Boat storage tips

Boat storage tips

Subject:  Winterization

From: Doug Fierro 
Subject: Re: Winterizing 87 MC inboard
Date: 22 Nov 1994 20:23:08 GMT

> This is my first season owning the boat and I have not winterized a boat
> before. Is there anyone whould could
>  give me some advice?

  The main thing you want to make sure is that your block doesn't
crack during the winter.  The easy way to answer your question
is spend the $60 or whatever to take it to the nearest marine
shop and have them winterize your boat for you.  It's just
like storage for any 8-cylinder vehicle over the winter, except
you don't have to worry about the tires (except maybe for
your trailor!).

  You need to flush your coolant system for an inboard with
anti-freeze.  You also need to do some stuff to the spark
plugs/cylinders, but I just start the boat up once a month
or so (be sure to re-flush with antifreeze!) and that has
worked for over three seasons now.  Of course, it doesn't
snow where I live :-)

  Make sure you NEVER run your boat on the trailor without
hooking up a hose to it!  The impeller (not the propeller)
needs to have water to lubricate it, so make sure water
is circulating when running the boat engine at home.

   I'm sure your owner's manual has steps to winterize a
boat.  Talk to your local marine shop or boat dealer.

  This is something that could be included in a FAQ :-)

From: (Bob K Corson (Robert))
Subject: Winterizing Instructions

Here is an article on winterizing from The Water Skier Magazine
courtesy of the American Water Ski Association:

Bundle Up Your Boat for Winter Lay-Up by Ken Mangano
(taken from the Water Skier, September 1991, pp. 52-3,55)

As the skiing season comes to an end in the northern regions of the country,
it's time to make plans to winterize your ski boat and prepare your ski gear
for lay-up.

A little work now will protect your valuable equipment through the winter
and make for a smooth launch next spring when the potent sting of the ski
bug makes maintenance and repair work almost unbearable.

Southern skiers also can use this typically slow time in their skiing
schedules to perform annual maintenance that northern skiers execute as part
of the winterizing process. Throughout the following descriptions, the
symbol ``SS'' indicates procedures applicable to all boaters regardless if
their boat will be subjected to freezing weather or a prolonged period of lay-
up (over 60 days).

Since high performance boats and engines are constantly pushed to their
limits in stressful skiing applications, ``An ounce of prevention
[preventative maintenance in this case] is worth a pound of cure.''

You should familiarize yourself with your boat, motor and ski gear. Look at
it, touch it, smell it and listen to what it tells you. Preventative maintenance
and an awareness of how the equipment looks, sounds, smells and feels
when it is operating at peak performance are critical to intercepting problems
while they are still minor. Systematic checks and evaluations of your
equipment before, during and after use will keep any problems under
control and add to your sense of security on the water, whether at the helm,
in the observer's seat or at the end of the tow rope.

Winterization and annual maintenance procedures for inboard and
inboard/outboard boats:

Oil Change (SS)

Brad Johnson, customer service manager for MasterCraft Boats, stresses
that an oil change is one of the most important aspects of engine
maintenance and winterization. Acids can build-up in used oil and cause
corrosion if allowed to remain in the engine during storage.

While the boat is still in the water or with a motor-flushing kit in place,
warm the engine to normal operating temperature. (Persons who operate
their boats in salt, brackish or ``dirty'' water should use a freshwater flush
kit throughout these processes to rid the system of contaminants.) Next,
change the oil and oil filter. If your boat is not equipped with a ``quick-
change'' oil system and the oil pan plug is inaccessible, oil may be drained
with a suction pump through the dip-stick tube. To prevent oil from spilling
into the bilge when removing the filter, place a small drain pan or cardboard
box lined with a plastic bag in the bilge under the oil filter; it'll make for
an easy cleanup.

When changing the oil, pour approximately one-half quart of oil directly
into the new filter before mounting. This will eliminate the lag-time for the
new oil to work through the filter at start-up and insure proper lubrication.
Also moisten the filter gasket with a light coating of clean oil to insure a
good seal; do not over-tighten the filter. After the filter contacts the engine
block tighten only one-half turn more by hand.

Re-start the engine to circulate the new oil, then shut down and check the
level. Put the used oil in a container for transport to a recycling center. Most
service stations will accept this small amount of oil.

