it's only got a short lifespan measured in minutes yet the fire can burn for hours. The smell of burning fiberglass is pretty bad.

Both these fires were diesel power and both started from an electrical problem at the dock. Electricity accounts for 80% of all boat fires as far as the source. If it gets to the point where the tank will ignite it was already too late.
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:35   #25
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According to BoatUS, the prime causes of fires started aboard are:
1) AC and DC wiring/appliance 55%*
2) Engine/Transmission Overheat 24%
3) Fuel Leak 8%
(95% of fuel-related fires were caused by gasoline)
4) Miscellaneous 7%
5) Unknown 5%
6) Stove 1%

* DC shorts/wiring 30%
DC engine voltage regulator 12%
AC appliance/heater 4% shore power 4%
AC wiring/panel 2%
DC battery charger 2%
AC power surge 1%


Goto: Seaworthy Magazine: Why Boats Catch Fire

BoatUS.com - Seaworthy Magazine
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:02   #26
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Quote:
(95% of fuel-related fires were caused by gasoline)
That is a little misleading since most boats are gasoline. Sail boats make up a very small percentage of all boats (including cats). Diesel powered trawlers are also pretty small. Small runabouts and other small outboard based boats make up the vast majority of all boats. Commercial boats are not included in the survey.
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Old 13-01-2015, 21:50   #27
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Talking Re: Always run don't walk from gasoline inboards....?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
I'm with you on this Don...I have probably seen 2 car fires in many many years and only one boat fire. It was in Santa Cruz, Ca. Believe it or not the 14 year old fuel attendant stuck the gas nozzle in the fishing pole holder and filled and filled and filled. The bilge pump came on...WOOOSH!!!
They were smart enough to set it adrift from the pumps.
Yes, gas is dangerous. So some precaution is necessary. It could be argued too that propane is even more dangerous, yet most boats have it on-board. Again...precaution is the key.
Hah! So it is actually bilge pumps that blow up boats! 😂
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Old 14-01-2015, 07:28   #28
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Re: Always run don't walk from gasoline inboards....?

My last boat had its original 1974 Atomic 4. The engine was fairly reliable, but needed quite a bit of fiddling.
Then I got my current boat with a Perkins and thought I was in heaven. More power, better fuel economy, better range. Everything was better.
Until I got my first repair bill...
I don't think I ever spent more than $500 a season on my atomic 4. They are much cheaper, both upfront and over time. So I think if you are seriously budget minded- they are worth the sacrifice.

Sent from my SGH-I547C using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 14-01-2015, 07:41   #29
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Re: Always run don't walk from gasoline inboards....?

You might be surprised to find out how many power boats have inboard gasoline engines, and never blow up or anything!

I'd take a diesel over gas engine any day given the choice, but I bought a 32 Islander with an Atomic 4, because the price was so right, I knew I could repower it if I ever wanted to. I didn't and the guys I sold it to, hated it so bad, they decided to have the Atomic 4 rebuilt when it came time.
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Old 14-01-2015, 07:52   #30
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Re: Always run don't walk from gasoline inboards....?

Use common sense safety precautions (take a power squadron class and they will drill them into you) and keep the engine maintained and there is nothing to be afraid of.

The vast majority of under 40' power boats are gas powered. If they were that dangerous, they would outlawed.
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