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Getting my machines ready for winter

 
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We moved into a rural area this year and I had to buy some machines that run on gas. First time I bought and used such things.

I’m not sure if I am able to empty out the gas and oil tanks of my lawn equipment. I have a gas trimmer, riding mower and a plate compactor.

What’s the best approach?
 
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It depends on who you ask. And probably the specific equiptment. I have tried just about every method, and still don't know what's best. I've forgotten things altogether and the next spring they started on the first pull. I have drained the fuel and run the carbs dry, and then the fuel lines/valves/fittings/who knows what else dried up and cracked.  I have pretty much settled on using a heavy dose of fuel stabilizer and/or Seafoam in the last tank of fuel, and don't seem to be worse for it. Small engines are simply going to have problems from time to time, no matter how much I baby them, I have come to understand. Don't forget other things, like draining any water or tending batteries over winter. I think there might be a PEP badge on winterizing stuff. Even if you don't want to document it, you might just use it as a ready checklist.
 
Jordan Holland
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I just checked the PEP area and didn't see one. I may have confused the winterize an area with equiptment.

About the oil, if it looks relatively clean, I leave it. If it needs changing, I would go ahead. Well-used oil can become acidic and cause rust over long storage.
 
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I'm no mechanic.  But what works for me is to put the "storage" dosage of stabil in mysmall engine gas year round.  And I only use ethanol free gas for them.  Then when I'm done with a motor for the season (or two years) it's sitting with stabilized fuel in it.  They always seem to start up just fine (knock on wood).
 
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As Mike commented .....and I start up and run each machine on the 1st of each month.  Also, if the machine  has a battery, be sure to take care of it. Normally, running the machine for 10 minutes each month does it.
 
pollinator
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Gasoline has a ton of additives now.  They do not hold up in storage.  As stated above Stabil works great.  My husband has drilled this into me.  We empty everything that doesn’t get used; chainsaws, mowers and use Stabil.  Never have a problem.
 
John F Dean
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Speaking of fuel stabilizers, I go with PRI G  and PRI D
 
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Janet Reed wrote:Gasoline has a ton of additives now.  They do not hold up in storage.  As stated above Stabil works great.  My husband has drilled this into me.  We empty everything that doesn’t get used; chainsaws, mowers and use Stabil.  Never have a problem.



Yes, the problem is specifically gasohol (gas/ethanol mix) which is commonly sold everywhere. You can get ethanol-free gas, although you have to look for it (can search on the web for ethanol free gas, there are a few sites with listings of gas stations that sell it) ... and have to pay somewhat more per gallon, on the order of $4.xx per gallon. (But how many gallons will you actually put through the chain saw in a year?)

Anything that uses mix (most chainsaws, small mowers, weed wackers etc) will have the oil come out of the mix, basically running the engine on straight gas. Even if you avoid this (by diligently only using freshly mixed fuel) the gasohol is still very hard on the carburetors.
 
pollinator
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Daniel Benjamins wrote:We moved into a rural area this year and I had to buy some machines that run on gas. First time I bought and used such things.

I’m not sure if I am able to empty out the gas and oil tanks of my lawn equipment. I have a gas trimmer, riding mower and a plate compactor.

What’s the best approach?



Okay, I am going to speak heresy.  For lawn equipment I don't winterize.  I grew up in warm climates and we did not winterize, because the lawn equipment seldom sat idle for more than two months.  When I moved to the cold climate it was not a habit of discipline I had developed, so it got over looked the first few seasons.  What I found was a carburetor in good shape would go two or three seasons without becoming a problem.  When it did, I would pull it off and clean it in the spring if it would not start.  What I found in doing this was I would spend a bunch of money on carb cleaner or other nasty solvents.  Spend an full day cleaning and 'getting it right', so it would not surge or stumble.  Get nasty carcinogens all over me, waste a day, and sometimes have to go back and do it again.  Then I discovered for about the same money I could order a new carb online and slap it on.  Problem solved.

So now, I run the tank empty in the fall.  In the spring if it does not start, I order a new carb and replace.  Then I am done.  

There is always a fuel line at the bottom of the tank.  Pull of this line at the tank or the carb and catch the gas.  Or just run the tank dry.  If you have a gas can, add stabllizer or just use it all before the end of the season.  Otherwise replace the oil every spring if heavy in use.  Otherwise every other year.  Run as needed.  Small engines are remarkably durable these days.  
 
