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Thread: Newbie. Ericson 35 MKII. Atomic 4 issues. Feeling discouraged. Need Advice. Help.

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  1. #1
    Contributing Member II
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    San Francisco

    Unhappy Newbie. Ericson 35 MKII. Atomic 4 issues. Feeling discouraged. Need Advice. Help.

    Hi all. My name is Kevin. I live In San Francisco. I grew up land locked on the east coast and always dreamed of learning to sail. This year i decided to turn my dream to reality. After lots of saving I purchased a 1975 Ericson MKII. Heres the backstory: So this is my first boat. I found her on craigslist. I was recommended a mobile mechanic who i contacted and came with me to inspect the boat. So cosmetically she is pristine and everything looked amazing. We went to start the Atomic four engine and it would not turn over. It cranks and sounds like its about to start but does not turn over. The owner Said he hadnt started it since last september and was going to put a new electric fuel pump in it which he had ordered and would throw in for free with the boat. I looked to the mechanic who agreed and said once we put that fuel pump in it should fire right up and that I had a good deal hear and should go for it and he will put in the pump for me and get her started. I listened and bought the boat for 15k which i had been saving for 2 years. So a few days later the mechanic comes and puts in the new electric fuel pump and drumrolllll. NOTHING. the engine does not turn over. He says "Oh no problem it just needs a set of points order them from moyer and I ll put them in and she will fire up" I order the points a few days later he puts them in and NOTHING. Does not turn over. He now comes back a third time and starts it right up by spraying Quick start starter fluid into the carb. It runs on the ether for a few seconds then shuts down. Mechanic said "you are probably out of gas" I put 5 gallons in and nothing. I fire this mechanic and call another. He comes on the boat and within 5 min by sight alone says I could use a new head gasket, studs, manifold, oil pressure switch plugs and oil. (did not do compression test or any test) Each mechanic refused to follow the Atomic four unexpected shutdown checklist that Ken at moyer sent me because "they didn't need it". I feel like a real schmuck for not doing enough research. Every single mechanic ive called in the bay area said they will not work on A4 s and that I should save my money and repower it or get a new boat with a diesel. List marine said they would take a look as well as SF boat works but both said I would have to get it towed to there yard which was quoted as 1000 bucks. Im feeling really overwhelmed and discouraged about my new purchase. Its sitting in the slip. Stuck. Noone will work on this engine and I got quoted at 20-25 k to repower it with diesel. Well more than I paid for the boat or its value. I have dreams of starting with coastal cruises to the farrolones , half moon bay and santa cruz and one day single handing to Hawaii like sir Christian Williams in Thelonius. (he is such an inspiration, just finished philosophy of sailing). What should I do? Any advice? Is it true what the mechanics say? Should I ditch this ancient Atomic bomb engine and eat the cost of a repower eventually? I mean this A4 fired up with starter fluid so im guessing its a fuel issue and just getting it to run on the gas is the solution, but now im just bummed in the long run from all the research ive done on the A4 now and seeing how no one will work on it and now I feel stuck. HELP.
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 04-09-2019 at 10:17 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Everett, WA
    Blog Entries
    Hi, Kevin!

    I can't help with the A4 questions, but I'd offer:
    -- you're in the right place, there are people here who know that thing inside and out....
    -- EVERY boat is a project. Especially our vintage.
    -- Ericsons have really good bones, so you did good there.

    So... breathe.

    As Christian once said... "Everyone thinks in terms of completion. It's a misunderstanding. The job at hand is the end and the meaning. The need to finish fades, the nature of the work becomes the goal, the imagination is engaged. We grow with the process. We become it."

    "finished" is an mythical place, when it comes to working on boats. enjoy the journey, it's often the best part of the ride.

    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

  3. #3
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Oregon - The Gorge
    Blog Entries
    Seems like the first step is to work through the Moyer manual on your own and head over to their forums for help. I sure wouldn’t think about repowering at this stage. A4’s are very simple engines to work on. Start with the basics: confirm fuel, air, and spark. Systematically work through the system and you’ll find the problem.

    For example, with an engine that sat for a long time, the fuel in the bottom of the tank may be bad or full of water - adding new fuel may not help without cleaning out the old. Or the carburetor may be full of shellac and need cleaning.

    In this day of smart phones and LTE, one can often post a question to the forum while you’re right there on the boat and get an answer or suggestion in real time.

    If you really want someone else to do the work, maybe someone on the Moyer forum knows someone in your area...
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  4. #4
    Principal Partner
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Winters, Boca Raton, Florida, Summers Glenview(Chicago) Illinois.

    Fixing an Atomic 4

    Kevin: I am going back a very long way....1970's when "Boat Mechanics" in Chicago were scarce as hens teeth (also...a very ancient expression) and Atomic 4 was a mystery.

    A fellow with a big power boat who happened to own an auto repair said he had an employee that was always looking to make a side buck and he would get him to take a look.

    He told me this was nothing more complicated than a Chevy Nova 4 Cylinder.... and proceeded to go through it and found that water in the gas.....crud in the carb, and a bad ground was all it took to get it to run like a sewing machine.....

    Moral of this...look outside the "BOAT" world.....there are plenty of competent guys out there...many probably have forgotten more about engines than the fancy "Marine Specialist".... I have been doing this for years.....not looking for a bargain...just a fair shake

    Hope this give you a bit of sucess......good luck
    Mort Fligelman
    A Capella
    E35-3 1987
    Glenview, IL

  5. #5
    Principal Partner
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Port Angeles, WA
    When you say "It won't turn over" do you mean it won't crank (starter won't go wirr, wirr or do you mean it won't fire (start running)?
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  6. #6
    Contributing Member II
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    San Francisco
    Thanks for your kind words everyone!! Supersailor, It makes sound when im cranking it sounds like its about to fire up it just wont.

  7. #7
    Contributing Member III
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    North Channel, Lake Huron, Ontario
    Don't waste time on mechanics and rocket scientists. Clean and rebuild the carb. Change the spark plugs and syringe a few drops of gas into each cylinder. Bypass your fuel tank with some new fuel line and try starting from a small jerrycan of clean and ETHANOL free hi-grade. Go shopping for a plastic tank to replace the dirty rusted one in your boat.
    1974 Ericson 27, Atomic 4, "Constance "
    North Channel, Lake Huron
    1967 Spencer 31, Hull #3, Yanmar QM15, (TBA)
    Rio Dulce, Guatemala

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