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Old 23-06-2014, 11:40   #16
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Re: Repair or Repower?

if you don't want to go anywhere under power, electric propulsion works. If you anticipate needing the engine more than for a couple of hours, go with dino fueled engine. The state of battery technology just doesn't allow enough storage of electrons for the possible engine usage of a real cruiser.

Paying big bucks for a diesel really depends on your use of the boat. If you are going down the ditch and beyond, the expense of the diesel could be justified. They are very economical to rum, very dependable and require minimal maintenance. They are damned expensive, however.

If I was primarily a day sailor with occasional summer cruises, would stick with the A4. If you are religious about using the exhaust fan, your nose, and fixing any possible leaks, gasoline is safe. The A4 is way quieter and smoother running than a diesel. Fuel consumption is higher but not enough to preclude for a cruising boat that will see a lot of use. They do require more maintenance but disuse is a bigger cause of problems than regular use.

Be careful if you go with an engine other than the Beta. From experience, a Yanmar 3gm30 is not a drop in replacement for an A4. The aft motor mounts are way wider than the A4 and won't fit in the same location in a narrow aft hull. Just spent several boat units and a lot of time redoing a SPOT installation of the 3GM in my Pearson 35. The SPOT installation left it sticking 10" into the galley sole. Even with fabricating new mount brackets and smaller after market mounts, it still intrudes a couple of inches. Have rebuilt the galley to accommodate it.
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Old 23-06-2014, 13:18   #17
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Re: Repair or Repower?

We found the rebuilt on eBay.
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Old 23-06-2014, 14:37   #18
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Re: Repair or Repower?

I think there are more than 2 options here.
1) Is to rebuild the A4 in place. Low compression can be anything from valve train to head gasket to rings. Likely a corroded or burnt valve...easy fix.
2) Beta's $10K engine will cost you more. Re-working the fuel tank, different/new exhaust hose, longer or shorter prop shaft...on and on and on.
3) As mentioned, but a used diesel on ebay or craigslist. But if you cannot install it yourself, then it will cost more. I hear a Universal diesel is a drop in.
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Old 23-06-2014, 14:51   #19
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Re: Repair or Repower?

Another alternative (albeit ugly IMHO) is a bracket and an outboard.

As Celistialsailor mentioned, look at what's wrong with your a4 - pulling the valve cover and turning the engine over will point to a stuck valve, broken spring, etc.. And it's easy.

Pulling the head would tell the rest of the story.
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Old 23-06-2014, 14:57   #20
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Repair or Repower?

Get the boat to your Uncle, assuming he is a competent mechanic it will / may save you thousands.
Will it not run well enough to make it on it's own? Should run for a long time with a 55 compression, down on power, yes and maybe high oil consumption, but should still run fine.
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Old 23-06-2014, 16:21   #21
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Re: Repair or Repower?

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Originally Posted by jeepbluetj View Post
Another alternative (albeit ugly IMHO) is a bracket and an outboard.

As Celistialsailor mentioned, look at what's wrong with your a4 - pulling the valve cover and turning the engine over will point to a stuck valve, broken spring, etc.. And it's easy.

Pulling the head would tell the rest of the story.

Unfortunately the a4 is a flathead, so if you're looking at valves you're pulling the head. But as a plus you can see right away if you've got scored cylinders!
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Old 23-06-2014, 16:44   #22
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Re: Repair or Repower?

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I'd go with the Moyer swap. The motor is tested and warranted. You could have Moyer rebuild yours but since you are on the go, maybe you should just do the swap and go sailing.
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If you want to go sailing this summer, call Moyer and get that new motor shipped so you can have some fun in '14. Tens of thousands of those old A4s were installed and thousands are still being used. Replace your blower motor while you are in there - even if it sounds ok. Get a fume detector if you want some more gadgets in the boat - but, honestly, if you run your blower like you are supposed the danger is minuscule.
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You will not get a lot back on the re-engine. You will, generally, sell the boat much faster than if it had the old A4 in it or even an ancient diesel. That said, I didn't realize it was a $9k boat to begin with. That makes it a much tougher decision. If the OP is going to hang on for a long time, then maybe a new diesel. Or, as already suggested, a used diesel if the OP is going to do most of the refit work.
This is an easy decision.

