Trouble starting your Atomic 4? Try these suggestions!

Author Not Identified

Just went through this with another boaters atomic-4 on the weekend. It had set idle for 3 years, had a couple stuck valves. Took all spark plugs out, squirted a mixture of part kerosene, part marvel mystery oil into each cylinder, one at a time, doing a full rotation between each one, to allow the mixture to be forced into each valve in the open position. Reinstalled the plugs, cranked on it for about 10 to 15 seconds at a time for a couple of minutes. Used a small plastic water bottle to squirt some fresh gas into the arrester on the carb, and started the motor. Within about 30 seconds the valves became free. As I was working on my own boat for the short time available, I left him to finish changing the oil, gas filter, plugs etc. Won't know if all is well until he gets his fuel pump rebuilt and back on. But when I left, the valves were all free. This was how my step father used to get the valves free on the old John Deere tractors he had such a passion for. The way I see it, those old Johnny poppers as he would refer to them, are just as tough and reliable. It wouldn't hurt to call the master and ask his opinion, never can be to safe, but this approach has worked for decades.

Larry (who ALWAYS blames the electrical system) Suter, Dogstar, #607

"It's ALWAYS the electrical system". Did you try emerying the points to get a clean contact?

Ian Elliott, Sanctuary, #377

First check for stuck valves with a compression gauge, zero compression = stuck valves. If you really do have stuck valves, remove the head and by using a spring compression tool, very thin but strong fingers, a mirror and the ability to work "in reverse", you can remove the valve! You will probably find a few years worth of fuel deposits have gummed up the valve stem for you. At this point I would seriously consider removing the engine to do a valve job because the one hour of frustration you had removing one valve needs to be multiplied by eight! If your engine is sea water cooled take great care not to let any of it get on to the valves otherwise you will have rust as well as deposits. Good luck and I hope your problems are elsewhere!

Brian Griffith "Griff", sepibajezus, #346

The electrical system on all gasoline engines and especially Atomic Fours are very prone to getting out of wack. If your motor was properly mothballed for the winter, Spring should hold no surprises.

Install new points and condenser

Install new ignition coil

Install new cap & rotor

Install new wires, good wires

Install new spark plugs with the proper gap

Charge battery and load test, if good, go with it. If not ...

Install new battery

double check all electrical connnections

Check the oil that you changed in the fall just to see how nice and clean it is.

Turn the fuel line on to the open position

Open up the raw water sea-cock

Switch on the power to the ignition

Press the start button.

You should be running, adjust the timing if need be.

If you did not moth-ball your A-4 in the Fall . . .

change the oil before starting

drain the fuel tank

repalce the fuel filter

clean the raw water strainer

Check to see that you have postive flow from the raw water intake and that the sea-cock is operating properly. maitain as needed.

Change out last seasons water pump impeller

Check the generator or alternator belt for cracks, checks or both, replace as needed.

follow the above seasonal electrical replacements

Add new fuel, good gasoline add a little marvel oil

Start motor. If you do not start, check spark. If you have spark, check to make sure that your fuel pump is working properly. Have fuel and spark, check compression. Good compression, spark and fuel and it still won't start- you have an electrical propblem somewhere. Compression problems, remove engine from boat. Repair.


Hal Landen

(A4 Carburetor Problems)

I met Don Moyer a few weeks ago and described the intermittent carburetor problems I'd had. He thought the problems were related to bits of debris in the gas causing the float to stick and some of the jets to jam. So I followed his suggestion of removing the main jet and hand pumping some gas into a cup. Sure enough there was crap in the gas. I suspect the leather sucker in the mechanical fuel pump is the cause. I bought Moyer's in-line fuel filter and will let you know how it works.