Thursday, June 14, 2007

Albin engine, Part 1

One day while the boat was still on the cradle during the extended haul-out for the survey, I decided to quickly fix the Albin engine, which wouldn't start.

The seller told me he believed the problem was in the carburetor. He described how he had removed the fuel float bowl, filled it with gasoline, reattached it, and the engine ran for half a minute or so.

Ah ha!, I had thought to myself. The float needle is stuck. That's so easy. It reminded me of fixing the stuck choke on that VW squareback many years ago. I was sure that I was going to have a fully-operational Albin inboard in no time.

The first thing I figured out was that the seller was a lot more dexterous with his fingers than I was. There was no way I could have removed the bowl from the carb, put gas in and reattached it with the gas, or at least most of it, still in the bowl. Especially not in the water. I couldn't even do it with the boat motionless on the cradle.

Instead, I removed the carburetor and took it apart. It was a Solex 26, which I would later learn was irreplaceable, and it was in sorry condition. The bottom of the float bowl was coated with JB Weld or an equivalent product. Undoubtedly the bowl had corroded because of water in the fuel sitting in the bowl and someone had decided to fix it. The fix didn't look recent.

What it did was limit the movement of the float so that the needle valve remained closed when the float was resting on the bottom of the bowl. I fixed that by bending the brass tab and got the carburetor to the point that I could blow air through the fuel inlet into the bowl. Ah ha! I'm a genius. This engine is fixed.

Even though the boat was high and dry, I decided I could fire it up for a few seconds to prove my success. A lot of cranking ensued. But no ignition. I removed the plugs and verified that they sparked. If you have fuel and you have spark you have ignition. Hmmm. I didn't have ignition.

I bought new plugs. The old ones were rusty. And I went about my other tasks, deciding not to try starting it again until it was in the water.

After the boat was launched, I spent some time at the boat yard dock trying to get the engine to run. Finally I gave up, pushed the electic start button on the outboard, and motored back to the slip. I had been paying the slip rent since the boat was hauled. I would have about six weeks to stay in that King Harbor slip while my other boat was in my slip in Long Beach awaiting purchase.