- Millions of power boats have gas engines - red herring
- $4,800 vs. $12k on a $9k boat? - You will never get the engine money back (either engine) so go with the cheaper option
- If the boat has an engine and the engine was overhauled by a pro you will sell you boat - you bought it right?

Also agree about the accessories (blower etc.) - Overhaul them too - and don't skip the venting step on start.

My "sense" of things is this - Without a working engine your $9k boat is worth <$5k - With a working engine no matter what you paid for the engine is worth $9k.

Don't think about the "increased" resale value of diesel vs gas. Doesn't exist IMHO.
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Old 23-06-2014, 21:05   #23
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Re: Repair or Repower?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Get the boat to your Uncle, assuming he is a competent mechanic it will / may save you thousands.
Will it not run well enough to make it on it's own? Should run for a long time with a 55 compression, down on power, yes and maybe high oil consumption, but should still run fine.
Boy a64pilot, you got that right. You can pour a lot of oil through it for $1000.
And if the Uncle knows what he's doing, beckettnole has the opportunity to learn a whole lot of mechanicking that will stand him in good stead. Those old Atomic fours aren't the worlds best engines, but the one we used to have was easy to work on, too.

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Old 24-06-2014, 11:17   #24
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Re: Repair or Repower?

You should be able to find a rebuilt swap A4 for less than $4800. In 2008, I helped a buddy find one for about $2500 exchange. There are so many of the darn things still sitting in corners of machine shops, you just need to look around.

For anyone who says your resale value will go up with a repower. That is the exception and not the rule. First, we have to start with a number that both the banks and insurance companies use. NADA and BUC. That is what a boat is "worth." We can then negotiate from there based upon equipment and condition to create what it is worth to the seller and buyer. Absolute worth is whatever I as the buyer am willing to pay you as the seller.

One thing that is not taken into consideration, is once I equip my boat, I go to insure it. The insurance company starts with NADA and Buc, then we agree upon a value usually substantiated by a survey. The secret sauce is the rate is based upon the NADA and BUC value to create the base replacement value, then multiplied into some actuarial algorithm that is harder to break than 128 bit encryption with an end result of a premium that can be many times the factor of the original replacement cost.

That being said, the engine does not cost a lot to rebuild and any machine shop is equipped to rebuild it. Depending on what is wrong with it and how far you want to rebuild it is going to determine whether it is better to do an exchange or let a local shop go through it. You may find that the bottom end is good and ethanol has done a number on the valves and it just needs a valve job.

Disconnect your fuel line and attach it to a can of Seafoam. Wait till night and when there are not a lot of people around. When you start it up, it will black smoke and run rough, but run it for a minute or two on seafoam, then pour the rest in the tank. Check your point gaps and your plugs, then see if it runs better.

I would not diesel repower unless you are in love with the boat.

I helped convert an Islander 30 a number of years ago and it was a big pain in the rear side changing everything - tanks, wiring, filters, shaft, prop, bedding. It went from A4 to a supposedly drop in Universal Diesel.

I put a couple thousand hours on a A4 in the 80's and even though it was a love hate relationship, it did keep running. It was like my wife, though and needed constant attention. The plus side was very much the smell. Both the boat itself and the exhaust. With a diesel, no mater how hard I try, seems all my clothes always have just a hint of the diesel mixed with teak smell.



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Old 24-06-2014, 11:29   #25
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Re: Repair or Repower?

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Unfortunately the a4 is a flathead, so if you're looking at valves you're pulling the head. But as a plus you can see right away if you've got scored cylinders!
Sure, for a burnt or broken valve. But you can see a sticky valve through the valvecover. And it's easy to do - pull the carb then the two bolts on the cover. (And easy to un-do, if floggin the motor till it dies is the plan)

If you see a valve floppin around, or way out of spec, or a broken spring - well, there's the problem. And it's quicker and easier than pulling the head.

If not, then pull the head. (And then we can debate one or two head gaskets... )


A64pilot and Ann have the best idea so far (imho) -- just run the dang thing until you get to the Uncle's place. Oil is pretty cheap.

I'm in somewhat the same position - had a run of clogged intake issues that lead to some overheating. My old a4 is now burning a bit more oil than it used to. Gonna run it till it blows up then figure out what to do. I won't do a $10K diesel conversion for a 34 year old Catalina, the engine would cost more than the boat did.
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Old 24-06-2014, 12:03   #26
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Re: Repair or Repower?

