Smalley’s outboard winterization tips

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If my lawn mower doesn’t start first pull in the spring, I can deal with it. But if my outboard motor doesn’t start, I’m not a happy camper.

The best way to be sure that you won’t have to be pulling on the oars next spring is to spend some time this fall prepping the motor for a few months of inactivity.

Here’s some things that can be done now to increase the chances that first rope pull or turn of the key will start the motor:

• Fuel. Professional small engine mechanics have told me that name brand gasolines generally have enough stabilizer added to last two years. If your gas is old, either replace with fresh gas or add stabilizer like STA-BIL. Fill metal tanks to reduce corrosion. I also add Starbrite, a treatment for gas with ethanol EVEN THOUGH I only buy ethanol-free gas for all my small engines.

Mechanics have told me even so-called “ethanol-free” gas contains some ethanol.

After treating the gas tank be sure to run the motor long enough to draw gas into the carburetor and gas lines.

• Fogger. While engine is running, spray into air intakes to provide a protective layer of fine oil.

• Lower unit. If the lower unit seals are tight, there might not be a reason to change the lower unit grease every year. If the grease looks milky, however, replace with new grease and check the seals.

• Gas lines. Check for cracks and leaks. Replace as needed.

An hour of maintenance now can prevent having to wait for weeks for a professional to remedy your outboard problems next spring.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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