Dec 13, 2016

Outboard Engine Winterization

Doug, gives us his top tips for getting your outboard engine ready for winter!

As with last month's diesel winterisation guide you should start by asking yourself if you really do want to winterise. There are some lovely days on the water over the winter and it is far less crowded afloat than the summer. While I don't claim the following is exhaustive, here are a few things you can do to look after you petrol outboard engine if you’re laying the boat up for the winter. 

1. Start with flushing the engine through with fresh water. On a small outboard you can do this in a large bucket, as long as the engine is secure and the propellor blades won't touch the sides. Larger engines will need muffs that fit on the end of a hose and clamp across the water intake at the bottom of the engine leg. Some more modern engines have a flushing plug to connect the hose to. Once you are connected up to fresh water, start the engine up and run it in idle for 5 minutes. If at any time water stops coming out of the tell tale, close the engine down. Once the cooling system is thoroughly flushed with fresh water, disconnect the fuel line and allow the engine to run until it starves itself of fuel. As the fuel begins to run out and the revs start to die, pull the choke lever out part way and the revs will pick up, keep doing this until you are at full choke and the engine dies out. You can now remove the fresh water supply. Disconnect the hose/muffs and allow the engine to drain. The engine should be in a vertical position for flushing and draining (if your boat is on a trailer that is bow up this may require a slight trim up of the engine to bring it back to vertical). It's important that engine is allowed to fully drain of fresh water.

2. There may be a small amount of fuel remaining in your carburetor. Locate the drain plug at the bottom and drain off the last remnants of fuel.

3. Next up, disconnect the kill cord (on Mercury/mariner engines switch off the kill cord switch) to prevent accidental starting. Diconnect the spark plug leads and unscrew the plugs using a spark plug socket. You now need to turn the engine over gently while spraying fogging oil in through the spark plug holes. If you have a manual start engine just pull the cord gently. If an electric start then short bursts of only a few second on the key should do. Remember your engine shouldn't start as you have disconnected both the kill cord, the spark plugs and their leads.

4. Now block the spark plug holes back up with the spark plugs and give the whole engine a good spray with the fogging oil.

5. Change the gearbox oil, engine oil and any filters.

6. Grease the prop shaft and the inside of the propeller hub. Place a plastic bag over the prop/shaft to avoid getting grease on anything else in storage.

7. Grease all joints, moving parts, grease nipples etc.

8. Pre-mixed fuel should not be stored for long periods of time as it separates. Straight petrol will normally be ok for a few months. You can add a “stabiliser” to pre-mixed fuel or better still, aim to use it up at the end of the season and start next season with new freshly mixed fuel. If using straight petrol then to avoid condensation occuring in your tank over winter press the tank up to full (or run down to empty). Avoid storing a part full tank.

9. Finally store your engine vertically somwehere dry and warm until the spring.

The above tips do not replace attending an Outboard Maintenance course and reading the relevent manufacturer's engine manual

- Doug


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