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Old 01-18-2018, 07:01 PM
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Launchpad McQ's Catalina 30 Atomic 4 Saga

Hello fellow A-4ians! It’s finally time to give back to the community for all of the wisdom, advice, and encouragement I’ve gleaned from this forum. This thread has been years in the making, literally. For the past 3 years, I’ve been lurking in the shadows, reading hundreds of threads while learning, fixing, tinkering, tweaking, tuning, and sometimes cussing at my Atomic 4. My original intent was to document the rebuilding process and then “thread dump” the entire entertaining narrative with pictures so that it could be read chronologically without interruption from humble beginning to victorious end, and all would be the wiser. It hasn’t worked out as planned. Despite all of my efforts up to this point to rehabilitate this engine, I’m now in the middle of a complete tear-down, machining, and rebuild. However, I realized that I’ve already forgotten much of the work I’ve done and if I don’t start writing this thread, I may never get around to it. I hope you’ll all forgive the awkward timing of “arriving-in-the-middle-of-the-story.”

If you’re reading this thread you probably fall into 1 of 2 camps: Camp 1 is the number of experienced, helpful, friendly, and frequent contributors to this site reading for entertainment. To this group I want to say thank you. Without you all, this engine and possibly the entire boat would be in a San Francisco scrap yard. However this thread is really written for those in Camp 2. Those considering fixing up an old boat with an Atomic-4 and looking at that block of rusting metal wondering, “what did I get myself into?”

If you’re in Camp 2 and reading this thread for perspective, or maybe even motivation (like I usually did) let me assure you that when armed with the combined wisdom of this forum and a little resolve, anyone is capable of rebuilding, maintaining, or improving an Atomic-4 powered boat. Seemingly all of the common “problems” you could ever encounter with this engine have already been thoroughly identified and the necessary repair techniques well documented (valve sticking, overheating, poor performance, etc) on this forum by the collective braintrust of frequent contributors People often say, “If I can do it anyone can do it.” Believe me when I say my IQ pales in comparison to most of the chimpanzees at the zoo so there’s no excuse to be intimidated by the tasks. Without further ado, grab a beer and some popcorn because this is going to take a while. Here’s my saga:
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Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 07-03-2018 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Emphasis on “still in the process of rebuilding” i.e. got the engine running but ultimately need to do a full rebuild
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:16 PM
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  #2   IP: 209.133.66.84
Old 01-18-2018, 08:05 PM
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In 2013 after much discussion with my wife, I accepted a job in San Francisco. The only problem was that we live in Denver and for a variety of reasons, didn’t have any intention to relocate. The job would require frequent travel and I would only be in San Francisco a couple days a week. Therefore, I needed a place to sleep and didn’t want to spend that time in hotels. A friend working for the same company suggested, “Why don’t you buy an old crappy sailboat off Craigslist? You can fix it up when you have time, sleep on it a couple nights a week, and when you’re done with it you can just sell it and get your money back.” The seed had been planted.

The Craigslist search turned up a handful of boats under our modest $6500 budget but whenever I was able to get a seller to commit to a meeting, there was always some serious deficiency with the boat that would require significant time, money, or both to rectify. (One boat had suffered a fire, then sinking, and still sported a one-inch hole in the hull). Having lived in Colorado my entire life, I didn’t know much about boats but I did know one thing; we could not afford to pay someone else to fix whatever problems we inherited with our purchase. Then one day it appeared:
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Me: “Honey I found our future boat!”
Wife: “How much?”
Me: “$6500! Its within our budget!”
Wife: “If it doesn’t need any additional work…..”
Me: “How much work could it need? It says the motor was rebuilt in ’09. I’ll bet it just needs a new set of spark plugs and some gas!”
Wife: “Seriously, the motor is called an ‘Atomic?’ Don’t you see the irony in that?
Me: “Yeah I’ll bet because it’s so powerful, like an Atomic reactor!”
Wife: “What is ‘Standing Rigging’?”
Me: “I don’t know but it’s standing!”
Wife: “What does ‘haul-out’ mean?”
Me: “I don’t know. Maybe it’s sailing slang for partying on a boat for 2 days straight, ya know, like, ‘hey everybody lets get some beer and go out for a haul out!”
Wife: “What’s a ‘Genoa’?”
Me: “Isn’t that like pepperoni but more expensive? You know I don’t cook fancy stuff.”
Wife: “No, it sounds like part of the boat, and apparently it’s torn. How much is that to fix?”
Me: “Why are you being so negative!? It has BBQ grill! I mean a real BBQ, like, for BBQ-ing! I’m going to go look at it. I’ll call you after I’m done.”
Wife: “Okay just don’t buy it before we talk about it more.”
2 Hours later….
Me: “We’re boat owners honey!”
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....and so it began.
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:09 PM
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"like an atomic reactor" That made me laugh. Welcome to the madness.

