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Old 04-06-2009, 07:41   #1
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Atomic 4 - Care and Feeding?

My wife and I are new to sailing. We have just purchased a 1979 29 foot Ericson. It has a newly rebuilt gasoline motor. We feel very good about the purchase. That being said, in all of my reading very little seems to be written about gasoline motors. I am looking for general, solid advice on upkeep. Thanks.


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Old 04-06-2009, 08:02   #2
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Solid State Ignition

Refit immediately with the solid state ignition kit available online (do a search) and save yourselve a ton of grief.

Don't over rev as the crank is not well supported and will break.

Use a good synthetic oil after a 50 hour break-in period.

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Old 04-06-2009, 08:03   #3
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The venerable Atomic 4 is, of course, discontinued. However, a quick google on Atomic Four will yield a ton of hits. As well you might wish to contact Moyer Marine, one of a few companies that specialize in parts and maintenance for the good'ol A-4.

As with all inboard gas engines just be dang sure to run your engine compartment blower for several minutes before starting!

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Old 04-06-2009, 09:37   #4
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I found that "hens and chicks" grew well in cyl #1, the cherry tomatoes did fairly well in cyls 3 and 4 (use sand in the bottom 2") until the tomatoes got into the oil on the side of the block.... :>) Sorry... just couldnt resist.... It always seems to be about ignition issues . Keep a spare "everything" to do with the distributer, plugs etc.. Learn how to set point gap, keep good points and plugs in it at all times. Make sure yo have a good engine compartment fan and it's working adequately. Start the fan for a minute before you start the engine....
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Old 04-06-2009, 10:20   #5
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Eats everything, runs forever. Comments about ignition right on. I had one for 28 years and it started right up every year....after I crawled into the engine compartment and cleaned the points. It will probably be running long after I am not.

A pain to check the oil but don't ignore it. Clean oil and a good ignition system and it will never let you down. Check Don Moyer. He's the man. If you're good you can track down the Delco ignition parts and the carburetor manufacturer (they're still made) but he's already done that and you will welcome being able to make one call to get the weird part. Get a good maintenance manual and memorise it. I remember getting stuck with no forward in a cove in the South Carolina swamps. An hour with a couple of end wrenches and I had the bands adjusted. Back on the road! Good luck.

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Old 04-06-2009, 11:51   #6
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If the cylinder walls on the block off the A-4 are still thick enough, convert it to a coolant system with a heat exchanger. Running cold (140 degrees) as recommended for salt water causes most of the grief of sticky valves, poor compression, etc.
Set to run at 180 degrees, the carb can be leaned out and the little A-4 will give about the same economy as most of the small diesels for a lot less money. Yes, you will have to tinker from time to time.
If you do go to solid state ignition you still must carry complete spare ignition parts including another solid state unit or points and condenser. Easier to just run on points! Keep the timing set right and create a set of timing marks for your engine. Easier to set with a light than to mess around with twisting the distributor around each time you tinker with the points.
Adjustable main jet carb is the best if you know how to set it. If not, stick to the model 68.
Have the starter checked out by a good shop. This is one item that you probably won’t need to carry as a spare. The A-4 should start easily and the starter should last forever with new brushes and lube once very ten years or so.

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Old 04-06-2009, 13:20   #7
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I love Atomic 4s'...I maintain a lot of them....

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