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The Big Shift

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time when all the summer machinery gets put into storage, like weed eaters, lawn mowers, rototillers and other summer types of gasoline powered lawn tools. It's what I like to call 'The Big Shift.'

We are all beginning to shift from warm weather to colder weather, and our lawn and garden equipment gets to hibernate while our snowblowers and power shovels come out to play. Well, next spring, you will want the power tools of summer to start up and run right away, and this tip on gasoline storage, will make your life a whole lot easier.

Now, in the old days, storage of gasoline power equipment was a pain in the…well, you know where. That's because the correct and proper way to store small engines was to drain the tank, let the engine run until it ran out of gas, and then put it away. My father taught me this same procedure as a kid, and we would go through that ritual on a Saturday in late October, every year. While other kids were playing football, I was spilling gasoline all over trying to drain the tanks. Anyone got a match?

You see, by leaving gas in the tank and the carburetor of a small engine, it actually goes stale sitting for so long when not being consumed. It begins to turn into something called ‘varnish’ and although that’s not really what it is, stale gas becomes sticky and gummy and will plug up the jets in any carb if left sitting inside. Once that happens, your engine will not run properly, if at all, and that essentially means a trip to the small engine repair person for a little TLC.

It’s a bit different now-a-days, thanks due in part to a gasoline additive called Sta-Bil. This chemical concoction has revolutionized gasoline storage and makes winter storage of small engines quite easy. Just pour in the recommended amount, usually a couple of capfuls or so, into any leftover gasoline, run the motor for about 3 minutes to allow the mixture to flow into the carb jets, and put your machine away! The gas will remain fresh all winter, and you'll be good to go when you start up your lawn equipment again in the following spring. And, don't forget to add some to the gas you already have in gas cans too!

Needless to say, it works equally well for winter small engines as well, and the same can be said about motorcycles, watercraft, and snowmobiles. In fact, the time-honored way to store a boat motor had been to 'fog' it for the winter. While I need not go into the details on that procedure here, that has been the standard practice for any boat motor in winter, or longer, storage. However, merely follow the Sta-Bil directions, make sure you run the boat motor to allow the stabilizer to fully work it’s way into every jet, and your motor will be as fresh as a daisy next spring when you fire it up on the water.

I do understand that the newer grades of gasoline have alcohol/ethanol mixed in them. This helps a lot with the varnish syndrome when leaving your small engine filled in the winter. However, any 2 cycle engine that is a gasoline and oil mixture is especially prone to gunk build up, and I personally would rather add a gasoline stabilizer than take a chance with an engine that won't start next spring.

So, make it a bit easier on yourself when you are putting all those smaller gasoline engines into storage. Get Sta-Bil, or any other gasoline stabilizer for your gas, put it in, run the engine, and you will be ready to start them up again come the next spring.

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