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  #51   IP: 73.229.9.254
Old 07-09-2018, 09:29 PM
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Dang I should've looked harder! That Moeller tank looks nifty. It looks like $185ish would've gotten me a new tank that would never corrode. Shoot. Oh well at least I can say mine is "vintage"
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  #52   IP: 71.178.83.216
Old 07-10-2018, 10:50 PM
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I have had zero problems with that tank in 9 years. I did have to bend the fill hose around the cockpit floor, but no issues other than that.
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"Twice Around" - '77 Catalina 30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold.
She is even happier with fresh paint on the topsides!

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Old 08-30-2018, 11:11 PM
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So the next installment of my "Operation Learn Everything the Hard Way" came in the form of distributor overhaul. Reading through the various timing/distributor/electronic ignition/ignition-coil-overheating threads, I determined that I had the late model Delco distributor with points. Despite the well-documented coil overheating issues that can arise with electronic ignition setups, I felt the benefits of a simplified ignition system with less moving parts seemed to outweigh the drawbacks and bought the Pertronix kit with the suggested higher resistance MMI ignition coil. (The only pictures I can find in my iPhoto album are of the pre EI install)

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The Pertronix kit installed easily enough. While I had the distributor opened up, I thought the flyweights in the body of the distributor could benefit from some white lithium grease so I smeared a little bit on with my finger. I don't recall what, if any, thread prompted me to do that but I'm not even sure that's advisable. Unfortunately my ignorance when it came to all matters of ignition timing and distributors may have manifested in a much more significant way later on. To be continued....
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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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  #54   IP: 71.178.80.35
Old 08-31-2018, 12:26 AM
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Jonathon, One of the issues we are finding with switching to electronic ignition (because it is low maintenance) is neglect of the advance weights, (which still require regular maintenance.) It is great you decided to clean/lube them up. Also, the higher resistance moyer coil should pair nicely with the Pertronix unit.

edit - I will be curious to hear how the grease does. I personally worry about caking and build-up, but I have no real world basis with this assembly to back that up. I usually use a lightweight oil, so let's compare notes after you've got some time on the engine. Mine seems to still stick on occasion and the motor stumbles here and there after running for a few hours at 2,000 RPM. What I have discovered that is slightly counterintuitive, is when the motor stumbles your brain says to throttle down...I've found it is better to go WOT for a couple minutes to force the weights out even more to break the stickiness (and stumble) that seems to occur during long duration cruise RPM events.
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"Twice Around" - '77 Catalina 30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold.
She is even happier with fresh paint on the topsides!

http://www.moyermarine.com/forums/signaturepics/sigpic3231_6.gif

Last edited by sastanley; 08-31-2018 at 12:34 AM.
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  #55   IP: 67.176.27.175
Old 11-03-2018, 12:37 AM
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At this point in the process, I started to piece the motor back together. To recap, up to this point I had done the following:
  1. Unnfrozen the rotating assembly by copious amounts of MMO deposited down the spark plug holes combined with brute force/sledge hammer on the flywheel
  2. Rebuilt the carb
  3. Drained the fuel tank of old gas and water
  4. Refilled the tank with fresh gas (ethanol-free 100 octane low lead aka "avgas" for piston-powered aircraft)
  5. Installed a new electric fuel pump
  6. Replaced and rerouted all the fuel lines
  7. Removed, cleaned and re-lapped the valves
  8. Installed new valve springs
  9. Installed new batteries
  10. Installed Pertronix Electronic Ignition in distributor
  11. Took the cylinder head to machine shop to get "Decked" and repaired 3 out of 4 stripped spark plug bosses
  12. Vinegar soaked and painted manifold
  13. Reassembled everything
  14. Drank enough beer to cause an increase in hops commodity prices in the western United States
  15. Philosophized if the internal combustion engine was really just an elaborate Rube Goldberg riddle established by a diabolical secret society with informal ties to the Free Masons in order to promote human suffering.

"At this point, what else could possibly go wrong?" Cough, cough, cough.

With everything pieced together, I hooked up a 6' piece of 1-1/4" black iron pipe as a makeshift exhaust since I hadn't finished replacing the wet exhaust hose from the water lift muffler to the transom yet. I hooked up a remote starter, gave it some gas, and...

[YOUTUBE]EUIbijLfZ8E[/YOUTUBE]

You'd think after all that effort and a successful start you'd hear me shouting with joy in the background over the noise of the Atomic dutifully putt-putting away, but you don't. It's difficult to see in the video, but when I cranked and throttled up the engine, I lost my balance and fell over when the boat all the sudden jolted forward. That's when I noticed that despite the fact the shifting lever on the engine (as well as the cockpit lever) were in neutral, the prop shaft was turning and pushing the boat forward in the slip until it pulled tight against the dock lines. Riddle me this Batman: What would cause the prop shaft to turn despite the reversing gear lever in the neutral position!? I'll give you a hint....

