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Atomic 4 Catalina 38 rebuild/replace/ install or repower


kadyca

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I'm fairly seriously considering at Catalina 38 which is being offered at a pretty well discounted price, but the reason is that the original atomic 4 was removed and apparently rebuilt, but is not currently in the boat so would either need to be installed or could potentially be repowered with a new replacement motor.

While I've done plenty of normal maintenance on my old Columbia 28 that had an atomic four (which was pretty rock solid and always started with the exception of an exhaust elbow that got so corroded it was leaking like a seive and had to be replaced), but I've never had to tackle anything like a rebuild and a replacement.

Assuming the rebuild was successful, it would just be a matter of re-installing the rebuilt A4. I've been watching a bunch of motor install videos on YT and it seems like this should be a reasonable DIY to tackle, but wondering if that's the case or is it a lot harder to do than it seems?

Or would I be better off re-powering with a beta-marine diesel replacement for the A4? Obviously much more expensive, but given the age of the original A4 who knows how much life it could have left in it especially depending on the quality of the rebuild.

Thoughts? Advice?

tiafai

 

pk

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Most A4 have lasted 30+ yrs so there is no reason to suspect a proper rebuild wont be close to that. However you seem unsure if its been rebuilt , or rebuilt properly, thats a caution. You can buy a rebuilt ready to go A4 from the guys in Pennsylvania? for about 5k. Your not getting a Beta for that and then your changing fuel tanks and lines, control panels and probably prop . Probably doubling the price of the Catalina 38.

I'm not sure I'd go to all that bother but its your money.

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Sell the A4 there is a market for them.

Fit the Beta that comes configured to be a drop in replacement. 

This is one of the very few times you will get most or all of the upgrade  cost back when you sell the boat. 

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Do a compression check on the A4 - if all cylinders are the same and in spec then it's pretty certain it was rebuilt. If you want to be really sure, take off the pan and bearing caps and check the bearings and clearances. You don't mention if it has fresh cooling, electronic ignition etc - all the Moyer upgrades. They will make a BIG difference in reliability and longevity.

If so, drop it back in - a pretty easy job. Two guys can muscle it into place. The most tedious part will be realigning the shaft.

Swapping in a "direct replacement" diesel is obviously the nicest choice but will cost you well into 5 figures even if you install it all yourself. Crank is right - new tank, prop, hoses, panel etc. etc. etc. The bits & pieces really add up

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A Cat 38 is at least 30 years old. With a questionable motor not in the boat, and therefor no option for a sea trial, the value is very low. Unless it is in great condition with good sails a solid rig and updates like electronics from the last decade it has almost no value. As you have pointed out installing the motor is not a huge job, which begs the question why didn't the current owner do it and at least double the value of the boat?

My last boat had the A4 swapped for a "drop in" diesel. The boat was in great shape, the A4 rusted shut, and the boat stayed in the family for another 20 yrs so it made sense. Everything sloop wrote is correct.

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Not too tough to rig a stand and battery/gas/water to fire up that A4 in your driveway or wherever. I'd highly advise doing that before going through the hassle of installing it in the boat. You can make sure it runs perfect, no strange noises or leaks etc. In addition, the compression test suggested above would be good. While you're running water out of a bucket for coolant you could also do a muriatic acid soak of the whole water jacket to de-clog things. Heck, there's a bunch of simple things you could do at that stage to bring the engine to tip top shape.

If the A4 isn't up to snuff, these are dirt simple engines to do partial or full rebuild on if you're at all mechanically inclined. I did a full rebuild on one for my daughter's boat, piece of cake and my total cost was around $1500. I kept a detailed log of the rebuild if you're interested. Moyer Marine has everything you need.

Of course, if $10K plus is palatable to you and the rest of the boat is in great shape, that Beta diesel would be a great way to go. This is especially true on a 38 footer, as I'm guessing that little Atomic is quite underpowered for that size boat.

Good luck!

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25 K to 30 k with a new diesel

8 k to 12 k with an unknown condition condition A4 on a pallet.

Shiny new Beta 25 with new gearbox and A4 mounts 8.5k 

Do the math.

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I'm currently going through a re-power on my Catalina 38 from a Universal 5424 to a Beta 30.

I opted for the Beta 30 to have a little more headroom for a bigger alternator. Not sure how the engine bed is set up for the A4, the 5424 was using 3 engine mounts. We are doing the modification for the 4-mount Beta 30 which is not a big deal, just some wood laminated on top of the existing stringers.

Happy to snap a couple pictures if you are interested in anything specific. If you are interested in re-building a 5424 I know where to find one as well.

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9 hours ago, TQA said:

25 K to 30 k with a new diesel (isn't the Beta below a "new diesel" at 8.5K?)

8 k to 12 k with an unknown condition condition A4 on a pallet. (Professionally rebuilt A4 with new block & head = ~$6K from Moyer, Running A4's of unknown condition go for $400 to $1500) 

Shiny new Beta 25 with new gearbox and A4 mounts 8.5k (True, but then add a few grand for tank, plumbing, prop, shaft, other odds & ends)

Do the math.

FIFY

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Is this the Catalina 38 in Alameda for $17K?

Not many photos, how is the rest of the boat? Multiple C38's listed below $30K with diesel. So if those boats sold for $25K, is this boat worth your time to install. Probably not if you upgrade to diesel or maybe if the rest of the boat needs nothing and you will have peace of mind knowing you have new power.

My guess there are other issues that might need addressing.

