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Old 18-06-2020, 18:06   #46
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

I delivered a 36 ft. Sail boat from San Francisco to San Diego about 6 month's ago with a new rebuilt A4, due to lack of wind, we motored pretty much all the way, made one stop in Morro Bay for fuel, ran like a swiss watch.
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Old 18-06-2020, 18:32   #47
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

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Originally Posted by Brewgyver View Post
That's more than a little bit off-topic.

and on a centerboard boat like the Irwin 32, God help you if the centerboard cable fails.

I had an Irwin 23 and yes they do fail. Sorry drifting off topic again.
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Old 18-06-2020, 19:10   #48
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Great advice all around -- thanks guys!

Alas, I lost the boat. It was an Irwin 32, allegedly complete and in good shape, asking price $3500 Cdn. The ad was posted two days ago and I had an appointment to make the four-hour drive to see it this afternoon, but the seller waved me off -- too late, boat sold. (Literally the third boat to slip my fingers in two weeks. An electronics loaded, pristine Pearson 30, asking $5000 Cdn, sold in three days; and a Canoe Cove 41, in decent shape, sold by a next-of-kin for the ungodly price of $15,000 Cdn within two days of listing. All three in my region, all of which I'd been clamouring to see.)

In terms of the original question about an engine for the Great Loop, I think the wisdom from the posters buttresses my impression: a diesel would be better, but an A4 in good shape isn't out of the question (and a trawler would better, but a good sailboat isn't out of the question either).

It's about money, alas. The funny thing is that I'm an online professional who can actually continue my full-time income while doing the loop, but the foreign company that has employed me for two decades is, shall we say, paperwork light when it comes to wages. Thus, I could easily afford payments for a solid boat, but I just don't want to get into the paperwork tangle. So, out of pocket it is.

Thanks again, all!
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Old 19-06-2020, 10:01   #49
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

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I'm boat shopping on a budget with an eye toward doing the Great Loop (starting from here in Ontario) starting in late summer 2021. Given my modest budget and my desire to do some sailing in the Caribbean too, I'm leaning toward a sailboat rather than the trawler setup that so many people recommend.

My question: a boat that I'm seriously considering purchasing (Irwin 32, displacement 11,500) has an elderly Atomic 4. I've done all my research and understand the general consensus that everyone loves a diesel but that most people think a well-kept-up Atomic 4 is fine in most circumstances. (I've owned two boats: outboard Cat 27 and a C&C 30 with a Yanmar, but never used an A4.) However, the one caveat I've seen expressed about the A4 is that motoring over a long distance is not its strength -- and that would be the Great Loop in a nutshell.

Would I be foolish to rely on even a well-tended A4 to get me through the loop?

Yes and no. I have an Atomic 4 and am very familiar with them. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with them, they have powered 10s of thousands of boats over many decades and the design is slightly evolved from a 1920s engine, so at this point it is a mix of 70-100 year old technology.
Point in favor: They are simple engines to work on, so you can save big $$$ doing your own repairs. They are extremely well supported by Moyer Marine, you can get any part you need from them and excelllent advice from their forum. "Everything" included rebuilt engines including ones with new blocks, they have new blocks being cast now.
Point against: If it breaks and you can't fix it, odds are no one else can either. Marine mechanics that understand these engines are VERY hard to find. On average they will look at it, find no place to plug their computer in, become puzzled, and try to sell you a new diesel It is exactly the same as driving cross country in a Ford Model A and expecting the local Ford dealer to fix it. Odds are they have never even SEEN one before, let alone repaired it.


Now let us get to the heart of the matter, you want to do a very long trip with an antique engine. If it is raw water cooled, and most are, then it has been slowly rusting away. Decades old raw water cooled engines are a gamble. "Getting a diesel boat" can make your issues ever WORSE. Unless the boat is relatively new, it is possible the diesel is also an antique with no parts available, no support community, and no DIY fixing. There are lots of old raw water cooled diesels and they have been corroding away too.


