By Lee Kelly and Dave Cornelius
So far this year, Mother Nature has been kind with temperatures that have remained for the most part above freezing. With Striper season heating up, hundreds of boats will be testing their favorite Umbrella rig; Mojo, Tomic, spoon or live Eel in their quest to catch a bragging sized linesider. This "fever" causes perfectly normal fishermen and women to fish in incredibly cold weather. Most people winterize their boats once per year. If you continue fishing, it may be necessary to winterize your boat several times.
This article focuses on winterizing your Inboard/Outboard (I/O). If this is not done correctly then spring commissioning could be very costly for repairs. Let's talk about the big items that need attention: Engine Block, there are many low spots in your cooling system, water will set in these spots and freeze. Next is the exhaust system, which includes manifolds and risers, these are water cooled also and need anti-freeze in them. All coolers including power steering, oil, fuel and heat exchangers. Basically anything that has water run through it needs anti-freeze added to it to prevent freezing.
Procedures, these will be generic because there are so many different brands out there. First, treat the gasoline with stabilizer like "Stabil." Be sure the tank is full, and then treat the tank with the recommended amount of stabilizer. Keeping the tank full prevents moisture (condensation) from entering the tank during the winter. Next I hook up a set of flushing ears to the water inlets on the out drive. Engines with fresh water cooling systems usually have another water pump attached and use a through hull sea cock for the water, if this is the case then I disconnect the hose from the sea cock and put the water hose into it and use this as the water supply. Either way you must have water going to your water pump otherwise you will burn it up running it dry. I then start the engine and let it warm up, while it is running I remove the air cleaner on top of the carburetor or the air inlet (fuel injected models) and spray fogging oil into the passages until white smoke is seen from the exhaust, then shut it off. Now the internal components of the engine are coated with oil and will prevent moisture from building up and cut down on metal-to-metal friction upon spring start-up. Shut the water off and disconnect the flushing ears.
Now it's time to treat the water systems. There are two systems out there for the engine: Fresh water-cooling and non-fresh water-cooling systems. The freshwater cooled system has a separate cooler that has outside water-cooling the engines fresh water. This cooler and its supply lines are the only components that need to be winterized. There is usually a plug or petcock on the underside of the cooler, drain the cooler and fill it with anti-freeze. Non-fresh water cooled systems have drain plugs on the side of the block, one for inline blocks and usually one on each side for V-blocks. Also there are plugs on each manifold and cooler. I drain the block, manifolds and coolers; the key is to get as much water out of the system as possible.
Now that the system is drained, I remove the water supply hose from the out drive (usually on top of the engine) and fill the block with anti-freeze, around 1-2 gallons per engine, once I see antifreeze coming out of the exhaust I stop. I will loosen the drains on the block and manifolds to double check that antifreeze is in there. Another way to make sure all is filled; I take the hoses off the circulating water pump and the thermostat block and put anti-freeze in all of them. Always use non-toxic anti-freeze for the environment and your pets. A little anti-freeze in the bilge prevents freezing around the bilge pump. I then spray the whole engine steering system and out drive with a corrosion inhibitor (silicone spray) to prevent moisture from forming on the metal surfaces. Tilt the out drive all the way down and then disconnect the battery (s). If you remove your batteries, place them on a piece of wood in a cool dry place. Occasionally over the winter, connect your battery charger and give the battery a trickle charge to keep it in top shape until you need it again in the spring.
Don't catch 'em all!
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