Use winter to get ready for spring


December 20, 1992|By NANCY NOYES

Fairly close to the top of a winter priority list is making sure your engine is set to get through a few months of idleness in the cold weather so it will be ready to go in the spring.

Bernard Moore of Outboard & Marine Services, a local expert on outboard engine maintenance and repair, said winter care and feeding of an outboard engine involves several preventive maintenance details, one of which is flushing it thoroughly with water.

Moore said flush kits that attach to a garden hose are available, but smaller engines can be flushed in a large container of water, such as a garbage can or 55-gallon drum.

Ten to 15 minutes of running the engine in fresh water or with the flush kit hooked up should be enough to get out the accumulated salt and grime, he said.

Moore said the motor should be fogged with a fogging oil, the carburetor should be drained and cleaned, and the gear case oil nTC and seals checked.

All the filters should be changed, and the fuel tank should be checked for water, topped up, and stabilized with a fuel-tank stabilizer to help eliminate cold-weather condensation in the tank.

Moore said the engine should be left in a vertical position rather than tipped up.

For some inboard engines, winterization is a fairly heavy-duty task that might better be left to a professional, especially if access to your engine is tricky or cramped, but Chris Oliver at Chesapeake Marine Engines says he's seeing a trend toward boat owners doing more and more of it themselves.

"The main thing is to make sure it's really winterized properly," Oliver said.

Proper winterization of an auxiliary inboard includes changing the oil and filters, checking the antifreeze solution in the header tank, changing the fuel filter -- and making sure there isn't any water in the fuel -- and putting non-toxic antifreeze in the seawater intake. Oliver emphasized that the antifreeze must be non-toxic under current laws.

"Some people like to take their batteries out for the winter, and that's fine," Oliver said. "But if people want to take them out, they should draw a little picture of how they were in there, because the stubbiest pencil is always better than the longest memory. You don't want to come back in the spring and be sitting there saying 'Well, I think this is the way it was in here before,' and hook it up wrong."

Oliver recommended replacing the water pump impeller every year in the spring, replacing the belts every two years, and replacing the fuel lines every five years.

If the prospect of a lot of do-it-yourself engine work seems daunting, there are plenty of professionals in the area who'd be glad to work your engine into their winter schedules.

"Service, no matter what it costs, is always cheaper than no service at all," said Bob Scharf of Atlantic Marine Propulsion. "Basically it comes down to you can pay now, or you can pay


Scharf said his company does a fair amount of sailboat engine work, largely because in the usually narrower hulls of sailboats the engines tend to be less accessible and thus harder to work on than those in the generally more open-access situations found on relatively wider-hulled power boats.

Another advantage of having your boat professionally winterized environmental -- you won't have to figure out how to properly, safely and legally dispose of the used oil and old antifreeze or contaminated fuel.

If you plan to do it yourself, be careful of yourself as well as your environment, use common sense and caution, and make out a plan of how you'll dispose of the mess.

Used oil and antifreeze are recyclable under a statewide program; to find the facility nearest you, call toll-free 800/I RECYCLE (800-473-2925).

Contaminated diesel fuel is not recycled by the state and is classified as a hazardous waste product. Anne Arundel County collects hazardous material twice a year. For more information on disposal of hazardous and toxic materials, call (410) 222-6100.

Being good to your engine helps ensure it will be good to you when you need it. Treat your boat with care over the winter and you'll miss out on a lot of frustration in the spring.

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