James
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:24 PM
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I need a "like" button
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:59 PM
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Unhappy

Oh yea, it's time to break something!

I mean, like:
break a bolt,
break some skin,
Break Out Another Thousand,
Break out the beer.

Lookitmeeeeimonaboat!
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lat 64 View Post
Oh yea, it's time to break something!

I mean, like:
break a bolt,
break some skin,
Break Out Another Thousand,
Break out the beer.

Lookitmeeeeimonaboat!
...in that order..
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:42 PM
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Armed with a six-pack of Fat Tire, an In-N-Out double-double "Animal Style" cheeseburger, teriyaki beef jerky, a bottle of Simple Green and some rags, I naively thought I had everything I needed to whip our new ‘yacht’ into shape. Soon I’d be swashbuckling my way up the San Francisco bay with my proud wife by my side, helm in one hand, a beer in the other. “Ahoy sweetheart! There be landfall! What say ye lass we moor up on the Embarcadero and fetch ourselves some crab cake sandwiches?” In hindsight, the only analogy I can conceive to illustrate how utterly clueless I was to every part of that dream I had concocted, would be the idea of a junior varsity quarterback showing up to an NFL training camp and expecting a starting position. In my defense, the Craigslist ad said “rebuilt in 2009” so I figured a can of carb cleaner, some new spark plugs, and I’d be back in business. As I soon discovered, I'd need the beer more than anything.

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In order to gain better access for the engine autopsy I removed the galley cabinet assembly and set it aside. In the ensuing years of engine work yoga, I'd come to appreciate what a tremendous luxury we Catalina 30 owners have when it comes to engine access compared to our companionway-engined brethren.

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This being the first boat I’ve ever owned, I had little understanding of what I was even looking at, or where I should begin my troubleshooting. “Why does the exhaust pipe go into a white plastic box?” (Water lift muffler) “Why is there a rubber trailer plug with wires in the engine compartment?” (Catalina engine wiring harness) “Why is the engine painted vomit-green?” (Still don’t know) These were just a few of the questions I had. As I surveyed the engine compartment for any obvious abnormalities I stumbled upon what could’ve ended up being this boat's (and my) demise. The previous owner had carelessly routed the gas line from the gas tank to the electric fuel pump next to the hot exhaust hose which had chafed through the outer sheath and almost into the core. I didn’t know much about boats, but I knew what an incredibly serious accident that could've resulted. With that single discovery, it was obvious that I couldn’t trust anything the previous owner had done to the boat.

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Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 01-19-2018 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:27 PM
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Well, well, well