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1979 Catalina 30 #1497
An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 11-03-2018 at 01:04 AM. Reason: YouTube embed epic fail
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  #56   IP: 73.100.102.161
Old 11-03-2018, 08:13 AM
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Oh man! after your rebuild that's what your tranny looked like? Is that water/antifreeze in there?
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:44 PM
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Believe it or not, that's what the oil looked like after sitting for 2+ years. There may be more to the story. #@NeilDutton.com/Facebook/Twitter/SnappyChat hypothesized that water may have gotten into this engine and I'd be inclined to agree. My guess is the 'PFO' had difficulties getting it started and had the thru-hull open as he cranked and cranked and flooded the engine. I'm basing this on my pre-buy conversations with him as well as the 'dimpling' I discovered on the block surface described in this thread:Dimpling

To cut to the chase, the problem (as I've yet to see anyone else encounter), was that the reversing gear 'discs' were rusted together from having been left in Forward while the boat sat unused for years. No matter what position the reversing gear lever was in (I had long since disconnected the shifting linkage from the cockpit to help isolate the problem) the entire assembly turned "as one piece of steel" as Don phrases it in his Reversing Gear DVD. I have to admit, this drove me absolutely bonkers. After having gotten the engine running just to discover I couldn't reverse out of my slip, sent me through the roof. "Why the **** did I buy this boat?" was a frequent expression of mine around those days. As with many other "repairs" the ultimate solution proved to be copious MMO treatments squirted onto the top of the discs through the open reversing gear cover followed with gentile tapping against the bronze disc tabs with a punch and small ball peen hammer in addition to prying with an X-acto knife between the discs. Amazingly after almost a month of infrequent tinkering, I was able to loosen up the reversing gear cluster to allow the engine to turn while allowing for a 'neutral.'
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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  #58   IP: 73.100.102.161
Old 11-04-2018, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Launchpad McQ View Post
Believe it or not, that's what the oil looked like after sitting for 2+ years. There may be more to the story. #@NeilDutton.com/Facebook/Twitter/SnappyChat hypothesized that water may have gotten into this engine and I'd be inclined to agree. My guess is the 'PFO' had difficulties getting it started and had the thru-hull open as he cranked and cranked and flooded the engine. I'm basing this on my pre-buy conversations with him as well as the 'dimpling' I discovered on the block surface described in this thread:Dimpling

To cut to the chase, the problem (as I've yet to see anyone else encounter), was that the reversing gear 'discs' were rusted together from having been left in Forward while the boat sat unused for years. No matter what position the reversing gear lever was in (I had long since disconnected the shifting linkage from the cockpit to help isolate the problem) the entire assembly turned "as one piece of steel" as Don phrases it in his Reversing Gear DVD. I have to admit, this drove me absolutely bonkers. After having gotten the engine running just to discover I couldn't reverse out of my slip, sent me through the roof. "Why the **** did I buy this boat?" was a frequent expression of mine around those days. As with many other "repairs" the ultimate solution proved to be copious MMO treatments squirted onto the top of the discs through the open reversing gear cover followed with gentile tapping against the bronze disc tabs with a punch and small ball peen hammer in addition to prying with an X-acto knife between the discs. Amazingly after almost a month of infrequent tinkering, I was able to loosen up the reversing gear cluster to allow the engine to turn while allowing for a 'neutral.'
WOW...yeah, that is a lot of rust in there...you must've had to take apart the tranny bits to clean them up as well then (a scary task to me when I took apart my tranny bits)...
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  #59   IP: 166.151.214.194
Old 02-20-2019, 05:45 PM
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And spoil all the fun?! Sorry guys this isn't going to wrap up any time soon. Believe it or not I'm still in the rebuilding process so there's much more to come. According to iPhoto, here we go back to 2015...

[YOUTUBE]Ppg9Q6DTKMQ[/YOUTUBE]

In the video description I typed up in 2015 you can see just how off base I was. My thought at the time was "sticking valve lifter, incorrect valve/lifter spacing, or 'burned valve.' Will update when cause is diagnosed." I can just see you ol' guys shaking your heads at the computer screen but keep in mind my background from post #25. I didn't have the wise Grandpa or mechanically inclined Dad to say "son, thats called 'detonation' and you've just gotta twist 'dat there distributor to set the timing right." So I didn't. And I ran the engine. Hard. For hours. I pulled the plugs to see if they offered any clues as to the noise but nothing incredibly conspicuous appeared:

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So back to the drawing board I went.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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Old 02-26-2019, 11:45 PM
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Once I realized the knocking noise was ignition related, I watched Don's ignition DVD again and took notes this time. I read through some of the threads on "power timing" the ignition, the significance of 'Top Dead Center,' the relationship between the advance weights and the springs in the distributor. I excitedly hurried out and bought a timing light and watched every YouTube video on the subject. It was then I realized without any timing marks on the flywheel, I didn't have anything to really aim it at. I know some people have used the accessory pulley to set the timing but I found that a Dremel, a Bic white-out pen, and a protractor was the right solution for me:

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BTW, the small teak door and frame were off of a smaller Catalina that happened to be in my local Pick-n-Pull junkyard in Denver. How that thing ended up in a Colorado junkyard is anyone's guess:

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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:17 PM
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That is certainly one way to do it McQ! Nice job on the door. All of my doors of that style had weakened frames. I used a simple flat "L" bracket at each corner and a little wood glue to stiffen them up.