Transmission (Inboard engines only) (SS)

Most manufacturers recommend at least a seasonal transmission fluid
change. Using a suction pump, remove the old fluid through the filler
opening or as specified by the manufacturer. (Examine the old fluid for
water, traces of metal or a rancid smell which may indicate a problem that
needs the attention of a mechanic. If any of these conditions are present, do
not run the engine until the problem is checked and corrected.)

Refill the transmission using the fluid or oil specified by the manufacturer.
Run the engine to warm the transmission fluid to normal operating
temperature and shut down the motor. Immediately check the fluid level as
indicated by the manufacturer. Failure to check the level right away will
result in inaccurate readings as the fluid expands when heated and runs back
into the cooling lines as it cools.

Tune-up (SS)

Some people like to perform a tune-up at this time so the boat will be ready
to go at the beginning of the next season (check with your dealer for engine
specifications). If you are not experienced, you may want to have a
mechanic do this. If you decide to tune up your engine yourself, consider
reinstalling the old spark plugs when winterizing and storing the boat to
avoid corrosion or fouling of your new plugs.

Fuel treatment

There is some debate over whether it's best to stabilize fuel with an additive
and top off tanks to prevent accumulation of explosive vapors and
condensation or to completely drain the fuel system to prevent gumming in
the fuel tank and carburetor. (It is a good idea to check with your dealer for
his recommendation.) If you decide to go the fuel stabilization route, now is
the time to add the stabilizer to the gas. Run the engine for a few minutes to
circulate the stabilized fuel.

Internal protection

Carefully check for fuel vapors and be certain that the engine compartment
is well ventilated. Restart the engine and remove the flame arrestor. With the
engine running at fast idle, slowly pour a fogging oil into carburetor until a
dense ``fog'' is visible in the exhaust. (Be sure to pour slowly; hydrostatic
lock may occur if you pour too fast.) Shut down the motor. According to
Craig Warner, warehouse and service manager at New England Correct
Craft, a one-to-one blend of the motor oil that you usually run and Marvel's
Mystery Oil makes a good fogging oil. The job will take about one-half to
one pint of the mixture. This fogging process coats the internal parts of the
engine with a thin layer of oil to prevent rust and corrosion.

If you did not stabilize the fuel, completely drain the system now. Gasoline
is hard to dispose of properly, but the tank of your car or truck will gladly
accept this still-fresh fuel.

Filters--check and clean or replace (SS)

Check and clean or replace the fuel filter, fuel tank pick-up screen, flame
arrestor and carburetor fuel screen as recommended by the manufacturer.
Clean these items with a solvent and blow dry with low-pressure
compressed air. According to Warner, heavy duty cleaners like ``Simple
Green'' or ``409'' work well on the flame arrestor and a carburetor cleaner
does the job on the screens in the fuel system. The units may be air dried if
you don't have access to compressed air.

Drain water from the system

To prevent damage from freezing or corrosion from condensation, you
should drain the cooling system. (Persons with closed cooling systems
should check with their dealer for recommendations on draining verses
flushing and renewing anti-freeze for the heat exchange unit.) Remove the
drain plugs from both sides of the engine block and from the ends of the
exhaust manifolds. Although some of the plugs on engine blocks twist
open, it is best to remove them completely and keep them out during storage
to prevent accumulation of condensation.

Remove the hoses from the raw water pump and blow through them to
remove all water. Be sure that water in the transmission cooler is also
removed at this time. Lowering the trailer tongue will help water flow out of
the back of the engine. You may also want to remove the raw water pump
impeller to prevent it from taking a ``set'' during storage. (Be sure to coat it
with a light coat of oil when you re-install it in the spring; dry start-up will
destroy the impeller.)

Some manufactures also recommend that you remove the hose from the
engine circulation pump, and with the safety starting switch (if so equipped)
disconnected, crank the engine over for two or three seconds to remove any
water not previously drained. (If your boat is not equipped with a safety

disconnected, crank the engine over for two or three seconds to remove any
water not previously drained. (If your boat is not equipped with a safety
starting switch this procedure may by performed by disconnecting the high
tension lead wire between the distributer and the coil.)

Place all plugs, hoses, clamps and parts that you intend to leave out during
storage in a plastic bag and tie it to the steering wheel to insure that you'll
know where to find them in the spring and will not start the boat without
reinstalling them.


Remove the battery and clean terminals. Check the charge and replenish
with a trickle charger if necessary. Store the battery in a cool, dry place
where it will not be subjected to freezing temperatures. Periodically check
the condition of the battery and replenish with a trickle charger as needed.
Always use cation when working with or storing batteries as they naturally
produce explosive gases and contain caustic acid.

