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Contributed Article

Talk of the Town:
Winterizing Engines - To Drain or Not to Drain?

Another great discussion from the Tractor Talk Discussion Forum.

The discussion started out with the following post:

"Winter is fast approaching..for a gas tractor should the gas tank be drained and run the engine til the carb is dry or do the gas stabilizer products I've heard of work? (tractor will not be used til spring) any other tips for winterizing?? "

What followed are some interesting replies:

" We have had good luck with Sta-Bil fuel conditioner in all sorts of engines stored for several months. with fuel left in no gasket dry out. And the equipment is ready to go when needed. Good luck:-) "


" Seems like there's always a drop in the jet to gum it up eventually no matter how I try to run an engine dry. I hear that leaving the tank empty is a good way to let it rust inside because it will breath and get condensation on that gasoline cleaned surface. Probably using Sta-Bil with a full tank and running the engine enough after mixing in Sta-Bil to make sure its in the carburetor is best. I've not done that yet because of the price of enough for my engines... "

" I always try to keep a full tank over winter. I had a friend who managed to knock several thousand dollars worth of resale value off an airplane because his habit of storing it with almost empty tanks led to corrosion in the fuel tanks. Try using Sta-Bil in the gas. "

" I use OMC fuel conditioner it ia meant for outboards but the addative works for any engine in preventing any varnish deposits. i do not drain any engines as this can dry gaskets, allow debris to enter more easily and allow water vapor to enter. Be sure to change oil preceeding storge to lessen the effects of sulpheric acids to penetrate the pourous components inside the engine. "

" My personal preference is to leave a small amount of gas in the tank and then start the engine and let it run long enough to charge the battery every week or so. Keep adding a small amount of fresh gas from time to time so that the tank does not run dry. If you do let the tractor sit over the winter, KEEP THE BATTERY CHARGED. A battery will go dead from just sitting and a dead battery CAN FREEZE AND BUST in severe cold. Also, when an engine sits idle during cold weather, condensation will allow water to accumulate in the cylinders. There are different opinions on how to deal with this. Some say to add Marvel Mystery Oil or automatic transmission fluid to the gas and run the engine until it runs out of gas. If you use this method, you will probably have to run the engine with the choke partially on to keep it running on the gas/oil mixture. Others say to remove the spark plugs and squirt oil into the cylinders. The idea is the same, to provide an oil film on the cylinders. Personally, I hate to forget about my toys all winter long. Starting them once in a while gives me a "fix" to help me through the cold weather. "

" Unless you get the engine up to full operating temperature each run you probably rust the cylinders worse with those unloaded battery charging runs than by ignoring it. Remember that water is a part of the combustion products and so there's always some in the cylinder that's just fired just waiting to condense. My dad always said that leaving the car outside the garage and then putting it away at bedtime was probably harder on it for wear than running it all day from that effect. And the last cylinder that just took on a full fuel load after the ignition switch was turned off has fuel to condense, wash the oil off the cylinder walls and then dillute the oil in the crankcase. You need to get an engine hot to boil off the water and fuel condensed in the crankcase.

Care for the battery is useful for having a battery come spring. Things like cleaning, charging, and probably shallow cycling are of benefit. Deep cycling is not really good even for a deep cycle battery. Setting and slowly self discharging is worst for the battery because the sulfate crystals that form as the natural result of discharge get time to grow large and they hardly ever are removed by charging once large. "


" If you really do not plan on starting the engine until Spring then drain the tank and carb. Buy a can of foaming oil and spray the inside of the tank and of the carb. Remove the spark plugs and srray foaming oil in each cylinder then turn the engine over a couple times to distribute oil on cylinder walls. Change the engine oil. Seal up exhaust , Carb air intake , and crankcase breather. This will prevent moisture (in the air) from entering and condensing inside the engine. After the tractor has set for a couple weeks( before freezing weather) loosen the transmission, final drive etc. drain plugs and very carefully drain a little of the fluid to see if there is any water.Remove water if found. The best thing to do is to just replace the gear oil each fall. Hope this helps. "

" I use 2 products made by a company called "sea Foam" they were developed for the marine industry for winterizing boats. one is called motor tune up and it makes a great stabilizer and it is also a cleaner for engines that are already gummed up. it has many other uses listed on the can also. I left a tractor sit for 4 years with fuel treated with this stuff and it still would run on that gas. I made one mistake that time though. I just dumped it it the tank and didnt let it run through the fuel system and the carb and sediment bowl got gummed up. once I cleaned them I was able to run it on what was still in the tank. I now pour it in the tank and let the engine run for 10-15 minutes to get it worked through then shut off the fuel and let it run till it stalls, then drain the carb. Sea foam also makes a product called Deep Creep that is used as an engine Fogger, spray it in the carb till the engine stalls, or remove the plugs and spray it in. It is also one of the best penetrating oils I have used and it makes a great gun oil. Sea foam isnt available everywhere, but I work at a Napa store and we carry it. It should be available at most marine supply stores. This may sound like an advertisement, but I am really sold on this stuff. "

" I use OMC (Johnson/Evinrude) fuel conditioner in the gas and run through the carb of my boat before I put it away for the winter. After I run it for 10-15 min, I spray fogging oil into the intake on the carb (while it's running) until it smokes real heavy out the exhaust and then shut it down. I think this coats everything in the engine over the winter. Like the other folks said I would take care and charge the battery every couple weeks to keep it up to full charge. I have never had any gum problems with engines using the OMC fuel conditioner. "

This information was gathered at the Tractor Talk Discussion Board.

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