Jeep, the A4 is a flat head with the valves sitting in the engine block. So the valve cover is on the side of the engine.

What you can do is pull the updraft carburetor off then undo the 6-8 bolts holding the inspection plate on the side of the engine. This is where the valve lifters are on an A4 and this is where you'll see if you have a sticky valve.

If the engine doesn't have a thermostat it is VERY common that the cylinders will foul up the rings, and the valves will start to stick on the back cylinders. This is because the cooling system flows from the back to the front, and many of the engines have the thermostat pulled out or not working because the housing for the thermostat rusts out. If this is the case the engine runs too cold causing poor combustion in the back cylinders and fouling issues. You can get a thermostat kit from Indigo Electronics for a very reasonable price. I think under $150. They also sell a PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) kit that greatly reduces the crankcase/ oil smell when running the engine. The old design of the PCV simply has a hose infront of the carburetor letting it suck it up which only works marginally.

I'd head over to the Moyer Marine forum and do some digging on low compression. Moyer sells and engine service manual which is a great asset to any atomic 4 owner. It tells you how to do everything, a great benefit for only $50.

If the rings are stuck/ carbon-ed up I'd try putting Marvel Mystery Oil down the spark plug holes on the cylinders with low compression and letting it sit for a day or two. Then turn it over without the spark plugs to push out any extra. Put fresh spark plugs back in, fire it up, and most importantly make sure it gets up to operating temperature.

The low compression is the symptom now you need to find the cause.

Good luck and do give the Moyer Marine forum a shot they are a very helpful and knowledgeable bunch on the A4. I'd also price out Torrensen Marine for a rebuilt A4 they might be cheaper but I don't know. I'm pretty sure I've seen a few rebuilt ones sitting in the back of their shop for a few years now.
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Old 24-06-2014, 12:09   #27
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Re: Repair or Repower?

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Originally Posted by appick View Post
Jeep, the A4 is a flat head with the valves sitting in the engine block. So the valve cover is on the side of the engine.

What you can do is pull the updraft carburetor off then undo the 6-8 bolts holding the inspection plate on the side of the engine. This is where the valve lifters are on an A4 and this is where you'll see if you have a sticky valve.
We're saying the same thing. Yup - the cover is on the side. Some of them only have 2 bolts holding them on (moyer recommends bending them so the spring will help seal them) There's some good pics on moyer's site for valve adjustment.

And low compression in one cyl - rule out stuck/sticky valve first (since it's easy)
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Old 24-06-2014, 12:13   #28
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Re: Repair or Repower?

Just a side not until I learned to adjust my cooling loop on my 1960 atomic 4 it developed a marginal amount of power at the cruising RPM with a speed of 6knts. Having adjusted and warmed up the engine the speed increased to 6.6knts at the same rpm and fuel consumption went from .9gph to .75gph. Just my own observations on keeping an A4 at the proper operating temp I think its around 160-170F I may be low on that though.
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Old 24-06-2014, 12:42   #29
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Re: Repair or Repower?

There is another angle to view this from. My boat had a Graymarine 4-112 when I bought it for 25k. The motor was tired and leaked oil. I pulled it and did a rebuild including new pistons/rings, reground the crank and resurfaced the cam. reground a lapped the valves, new bearing for the mains and rods, reprimer and paint. The whole enchilada. All told it cost me $800, yes 800, I did all the labor except for the crank and cam. But it was still a gas motor with a carborator and ignition system. So I used it for year and replaced it with a Beta 28 for about 9k with upgrades. Do I care if I get that money back out of it. Not even a little. I like the boat, I will have the boat for a long time and I wanted a deisel for it's simplicity and fewer systems to be influenced by the marine environment. I'm not in this game to make a profit or break even at the end. You can't take it with you so I am going to get what I want within my means. I'm happier when I'm using my boat and the next guy(or gal) gets a better deal. It's only money and my happiness is worth much more than that.
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Old 24-06-2014, 13:44   #30
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Re: Repair or Repower?

The C&C 30 is a wonderful sailing boat, one of my favorites from that era. Fix the old atomic bomb or drop in a rebuilt if you have too much money. Forget the diesel, too much money with no upside.
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