Wow, a rare U shape dinette layout. Here are a few more things to check, many of them critical:
  • Lower chainplates - if you have the U bolt style you're good. If they are the square top single hole style they need to be changed ASAP, available from Catalina Direct
  • Wood spreaders - must be checked for rot especially at the inboard ends under the aluminum cheek plates. Some owners convert to aluminum (Catalina Direct again), others replace with wood.
  • The engine harness trailer plug you've already seen - you have at least two in the harness, possibly a third. Get rid of 'em.
  • Catalina factory waterlift - it's known for cracks and leakage at the base.
  • Aft lower knee bulkheads - known for rot and yours are the originals. Better check the main bulkhead while you're at it.
  • Mast compression post support in the bilge - known to rot as well.
  • Anti-siphon between the engine and the exhaust hot pipe is missing. The factory installed one, looks like whoever did the engine work removed it. Good way to backflood an engine.
There, that ought to get you going.
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:14 AM
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Re: "...thought I had everything I needed to whip our new ‘yacht’ into shape", That's just the inventory kit.
Re: "...a starting position", Heck, you're the captain now.
Re: chafed fuel hose, This is why it's a VERY good plan to sit and stare at your engine while enjoying a Fat Tire. And, a good time to reflect on why the Coast Guard in their wisdom requires such a short distance from fuel pump to carb on gasoline inboard engines; It is so that for most of the length of the routed fuel hose, it has negative pressure—it sucks. If it develops a leak, and it will, it then sucks air into the line, not squirt fuel out so much. The faltering engine will demand repair from you so it DOES get fixed.

Re: Simple green, kinda stinks. After you get it cleaned up, I'd switch to good ol' vinegar. It outgases in a few hours, and is easier on the respiratory ailments of guests. Cheap and enviro-friendly too.

Re: "...of that dream I had concocted", That's why I even bother to get out of bed every morning. Keep on that.


Russ
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Old 01-21-2018, 02:42 PM
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Hi Neil! I figured you'd drop by before too long. As always you hit the nail on the head, and our Catalina is no exception to the laundry list of standard "old Catalina 30" deficiencies. We're only partially through the list of remediations and unfortunately most of the chainplate repair work will need to wait until we have a running, reliable, Atomic 4 able to assist us in getting back up to the boatyard. (We've apparently discovered the limit of the "unlimited" BoatUS towing insurance. More on that later)
Quote:
Lower chainplates - if you have the U bolt style you're good. If they are the square top single hole style they need to be changed ASAP, available from Catalina Direct
We have the original square-top, single hole to be addressed:
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For any new Catalina 30 owners possibly in the audience, here's a thread that provides a good summation of why the original chainplates deserve attention
https://forums.sailboatowners.com/in...rprise.180844/
so this doesn't happen...
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Quote:
Wood spreaders - must be checked for rot especially at the inboard ends under the aluminum cheek plates. Some owners convert to aluminum (Catalina Direct again), others replace with wood.
Ours are the original (sitka spruce?) wood. I don't have any pictures of those to share because most of our immediate problems have been below deck, in the general vicinity of the engine compartment so that's been the majority of my photojournalism efforts. I plan on replacing the wood with the aftermarket aluminum spreaders whenever we end up taking the mast down.
Quote:
The engine harness trailer plug you've already seen - you have at least two in the harness, possibly a third. Get rid of 'em.
Already gone like the 2017 Broncos playoff hopes All of our wiring was especially atrocious (yes that’s a wire nut used as a splice) so those got replaced early in the project. More on that later.Name:  Bad engine wiring harness.jpg
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Quote:
Aft lower knee bulkheads - known for rot and yours are the originals. Better check the main bulkhead while you're at it.
Ours aren't too bad. Pictures to follow.
Quote:
Mast compression post support in the bilge - known to rot as well.
Yep, we've got the rot and the associated compression post/mast settling. That'll be addressed when the mast comes down.
Quote:
Anti-siphon between the engine and the exhaust hot pipe is missing. The factory installed one, looks like whoever did the engine work removed it. Good way to backflood an engine.
That's all done too. I'll probably have pictures and the story for that somewhere around upcoming post #356. Haha
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Old 01-21-2018, 10:34 PM
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Nice..keep up the good work.
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Old 01-24-2018, 04:00 AM
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Before I get too far, I should be specific regarding exactly what the problem was as I knew it. I purchased the boat from the previous owner with the engine in a "no-crank, no-start" condition. Zip, zero, nada when I turned the key. The PO claimed he had "taken the boat to his 'car guy' over in Alameda who had 'rebuilt' the engine." He said that he then motored/sailed it back to his slip in Redwood City (15-ish miles down the Bay) where the boat sat for *awhile* unused. When he attempted to start the engine after the hiatus, it wouldn't start and out of frustration he purchased a 4hp Mercury outboard, installed it on a pivoting transom mount and called it a day. I know, I know,...now. I should've seen it coming a mile away. Why didn't he demand his mechanic fix it? Why did he "give up" after just having "spent all that money on a rebuild?" What exactly did the "rebuild" entail? All valid questions. Truth be told by this point hotel expenses were adding up, I wasn't finding any other suitable boats on Craigslist, and I was getting impatient. When the PO agreed to drop the price to $5k, I thought the price drop would cover any repairs necessary to make the engine operational. (Not even close)

