Most Alberg 30s, like most boats of the time, were delivered with
Universal Atomic 4 gasoline-powered auxiliary engines. Some people
have replace these with diesels, maybe because their Atomic 4
was wearing out or they were concerned about the explosion hazard
of gasoline, but the Atomic 4 remains a reliable, safe, cost-effective
power plant for moderate-sized auxiliary sailboats. If you make
an unfailing habit of running the bilge blower for five
minutes and then sniffing the outlet for fumes, you can
neutralize the danger.
Still, these engines are getting older. I've been told that this
block was the original engine in the Jeep. (I've also heard that
they're based on an industrial stationary engine, the International
Harvester Farmall Cub engine, and a Chevy.) They're not made
any more and, like all of us, require a little tender loving
care to keep them happy. Keep it painted to prevent
rust. When we bought our boat, this precaution had not been taken.
In my ignorance of marine engines, I left it that way. The cylinder
head rusted through.
Switching to fresh water cooling can add years of life
to your engine. Two of the endemic problems are corrosion and
overheating. Both of these are caused by salt water cooling. You
can imagine the damage that hot salt water can do over time to
a metal casting. The salt also precipitates out in the cooling
jacket, blocking the flow of water and causing the engine temperature
to rise. As the engine gets hotter, the salt precipitates faster.
That's the reason that salt-water engines should use a 140F thermostat.
This is a bit cooler than a gasoline internal-combustion engine
likes, but it will tolerate it. If you switch to fresh-water cooling,
you can install a 170F and enjoy better combustion.
We went to a Windjammers lecture to hear Bill Seifert and I was impressed enough to buy
the book on the spot. I've heard a lot of people talk about ways to improve a boat, but
I've never heard one person suggest so many good ideas that I hadn't considered. Part
of the charm is the specificity of the suggestions. Everyone says you should secure your
floorboards, hatchboards and batteries. Bill shows good suggestions on how to do so.
The suggestions are very practical for the do-it-yourselfer, too. Many show how to
make or adapt inexpensive solutions. Tip #12 on closing the deck blower vents is one
that will pay off for me without ever going offshore. I'll implement that one to
stop the wintertime storms from finding their way belowdecks.
Besides modifications, the book also includes advice for operating offshore, cooking,
boat selection, dealing with bureaucracy, and more.
Bill Seifert has worked at Tartan, TPI, and Alden Yachts. He's a veteran of many
Marion-Bermuda races and now runs his own yacht management company. His tips are
born of experience--not of book-learning--and it shows. He obviously knows his