You have a few choices. You can just go and hope for the best. My original A4 covered multiple thousands of miles, much of it offshore in ocean salt water, until it finally corroded itself to death. My current A4 is a jewel, it was rebuilt by a ship's chief engineer as a hobby project
You can look here for a new engine: https://moyermarine.com/rebuild-services/
You can try and find a different boat with a good diesel.
You can swap out for a new diesel. I strongly suggest Beta Marine if you do.
You can look for a better used A4 being sold, but evaluating it might be tricky.
You can do a lot of work trying to adapt a used diesel you scrounge up and then potentially find that engine to have issues.
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Old 26-06-2020, 07:14   #50
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

I had a 1970 Bristol 30 with a 16hp Beta diesel that did half the loop with no problem. I am told the Beta just drops in to the Atomic 4 engine mounts - a big consideration when re-engining. The Beta gave me 3 hours to the gallon at 6 knots (no wind;no current)
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Old 26-06-2020, 07:57   #51
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

I purchased a Morgan 35 on Lake Erie a few years ago and upgraded her in order to do the Loop. Now that she is ready, we are retiring and moving up to a 45. She has a Yanmar (repowered) and may be a good fit for you if you haven't purchased the Irwin yet.
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Old 26-06-2020, 09:09   #52
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Hello just my two cents . I’ve owned an Atomic 4 for over 20 years ,rebuilt it once ,,never had a problem . The Moyer marine sight is a great place to ask questions and get parts .Ease of maintenance and DIY ability are swell . Salt water corrosion can be eliminated with a closed cooling system .Having said that if I ever re-power a beta engine from Jakarta is to good a deal to pass up . Fair winds and good luck on your adventures .


Would I be foolish to rely on even a well-tended A4 to get me through the loop?[/QUOTE]
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Old 26-06-2020, 10:29   #53
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

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Originally Posted by smacksman View Post
I had a 1970 Bristol 30 with a 16hp Beta diesel that did half the loop with no problem. I am told the Beta just drops in to the Atomic 4 engine mounts - a big consideration when re-engining. The Beta gave me 3 hours to the gallon at 6 knots (no wind;no current)
Indeed, repowering a sailboat with an atomic 4 with a beta is something that I've considered, and the local Beta rep tipped me about the Beta models that fit on A4 mounts. But I've done enough research to understand that I'd probably be into replacing the shaft, prop, etc, too. I think it would make sense if I found an A4 sailboat that's an undeniably fine model boat but which is being offered for a very low price due to the kaput engine. But then again, lots of people say that if you're going to aim at paying $5k for a boat and $15k for a repower, then why not first not shop around for a $20k boat? But I'll keep your tip in mind for sure.
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Old 26-06-2020, 10:34   #54
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

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Originally Posted by MGRodems View Post
I purchased a Morgan 35 on Lake Erie a few years ago and upgraded her in order to do the Loop. Now that she is ready, we are retiring and moving up to a 45. She has a Yanmar (repowered) and may be a good fit for you if you haven't purchased the Irwin yet.
I fear a 35-footer might be a bit big for a person like myself who: is a relative newbie; would be single-handing through locks. And there's that border between us at the moment, and it appears the border might be closed all the way through this year's boating season. But I'll send you a PM.
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Old 26-06-2020, 10:45   #55
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Prepare to become intimately familiar with Moyer Marine if you buy it. The Atomic 4, is not a bad engine, (It's basically the same engine that was in Willys Jeeps during WW2). I had a boat with one, but I really wouldn't want another boat with one in it.
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Old 26-06-2020, 11:28   #56
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Carbuators were designed for road vehicles, intended to remain upright. Sailboats do not remain upright. My first boat had a Universal Utility 4, which was the predecessor to the Atomic 4. I was on a budget, but rebuilt it.
On an especially rough passage in the Hawaiian Islands single handed, I finally got into the lee and flat water, and started the engine. It ran very rough for a few minutes. I waited for it to warm up. When it didn't smooth out, I headed below when IT BLEW UP AT SEA! I was 10 miles offshore and on fire. I saved the boat... and learned some lessons:

Gasoline inboard engines do not belong on boats, especially sailboats.

