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  #1   IP: 148.170.241.1
Old 10-25-2010, 01:36 PM
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When to overhaul?

According to the seller of my boat and the paperwork he gave me with it, my A4 was put in the boat in 1983, and it appears it was a brand new engine at that time.

I have no idea how many hours are on the engine, because the hours meter doesn't work and apparently hasn't worked for a long time.

Right now it's got a head gasket leak. I just order the head gasket set and will do that job in a few weeks when I winterize.

I'm wondering at what point does one decide to overhaul an engine, if the engine is running fine (which mine is)?

I kinda feel like there is something like a "preventative maintenance" overhaul or "preemptive" overhaul. At a certain number of hours of use, is it time to just go ahead and pull it apart, even though it's not shown any signs of problems?

I don't want to wait until it blows up or whatever, but by the same token, I don't want to have to yank it out and rebuild it unless I have to (although I am tempted to do it just for the experience and the comfort of knowing I now have a freshly overhauled engine...).

One thing is that it's kinda dirty and oily (not terrible; I've seen way, way worse, but it could be cleaner) and has a little rust here and there. I kinda would like to take it apart, clean it all up, repaint everything and replace all gaskets, if nothing else. But I also kinda don't want to do all that, because it's just yet one more project!

Thanks for any thoughts or ideas.
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Old 10-25-2010, 02:08 PM
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sastanley sastanley is offline
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Bill, My engine was terrible. I left the head & manifold on, but took everything else off (except the coil, I ended up breaking the bracket off & mounted a new one on a bulkhead) & took all the parts home to clean and paint over the winter. The head/block/manifold I did in the boat, although that means I wasn't able to get at things like the oil pan very well.

I would recommend treating the rusty areas right away..at least a wire brush, & some high temp primer like Rustoleum to stop the rust from progressing. I have a lot of this chronicled in my "Old boat, new owner" thread here if you are interested in reading about it. On my profile page there is an album here that has the same pics (hopefully in chronological order) if you want to skip all the boring dialog in the thread.

If you have good compression numbers (best taken on dry cylinders to get accurate readings & I also realize you think you have a head gasket problem) I don't see any reason to bother with the overhaul at this time..maybe while you have the head off, do a valve adjustment too, since it will likely help with access to the valve cover area.

Everyone's circumstances are a little different, but if in fact your motor is from 1983, it sounds like you have one of the latest Atomic4s ever built (man would I love to get my hands on one of those!!!)..if it has been reasonably cared for, it is likely got a lot of miles still on it.
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Last edited by sastanley; 10-25-2010 at 02:27 PM. Reason: add links
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:18 PM
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My Father's quote

I'm going to quote my dad, and his father before him. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

Having said that, what seems to be broken is the head gasket (which you have covered) and the rust. I agree with Shawn. Brush the rust off and repaint. There is high temp paint available in your local auto store. I found a wire brush drill bit at Sears that has taken a LOT of the work out of rust removal.

For preventative maintenance, and since you'll have the head off anyway, I would take a good look at the valves. Another check I would do, since you don't know how long the engine has been run without service, is check the water pump impeller, and even pull the water jacket off and have a look in there, cleaning it out as necessary. You can also see the cylinder walls from there and check the corrosion. And since we're on the topic, clean out the coolant holes in the head too while it's off. Mine were all filled with black gunk. I got a high pressure hose nozzle and put it right on one. Almost got sprayed in the face with the crud that came out.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:32 PM
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I should clarify that I do know some details about the previous owner's servicing of the engine, because - in contrast to the guy he bought it from 8 years before - he was pretty good about the maintenance and kept detailed records of when he did what.

So I do know when he last replaced the impeller, flushed the block and exhaust manifold jacket, changed the oil, etc.

Once I get the head gasket replaced and the outside cleaned up a little bit, the big thing I really would like to do is convert to fresh water cooling.

There's just something about the raw water cooling that I just don't like. It just seems kinda "not right" to me.

Maybe next year; maybe the year after...