The window pattern indicates that is a Catalina 25 of similar vintage to our late 70's early 80's boats.
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"Twice Around" - '77 Catalina 30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold.
She is even happier with fresh paint on the topsides!

http://www.moyermarine.com/forums/signaturepics/sigpic3231_6.gif

Last edited by sastanley; 02-27-2019 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:57 PM
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I don't really have any pictures to include in this post of "the longest ongoing A-4 rebuild thread ever" because the next chain of events were mostly intangible.

After correcting the timing (detonation) issue, and running the engine with a mechanical oil pressure gauge hooked up to eliminate any potential electric gauge inconsistencies, I discovered that I had insufficient oil pressure. Like, very insufficient. It would start out around 20-ish psi and then rapidly decline to around 5 psi when the Cole Hersee low pressure/high temp switch I had installed earlier would kill the engine. I read every thread on this website involving oil pressure issues, oil type choices, etc. I purchased the fancy oil pressure regulating valve seat tool from Moyer, replaced the 'ball type' regulating valve with the 'cone type' valve, changed the oil to 15W-40 Rotella, dumped in bottles of Lucas Oil Stabilizer, all to no avail. After all of this effort, time, and money spent, the reality of the situation was that the motor needed to be rebuilt. The bottom end was just worn out. I'm not sure if running the engine as hard as I did with the timing so hideously off contributed to the bearings/crankshaft getting prematurely worn out but either way, this motor needed to come out of the boat. However I had another problem: I had scheduled our first haul-out for bottom paint etc 6 months prior with the expectation that I would have a running A-4 by this point. (April 2017) Without the motor running, I would have to get towed up to the boatyard (about 10 miles) and then back to my marina again after the haul-out was complete.

What followed was the most epic miscalculation of a project since the Boston 'Big Dig.' What I thought would take 4 days, took almost a month. What I thought would be around $1000, instead had my wife and I considering cutting our losses and abandoning the boat. The forthcoming post will be a little bit of a tangent from the specifically A-4 rebuild thread but I hope you'll indulge me so that I can show how such a seemingly straightforward task as doing a 'bottom job' could insidiously morph into such a boondoggle that a person would question their life choices. Give me a little time to edit the pictures and type the narrative but in the meantime, here was the beginning of haul-out nightmare 2017:

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P.S. In case it takes me a little bit to type up the next post I'll quickly say that Berkeley Marine Center (as inferred from the Travel-lift) had nothing to do with our headaches. The folks there were great, and whenever we sober up enough from this first haul-out experience, we'll happily give them our business again...if they'll have us.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 02-28-2019 at 12:01 AM. Reason: Typo
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  #63   IP: 192.186.122.174
Old 02-28-2019, 08:42 AM
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This IS all being published as a softcover book soon I hope; you're a natural at story telling, pathos, humour, and sympathy
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  #64   IP: 173.244.44.99
Old 04-10-2019, 08:37 PM
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Oh Greg you can bet will be. I think there's likely something buried in the user agreement of this website where I surrendered all (unfathomably non)intellectual property over to Moyer Marine so Don's probably printing the "Anti-Atomic 4 Manual Volume 1: Don't Do What This Guy Did" He'll probably sell as many copies as the original Atomic 4 Manual.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:37 PM
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Haul Out Chapter 1
"How Hard Could It Be?"


Remember back in post #2 where I thought a 'haul-out' was sailing slang for "partying on a boat for 2 days straight?" I can now say unequivocally it is the opposite of that. I promise if you make it to the end of this tangent, you'll see how a haul-out became the final straw to remove and rebuild the motor.

The Background:

The boat hadn't been hauled out in years and was in dire need of bottom paint. For the climate the boat was berthed in, (San Francisco Bay) and our usage pattern, (infrequent) our diver strongly recommended we switch from the ablative paint the PO used, to a copper-based 'hard' paint like Trinidad SR. Without the boat moving through the water frequently enough, the bottom growth built up quickly and he'd inadvertently remove too much paint with the quarterly bottom scrubbings. Switching paint types meant removing all the previous coatings back to bare gelcoat, and starting fresh with at least 2 coats of barrier coat, and 2 coats of bottom paint. The good news was, there were "no blisters and the hull is in good shape."cough cough