If you have an inboard gasser, check it and the bilges EVERY TIME before starting.

Please think very hard before going to sea with gasoline!

Be Safe
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Old 26-06-2020, 12:59   #57
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Group9 View Post
Prepare to become intimately familiar with Moyer Marine if you buy it. The Atomic 4, is not a bad engine, (It's basically the same engine that was in Willys Jeeps during WW2). I had a boat with one, but I really wouldn't want another boat with one in it.

No relationship between the Willys "Go Devil" engine used in the MB and the Atomic 4, which is 64 CID. None of the parts interchange. The Willys used a downdraft carb while the Atomic 4 uses an updraft carb.



Feature ... Go Devil ... Atomic 4
CID ... 64 ... 134
Carb ... Downdraft ... Updraft
Firing order ... 1-3-4-2 ... 1-2-4-3
Main bearings ... 3 ... 2



There is a superficial visual similarity only because both engines are flathead 4-cylinder designs from the same era.
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Old 26-06-2020, 13:04   #58
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain38 View Post
Carbuators were designed for road vehicles, intended to remain upright. Sailboats do not remain upright. My first boat had a Universal Utility 4, which was the predecessor to the Atomic 4. I was on a budget, but rebuilt it.
On an especially rough passage in the Hawaiian Islands single handed, I finally got into the lee and flat water, and started the engine. It ran very rough for a few minutes. I waited for it to warm up. When it didn't smooth out, I headed below when IT BLEW UP AT SEA! I was 10 miles offshore and on fire. I saved the boat... and learned some lessons:

Gasoline inboard engines do not belong on boats, especially sailboats.

If you have an inboard gasser, check it and the bilges EVERY TIME before starting.

Please think very hard before going to sea with gasoline!

Be Safe

Gas inboards can absolutely be managed safely, but there are certainly some safety precautions needed. Careful use of blowers, bilge inspection before start (especially before the first start of the day), use of a fume detector, monitor condition of the fuel system, etc. And do the bilge inspection *before* you turn the blowers on, that way any minor unusual smells can be noticed rather than vented out and never smelled.
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Old 26-06-2020, 13:51   #59
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

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Originally Posted by Buddy_Y View Post
In terms of the original question about an engine for the Great Loop, I think the wisdom from the posters buttresses my impression: a diesel would be better, but an A4 in good shape isn't out of the question (and a trawler would better, but a good sailboat isn't out of the question either).

One question to ponder is whether you will save any money.

I have a Hunter 26. They're easy to find. Not expensive. Outboard motor. Bigger inside than many longer boats because the cabin is wide, sort of like a deck saloon design, and since the engine is an outboard it doesn't take up interior space. Overall probably more room than an Irwin 32.

One person can put the mast up or down without outside assistance.

I have a cooler-sized 12v fridge in the cooler cutout that uses very little power. I plug in most nights, but the outboard does charge the batteries.


I will be at anchor on the Mississippi tonight


The disadvantage of these boats is that they do not sail nearly as well as, say, an Irwin 32.



The great thing about outboard motors on sailboats is that there is absolutely nothing that can possibly go wrong with the power train that cannot be fixed for $2000, because for that you can replace everything with brand new.

A modern, high-torque, 4 stroke outboard will easily take you around the great loop, on less fuel than an Atomic 4.

Sailboats in the 30-35' range are IMO a poor value. They aren't trailerable and have inboard engines, both things that drive up the operating costs and take away DIY options. Yet they don't have the space, sailing performance, standup headroom, or seakeeping ability of boats that are only a little larger.

When we get a larger boat it will be 37'+.
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Old 26-06-2020, 17:50   #60
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Re: Atomic 4 for sailboat on the Great Loop?

I had an Atomic 4 15 years on the great lakes and also same engine in Fl for 2 years. Moyer Marine has all the parts. The engine is really easy to work on. Any engine can konk out on you at any given time. Before you start sniff the bilge for gas odor. Just make sure you and the mechanic who knows about older gas engines go over it to check everything out before your voyage. Check with Moyer Marine for ALL the upgrades before your trip. Fair Winds
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