With my limited mechanical knowledge at the time, I started my troubleshooting with the starter. The first car I ever owned was a 1976 Chevy 1/2 ton 4x4 pickup with a 350 V8 who's starter bendix had a tendency to "freeze up." My remedy was always to hop underneath and smack it with a hammer while a friend would turn the key which usually worked. Not this time. I was met with the frustrating sound of silence every time I turned the key. About this time my dock neighbor happened to stop by and seeing my obvious frustration, offered to take a look. What followed was an all-to-common conversation which I'm sure many here have had. It went something like this:

Well-intentioned dock neighbor: "Oh, its an Atomic 4? I thought it had a diesel. Are you sure you want to bother fixing that old thing?"
Me: "Well, I have to. It's what the boat has and I don't have the money to repower with a diesel."
Well-intentioned dock neighbor: "Well, I mean, you could probably find an old diesel on Craigslist for a couple grand. Just drop one of those in and you'll be set!"
Me: "I only paid $5,000 for the boat to begin with."
Well-intentioned dock neighbor: "Even better! When you're done, the boat will be worth $10,000!"
Me: "I don't have the tools, time, or knowledge to do that. Besides, I want to start using the boat, like, soon."
Well-intentioned dock neighbor: "Be careful with that Atomic 4. Those things are dangerous. It's a gas engine after all. They have a tendency to catch on fire. In fact, they all catch on fire. Every one of them. Yours will catch fire. It will burn, the boat will explode, you'll be launched over the Golden Gate like Evel Knievel's failed motorcycle jump at Ceaser's Palace, the Coast Guard will pull you out of the water in a Jayhawk helicopter, give you a fine for negligence, and you'll be the laughing stock of the marina for the next millennia."

Okay so he didn't exactly say that but pretty much. And many other well-intentioned dockside "helpers" would too in the months to come. However, my neighbor did impart some wisdom when he asked "Do you know if the motor even turns?" Ummmmmm, uhhhhhh, no I didn't. I noticed a pin on the front of the crankshaft that looked like I could fashion up a socket and breaker bar set-up and turn the motor by hand. (No I didn't know Moyer Marine, or this forum existed and that Moyer sells a tool exactly for turning the crank when I went through all this trouble) So I "modified" a perfectly good 14mm socket with my Dremel to slip over the crankpin:

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Yank! Push! Ug! Marf! Wouldn't ya know it, the engine didn't budge. Time for a bigger breaker bar! Yes! That'll do it!

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To know what would happen next, you don't need to be a rocket scientist but you need to be smarter than I was. The engine didn't so much as squeak a tiny bit loose but the feeling of sudden rotation was from 1/2 of the crankpin shearing off. Sh#%*

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So there I had it. Learning had occurred. Apparently when an internal combustion engine sits idle in the marine environment for too long, the pistons and various other moving parts can become immobile. This just went from a simple "spark plugs and gas" fix, to something much more. My dock neighbor suggested removing the spark plugs, squirting some Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders to soak the piston rings in hopes of helping them unfreeze from the cylinder wall. I figured $3.88 of Marvel Mystery oil was a cheap gamble, so I squirted some in every few days for a month while I turned my attention to other things.

To be continued...

P.S. I know these posts are a little lengthy but I'm in no rush with the narrative since I'm still in the midst of a rebuild. However for the A.D.D. crowd, I thought a Clif Notes summary of what I learned and what I'd do differently could be helpful. So....