My date with the travel lift had been scheduled months in advance. While doing my due diligence on the project, I had called around to multiple Bay Area boatyards (most of whom had good reputations) to discuss pricing and the reply was always the same; "We'll see once we get the boat out of the water." Even when I pressed the issue for a 'ballpark' figure 'within a couple grand,' nobody would give me a straight answer. I became highly skeptical and formulated a complicated conspiracy theory that the Bay Area boatyards must be in cahoots with the State Of California and a seedy underworld of boat manufacturers to prevent people from maintaining their vessels thereby ensuring they must pay the California scrap fee and purchase new six-figure boats, generating massive registration tax revenue, which was then used to pay off the boatyards into complicity. It was a vicious cycle I had unwittingly stumbled upon. Well, there actually may be a small shred of truth lurking somewhere in that last sentence. Without getting political, I'll say the State of California has a significant amount of regulation on the books when it comes to bottom maintenance or vessel disposal. I came to realize the only way I would have any control over the cost of this project, was to D.I.Y it. Unfortunately that left me with only 2 options of boatyards who allowed DIY work. Even then, I was obligated to tarp the area under the boat, rent and use their sanding equipment exclusively, (one of those Gucci $2000 Festool HEPA vacuum powered sanding units) purchase consumables from the yard, and capture "95%" of the sanding dust. I selected Berkeley Marine Center because of their friendly, straight forward demeanor on the phone, as well as their proximity to my home port. I put a plan in motion. I'd have my wife and parents come out from Colorado to help with the sanding. My folks could stay at the nearby hotel while my wife and I would crash on the boat in the yard. With the 4 of us sanding all day Saturday and Sunday, we could be sipping wine by Sunday evening when I'd send them back home and finish up the priming and painting on Monday/Tuesday. Well, I got the Saturday part right I was just 26 days off on the prime/paint part.

The Haul-Out Begins:

Before we began, the plan started to unravel. In the months between scheduling the haul-out and the boat finally in the travel-lift slings, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child. During the first ultrasound appointment, I had begun to ask the Doctor "Would it still be ok for a pregnant woman to operate aggressive power sanding equip...." and was immediately cut off. Like, Ned Stark in Season 1 of Game of Thrones head cut off, cut off. I'm pretty sure I'm lucky I got out of that Doctor's office with my head. My wife agreed to still come out for moral support but wouldn't be participating in any sanding of potentially noxious bottom paint. That left my seventy-something year old parents and I to the sanding.

We got the boat into the slings, but within minutes of getting the boat out of the water while the yard staff pressure washed off the barnacles, the owner of the yard supervising the lift operation said casually "Wow, look at all those blisters. Are you going to deal with those on this haul-out?" "Whhhhhhhatttt?" I replied in disbelief. "My diver said I didn't have any blisters!" As I tried to convince myself this guy who's spent 50+ years of his life around boats didn't know what he was talking about, I saw the telltale bumps begin to swell.

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It was a rough start but there was no turning back now. I suited up my parents in some brand new Tyvek suits and respirators, rented 3 of the Festool sanders for the day, gave them a quick tutorial about "keeping the sander flat against the hull" and let 'em loose. It was as comical as it was predictable. The industrial strength sanders immediately overpowered them as they tried to control the rogue tools that whipped around like possessed spinning demons. Imagine Wylie coyote getting spun around an axle and you have the mental image.

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Within an hour they were spent. I felt terrible for flying them all the way out to California for such an unpleasant project to begin with, and the realization they just weren't physically strong enough for the task was deflating for everyone. I tried to keep morale up by saying "just take a break, I'll keep going" but it quickly sank in this project just went from 4 laborers to 1. I could extrapolate from the day's (lack of) progress that I was facing many, many days of sanding before I could even think about tackling the blister repairs. In an effort to get a 'quick win' I turned to the cutlass bearing replacement. With the shaft out, I carefully hacksawed through the old worn bearing, applied my homemade press-tool, and went to town:

[YOUTUBE]D8LX3nfZnOw[/YOUTUBE]

The next day was an even larger fail than the previous. You'd think a holiday as significant as Easter would've registered on our collective radars but in commotion of getting the boat towed up, hoisted, and launching into the project, we completely forgot the yard was closed and we wouldn't be able to do any work. On top of that, it had rained heavily the during the night and my tarp was now floating under the boat. We made a trip to Home Depot, kicked around Berkeley a little, had a cup of coffee at the original Pete's Coffee, and pretty much called it a day.

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As we sat down for Easter dinner in the hotel that night, I tried to assure everyone that after I drove everyone back to the airport, I'd get the project back on track. I'd re-double my sanding efforts and have the boat back in the water by "maybe Thursday or Friday" now. I could sense the mixed looks of concern and doubt on my wife and parents' faces as I drank my wine as fast as possible to numb my sore arms. Their doubt was warranted.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

Last edited by Launchpad McQ; 09-24-2019 at 12:16 AM. Reason: Brevity, grammer, YouTube shennanigans
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Old 09-14-2019, 12:49 AM
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Haul Out Chapter 2
"Revenge of the Osmotic Blisters"


