Boat Maintenance

Prepping Your Outboard for the Winter Lay-up


Every year, your outboard motor — regardless of age — requires winterization. (courtesy of Boats Direct USA)

As the end of the boating season draws near, remember: the way you treat your outboard motor at the end of the boating season is critical to the life of the motor and your continued boating enjoyment. The process is more than just draining the water out of the engine though. It begins at the start the season with a tank of fresh fuel. Before that first day on the water, add one ounce of fuel stabilizer for each gallon of fuel in the tank. There’s no need to shake the tank mix it; a day of play on the lake will mix the fuel stabilizer completely.


Why Stabilizer?

There’s a reason for adding a stabilizer to your fuel. All petroleum products–even those treated with a fuel stabilizer–begin to break down down after a three weeks in the tank. If you add stabilizer each time you add fuel, it protects your engine’s fuel system throughout the season plus, if you have to take a few weeks’ break from boating during the season, you’re likely to have fewer starting problems when you start the engine.

Don’t start the season with last year’s fuel, though. Stale fuel is the number-one reason that engines and outboards are difficult to start after their long winter’s nap. When you disconnect the fuel tank after the last run of the year, use that fuel in your lawnmower for the last yard work of the year.


Prop Care

When you get home, leave the outboard on the boat. Give both a fresh-water bath, with mild soap and water. Then, jam a piece of wood into the propeller blades to keep the prop from turning while you use a propeller wrench to remove the propeller nut from the shaft. Slide the propeller and any washers or spacers off the shaft. You can find a propeller wrench at most boating supply stores.

Send the propeller to the prop shop, to have the nicks repaired and any small bends in the blades taken out. Removing the propeller from the motor before you undertake any maintenance helps prevent propeller strike injuries.


Flushing & Fogging

Attach an outboard flushing attachment – often called “earmuffs” because they resemble the furry, cold-weather ear coverings – to the end of agarden hose. Fit the earmuffs over the engine’s water inlets and turn on the water full-force. Water will leak profusely around the edges of the earmuffs; that’s fine. It means you’ve fitted the ends of the attachment properly. Use a screwdriver to lever the top off a can of outboard motor fogging oil.

Once the water’s running, start the engine in neutral. Remove the flame arrestor from the top of the carburetor and turn off the fuel supply valve on the fuel line. Disconnect the fuel hose from the engine. Stand by the engine with the can of fogging oil and, when the engine starts to choke out, start spraying the fogging oil into the carburetor. Keep spraying until the engine stops completely.

The flushing attachment fits over the water inlets on your outboard like a pair of earmuffs.

Remove the spark plug wires and use a spark plug wrench to remove the spark plugs from the engine. Spray fogging oil through the spark plug bores, into the cylinders and replace the spark plugs, but don’t reconnect the plug wires. Crank the motor over for three five-second bursts. Then, turn off the garden hose and remove the earmuffs on the motor. Now, you can remove the motor from the boat, if you wish, but if you do so, leave the motor upright and let any residual moisture drain from it. Finally, touch up the paint and do all the cosmetic work on the exterior of the motor. When the paint dries, give the motor a light dusting with WD-40 and put the motor cover over it.





The flushing attachment goes over the water intakes.


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