What I learned
  • Many sailors have an irrational prejudice against the Atomic 4 but can't point to specific examples of catastrophe vs its diesel counterparts
  • The people who possess the knowledge to help you fix an A-4 are more likely on this forum than on the dock..unless one of the frequent contributors here happens to be on your dock
  • Engines shouldn't sit unused for a long time. More boats seem to suffer problems from disuse rather than overuse
What I'd do differently
  • Ask the seller more questions about the boat's history/maintenance/ etc
  • Search the Moyer forum for an existing thread pretaining to the problem at hand. Failing that...
  • Call Moyer and talk to Ken
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Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 01-25-2018 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:05 AM
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Marine engines won't seize just from sitting idle. There had to have been water incursion into the combustion chambers and/or crankcase. With the crankshaft roll pin sheared off I don't see any way this will be resolved in situ. The engine is coming out of its hole sooner or later, may as well get after it.

In addition to getting things unseized you have to find the source of the water incursion or risk it happening again. Possibilities are manifold breach, head crack, water jacket breach, over cranking with the thru-hull open and maybe a few more I've overlooked.

If you decide to try and repair it in the boat you can fashion a pretty decent work bench with a couple layers of 3/4" plywood over the engine space. As a lifting means use the main halyard and a block & tackle, come-along or whatever sparred out by the boom (boom in compression only, all engine load borne by the halyard-tackle rig). The main hatch is plenty big enough to give you a clear shot at the engine. Be sure to check the forum archives for lifting eye shortcomings on older engines.
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:18 AM
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"More boats seem to suffer problems from disuse rather than overuse"
So wise for so young.

Welcome to the forum, or whatever it's called, Johnathan.
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Old 01-24-2018, 01:12 PM
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Jonathan, thanks for keeping us updated with your detailed posts. I am indeed interested in your progress with your A4, as it looks like you and I may be doing A4 overhaul's simultaneously. In my case, my daughter just bought a sweet Tartan 30 in the bay area with a bad A4, and I'm about to take on a rebuild of one to swap in. I also own my own Tartan 30 with a perfectly running A4, so I'm getting to know this old iron pretty intimately.

Good luck and keep up the progress posts!
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:11 PM
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McQ, You've already got the galley out, now you just put a hose clamp on the prop shaft so it doesn't slide out of the stuffing box, and yank the motor with a 4:1 purchase on the boom. Let's get to work!
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:58 PM
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Following your progress with bated breath, McQ. Have already found a lengthy checklist of things to check on my '82 Catalina 30.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Launchpad McQ View Post
We have the original square-top, single hole to be addressed:
I didn't remember before but it turns out I had a detailed picture of the offending lower chainplate and a picture of the proper replacement.
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Neil
1977 Catalina 30
San Pedro, California
prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others

Last edited by ndutton; 01-24-2018 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
I didn't remember before but it turns out I had a detailed picture of the offending lower chainplate.
So, I am the 2nd owner of my boat, and the fitting Neil shows failed and dropped the rig in 1987 before I owned it..But in 1987 they replaced it with the same single bolt!! I replaced all this nonsense with the U-bolt upgrade from Catalina Direct when I took the rig down in 2012-ish.
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"Twice Around" - '77 Catalina 30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Launchpad McQ View Post
Despite all of my efforts up to this point to rehabilitate this engine, I’m now in the middle of a complete tear-down, machining, and rebuild. However, I realized that I’ve already forgotten much of the work I’ve done and if I don’t start writing this thread, I may never get around to it. I hope you’ll all forgive the awkward timing of “arriving-in-the-middle-of-the-story.”
He does not need any encouragement to pull the engine - this thread is a recounting of how he got to be in the middle of a complete rebuild.

But, maybe I have read that wrong.

Peter
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Old 01-25-2018, 02:02 AM
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With the crankshaft roll pin sheared off I don't see any way this will be resolved in situ. The engine is coming out of its hole sooner or later, may as well get after it.
Yep Neil you're absolutely right. Although if I had started this thread in 2013 when I was actually at this point in the process, I would've been in complete denial about the necessity of removing the engine to make it operational, and tried to find every excuse to repair it somehow in the boat.