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The next day after I drove everyone to the airport and sent them back home, I returned to the boatyard to keep sanding. Although I had been somewhat in denial about the magnitude of this project upon which I had already passed the point-of-no-return, after 8 hours of uninterrupted, back breaking, awkward-angled, exhausting, aggressive, sanding with little progress to show for it I realized I was in trouble. That night, after a shower at the local municipal pool to scrub the caustic copper paint dust off my face, I climbed the 8' ladder to the cockpit, weakly stumbled down the companionway ladder into a dark cabin, closed the hatchboards, poured a stiff drink, and had a mental breakdown. "What the hell am I even doing?" I thought to myself. I was 1000 miles from home with a pregnant wife, simultaneously in the middle of a complete home renovation in Denver, sleeping on a decrepit boat we bought off Craigslist in Berkeley that's up on jacks in a boatyard, with no end in sight. Sitting alone in the darkness, I questioned every decision of the last five years. "Should we have ever bought this boat? Should I have even taken this job? Should I abandon the last decade of work and change careers? Can I handle being away from my family this much?" In the words of one of my favorite bands The Drive-By-Truckers; "So I'll meet you at the bottom if there really is one, they always told me when you hit it you'll know it..." Done.

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The next morning I woke up with a slight headache but the sun was out, the wave of depression had retreated, and logic once again entered the picture. The way I saw it I had two options: 1)Throw the keys in the boat and walk away or 2) get back to work, muscle through this project no matter how long it took, and get it behind us. Given what we had already invested in time and money, there was really only one option. I got back to work sanding and after a week, had a bare hull ready for blister repair:

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I don't want to venture too far astray with this thread from the engine rebuild narrative so I'll hit the fast-forward button on the remainder of the bottom job. Like any painting project, the prep turned out to be 90% of it. The two coats of barrier primer and two coats of bottom paint rolled on relatively easy. After the requisite drying time the boat was in the slings, splashed, and ready for tow back to my home port.

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That's when the real trouble started...
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

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Old 09-14-2019, 12:55 AM
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Haul Out Chapter 3
"The Close Call"


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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 09-17-2019, 12:12 PM
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This is like a Stephen King novella... "Catalina Redemption" or some such.

So what happens next?!
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:02 PM
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With the boat finally back in the water 28 days after the keel first ascended out of the Bay in the travel-lift slings, I called BoatUS to schedule the tow back to my marina before I had to leave town for work. When we originally purchased the boat, we were (surprisingly) smart enough to invest in the BoatUS towing insurance "Gold Package" with it's "Unlimited Towing" proviso, and I now intended to make use of it. I called the BoatUS dispatcher who took my information and while I expected to hear "we'll send a tow vessel right over" instead was told, "this tow won't be covered under your policy and will cost around $1200." I exploded on the poor operator who had the misfortune of handling my call. "What the hell do you mean it's not covered!? Do you know what 'unlimited' means!? I don't have time for this! Did you hear the part about my engine not running!? I've gotta get this boat off the transient dock, like, now!!!" The BoatUS representative didn't depart from his scripted, unemotional tone as he explained to me the fine print of the policy which stipulated it didn't cover tows from a "full service" marina. In their view, once at a "full service facility," the boat should be 100% seaworthy before it ever departs again. I understand the philosophy but I had only gone to the boatyard for a bottom job with the expectation of getting towed back. And although I have no doubt Berekely Marine Center was perfectly capable of 'repairing' my aging Atomic 4 by swapping in a $15,000 Yanmar diesel, that was never the plan. And to drive the point home, the BoatUS rep admonished me: "...by the way, don't think about motoring a half mile out and calling us for an 'emergency tow' because we've already put a note in your file about your engine not running. If you do that you'll still have to pay the $1200." I hung up the phone and called my wife. Her dejected response was predictable: "$1200 to get towed 10 miles!? Didn't we just spend $3000 on this bottom job? And didn't we only pay $5000 for this thing in the first place? I don't care what you do but we're not spending another $1200 just to get it moved. If it keeps going this way, we need to sell this thing and just pay for hotel rooms when you're out there for work. It'll be cheaper." She was right. We were dumping money into a 35 year old boat and we were only slightly closer to a "seaworthy vessel" at a time when we could ill afford it with our first child on the way. I begged the boatyard owner to let the boat stay on the transient dock for a few more days while I returned to work and sorted things out with the assurance that I would move it within the week. I had no plan, no sailing experience, a barely running engine, a fed-up wife, and a boatyard owner breathing down my neck to get the boat moved. What could possibly go wrong with this combination of influences?
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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 09-20-2019, 09:00 AM
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Good Lord Man!

Charles Dickens has nothing on you and your serialization cliff-hangers!

Waiting for the next installment!
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:47 PM
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As you can probably guess, many things could go wrong. Especially given the combination of circumstances that was encouraging me, nay, forcing me to set sail from the boatyard and return my vessel to it's home port without a dependable engine, adequate sail inventory, sufficient sailing skills, or measurable intelligence. To top it all off, in the months prior to the haul-out, (with the expectation of getting towed both ways) I had removed the boom traveller and most of the deck hardware in order re-seal the penetrations with butyl tape leaving only a couple winches and a few cleats intact. Hardly enough requisite hardware to manage a 30' boat during a gusty SF Bay afternoon sail. Only a fool would even consider taking a boat out in that condition....

