Re: [AtkinBoats] Digest Number 410
- Hey Dave,
You hit the nail on the head with "if you have the time". I wouldn't go diesel unless you need it for RANGE on the tankage you can fit. This too is a function of time available.
You have a lot of power flexibility if you're not all that interested in trailering or planing. Weight still counts, but not as much. It's just a matter of how much buoyancy you're going to blow keeping the engine afloat compared to how much you want to spend on fuel, people, provisions, etc. I don't know much about the Utility Four, but all those old motors are pretty heavy for their power.
Don't get too excited about the "benefits" of adding lots of weight low down, because this changes other things, like the roll period. It's probably best to stay pretty close to the weight the designer intended. If you have a more moders, lighter weight engine, mount some other gear nearby to maintain the indended balance. Maybe the anchors and chain lockers.
As for alternative fuels, I'm jealous that you can get B99 there. Not a trace of it in WI. As to ethanol, I think you can count on it getting more available as petroleum gets harder to come by. The smarter oil companies are investing in it.
The modifications for ethanol are simple on a simple engine. On any of these old motors, a full carburetor rebuild takes under two hours. All you have to do to switch fuels is pull the metering jets and replace with slightly different ones. This is two screws, and turning them until the motor sounds right both at high speed and idle. If you've ever run an old-school outboard you know exactly how to do this, because you have to mess with it about every time on those old two-strokes. (They even put knobs on 'em!) You also might need to advance the spark a couple degrees for ethanol. Easy. You unscrew the locking screw on the distributor and twist it a couple degrees in the appropriate direction. (Depends on the engine.) Make a mark so it's easy to return it. Of course none of this works on electronically controlled engines, but it doesn't sound like that's what you're after anyhow. Biodiesel requires no modifications at all, of course, but the above adjustments are no
harder than changing your oil. The only other thing you MIGHT like in your climate is a fuel preheater, where you use the coolant to warm the fuel so it vaporizes more readily. They make stuff like this for diesels, which you could use. Or you could braze some copper plumbing parts together, which is what I'd do. I suspect you wouldn't need this with E-85 anyhow, since the 15% gasoline is probably enough to get it vaporizing. Usually you only hear about preheaters and gasoline primer tanks on E100 burners.
Here are a couple links:
Also search for: How To Modify Your Car To Run On Alcohol Fuel: "Guidelines for converting gasoline engines (With Specific Instructions for Air-Cooled Volkswagens)" by Roger Lippman, April 1982 It used to be available online, but I bet I have it somewhere if you can't find it.
Here's an interesting tidbit, though. An old Deere "dual fuel" tractor engine has all this stuff in place! The adjustments needed to burn "distillate" fuel are similar to those needed for ethanol. These are heavy bastards, but I love the 2-cyl sound.
As for the safety angle, I have no idea whether there's a fan timer available commercially. Probably if you look hard enough, but I can imagine what they'd charge. In any case, it's possible to design the system to remind the operator.
Best of luck with it!
Thanks for the reply. You've clearly been thinking about the topic a
bit. I'm just beginnig to explore the options. For boating, I'm
thinking about a diesel in a boat like the Martha Green. LOA, 24',
skipjack, semi-vee displacement hull with a bit of superstructure.
Looks to be fairly stoutly, traditionally built. I don't imagine she's
a light boat. I am thinking she could handle, and even benefit from,
an robust old diesel setting down low. Do you have any idea what the
Univeral Utility Four that the Atkins spec would weigh vs. hp? (John,
you know?) I don't envision trailering her - or at least very rarely
(maybe Portland to Olympia every few years, to explore Puget Sound?).
The issue of hours logged is certainly worth considering. I can't
imagine that I'd use such a boat more than 2-3 times per month in the
four good-weather months we get, and once every 2-4 months in the bad
weather. Maybe loans to friends - or an active co-owner - would add to
her running time. Mostly day trips, pooting around the Columbia &
Willamette rivers - though one can go a fur piece on the Columbia in
such a boat, if you have the time.
I haven't given ethanol much thought as an altenative fuel. It's not
as available out here as it apparently is in the Midwest. In the
Portland area, there are several gas stations selling B5, B20, B50 &
B99. Even one of the fuel docks on the Columbia carries it now. Plus,
it sounds like - once you commit to running an engine on ethanol,
you're committed. No going back without a mechanical reconversion, is
that right? One of the things I like about biodiesel is that there is
no, or very little engine conversion to most diesels. And there is
nothing to keep you from running petrodiesel in it, if you can't get
the biodiesel. You can mix & match from tank to tank, or even within
tanks. No repurcussions except that running lots of petro followed by
some bio will tend to gunk up your fuel filter, requiring replacement.
Sustainable propulsion is of interest. You may be right about the
farming angle. I'd like to hear more. Or, can you direct me to
website(s) where I can do some research of my own? If Martha Green is
the one I end up building, I would plan on building the Motorsailer
version. I agree that we could see the day when commercial sail would
once again be viable. If fuel is prohibitively expensive, it'd be nice
to have a sailing rig to fall back on. Plus, a boom tent on the mizzen
would make the pilothouse into another 2-berth sleeping area for kids.
Bolger did one one that looked interesting from the commercial
motorsailer perspective - was it called the Alaska Motor Sailer? I
forget the exact name. Center cargo hold. Used the sailrig booms for
loading cargo, IIRC.
Your idea about an automatic blower are interesting. I wonder if the
mainstream boating mfgrs do anything like this? If they do, it may be
available off the shelf. If they don't, why not? I wouldn't worry much
about the capsized in a pool of flammables scenario you describe.
First, for a boat that size, I can't see it as enough of a risk to
plan heavily for. Second, it'd be a pool of biodiesel, most likely.
Higher flash point, I think - and water soluable (to a degree, as I
Any further thoughts from Rob, or anyone else, are very welcome - on
Martha Green, or alt fuels, or diesels in Atkin (or similar) boats, or
the pros/cons of gas & diesel inboards generally.
"As the island of our knowledge grows... so does the shore of our
ignorance" -- John Wheeler
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