While the atomic 4 is a good engine, the diesel will be the preference when you go to sell. Thus making this boat less desirable, resulting in a lower value. So only you know if $17K is the price or is something lower the point that makes it a good deal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all for the excellent feedback and advice.

Had to hold off on pulling the trigger on the purchase momentarily for issues unrelated to the boat/engine issue, but if its still around when I get back to it,  I will take all of this information into consideration.

Much appreciated.

 

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On 2/20/2019 at 10:16 AM, TQA said:

25 K to 30 k with a new diesel

8 k to 12 k with an unknown condition condition A4 on a pallet.

Shiny new Beta 25 with new gearbox and A4 mounts 8.5k plus new tanks, lines, controls, electrical, possibly prop, etc. etc. etc.

Do the math. and don't forget to add 50% for those ancillaries - if you do the work yourself. Add 100% if you hire it done.

 

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Well, you snooze, you lose. Guy reposted it and dropped the price another 2K and somebody else picked it up before I could get back to him.

Lots of other boats out there.

Thanks again for the input.

best regards,

pk

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7 hours ago, Fiji Bitter said:

Sorry to hear that, but for your own sake don't ever consider a gasoline engine again.

Can't believe nobody pointed that out yet. Just retarded.

So you're saying that about 95% of all power boat owners are retarded?

Exactly how many sailboats have been lost to exploding Atomic Fours - over the last 70 odd years?

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20 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

So you're saying that about 95% of all power boat owners are retarded?

Exactly how many sailboats have been lost to exploding Atomic Fours - over the last 70 odd years?

Are 95% of all power boats gasoline fired? That's probably why I've seen so many of them go up in flames.

And no idea how many sailboats got lost the Atomic way, they wouldn't be around to tell me. I do have friends however, who came back on their Atomic equipped boat for the weekend race while smoking  cigars. When they opened the hatch they could smell gasoline, and  quickly closed the hatch again and got off. The next year they had a diesel engine installed.

Once, I myself went out on a rather nice classic motor launch during Key West Race Week, when on the way back in the gasoline engine began leaking fuel, and I nearly shat my pants. Sat down right at the transom, ready for take off.

Quite honestly, I have not seen any sail boat with a gas engine in the last 30 years or so, and certainly wouldn't go for a sail if they had one. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Fiji Bitter said:

Are 95% of all power boats gasoline fired? That's probably why I've seen so many of them go up in flames.

And no idea how many sailboats got lost the Atomic way, they wouldn't be around to tell me. I do have friends however, who came back on their Atomic equipped boat for the weekend race while smoking  cigars. When they opened the hatch they could smell gasoline, and  quickly closed the hatch again and got off. The next year they had a diesel engine installed.

Once, I myself went out on a rather nice classic motor launch during Key West Race Week, when on the way back in the gasoline engine began leaking fuel, and I nearly shat my pants. Sat down right at the transom, ready for take off.

Quite honestly, I have not seen any sail boat with a gas engine in the last 30 years or so, and certainly wouldn't go for a sail if they had one.

Yes they are.

Here's a word you are apparently unfamiliar with.

You should study it.

Hyperbole
noun: hyperbole; plural noun: hyperboles
  1. exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
    "he vowed revenge with oaths and hyperboles"
    synonyms: exaggeration, overstatement, magnification, amplification, embroidery, embellishment, overplaying, excess, overkill;
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On 3/20/2019 at 2:46 AM, SloopJonB said:

Yes they are.

Here's a word you are apparently unfamiliar with.

You should study it.

Hyperbole
noun: hyperbole; plural noun: hyperboles
  1. exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
    "he vowed revenge with oaths and hyperboles"
    synonyms: exaggeration, overstatement, magnification, amplification, embroidery, embellishment, overplaying, excess, overkill;

 

Does Boom Boom Boom qualify as a proper hyperbole?

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/18/2019 at 12:05 AM, Fiji Bitter said:

Sorry to hear that, but for your own sake don't ever consider a gasoline engine again.

Can't believe nobody pointed that out yet. Just retarded.

For what its worth, I had a Columbia 28 for many years that I sailed on Long Island Sound when I lived back east, and it had the original gas Atomic 4 and I never had a problem with it in the 8 years that I owned. We just did the regular maintenance on it every year and laid it up properly for the winter. The only issue we ever had with it was that the wet exhaust elbow eventually rusted through in spots and had to be replaced when we could no longer band aid it effectively. 

The one thing I always did religiously was run the blower for a couple of minutes before I started the engine to clear any possible fumes, but I later found out when I was giving the boat away to a charity that the blower hadn't been connected to any vent, but rather there was just a large diameter host that ran from a stern mounted dorade down into the engine bay to clear fumes. I found this out because some birds had made a next in the bottom of the dorade box far enough down in the hose that I couldn't reach it by hand, so I had to dismantle the whole thing. Of course, I then connected the dots and realized that I'd been running the engine and sailing the boat for months with the blocked vent hose because I remembered that there were always these pissed off birds following the boat everytime I took it out for at least the first couple of miles. LOL.

Anyway, based on that previous experience is why I wasn't overly concerned about re-installing the gas A4, at least assuming the the re-build job had been done correctly. 

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Nice story, but that sounds like a huge contradiction to me! You just made my point.

And it shows another big danger, that of carbon monoxide poisoning. Good thing is they say it kills gently, but surely that is the last thing I personaly would try to prove (pun intended, get it?).

So, did you find another boat with an atom bomb yet?

 

 

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