Thanks!
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:35 PM
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What is your intended use for the boat, long distance cruising, short local trips or just in and out of the marina? To the best of my knowledge my 1965 A-4 had not been rebuilt when I bought the boat in 2004. It had been properly maintained but I had no idea how many hours it had. On my second trip from NC to the Keys the rings on the # 4 cylinder broke. The A-4 still brought me safely back, almost 1000 miles, on 3 & 1/3 cylinders. Planning on more long trips I decided to rebuild at that point. Most of the parts were still in good shape but I replaced almost everything since I had it apart. The A-4 is a tough little beast and given fuel, spark and compression I doubt it will leave you stranded somewhere.
Even though the A-4 is fairly easy to work on and the rebuilding process is very educational I would not rebuild if you have descent compression #s. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:48 PM
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Sounds like I don't need to worry about overhauling, as she's running like a sewing machine at this point.

I have no plans to go outside of the Chesapeake Bay and environs, other than maybe next year or the year after, I'd love to take a longer cruise (week or two maybe) down the ICW into Pamlico Sound and back.

There is no way I'll be taking this boat out in blue water or, say, to the Carribbean or anything like that. Purely mid-Atlantic coastal cruising, and mostly short trips (like 1 - 3 days at a time).

When I go for a day sail, I run the engine about 15-30 minutes max going out and then another 15-30 minutes coming back in - just long enough to clear the inlet and get out into Hills Bay enough to raise the sails and kill the engine. Same thing coming back in - I sail as far as I can, depending on wind direction, before firing up the engine and dousing the sails.

I'll just address the known issues right now (head gasket, slight surface rust) and keep up with the good maintenance.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:14 PM
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Smile

I would just like to say that your feeling about raw water cooling being "kinda not right" is legitimate. Cooling water is injected into the engine thru the water jacket striking the same places all the time. We know that water can carve thru rock over time and it can do it a lot faster to cast iron or steel. Atomic 4 blocks are no longer being cast. While it is true that cylinders can be resleeved, the process is expensive. The conversion to antifreeze cooling is a worthwhile adventure. I am also experimenting with redirecting flow at the water jacket (see my Engine Room album). I agree with the others; rebuilding is not necessary so long as you have good compression and other vital functions. Regards, Hanley
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:53 PM
keelcooler keelcooler is offline
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I was thinking the same years ago when I picked up my old Pearson. I removed all the bolt on stuff, cleaned and refurbished the parts. Did a valve job, added heavier springs and cleaned out the jackets. Good to go for another decade.

I also gave her some bobbles she never had like a temp control system, temp gauge, PVC valve and polishing filter. Iím thinking maybe next year turning her into a hottie w/ electronic ignition.

If you have a sheet metal fly wheel cover it is indeed one of the last made.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:56 PM
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Thumbs up

Bill, I am also saving up my pennies to give the old girl (not my wife) a fresh water cooling system. I am really intrigued right now by the Indigo system with electric circulating motor.
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"Twice Around" - '77 Catalina 30, #511 with original A-4 & MMI manifold.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:25 PM
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Dissenting opinion

No question salt water is tougher on iron than anti-freeze, but having the anti-freeze means another system to break down, so I favor simplicity and raw water cooling.

Mark S
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:05 AM
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haul and overhaul, or not?

I went through this couple of years ago when we got an old boat. I think the short answer is there is no need to pull the engine and do a major overhaul unless there is a clear reason to do so.

I started from the outside and worked in. When I got to the head/block I found no clear reason to separate them and haul them out to a workbench for further teardown. By the time I had checked the compression and removed everything that could be removed fairly easily, and inspected each component (replaced some), I learned that the engine was in excellent shape. Since the refit we've had no problems, and I now know how to do a major overhaul if the need appears, and what to watch for.

After removing the cooling side plate and flushing the system I installed freshwater cooling, and I'm glad I did. Saltwater is corrosive to the block from inside out, and can lead to catastrophic failures. Winterizing is easy. True, it means a lot more hoses, second water pump, less room to work on that side of the engine, and runs a little warmer (not a bad thing and easily managed), but extending the engine's life is worth it to me.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:53 AM
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Well this is kinda funny.

I just stumbled across this old thread (which I started, but had no memory of at all).

A mere two months and a few days later, I started this thread ... about removing and overhauling the engine....

http://www.moyermarine.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4808

Man, I'm a glutton for punishment...
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