As cold weather approaches, many boaters are thinking about storing their rigs, which means work heats up for marine dealers like Bob Garlock, owner of Davenport Boat. Because of this, we were lucky to have the time granted by Bob to ask a few questions regarding winterizing.
The following is information gathered and reported in Garlock’s own words: "In my opinion, the most important things for winterizing an outboard is making sure there is no water inside the lower unit. It could freeze and crack the housing.
"Stabilizing the fuel system for an extended storage period is probably the most important thing. Fuel system problems are a very large portion of our service business.
"Fuel can start to separate in as little as 15 days depending on original fuel quality. Most people do not realize that adding fuel stabilizer to old fuel does not help.
"You also must run the motor for 10 to 15 minutes after adding stabilizer to the fuel tank to get it into the fuel system on the motor.
"For inboards, it is the same for the fuel systems. Make sure there is no water in the drive unit, and either drain or antifreeze the cooling system on the motor.
"The difference between an outboard and inboard is that the outboards will completely self-drain of water by letting them sit as vertical as possible for five minutes or so (excluding if there is water in the lower unit), while the inboard cooling systems have to be manually drained.
"Most dealers like ourselves offer winterizing packages, which will take care of your winter storage concerns and your yearly maintenance on your boat for a reduced price from in season maintenance cost and your ready to go in the spring.
"As far as the boat goes, make sure all drain plugs are removed from boat and live wells. Any liquid should be removed, and batteries should be fully charged.
"There is no real difference in procedures for horsepowers, but there is a difference in what we do for a winterize package depending if your motor is a 4 stroke, 2 stroke , fuel injected , or carbureted.
"In case of watercrafts themselves, larger boats or pontoons that have water systems and holding tanks should also be drained.
"When it comes to the right time to winterize, we advise our customers to get their winterizing done before there are freezing temps because of the aforementioned freezing and cracking possibilities. The best time would be when you are sure you are done using your boat for the season. Dealers can get backed up several weeks when the temps start to drop, which will cause a waiting time before they can get to your boat.
"For people who want to do their own winterizing, it is pretty much up to how handy they are at such things. However, they should remember to fully charge the batteries, and remove all liquids from boat and motor.
"We also advise customers to use fuel stabilizer year-round and especially late in the season when the boat will possibly sit without use for longer periods.
"There is a little difference between people who store their boat inside and out. Something I hear a lot is 'I do not need to winterize my boat because it is stored inside a heated garage.' It is true that you do not need to worry about any freezing or cracking, however, your fuel system needs to be stabilized the same as if it were outside all winter. Also, if you have not taken the proper precautions, make sure you do not lose your heat in your storage facility because it could be costly.
"If the boat is stored outside, along with the normal winterizing, try to keep the rain, snow and ice off the top of the boat as much as possible. Snow and ice build-up can do some serious damage.
"If you have to wait to a later time in the season, run stabilizer in the fuel and make sure to store the outboard as vertical as possible to drain water. Check or change the lower unit lube to make sure there is no water in it.
"Stern drives need to do the same with the fuel system but do not let that motor get below freezing for too long or it will be a expensive repair come spring.
"Some people will use their rigs during the winter. Again, I would run stabilizer in your fuel just in case it sets for a while. Each time the outboard is pulled out of the water let it sit as vertical as possible for five minutes to let the water drain from the cooling system. I would at least check, if not change, the lower unit’s lube to insure there is no water inside the lower unit housing before exposing it to a lot of cold weather conditions.
"Again, for stern drives, don’t let that motor freeze.
"For trailers, some people feel they should jack them up to lift the tires off the ground, but there is no need to do this. However, it would be best for the tires to keep them as close to max air pressures as possible while sitting for the winter. Cold temps tend to make tires lose air pressure."
I want to thank Mr. Garlock for taking the time for this interview and photos. For further questions, contact Bob at Davenport Boat, 1414 S. Shark St, at 563-326-2431.