*Spoiler Alert*
At this point, the engine has been removed from the boat for a complete rebuild, although in a much more entertaining way than you can probably imagine. Read on. Here we go!
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1979 Catalina 30 #1497
An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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Old 01-25-2018, 05:13 AM
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After a month of frequent Marvel Mystery Oil squirts into the cylinders via the open spark plug holes, I figured that the piston rings would've been unstuck from the cylinder walls by this point, or they wouldn't. Either way, I'd have a resolution to the question of why the engine wouldn't turn. However, the dilemma remained that I only had 1/2 of the crankshaft timing roll pin upon which to leverage my homemade socket/breaker bar set up and rotate the engine by hand. It was my last hope before things got expensive. I felt like Dennis Quaid in the movie remake Flight of the Phoenix when he's trying to start the engine of the wrecked-and-rebuilt C-119 airplane in the Gobi desert with his last remaining shotgun shell before the charging tribe of horseback-riding bandits overruns the crew and certain death results. With a firm yet gentle grip of the oversized breaker bar, I oh-so-carefully started pulling, hoping for the engine to give up its stubborness in reluctant submission and rotate. And....Bam! As you can probably guess, the breaker bar broke free of the crankshaft with a tremendous "clank!" and I went flying across the salon while somehow managing not to impale myself on the breaker bar itself or slam my head through one of my leaky portlights. I rushed back to the flywheel, inspected the front of the crankshaft to discover my fears had been realized. I had just sheared off the other 1/2 of the roll pin and in so doing, eliminated any hope of getting the engine to turn without a complete teardown...or did I?

Maybe it's my Polish ancestry or my unwillingness to accept defeat but I knew there had to be something else I could do to get this motor to rotate without spending money. I had a 3' galvanized steel pipe, an 8 lb sledge hammer, and a 6-pack of beer onboard. Shouldn't that be enough? As it turns out, yes it was. All the sudden it dawned on me to remove the starter, place one end of my breaker bar pipe through the starter cutout hole in the flywheel cover and onto the teeth of the flywheel to gain more rotational leverage, then hammer on the other end of the pipe with the sledge hammer (it works especially well when you're hammering out of frustration). You'd think this would be a terrific way to destroy a perfectly good flywheel by chipping off some teeth but surprisingly the galvanized steel pipe was no match for the seemingly hardened steel teeth of the Atomic flywheel. I could hardly believe it but with every successive bang of the hammer, I felt the flywheel turn a few degrees. Victory!

After a few more squirts of MMO in the cylinders for good measure, I was able to re-install the starter, attach a cheap trigger-style remote starter up to the starter solenoid's terminals (bypassing the keyed ignition switch and infamous failure-prone rubber Catalina "trailer plugs" in the engine wiring harness) and get the engine to crank. So I had just improved my situation from a no-crank, no-start problem to a crank, no-start problem, and I couldn't have been happier. I sat out in the cockpit that night with a beer in hand, basking in the glory of a small victory and patting myself on the back for the stroke of Polish ingenuity when my well-intentioned dock neighbor came walking down the dock. Remember that guy? That guy from post #12? Yeah, that guy. As I enthusiastically recounted the story of the day's success he listened patiently and replied, "Good job! Well, I guess you'll be removing the head tomorrow to take a look at the valves. At least head gaskets for that thing are probably cheap. I think there's a website called Mayer's or Moyer's or something where you can get parts for it. Just Google search 'Atomic 4' and you'll find 'em." "Why the hell would I do that!" I thought to myself. I just went through all that effort for the exact purpose of not removing the cylinder head. He could probably see the indignant look on my face, when he immediately followed with "You've gotta at least take a look at those valves. If you don't, you're just wasting your time." That night I got online, came to this forum, and started reading through every thread I could find that sounded remotely like it applied to my situation. Of course I'd soon find out there were many threads that applied to many different problems I'd inherited with this neglected motor. I just didn't know it yet. By the end of the night I came to the conclusion that my neighbor was probably right and I needed to take a look at the valves to ensure everything was in working order. Next order of business:

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Off with the head!