Charles Rehoboth
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Jack Edmondson wrote: What I found in doing this was I would spend a bunch of money on carb cleaner or other nasty solvents.  Spend an full day cleaning and 'getting it right', so it would not surge or stumble.  Get nasty carcinogens all over me, waste a day, and sometimes have to go back and do it again.  Then I discovered for about the same money I could order a new carb online and slap it on.  Problem solved.



You do have a point about how cheap carbs are these days. Under $15 for most equipment we have. Considering that rebuilding those tiny carbs is something I don't seem to do well with, I'm glad for that.
 
Mike Haasl
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My heresy is that I never winterize engines.  I've never run the tank dry.  I've never replaced or had to clean a carb.

I do use ethanol free gas (usually premium).  I always treat it with Stabil.

My push mower is about 18 years old.  Never winterized.  Always starts on the first or second pull (knock on wood).  

Other engines I coddle this way - wood chipper, garden tractor, other garden tractor and chainsaw
 
Daniel Benjamins
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That's a lot of great information. I will read through it and get my machines ready for winter the right way. Thank you very much, all!
 
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where are you guys finding ethanol-free gas for $4 a gallon?!

around here they want $23.25 per gallon for ethanol-free gasoline: https://www.lowes.com/search?searchTerm=trufuel

I would gladly pay $4 to avoid cleaning carburetors, but $23.25 is absurd
 
Mike Haasl
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It's $3 or $4 around here.  Just get the highest grade gas at the station.  At least here (WI) the regular octane is 10% ethanol and the mid grade has some but the high grade is 0% ethanol.  The first gallon or two out of the pump is still whatever the last gal was pumping so put that bit in your car's tank before you start to fill your jerry can.
 
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I think you've been misled. Around here, "Premium" gas has no ethanol. A bit more expensive, but we get it at the pump. And don't hesitate to ask -- companies will tell you if it has ethanol or not. People buy it for small engines and older cars, neither of which fare well on "Regular."

Edit: Gak! Mike beat me by 48 seconds.
 
John F Dean
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The alchohol content is gasoline varies greatly by state and country. In Illinois all pumped gasoline, that I have encountered, has alcohol.
 
Charles Rehoboth
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Davis Tyler wrote:where are you guys finding ethanol-free gas for $4 a gallon?!

around here they want $23.25 per gallon for ethanol-free gasoline: https://www.lowes.com/search?searchTerm=trufuel

I would gladly pay $4 to avoid cleaning carburetors, but $23.25 is absurd



https://www.pure-gas.org/

No affiliation, other than that it helped me find a source about half as far from the farm as the one I'd been using.
 
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I follow us. There is same problem.
 
pollinator
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I’ll throw this in with the hope that it’s relevant to the initial question & might help someone reading the thread.

We depend on a compressor here — I’m the homestead mechanic, plumber, welder, metal gadget maker, etc. My wife is a sculptor who works in bronze. Our upright compressor is a vital tool. We have it in a shed work area that's partially open-sided to readily dissipate any fumes from processes there, but we’re located in a cold-winter weather region. By late fall, the compressor will start & run sluggishly for maybe 15 seconds with the 30w sump oil recommended by the manufacturer, at which point it switches off the electric motor's internal circuit breaker, requiring a reset of motor — a cycle that would repeat endlessly. But by changing to 20w oil, our useful season is extended. During any real cold plunge, we supplement this by using a small heating pad under the bracket supporting the air pump.
 
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Ethanol is remarkably corrosive, to mitigate its effects, a top oil such as Marvel Mystery Oil can be added but for best bang for your buck....run the damn thing dry, leave no fuel in the carburetor, and empty the tank.
Fuel evaporates, and gets thicker, even with a top oil given time it will turn into a sludge that blocks jets and air passages, injectors and eventually delivery lines.
The down side to this is gaskets dry out, (3 - 5 years) the solution for that is to rub any cork gasket with lip balm, or Vaseline rubber gaskets usually last longer if given the rubdown too, as the normal enemy of rubber gaskets is tearing due to their bonding to metal.

Even with the minimal hours put on a yard machine, an oil change every couple of years is in order, my favorite time is before spring start up. after the first oil change a synthetic is good for longevity.

If your a political person campaigning for the removal of ethanol is a worthy cause, while its a boon to farmers it drives food and booze and animal feed costs up, contributes to the early retirement of equipment. It evaporates faster than petrol, and has far less btu,s per pound.....so what doesn't evaporate into thin air in summer heat, cost more as you travel less miles per gallon.
 
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