Small engine storage. The seasons is coming to an end. Here in the Smokey Mountain region about eighty percent of the leafs are down. Most of us are still busy blowing leafs and mowing. I would say by the end of the month most of us will be wrapping things up for this year. Those up way north are already pushing snow.
Proper engine storage is important to ensure easy starting come next spring as well as the longevity of the equipment. For this article I am focusing on engines used in the lawn, landscape, and garden industry. There are some equipment which we use frequently throughout the year such as a backpack blower. They can come in handy to blow off a light dusting of snow. Yet a four cycle walk behind leaf blower we may not use till next fall. I have one that will sit unused for about nines months out of the year.
Lets start with a two cycle engine. One of two ways you can go. Either run it out of fuel or add a fuel stabilizer such as Sta Bil or Star Tron. Running a small two stroke engine out of fuel is simple enough. However there’s still going to be some fuel left in the tank and traces of gas left in the carburetor. It’s what’s left in the carburetor that may create issues especially over time. Gas being sold today can be corrosive to small carbureted engines. It also doesn’t have the lubricity older fuels had. My preference is to add a fuel additive/stabilizer. Personally I endorse Star Tron. Both products are good however my research shows Star Tron with a slight advantage. Such additives can be used year long if you choose to do so. For two cycle engines I don’t really see the point if your using it several times a week. Adding a fuel stabilizer to your tank will keep the fuel “fresh” while keeping water molecules from accumulating. Don’t forget to prime the primer bulb and allow the engine to run long enough to work the stabilized fuel through the carburetor. It’s also a good idea to keep the tank on the full side to keep out any additional moisture.
Basically the same goes for a four stroke engine. In addition I like to change the oil before storage. This will ensure the engine isn’t sitting with dirty contaminated oil. It will also be ready for use next time you need it. You can also pull the spark plug out and add a small amount of motor oil. This will add a little more protection to the piston and cylinder walls. Personally I have not taken this extra step and have not had any issues. I am also in business so most of my equipment doesn’t sit for that long. I have also gotten into the habit of starting an engine that sits from time to time to burn off any accumulated moisture.
This is just a basic review of how to store your small engines for the winter. Be sure to read the manual for specific instructions especially if it’s new and under warranty.