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Old 04-22-2021, 08:23 AM
sailingLife sailingLife is offline
Join Date: Apr 2021
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Introducing myself

Good Morning everyone,

I am new to the Atomic 4, and new owner of a 1978 Columbia 8.3
Engine hasn't started in at least a year according to previous owner. However, the neighbor said it has been 3 years since he has seen the owner or the boat move. So lets go with 3 years.
I have another post about rotating the engine to see if it is seized or not. Which I am still curious about.

About Me :
I have sailed a few times in the past, 2015 to be exact, and fell in love with it.
I have worked on engines before, mostly motorcycle, and car doing the routine maintenance, head gasket, and clutch swap. I am not too nervous working on this engine besides the fact that it is gas, on a boat and most people are afraid of it. However looking on here, gives me tons of confidence and I have some ideas to take a 120mm computer fan and just turn that into an exhaust that will always run.

Plans :
I bought this boat a few weeks ago and it is a project to eventually sail the Caribbean on. I am not documenting it, or trying to get YouTube famous. I MAY blog about it just to sharpen and improve my writing skills but that is still at this point a hard pass, I really do just want a simple life.

Anyways, I am excited to be here. To learn and to get this engine running and to also simplify it. The previous owners were / are... something else. There seems to be A LOT of wires attached to the engine that don't seem to belong there, I am picturing something like a 68 Camaro that is just engine, battery and distributor cap, so I would like to clean that up a little and get that image there if I can.

Last edited by sailingLife; 04-22-2021 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 04-22-2021, 11:07 AM
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Peter Peter is online now
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Welcome. You will get a lot of help here and it is a wonderful forum. Knowledgeable and collegial group.

Concerns around gas - replace all the fuel lines which are likely old and overdue for replacement any it will give you great peace of mind and is not expensive. Please use USCG approved fuel lines. While you are at it change the fuel filter(s).

Speaking of marine approved, your computer fan idea makes me nervous. Bilge fans need to be spark proof - no point blowing it up with the gadget that is supposed to prevent blowing it up. And you would not pass a survey and get insurance with such an arrangement. I would be a little surprised if the boat was not already equipped with bilge blowers - maybe poking around in the dark, small and hard to see into recesses will reveal something?

Bilge blowers are not that expensive - check that they are "ignition protected"

Again, welcome and congrats on the acquisition of a boat!

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Old 04-22-2021, 03:01 PM
TimBSmith TimBSmith is offline
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Location: Brookline, MA USA
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Welcome. Best wishes on your new A4 are in the right place.

Great to see your post. I am in the early stages of my own A4 adventure on a 74 Pearson 30.

You are already hand with engines which I was not. I have come to enjoy this community, learning about, and gaining confidence in my ability to service and safety operate this great old gasoline engine.

My boat had sat for nearly 3 years. Once well cared for the owners of the past 3 years just didn't seem to have time for much work on the boat.

The recurring patterns I have read here and experience on engines sitting.

Compression. Many many seized A4 motors are salvageable. If you cannot run a compression test (and that is the first evaluation I learned to do) What is your path too accomplishing this? I have read about but not needed to pressure test the block on a seized motor to see if you have something to work with. Then doing the work to unseize and rebuild as needed. All of this covered extensively in this group. Nothing seems to fire our MVPs up like a) unseizing a motor, b) a rebuild story, c) exploring prospective diesel repowering decisions where primary influencers are diesel owners and mechanics that want to work on diesel engines. (Confirmation bias).

Fuel. The MVPs here often run the engine dry before powering down at moorings and remove their carburetors in the off season. A carburetor cleanup is probably in your future. That is where my fuel system evaluation, end-to-end eventually led. And next to verified compression, fuel and carb care seem to be vital to safe and dependable operation. Discussions about ethanol gasoline and oil preferences run deep here.

Spark. My favorite post this year(next to rebuild stories) was from a member that developed a waste spark computer ignition system (maybe Rasberry Pi based?). I had learned about the traditional point, electronic, and then the waste spark innovation really brought this all together. I have an electronic ignition. I learned how to test the system end-to-end to confirm ignition circuitry and spark quality. Best $30 I spent is a tie between a remote starter and a pair of knee pads. I still need to lookback and remind myself why my coil/ignition system has a resistor from-time-to-time. The history of coil overheating and burnup is no joke. Again and again you will see reminders to turn your ignition key off if you are not spinning the motor.

Exhaust. Especially the riser. I recall so many stories where dormant engine broken risers have been discovered in dormant boat scenarios. Once my motor started(on the hard) I discovered both riser and wet exhaust hose needed replacing. If I had a dormant A4 boat scenario I would probably give the riser some test taps with a hammer and even unwrap the riser and take a really careful look.

This is a small fraction of information that may or may not be relevant to you. I am just finishing my redshirt year here and still very much a freshman. All the best with your A4 and sailing your new-to-you boat.
Tim Smith
Pearson 30
1974, Number 572
Boston, MA USA
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