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Preparing your Engine for Long Term Storage...

Preparing your Engine for Long Term Storage...

Engines are the unsung heroes of our boating enjoyment. We rarely want to even go near them unless absolutely necessary, but we do want them to provide faultless service time and again. And we certainly start to get to know them when they begin to go wrong! Our time boating is extremely precious (not to mention costly!), and in my experience it's well worth spending a bit of time preparing your engine if it’s going to stand idle for a while. There are a few things we can do now to head-off those niggly engine issues before they appear when we do get to use our boats again. The question of whether to service an engine at the start or end of the season will always divide, but we all agree that winterisation forms an essential part of engine maintenance. With that in mind here's a few things we can look at (that aren't normally covered by a professional service) that can help our engines and related boat systems survive the winter.

1. Clean it...

 

Marine engines have a hard life. The environment they have to work in is not the best for metal parts, and corrosion is an ever present threat to your relaxed season of boating! A good clean now should ensure that your engine goes into hibernation without any harmful salt slowly attacking it. It's also a good idea to get rid of any oil or fuel stains now before they become much harder to shift next season. A clean engine bay now will also help to stop smells from becoming more permanent next season.

 

2. Stabilise It...

 

Modern fuel has a relatively short shelf life without a preservative. In as little as six weeks modern petrol can start to thicken and block our engines internals. Diesel can suffer from organisms growing inside it, which can also cause a diesel engine to grind to a halt. And no engine, whether it be petrol or diesel, will enjoy the taste of water mixed with its fuel. The issue is compounded somewhat by modern engines, that deliver precisely measured amounts of fuel to minimise the amount of fuel burned during operation. These small, precise parts are certainly more prone to blockage than engines of old, so we need to be extra careful about how we treat fuel that is left in our boats tanks over the winter.

 
 

3. Flush it...

 

'I almost never see engines that have issues through over-use, but I see 10 a week that have problems through lack of use'. That's what our local engine mechanic said to me the other day. As salt water evaporates, it leaves behind the salt itself. This builds up over time, slowly choking the cooling system of our engines. As the engine gets blocked with salt, parts of it don't cool as well, creating local hotspots and a general lack of efficiency. As the blockages worsen, the engine will be working harder and with less efficiency (think 'burning more fuel' here!) to keep itself cool, and eventually bad things will happen. Flushing the engine after each use should help to prevent this, in particular at the end of the season when the engine will be sitting idle for the longest period.

 

4. Oil Change

 

Your engine's oil is vital to its smooth operation and long life, so is without doubt not an area in which to cut corners. Fortunately we have some great deals on oil and the accessories required to change it. Your existing engine oil can also tell you a great deal about the health of your engine, so why not try our new Spectro Oil Analysis Kit? Simply buy the kit, send in a sample in the postage-paid container, and receive a report on the condition of your engine a few days later. This system is also vital if you are purchasing a boat and can tell you far more than a surveyor looking purely at the external condition of the engine.

 

5. Protect it...

 

While cleaning and flushing our engine removed most of the harmful salt, we now need to think about how we protect it from general corrosion causing moisture. We stock a large variety of grease, oil and lubricants. It's not just our engine we need to think about here. Ancillary systems such as the steering, gear/throttle cables, batteries and electrical systems are all prone to suffering issues with corrosion too, and are all worth of a liberal coating of a suitable corrosion guard. The internal workings of the engine largely cannot be be made either from stainless steel, or coated with paint for protection. Protecting these bare, unpainted metal surfaces is also vitally important, and a good fogging oil should get to all those engine parts buried where we can't see them. Protection from the cold also gets a special mention here. When water freezes it expands, if this happens inside your metal engine then the result will definitely be one thing: expensive.

 

6. Retouch your outboard...

 

Scrapes and dings are inevitable for our engines paintwork, particularly around the skeg of an outboard or outdrive. We sell a great range of touch-up paints and spray cans to make your engine look like new again. This process is well worth doing, it makes your engine looked well cared for and will help to increase its value come resale time.

 

7. Cover it...

 

Once you have completed all of the above, it's now a good idea to think about how we can physically keep dirt and debris away from the engine during those winter storms! For inboard engines, as long as the boat itself is well covered, the engine should be safely cocooned inside. For outboard motors however, unless they can be removed, a good cover can protect them over the winter. Air intakes work best when not full of brown leaves, and nice bright neat decals on unfaded cowls also help with residual values. We've all been to look at a boat for sale that has a faded outboard with a load of numbers and letters missing. It normally makes me wonder if the inside of the engine has been looked after to the same extent! Security is also a consideration at this time of year, boats can often be more accessible when out of the water and on trailers. We stock a good range of outboard locks to keep the thieves at bay.

 
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