Arbor Age

Arbor Age Winter 2015

For more than 30 years, Arbor Age magazine has been covering new and innovative products, services, technology and research vital to tree care companies, municipal arborists and utility right-of-way maintenance companies

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Page 25 of 33

A Win Against Winter BY BRAD MURPHY Many of us have already started to prepare for winter. We bundle up with heavier gear to ensure our bodies stay protected and warm against winter's chill. But we aren't the only ones that need protection against nature's harsher elements. For many contractors, equipment is used very little during the winter season — and in some areas of the country, not at all. If a piece of equipment will sit idle 30 days or more, it's necessary to winterize the engine. This is the time of year when equipment owners begin to ask themselves, "How do I prepare my engine for the winter?" But first, it's important to understand why you should winterize. Winter brings freezing and — even worse — below-freezing temperatures. In order to avoid damage to the engine and other important components of the machine, it's essential to winterize. Four primary areas must be addressed to ensure reliable operation come spring. 1. Clean and inspect The first step in preparing an engine for winter storage is to give both the engine and the machine it is powering a good cleaning. Shut down the engine and allow ample cooling time, then simply wipe the entire unit clean with a towel. Leaves, grass or other debris should also be removed at this time. An air compressor may be used to dislodge any particles that can't be reached by hand. Checking the condition of the air filter is another important practice that can prevent significant damage. A clogged, wet or damaged air filter can lead to a loss in power, or it might cause an engine to not run altogether — resulting in downtime from idle equipment and wasted time troubleshooting. Worse yet, a neglected filter may shorten the life of an engine by allowing dirt or water into sensitive areas. Therefore, the air filter should be cleaned or changed, if necessary, before putting equipment away for the winter. A paper air filter should always be changed prior to winterization. However, if a foam filter is relatively new it can be cleaned and reused. Use hot soapy water, and let the filter drip dry before putting about one ounce of oil on it. Squeeze the filter to saturate, and then blot with a paper towel before reinstalling. 2. Fuel considerations Now that the engine has been thoroughly inspected and cleaned, it's time to consider the fuel. One of the primary reasons engines must be winterized if idle for more than 30 days is because that's the point when fuel begins to go stale. Stale fuel leads to residue build-up, which can plug the small fuel jets in the carburetor and cause major headaches — and costly repairs. There are two primary methods to address this problem. The best approach is to drain all the fuel out of the gas tank, then start the engine and run it for a few minutes to ensure the fuel lines and carburetor are free. This option eliminates any potential issues with stale fuel down the road. Another acceptable approach is to completely fill the tank and then add fuel stabilizer. Especially in extremely cold climates, a half-full tank leaves room for condensation build-up. This can quickly cause rust to form inside the tank, so it's important to ensure the tank is completely full. However, it's only wise to go this route if the engine has a fuel shut- off valve. Upon filling the tank, shut off the valve and run the engine until it dies. Doing so ensures the carburetor is dry and leaves no chance for moisture accumulation. Proper engine winterization ensures reliability come spring PHOTOS PROVIDED BY SUBARU INDUSTRIAL POWER PRODUCTS Proper winterization will ensure a reliable engine — and equipment — come spring. TOOLS & EQUIPMENT 26 WINTER 2015 ARBOR AGE

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