I returned to work that week to find I was working with a familiar co-worker whom I'd gotten along with particularly well over the years. He owned a twin-screw Hatteras in addition to an Erickson 35 in my same marina so I knew I'd have an sympathetic audience for my "haul-out-from-hell" story. I told him about the predicament I was in between my impending eviction from the boatyard transient dock, my impending eviction from my king bed in Denver by my wife if I spent another $1200 on the boat that week, and BoatUS denying my tow insurance claim. I must've sounded as desperate as I truly was because without hesitation he offered to help me wrestle the boat back down to it's rightful slip. I reiterated just how underprepared I, as well as the boat, was for the short 10 mile passage. "No problem!" he said, "between the two of us, we'll get it moved." Emboldened by his enthusiasm, I came up with a plan. Once we returned from work to SF, I'd drive over to Berkeley that night to prep the boat and crash out for a few hours of sleep, and early the next morning drive back over the bridge to pick him up from his boat (in the same destination home-port), then drive back to Berkeley by 9am so we could set sail before the forecasted afternoon winds started howling, then catch a 4pm flight home to Denver in time for a late dinner. Easy peasy.

The plan began to unravel the minute I returned to the boat late that night. My first task in prepping the boat for the following day was to reconnect the reversing gear output coupling and prop shaft coupling that I had disconnected when I had removed the prop shaft to replace the cutlass bearing during haul out. To my surprise, the bolt holes now wouldn't line up close enough to start the bolts. The only explanation seemed to be that the engine/prop shaft had once been aligned and mated with a severely worn cutlass bearing, thus when I replaced it with a new one, nothing lined up. "No problem, I'll just adjust the motor mounts lower to bring the two couplings into alignment....uh....wait..."

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Years of an unresolved leaky water pump from the previous owner had disintegrated my aft starboard motor mount to the point there were no longer threads upon which to adjust anything up or down. My only option at this point was to force the couplings into kinda-sorta alignment, intentionally cross thread the bolts joining the two, and plan on replacing the couplings and motor mounts down the road. I did exactly that, but once I started the engine and put it in gear, the vibration of the shaft wobbling felt like sitting on top of a clothes dryer with a 20lb barbel in it...but it was working. Next order of business, uh, oh yeah, the sails! This was a sailboat after all. Well no better time to see what condition the sails are in for the first time than 11:30pm the night before an early morning sail! I unpacked the genoa to discover it was a monster. A huge hank-on 150 that was way oversized for the Bay's notoriously gusty conditions but the hanks all operated freely and most importantly, it was the sail I had. I finished by tidying up the salon and hopped in bed around 3am in anticipation of the day to come, but deep down not feeling much better about the situation despite recruiting a willing participant in this ill-advised endeavor.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

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Old 09-22-2019, 01:18 AM
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I picked up my coworker in the morning and discovered he had recruited yet another willing participant for this exercise in foolishness. In order to protect the names of the guilty, we'll call my co-worker "Greg" and the newest volunteer "Jason." I was relieved to learn "Jason" had quite a bit of sailing experience having grown up in Wisconsin sailing on lakes with his dad, and currently owned a Hunter 35 in our same home port. Between the three of us, I figured we had a combined 20 years of sailing experience, of which I accounted for 3-1/2 hours.

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We got to the boat and pushed off the dock. I calculated that we had about 10 minutes of useful engine run time before the oil got up temperature and the oil pressure dropped to around 4psi when the safety switch would inevitably shut the motor off. That meant we couldn't mess around getting out of the marina, past the break wall, through the 'kinda-sorta-maybe-dredged' gap in the miles-long abandoned Berkeley Pier, and into open water where we could hoist the sails. (For those not familiar, prior to the Golden Gate bridge construction, the Berkeley Pier used to be the main point of embarkation for ferry service to San Francisco, which explains why it protrudes into the Bay 3.5 miles)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_Pier

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With the entire boat vibrating violently from the misaligned prop shaft, and the engine clacking away from worn out bearings, we collectively let out a sigh of relief when we threaded the needle through the 50' gap in the pier and hoisted the main and jib. We lazily sailed under the Bay Bridge, past the San Francisco downtown waterfront, and past AT&T Park in perfectly comfortable 10-15 knot winds. However, once we rounded Hunter's Point, the Bay took on a completely different personality. It was like the seemingly sweet girlfriend from college who all the sudden stopped taking her pills, and you realized there was something incredibly dangerous lurking under there you couldn't control. The winds were freakin' howling. If I had an anemometer, I'm sure it would've departed the top of the mast and ended up in Nevada. I looked around as far as I could see for another small boat on the water as reassurance that we weren't the only ones dumb enough to be out in these conditions, but there weren't any. We took turns at the helm getting drenched from the wind driven waves battering the hull but somehow managed to make it into the channel leading to the marina.

