Winterizing Your Equipment
Steps to Winterize Your Equipment
We recently included a post on our Facebook site from Consumer Reports that included tips on winterizing your equipment. I would like to expand on what the authors talked about and add what I have learned over the years talking to many mechanics. There are 5 basic points you need to remember. 1) Fuel, 2) Air, 3) Spark, 4) motor oil, and 5) blades.
The check list from Consumers Reports is a great review and brings up some great points like mixing in fuel additive and running the gas out completely before you store your mower in the house. (Just a side note, I have never stored my mower in the house.) I was always taught that you should either run your unit totally out of gas or do the opposite and fill it up and mix in an additive. I have had many mechanics tell me that Sta-Bil fuel additive, the industry standard, is worthless…. some even say it makes things worse. When I worked at Tractor Supply, I had numerous farmers tell me they are big believers in Star-Tron fuel additive because it has no alcohol. You see, most of us use E10 fuel now from our local gas stations which has ethanol in it. If you add more alcohol, then we are going the wrong way. You may think, well they burn alcohol in moonshine trucks and dragsters! But, gas actually produces more power when you burn it than alcohol. So if you mix in any additive that has methanol, ethylene glycol, (yes, I had to look up how to spell this …LOL), IPA, or other terms for alcohol, then you are decreasing the performance of your engine. At Kent Equipment, we sell both, so do your own research before making up your mind. But in all my machines including my motorcycle, I use the Star Tron additive because it has enzymes in it that increase my fuels combustibility.
After you have decided what you want to do with the fuel situation, point 1, then check your air filter, point 2. Generally, if it looks good I blow it out with my air compressor and only replace them every 2 years. Remember the air filter is your engines first line of defense to keep junk out of your engine. For point 3, I do the same with spark plugs, clean them look for cracks, but then replace them every other year or so. Spark plugs will often look good to the eye, but they can develop fine cracks in the insulator and become less efficient. So to be safe I replace them every 2 years in my riding mower and very 4 years in my push mower, which I only use occasionally for trimming.
Point number 4, I change my oil in the winter for two reasons. One I want to be able to not have to do all this maintenance in the spring when the grass is growing like crazy, it is so nice to simply unbury your mower in the garage and start mowing. Often, I found that I would put off doing the maintenance in the spring, because with the grass growing so fast and everything else going on that time of the year, I was just too busy to do maintenance on the mower. The second reason I change my oil in the fall, has to do with my Grandpa George Colver, who in my mind was a mechanical genius. He was a depression era man who had to learn a variety of trades to survive. He passed away when I was 13 years old, I am 59 now and still can remember most of the things he taught me. Changing the oil in the winter was one. His theory was that you didn’t want that old oil sitting around in your crankcase with all the dirt and metal fragments crusting up on the bottom. When I came to work at Kent Equipment and found out Kubota offers magnets to place in the bottom of your crankcase to capture those metal fragments. it was confirmation that old Grandpa Colver knew a little something about engines. Oh and here’s a tip for you young aspiring gear heads. Whenever we worked on an engine together, he had a set process or checklist he went through. He said to make things blow up you need spark (check the plugs and wiring), fuel (check the quality of the fuel and fuel filter for clogs), and air (it was amazing how many times we would find someone’s air cleaner so dirty it was truly a miracle the engine could ever run at all).
The final step 5, to get your equipment ready for spring is to sharpen your blades, and clean off your deck. Just a couple things to remember. Grass is highly acidic, and leaving old grass on the bottom of your deck will eventually cause it to rust out. Also, when you are cutting, each time you cut you gradually wear out your blades. This is especially true if you have sandy soil. About 5 years ago I spoke with a young lady that mowed the softball and baseball fields for the City of Grand Rapids and she told me that she went thru a set of blades every day. I was very skeptical to say the least but she said that with the sandy soil around ball diamonds she was cutting 8 hours a day in an environment just like in a sand blaster. Hmmmm, glad I don’t have sandy soil! - Bryan