What I learned
  • If for any reason you were to shear off the crankshaft timing roll pin like I did, because of interference with the flywheel studs, it's very difficult if not impossible to replace the pin in place. More importantly, the pin is used for visually setting the engine timing to Top-Dead-Center so when it's broken/missing, it's a PITA to get the timing right. (More on that later)
  • A trigger-style remote starter is a very useful piece of equipment on a boat, especially when the ignition switch is up in the cockpit and you're trying to diagnose/fix ignition related issues by yourself down in the engine compartment.

What I'd do differently
  • Avoid shearing a fastener that doesn't want to move and thereby making the situation exponentially worse (Unfortunately I'll learn this lesson the hard way in an upcoming post)
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1979 Catalina 30 #1497
An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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Old 01-25-2018, 09:29 AM
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Obviously I was not as aware as Peter that this was a 5 year old saga so I'll stop making suggestions and enjoy the story.
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1977 Catalina 30
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prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others
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Old 01-25-2018, 11:00 AM
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Dang, I missed that too. I was thinking Launchpad and I would be rebuilding A4's together here. Oh well, I get to read on and learn from his amusing mistakes!
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Old 01-25-2018, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Obviously I was not as aware as Peter that this was a 5 year old saga so I'll stop making suggestions and enjoy the story.
I hope you'll keep the suggestions coming Neil (and everyone else), even if it's for things I've already done. That's exactly what I'm hoping to accomplish with this thread. To provide an informative and entertaining story of my journey from absolutely zero knowledge of boats/Atomic 4s to having a seaworthy, safe boat powered by a running, reliable Atomic 4. Along the way I seem to have hit every pothole in the road when it comes to this engine and I want others to benefit from my saga. Once I get the posts caught up to present day, there will still be plenty of fresh questions to bounce off the group in order to complete the rebuild.

Quote:
Dang, I missed that too. I was thinking Launchpad and I would be rebuilding A4's together here. Oh well, I get to read on and learn from his amusing mistakes!
We may very well be at the exact same point in the process wristwister. I'm still rebuilding too, it just took me a looooong time to come to the realization that I needed to perform a complete teardown. In the meantime, I attempted every band-aid, half-measure repair that I could to avoid removing the engine from the boat with varying degrees of success. My problems weren't as obvious as a golf-ball sized hole in the block but ultimately I may end up needing a new block as well. We'll see.

As for my amusing mistakes, buckle up because I've only scratched the surface of sharing my screw ups. From here on out they only get more significantly idiotic, hapless, and avoidable. If by the end of this process you're not totally convinced of the fact that I have no business owning a boat, or even a car for that matter, I'll be shocked. There's a reason I chose Launchpad McQuack from the '80's cartoon "Duck Tales" as my avatar. I felt the overconfident, clueless-but-likeable character from that cartoon who despite the odds always managed to save the day, matched up pretty well with my M.O. when it comes to boats. That being said, people (usually my generation or younger) frequently ask "How did you learn to__?(fill in the blank) and my answer is always the same: “Any way I can.” Whether it's fixing internal combustion engines, rewiring a house, or climbing 14,000' mountains, there seems to be this new prevailing notion that you either acquired the knowledge from a wise Grandpa during childhood otherwise you're destined to tolerate inoperative engines, broken light switches, and an indoor lifestyle. It's ludicrous. Anything that I've truly learned, I've done so by trial and error. But mostly error. My grandparents all passed away when I was young so there wasn't much opportunity to impart any wisdom. And my Dad? Hahaha! Oh man. Let's just say he's the least mechanically-inclined person you've ever met. When I was a kid, he blew up a 1985 Toyota Tercel because he ran it out of oil. It's a good thing my Dad never tried to help me build an Estes model rocket because if he did, I would've ended up with 3rd degree burns and he would've lost an eye. Seriously. It's the same thing I tell my 74 year old mom when it comes to learning how to use a smartphone. Learn by doing. Or in the words of Sir Richard Branson, "Screw it lets do it!" I have a willingness to learn, some tools, a tolerant-if-not-supportive wife, beer in the fridge for when things go wrong, beer in the fridge for when things go right, and I refuse to quit. I don't need anything else to win.
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Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 01-26-2018 at 04:57 PM.
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