Getting equipment ready for spring & Winter Storage Tips

Old 03-23-04, 09:26 PM
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Getting equipment ready for spring & Winter Storage Tips

Well, I walked through a customer's backyard this afternoon and looked at my boots. They were greenish yellow...covered with pollen. I guess that means I'm a week or two late writing this post for my area, but it's probably right on time for the rest of the country.

When you drag that mower out of the garage, here's a help list of things to check and do to get it ready for spring:

Install the battery if you removed it for long-term storage. Make sure it is charged, the terminals are tight and free of corrosion. Most lawn mower batteries last an average of 2 to 3 years. If yours is swelling, the posts are corroding, and/or 3 years old, it's probably time for a new one.

If you didn't drain the fuel, look in the tank (if it's the kind that you can see into). If there are odd looking bubbles that seem to be rolling around on the bottom when you bump the tank, that's water. Drain the tank and dry it out. Remove the fuel lines and filter. Blow out the lines and replace the filter. Then pull the carburetor bowl off and drain the water out of it. Clean any varnish/gum you find when you're in there. Refill with fresh gas. If you don't see water in the bottom, but there is gas in it, it may be stale. I can tell when gas is stale by the smell of it, but if you can't, you can drain it and refill to be safe, or try it when it comes time to start the engine and just see if it will run on it or not. If you added fuel stabilizer before storage, you probably are fine, but still check for water.

Check the air filter. Clean it or replace it. Be sure to oil the foam pre-cleaner if equipped. (take it off the filter element, soak it with clean oil, and wring it out, then re-install it). Make sure the rubber surface on the filter is sealing against the filter housing, and that the rubber is clean (so that it will seal).

Replace the spark plug, or check it at least, unless it was changed at the end of the last season. Most domestic flat-head engines take Champion RJ19LM, and most domestic overhead valve engines take Champion RC12YC plugs. Check the owners manual to be sure.

Check for debris under the engine fan shroud. It is a favorite place for mice to nest. If you see anything under there that shouldn't be, remove the shroud and clean it out. Also look at the covers/guards that cover the cylinder. You may need to remove them to see under them. The cooling fins on the cylinders under these covers should be clean. Many times they cake up with dust and grass, especially in dusty areas, and cause engine overheating and premature engine failure. It's cheap insurance to check them once in a while and clean them out. Make sure you re-install the covers, as they are imperative to providing the cylinder with proper airflow from the cooling fan.

Check the oil. If you changed it before winter storage (recommended), then if it is full, you're okay. If not, look for the leak and repair. If it was not changed and is low, fill it, don't change it yet. Crank the engine up and let it run enough to get to operating temperature. If there is settlement in the bottom of the engine from sitting with old dirty oil in it, this will stir it up into the old oil. Then switch it off and drain it/change it. This will get a large amount of the settlement out of the engine. Change the oil filter if equipped.

Check the belts, blades, pulleys, and linkages for wear, tear, looseness, or seizure. Make necessary replacements/repairs. Look over the entire machine for anything wrong (bent brackets, chewed wires, etc...).

Check tire inflation and condition.

Grease all fittings and lubricate all moving parts.

Go cut some grass! (or in my case, weeds!).

Last edited by cheese; 08-21-14 at 10:08 AM.
Old 10-06-04, 01:04 AM
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Winterization tips

It's getting cold, and many are putting those mowers away for the winter months. Here are some tips to help avoid having problems in the spring when you pull that mower out and try to bring it back to life.

Drain out all the fuel, and crank it up until the fuel in the carburetor burns out and the engine stalls. As it begins to stall, activate the choke to get the last of the gas out of the carb, or better yet, remove the carburetor bowl and dump out the last of the fuel.

Inflate the tires to the reccomended pressure...air contracts in cold weather, so the tire pressures will drop a bit over the winter. A riding mower sitting up in one place for a period of storage time with low tires will cause them to dry-rot at the bulge near the bottom of the tire. Also, if possible, get the wheels off the ground. Get it on concrete blocks or treated lumber to help keep them from cracking and drying out.

Grease all fittings and spray a lubricant on all moving parts. Silicone is good because it doesn't eveporate off and will help keep the parts from rusting while not being used.

Clean off all debris from under the hood, around the engine, off the top and underside of the deck and apply paint or silicone spray to deterr rust.

Run the engine until operating temp is reached, then change the oil. Old oil with contaminates in it will settle out over periods of non-use. These contaminates will settle to the bottom of the engine and create a sludge. This sludge doesn't come out very easily, so it is better to not allow it to form in the first place.

Disconnect the battery and store it in a place that will be protected from freezing. Store it in a plastic container in case it leaks acid.

This is a good time to check the belts and blades, air filter, spark plug, and other things. This way you can have it ready to go again when spring comes and eliminate potential problems, or at least have a good idea of what you'll need when spring comes along.

You can give your mower a coat of wax to protect the finish and help keep it looking good and prevent rusting.

This is also a good time to remove the cooling fin shrouds and clean out the cooling fins. This is a common cause of engine overheating and failure, and it often gets overlooked.

Flip the seat up to keep it from gathering dust, getting punctured, and fading/drying out from sunlight.

You might consider using duct tape to cover holes in the engine shroud that would be large enough for a mouse to enter. Mice love to nest under the blower shrouds of some engines. When you start an engine with a mouse nest in it, you can have all sorts of problems, like overheating, a fire, broken parts. Mice also like to chew through wires.

For those who have very short winter storage times, and the winters don't get terribly cold, you can leave the gas and battery in IF you will crank it up and run it for a few minutes every 3 to 4 weeks. Run it at different speeds and engage attatchments. Add some fuel stabilizer. This helps keep the fuel in the carb circulating, and helps keep the battery up.

For those with pressure not allow them to be in freezing temps unless the pump has been drained of water, or pump damage will likely result. The water in it expands when it freezes, and breaks valves in the pump.

Last edited by cheese; 08-21-14 at 10:13 AM.
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