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Old 05-11-2014, 04:05 AM   #1
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Default Small engine storage procedure

My continuing, now resolved, snowblower adventure allowed me to do a test I had wanted to do for a long time, but always forgot about when it could have been done.

We have all heard the two most common methods of putting generators or other small engines away for the winter, preserving the fuel or running out the gas in the engine. The running out the gas method was the method for a long time, and as long as I can remember, until maybe 20 years ago when preservatives started to get used a lot. We had always known that you didn't get all the gas out of the engines by running them until the quit, but there was no other way. It seemed logical that the gas left would be in all the wrong places like the low spots and small passages, and it would have air to help dry it out. Preservative would not allow the drying of the fuel, so it should work better if it kept the other bad things like gelling from happening.

The discussions of which is best have gone on ever since, with both sides convinced one way or the other was better. I used preservative because it made sense, but never had any proof if it was the best.

In this case, because I thought I would have to put the torch to the snowblower wheels to get them off, I had drained all the gas I could out of the blower. Pulled the gas line at the shutoff to drain the tank, opened the carb drain at the bowl, and ran it until it died while using the choke to let it run longer. I'm not sure how long it sat that way, but probably a month or more. Today I finally got the wheels off by cutting the axle and replacing it (no torch or explosion), and then got it ready to run with clean oil and filled with fresh, non ethanol fuel. I did the normal start routine of throttle, choke, 7 primer pumps. Pulled 5 times without a burp. 4 more primer pumps and 5 pulls later it fired, stumbled, a few small backfires, and bunch of surging at full throttle. Slowed it down to about 1/2 throttle, let it run about 2-3 minutes, and it smoothed out and ran fine after that. Not a horrible problem starting, but when the same blower has sat all summer, in the past, with Stabil in it, it has always started in 1-3 pulls and run smoothly.

Based on this, I would say both methods work, but that the preservative may work a bit better. No doubt this was a very limited and uncontrolled test, and it would be expected that it would be hard to start an engine that had no fuel in the system when you start. I will be staying with the preservative method, but those who don't probably come out fine, too, and save a couple of bucks. I was hoping the dry out method would work better, because it sure would save a lot of preservative for our genny, as you have to treat at least 3/8 of the main van gas tank to get it to the genny.
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

I added Stabil but also ran the carb dry on my emergency power generator and had a difficult time starting it this winter. In hindsight I don't think it was smart to run the carb dry when I was already using Stabil. We ran that generator for three days in way below 0 temperatures after the ice storm cause an extended power outage this winter. I also failed to run the generator every month New plan: add Stabil & run it monthly.
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

I have wondered about "fogging" the engine like boaters frequently do with outboard motors in the fall.

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Old 05-11-2014, 06:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
I added Stabil but also ran the carb dry on my emergency power generator and had a difficult time starting it this winter. In hindsight I don't think it was smart to run the carb dry when I was already using Stabil. We ran that generator for three days in way below 0 temperatures after the ice storm cause an extended power outage this winter. I also failed to run the generator every month New plan: add Stabil & run it monthly.
That is similar to what I saw with blower. I think the critical part of it is that when you run the carb "dry", it really isn't dry because gas is left, and you have added a bunch of air in it to help evaporate the gas down to residue. The Stabil keeps the gas from solidifying, and may even reduce evaporation, and there is much more gas/less air, so it never totally dries out.
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobe
I have wondered about "fogging" the engine like boaters frequently do with outboard motors in the fall.

I always say that I am going to start fogging them, as it is a very good thing to do, but somehow I never get around to it when it is time to put everything away
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

I haven't ever used fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower, and it's started every spring for 5 years since it was new. Check oil level, check fuel level, prime, and pull. My Onan probably gets some, when I throw some into the Roadtrek in the fall, but I only started doing that the year we moved (2 years ago) when I expected it would sit longer, and it's always started, except when it's had other mechanical issues, like the broken solenoid wire.
For me, as usual, simple works.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I haven't ever used fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower, and it's started every spring for 5 years since it was new. Check oil level, check fuel level, prime, and pull. My Onan probably gets some, when I throw some into the Roadtrek in the fall, but I only started doing that the year we moved (2 years ago) when I expected it would sit longer, and it's always started, except when it's had other mechanical issues, like the broken solenoid wire.
For me, as usual, simple works.
Do you have ethanol in the fuel in your area?
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
For me, as usual, simple works.
I don't use additives in my small engine devices, either. I do, however, use "real" gas in them, ie, ethanol-free gasoline. A little pricey, but the small engines are pretty efficient and it's worth not having to think about the ethanol related problems. Wish I could afford to use it in my truck. $4.75/gal at present.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I haven't ever used fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower, and it's started every spring for 5 years since it was new. Check oil level, check fuel level, prime, and pull. My Onan probably gets some, when I throw some into the Roadtrek in the fall, but I only started doing that the year we moved (2 years ago) when I expected it would sit longer, and it's always started, except when it's had other mechanical issues, like the broken solenoid wire.
For me, as usual, simple works.
Do you have ethanol in the fuel in your area?
Most of the stations near here, both in Ontario, and Michigan, and I guess wherever the last fill up was before I winterize either the van or the mower, all have up to 10% ethanol in them.
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Old 05-14-2014, 03:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Where I live around Lake Minnetonka most service stations sell premium ethanol free gasoline for small engines and outboard motors.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I haven't ever used fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower, and it's started every spring for 5 years since it was new. Check oil level, check fuel level, prime, and pull. My Onan probably gets some, when I throw some into the Roadtrek in the fall, but I only started doing that the year we moved (2 years ago) when I expected it would sit longer, and it's always started, except when it's had other mechanical issues, like the broken solenoid wire.
For me, as usual, simple works.

I thought the same thing till I just spent $150 replacing the carburator in my Toro lawnmower after 5-6 years of use. The carb was all gunked up with varnish from gas sitting in it all winter. You probably just jinxed yourself. 5 years is definitely not a long enough experience.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Small engine storage procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I haven't ever used fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower, and it's started every spring for 5 years since it was new. Check oil level, check fuel level, prime, and pull. My Onan probably gets some, when I throw some into the Roadtrek in the fall, but I only started doing that the year we moved (2 years ago) when I expected it would sit longer, and it's always started, except when it's had other mechanical issues, like the broken solenoid wire.
For me, as usual, simple works.

I thought the same thing till I just spent $150 replacing the carburator in my Toro lawnmower after 5-6 years of use. The carb was all gunked up with varnish from gas sitting in it all winter. You probably just jinxed yourself. 5 years is definitely not a long enough experience.
Maybe.
$150 for a carb? I think that's what I paid for my whole mower (plus tax) at LW. Craftsman FWD push mower. Haven't been able to find a better deal anywhere since. Wish I'd bought 2, just in case you're right.
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