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As we approached the first enormous, wooden, channel marker piling, Greg and Jason ordered me to fire up the engine, turn into the wind, and hold it there while they doused the absurdly too-large genoa. I did exactly as told but despite the wheel held hard-over, the bow kept falling off and drifting us toward the channel marker, begging to snag a shroud and pull the mast down. (Tragically, that exact situation happened 15 miles down the Bay a few years ago with a fatal outcome ... Boat Impacts Channel Marker) Over the wind noise I could hear them shouting from the bow "Starboard! Starboard! Starboard!" but I was out of rudder authority. No matter what I did with the wheel, every time they would almost get control of the jib, a gust would grab a loose bit of the sail, blow a belly out uncontrollably, and pull the boat back off the wind toward the hulking mass of protruding wood posts that were rapidly getting closer. In the nick of time, they subdued the rouge genoa (I think Greg was physically laying on top of it to keep it from re-inflating) and we squeaked by the channel marker without impact. I couldn't tell if I was wet from the sea spray or sweat. We motored past the break wall toward my slip silently pretending what had just happened wasn't that serious. All the while I was thinking to myself how I had just unabashedly disrespected the my personal mantra I've held dear all these years, I'll never do anything so dumb I'll have to explain it Search and Rescue (or the Coast Guard in this case).

We approached the slip, I shifted into reverse, and heard the familiar "Atomic 4 reverse noise" ggggggrrrrrrrrrrr followed by what can only be described as the sound an electric drill makes when the bit suddenly punches through some wood wwwhhhhhheeeeeewwww! and suddenly we were drifting again, this time towards my dock neighbor's (much nicer) Catalina 30. Jason leapt from the boat onto the dock from a distance that would make a Russian Olympic long-jumper question if he was doping, and pulled us the rest of the way in with the bow line. We tied the boat up, I thanked them profusely for helping, and went below deck to wrap up. That's when I looked down and noticed the prop shaft was no longer connected to the engine. The sudden change in engine sound followed by the uncontrollable drift was the result of the shaft (undoubtedly dislodged from the misalignment-induced wobble) breaking free of it's coupling as it tried to spin itself backwards through the stuffing box and out of the boat. The only thing that prevented that from happening and leaving an open 3/4" hole below the waterline was a small hose clamp I had secured to the shaft as a precaution to keep the shaft from sliding out while it was disconnected after the bottom job. I had simply forgotten to take it off.

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I felt a chill go down my back. After 28 days toiling in the boatyard for a bottom job, thousands of dollars spent, the stressful logistics of returning to the slip without getting towed, and a harrowing near-miss with a channel marker, had it not been for a $2 hose clamp, I quite possibly could've sank my boat right there in the slip. The shaft with prop still attached would've departed the boat fast enough to possibly damage the rudder on it's path to some unknown final resting place at the bottom of my marina. The only solution I could've hoped for in that situation would've been to insert a wooden tapered plug into the shaft log, and call for an emergency tow right back to the boatyard travel lift I had just left.

In that moment, I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to be "that guy" anymore. That guy who would have to explain to the Coast Guard why he took an unseaworthy boat into the San Francisco Bay, with a half-assed, unreliable, worn-out engine, inappropriate sails, insufficient ground tackle, and non-existent sailing skills....and the place to start was going to be the engine, once and for all.

So there you have it, the story of how a simple bottom job project turned into a do-or-die, complete engine rebuild that I'll write about in the upcoming posts. If you've read this far, I assume you don't mind long-winded narratives that sometimes go on a tangent from the strictly Atomic 4 related topics. Truthfully, I've enjoyed recounting this story of how a clueless, landlocked, accidental boat owner did everything wrong, but learned a tremendous amount along the way. It's fun (long after the fact) to look back through iPhoto and see pictures that remind us how far we've come with this thing. I realize I'm writing to a pretty narrow audience but if just one person derives some entertainment, if not education from my missteps, then hopefully I'll have repaid my debt to this forum in kind.

P.S. My wife and I are expecting our 2nd baby next week (its a girl!) so I might go into radio-silence mode while we retreat to our sleepless-in-Denver humble abode for a month or so. (Each post seems to take me 2-3 hours to resize, upload, and insert the photos, then type and proofread the narrative) Catch y'all when we resurface from the dark side of the moon.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

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  #73   IP: 67.176.27.175
Old 10-13-2019, 11:42 PM
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Howdy y'all. We're back from the hospital with our new daughter. Mom and baby are both doing well, two-year old big brother has already contacted an attorney to determine what seniority rights he has, and dad is wondering how he's going to afford college for two kids.

Anyway, back to 2017 and I really didn't have much else going on except, oh, you know a 108 year old house renovation...

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a newborn who could scream so loud that the dog would wince...

