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Old 01-11-2005, 13:00   #1
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I have a Newport 30' that has an Atomic engine of unknown condition. We are planning to take it down to the Bahamas from Canada. If the atomic is not salvagable, could I power this boat with a good 4 stroke outboard or do I have to repower with a diesel. Any suggestions would be gratefully read.

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Old 01-11-2005, 13:22   #2
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It certainly can be done, friend of mine came back from the Bahamas with a Bayfield 32 pushed by an outboard when his Volvo 2003 finally crapped out for good. However I don't think it's a desirable approach if avoidable. I would see if the A4 can be rebuilt, there's lots of them still around and two years ago a Northern 29 from our club went to the Bahamas and Cuba and back with the A4 for power. He did complain about the cost of gas and the limited range motoring. Upgrading to a new diesel and all the bits and pieces needed would set you back 15 -16 thousand (CAD). I've seen some Newport 30's with diesels advertised for not a lot more than this amount so it's a difficult decision. I'd get the A4 fixed, head out and, if it goes on you go to plan B - the outboard.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 01-11-2005, 13:44   #3
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It all comes down to how much $

My advise is, if it's in good running condition, clean it up and tune it up. Then take an outboard of at least a 10 HP long shaft along as a back up. Mount it so it can be raised and test run it. The problem with outboards on sailboats is in a rough sea they tend to rise up out of the water on a wave crest.

If you have the $'s, I'd repower with a diesel. Gas engines are OK for short trips but can be a problem for long distance motoring, if need be, but should be avoided. Even outboards have trouble.

Note: You'll need something to keep your batteries up.
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Old 01-11-2005, 14:03   #4
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Atomic 4

I believe there is an Atomic 4 chat group on yahoo.
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Old 01-11-2005, 19:38   #5
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For the BEST Atomic-4 info interchange go to and pose your questions there on the 'forum'.
This website is run by the world's "guru" of Atomic-4 engines.

Evaluate the engine for compression and depth of internal corrosion, pressure check the exhaust manifold and exhaust system for pin-hole water leaks. Descale the raw water cooling circuit to remove accumulated 'carbonates' using a commercial boiler descaler such as Marsolve or Rydlyme (dont use acids such as muriatic, etc.)
The 'usual' end of an Atomic-4s life is when the block corrodes through. A simple 'test' for corrosion progression is to remove the exhaust manifold and attachment bolts; probe into the bolt holes and count the number of 'threads' remaining - if greater than 4 threads - you have 'some' life left (enough to do a complete 'rebuild' if necessary).

Suggest that you purchase Don Moyers "Service and Overhaul Manual Atomic-4" ( and check out the engine yourself ... or lend the manual to a competent mechanic (most 'good' mechanics have long forgotten the idiosyncracies of the atomic-4).

If the engine checks out to be a 'sound' engine, suggest that you consider those 'modernization' upgrades that will vastly prolong the service life: freshwater cooling (heat exchanger, electronic ignition, electronic fuel pump, thermostat upgrade, lube oil filtration, PCV, etc. etc. .... all relatively inexpensive and will save you $$$$$ later on.

If the engine evaluation shows that 'its ready to go over to the dark side' a full precision rebuild will cost you ~US$4000 plus installation .... a LOT cheaper than a diesel replacement or even a large outboard. DoItYourself A4 for A4 change out is easy if you have a modicum of mechanical ability.

Start with the moyermarine website .....

NOTHING is as smooth running as an Atomic-4

hope this helps. Have a good trip.
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Old 01-11-2005, 22:02   #6
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I have done the diesel conversion on the Newport 30. A 1970 with a tiller, not a wheel. When I was in the business, I kept this guy's A4 alive for about 5 years after it should have been used as an anchor. I will not go into that anymore than to say the A4 is the best gas boat engine ever made.
To install the universal diesel in this boat, you will need to add an access hatch in the bottom of the cockpit. There is no other way to access the oil fill. You will also need to modify the companionway steps, as they will not fit over the taller engine. Total cost for this repower was approx $15000. These are not light boats, but a 9.9 long shaft will run them in and out of the slip. They pound almost as much as the Catalinas, so running the outboard to get out of a rough harbor will not work. Even a long shaft will be out of the water more often than in. If you can sail with the mindset that you do not have an engine except for emergencies in tight quarters, you will be fine. Then again a rebuilt A4 is not much more than a good outboard. I am no fan of gas engines on boats, but if that is what you have to work with, the A4 is as good as it gets.
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Old 06-11-2005, 10:32   #7
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Thanks for feedback

After talking to someone at my marina who has been through this
I can get a rebuild Atomic engine from a company in B.C. & send them back the old one ( if it does not work )

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the crotch of the person who screws up your day, & may their arms be too short to scratch... AMEN
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