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Winterizing Your Summer Toys and Tools

Winter’s coming, and the summer toys and tools should be put away properly, or they may give you trouble when it’s time to start them up again come spring.

 
By John Tiger
 
It’s that time again. Winter’s coming, and the summer toys and tools should be put away properly, or they may give you trouble when it’s time to start them up again come spring. Here’s how to do it right, for all the summer vehicles and gadgets you have:
 

Boats, Engines, and Personal Watercraft

 
There are lots of variations here, and the procedures differ depending on what type of boat you have, and what type of power. Outboards, stern drives and inboards all need to be prepped for their long winters’ nap, but it’s not the same for each type. Consult your dealer or have a local pro do it if you’re not handy that way or don’t know how to do it properly. A badly winterized engine may be severely damaged or even ruined by water left in the engine and/or drive (it will freeze in the cold weather and crack the block or drive housing), and if the fuel’s not treated for layup, it may mean clogged carburetors or fuel injectors – and costly repairs – come springtime. Here are a few common steps: Treat the fuel in the tank with a good fuel stabilizer. No matter what the instructions say, increase the dosage by double – it won’t hurt, costs very little, and will help ensure that the fuel supply is completely treated. Then, run the engine for at least a half hour; it takes longer than you think for that treated fuel to get from the tank into the engine.
 
  • For two-stroke engines, spray “engine tuner” (Power Tune, etc.) into the intake with the engine running; this helps to break down any hard carbon deposits on the pistons, piston rings and cylinder heads.
  • “Fog” the engine, if possible, with a quality engine fogging oil.
  • Drain the old gear lubricant out of the gear case/drive unit and replace with new lube. If the old lube is burned, black and smelly or milky, tan and has water in it, get these issues resolved before putting the rig up for storage.
  • For inboards, stern drives and four-stroke outboards and personal watercraft: Change the engine oil and filter.
  • Grease all grease fittings – steering, tilt, etc.
  • Remove the propeller(s) and if damaged, send out for repairs over the winter.
  • Store drive/outboard with engine in running position, so any water in gear case can drain out. Tape exhaust outlets (propeller hub, etc.) shut to keep rodents from making nests.
  • Store battery in dry location with trickle charger installed.
  • Wash, clean and add a coat of protective finish wax.
  • Provide adequate coverage to protect the finish and interior but be sure the cover is ventilated.

 Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats & Rowboats

 
  • Be sure all water is drained out before storage.
  • Clean and coat with wax or other protectant.
  • Store gear, sails, safety equipment and accessories inside after ensuring they are dry.
  • Store upside-down in clean dry place; if outside, cover with tarp tightly.

Lawn and Garden Tools (powered)

 
  • Treat fuel supply with fuel conditioner (as with boats/engines above).
  • Perform maintenance – replace belts, blades, change oil and filter, grease all fittings, etc.
  • Clean and coat with wax or other protectant.
  • Store inside or covered tightly.

Lawn & Garden Tools (non-powered)

 
  • Sharpen blades, lubricate pivot points and store inside where it’s clean and dry.

Trailers

 
  • Perform maintenance (repack wheel bearings, check/repair lights, wiring, rotten bunk boards/covering, check/replace winch strap, etc.).
  • Lubricate pivot points (coupler, tongue jack, etc.).
  • If possible, jack up axle and block so tires are off the ground to reduce the chance of flat spotting and rot. Even better, remove wheels and tires and store them inside.