It's about that time of year again! I'm sitting in my office with the doors and windows open and it's early October. That never seems to happen in Northeast Indiana, but it is a welcome feeling. We're getting that last breath of summer in, albeit without as much sunshine. Regardless of the weather, it's time to start thinking about winterizing your boat.
A lot of people think that winterization is only for the inboards and I/Os, but that's not entirely true. You should certainly winterize all of your engines that you plan to store until spring. However, for this post, I'm going to be primarily addressing the outboard owners.
Fogging your engine is a crucial part of making it last. Using fogging oil helps coat the inside of your engine to help prevent any seizing come spring time. You might think "I have a 2-stroke and it gets the oil in it while it's running". That's certainly true but 2-stroke injection oil burns off during the combustion process leaving miniscule amounts while sitting for extended periods.
"Ok, well I have a 4-stroke and the oil sits in the engine all the time." Also true. But 4-stroke oil is heavy, and like all things on Earth, it's effected by gravity. So while you might think you're full to the brim of engine oil that's keeping your cylinders lubed up, you're actually not. That oil is slowly working its way down to the bottom of your crankcase. It's very important to fog your engine, especially if you're expecting it to last a long time.
What's that? You're using non-ethanol marine fuel only so why do you have to stabilize? Well, I'm proud of you for using the gas you should be using. You'd be surprised how many don't. Even if you are using non-ethanol fuel, do you know the shelf-life of it? If you do, great. If you don't, great. Stabilize your fuel!
The reason we say to stabilize your fuel regardless is because you never know what's going to happen. Something could come up next year, and you never even use your boat. While that is a bummer, it's not as uncommon as you might think. Now the gas you got last July is over a year old. Let's say the shelf-life of the gas you got is 2 years. That means it only has a few months left before it's junk. One thing I know for sure is that no gasoline in the world watches the calendar. Conditions change things. It's not like the fuel in your boat says "it's been exactly 2 years, time to be useless". It's going to slowly deteriorate over time based on the conditions surrounding it.
I'm not going to sit here and debate the "store full" or "store empty" discussion. If you want to help your engine start in the spring, just stabilize your fuel. We sell stabilizer for $5.61 (at the time of this post). You can stabilize up to 40 gallons with it at that price! Do your boat, mower, weed whacker, and that gas powered kegerator down by the shoreline if you want!
I'll touch on this just for a moment, though: if you're still using ethanol-based fuels in your marine or small engines, you're going to run into problems sooner or later. Do yourself a favor and use non-ethanol fuel! More on that in a later post.
Lower Unit Lube
Outboard owners (and most I/Os). What does your lower unit lube look like? Don't know? I figured. It's a sealed unit. How could you know? Well, there's an easy way to check. Drain it out and change it EVERY SINGLE FALL! Your motor doesn't go anywhere without your lower unit. Treat it with respect. There's a lot of spinning parts that sit in the water all summer long and need good lubricant.
Most lower unit lube is gold, blue, green, or red. If yours is milky white, black, brown, or foaming, it's overdue for some changing (or service). Milky white lower unit lube is a sign of a water leak. That's not good kids! Bring it into your local dealer and get that checked out.
Gear lube is a highly viscous oil that handles extreme pressures to protect the gears and bearings inside of your lower unit. This is especially true when the boat is going high speeds (RPMs) or under heavy loads. Just because your row boat with a 9.9hp motor doesn't going 100mph, doesn't mean your lower unit hasn't been under stress. That little motor might spin 6000 RPMs at the engine at WOT (wide open throttle). Therefore, your lower unit is cranking out the power!
Don't neglect to change your lower unit lube. Soon enough, your lower unit might neglect to get you back to shore!
Is there more than just these three things to worry about during winterization? YES! Do you need to do this stuff even if you're storing it in a heated garage or barn? YES! Does Casey's Cove offer winterization services? YE-...well, you get the point. We believe in winterizing everything!
If you're not mechanically-inclined, then leave it to the professionals here at Casey's Cove. We have factory-trained professionals who would be glad to assist. Don't cheap out on your boat maintenance. Boats are an investment. While you'll likely never get a return on one, you don't want to keep sinking money into repairs because you neglected to do your routine maintenance.