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and a merger taking place with my employer...

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Whatever. Nothing I couldn't handle. As I mentioned in the previous post, the time for half-measures was past and only a reliable power plant from here on would suffice. I took inventory of all the corrective measures I had already attempted on this motor, how much money I had spent, and started to reconsider whether or not I wanted to continue "throwing money at the problem" with an Atomic or re-power with something different. The last thing I would want is to discourage anyone from rebuilding their A-4 but in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit at this juncture I seriously considered replacing the Atomic with a 10 kw brushless DC electric motor. I know, I know. I can hear the collective "here we go again" moans through my computer screen from the helpful A-4 evangelists but hear me out on this and my continued endorsement of the A-4 will become evident.

I'm always up for doing what I can to lessen my environmental impact but this wasn't some naively idealistic notion that I was going to save the planet by converting a single internal combustion engine that consumes 20 gallons of gasoline a year to electric. The choice of power plant came down to three considerations, in order of importance: 1) total cost 2) reliability & suitability for our usage pattern 3) resale value.

1. Cost
Option 1: Moyer "New Block Engine Exchange" $6907. More than what we paid for the boat. Next option...
Option 2: Moyer "Complete Engine Exchange" $5407. Still more than we paid for the boat. Next...
Option 3: Moyer "short block" option re-using all of my ancillaries $3500. Um, maybe but what other options do we have...
Option 4: Brushless DC motor, controller, throttle, thrust bearing, reduction gear $2800.....but then lithium batteries, custom motor mount, charger etc...+$$??
Option 5: Estimated cost to rebuild my own engine based upon other's stated rebuild costs $2500
Winner: Tie option 4 or 5

2. Reliability & Suitability

Brushless DC motor with reduction gear option:
I know the undeserved "bad rap" the A-4 gets in the boating community is a point of debate here but the indisputable advantage of an electric motor is fewer moving parts. For my purposes I identified a few other perceived advantages over an A-4. First, we take the boat out of the slip very infrequently so an electric motor would have less likelihood of reliability issues associated with infrequent use. Second, we didn't anticipate the need to motor for long periods of time with a daily return to a shore-powered slip pretty much assured, exactly the usage pattern that lends itself to an electric drivetrain.

Rebuilding Atomic option:
Assuming a fully rebuilt and subsequently maintained engine, I expected the Atomic to be as reliable as any other internal combustion engine, which is to say, pretty darn reliable.

Winner: Tie

3. Resale Value
This one was a little tougher to compare "apples to apples." My research didn't turn up many electric-converted sailboats for sale so I wasn't confident what a future buyer would find more appealing. We don't intend to sell the boat anytime soon and when we do, we don't expect to get all of our money back. In fact we don't expect to get half of our money back but we do want to get some of our money back. Given the fact that the boat is located in San Francisco we thought the Tesla-culture of the area would reward an electric conversion and overlook it's one-off nature. Ultimately we predicted the resale value would be most dependent on just having a working engine rather than gas vs electric.

Winner: Tie

Decision
One might wonder why I didn't even consider a diesel conversion in my range of options given all the "conventional wisdom" that diesel Catalina 30's are frequently valued more than an equivalent A-4 powered tub. This was a no-brainer. A diesel (Beta, Kubota, et al) crate motor would cost more than the most expensive new Moyer motor, and would require extensive modifications to the engine stringers to get the output coupling to align with the stuffing box shaft log. The only Catalina diesel conversion I've seen in person had a modified settee bench seat to incorporate a booster-seat riser to accommodate the increased head height of the diesel. It felt like I was a 6 year old sitting on a phone book. Just weird. So ultimately it came down to consideration number 1: Total Cost. There were too many variables with an electric conversion that risked costs spiraling out of control.

Winner: Rebuild my A-4

Once I committed to that course of action, I decided the best way to go about it was possibly the most absurd. Just like the Johnny Cash song, I decided to disassemble the motor 'one piece at a time' and bring the parts home in my checked baggage until the whole motor would be back in my garage in Denver where I had the workspace, tools, and time for the project. The best part? Shipping '....wouldn't cost me a diiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmeee!' But first, could one frustrated-yet-determined man single handedly lift a partially stripped down A-4 out of the bilge with a little beer courage?

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Yes. He. Can.
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

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Old 10-14-2019, 12:19 AM
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The well traveled Atomic 4 in the Denver International Airport, approximately 2000' above the secret underground bunker where they house the aliens and new world order headquarters 'n stuff....
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An old Airline Pilot proverb: "If we don't help each other nobody else will."

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Old 10-15-2019, 10:33 AM
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Alright Jonathan! At this point in the story it seems there's a little light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm guessing we're in for some more twists and turns as this story unfolds.

As you know from my rebuild thread, I also did the one-piece-at-a-time through the airport thing when I rebuilt my daughter's A4. But in my case I was too cheap to spring for the over-weight checked baggage so I stuffed my carry-ons with 80 Lb of cast iron.
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