Lubrication (SS)

Grease steering, throttle and shift cables as recommended by manufacturer.
Be sure to work the wheel and control lever back and forth to coat the entire
system. Clean up any old grease purged from the fittings and joints. Also
check and grease your trailer wheel bearings.

Lower unit maintenance (inboard/outboard engines only) (SS)

Change lower unit oil. The gears, bearings and shafts of a stern drive are
lubricated by this oil. Stern drives differ in their arrangement so check with
your dealer for instructions on changing the oil. Inspect the oil after you
drain it. Water droplets or milky-brown color indicate a leak or other
problem with the lower unit that must be repaired to avoid damage to the
unit. You will also want to remove the propeller and clean and re-grease the
shaft especially if the boat was run in salt water. An I/O prop left on the
lower unit through the winter may ``freeze-up'' on the shaft and make
removal at a later date extremely difficult.

Wash and wax (SS)

Thoroughly wash the boat inside and out (it'll be a lot easier now then on
the first warm day in spring). Apply a coat of wax to fiberglass and
polished metal surfaces and a protectant (try to find one that does not
contain alcohol like Clear Guard or 303) to seats, motor cover and other

polished metal surfaces and a protectant (try to find one that does not
contain alcohol like Clear Guard or 303) to seats, motor cover and other
vinyl surfaces. Spray motor, electrical parts and exposed metal surfaces
with a spray lubricant such as WD-40 or CRC to prevent corrosion.

Cover and storage

Be sure the boat is completely dry and remove all loose items that may
mildew or corrode. Then, cover the boat and tape the exhaust flappers shut
to keep nesting animals from making a winter home in your exhaust system.
It is best to store your boat indoors or at least under a roofed area. If this i
not possible, you may need to provide extra support for the cover,
especially if you are in an area with heavy snows. Two-inch PVC pipe is
easy to work with and makes good supports. Its round shape keeps it from
damaging your boat cover. Shrink wrapping is also excellent in areas
subject to snows. Its slick surface does not allow snow to accumulate and
weigh down the protective cover (check with your dealer for availability). If
your boat is stored on a trailer, you may want to block the trailer frame to
take pressure off the tires and springs.

Note to Outboard Owners: Many of the procedures for storage and
maintenance discussed here are applicable, with slight modification, to

Note to Outboard Owners: Many of the procedures for storage and
maintenance discussed here are applicable, with slight modification, to
outboard boats as well. Outboards should be flushed, protected internally
(fogged) and externally (with spray lubricant and wax), tuned up and have
lower unit oil changed. Fuel needs to be drained or stabilized and cooling
system needs to be drained. Check with your dealer for procedures specific
to your motor.

By following these steps and your dealer's recommendations, your boat
will be in tip-top condition after its hibernation and you'll be able to
concentrate solely on your skiing in the spring. Remember, failure to follow
manufacturer's maintenance recommendations may affect warrantee
coverage, so always check with your dealer when you have a question.

Another good tip for boat owners with heaters and showers

From: (GORDON JENSEN ) Subject: Winter Freezing = Big Boat Problems! Date: Fri Sep 15 19:55:16 EDT 1995 NOTE: THIS IS LONG WINDED (I USUALLY AM) BUT HOPEFULLY CAN HELP SOME OF YOU THIS WINTER I was looking through the Canadian Waterski Page's FAQs during lunch and looked through the winterization section. Here in Northern California, some of us ski year around and it rarely gets near freezing (I'm not tooting my horn, no flames please). However, about 4 winters ago, we had a terrible freeze that hit us (there were days during the roughly two-week freeze where Anchorage was warmer during the day than we were). All but one of my recently planted Citrus trees died; many other types of vegetation throughout the area also died. We were lucky to get much above freezing during the day, and it was down to the 10s and 20s at night (again, no flames please, I'm just trying to make a point). My boat is kept under an overhang next to my garage (previously in the garage until my wife decided she had to get this house on a hill with a view but unfortunately just didn't have a 3 car garage--too bad for me!). Since it is 'outside', I was very concerned about freezing so I drained everything as best I could (we normally don't need to do it). I was still worried about any residual water so when it really got cold, I put a 100 watt shop light under the engine. With the engine cover closed and the boat cover on, it didn't let any residual water freeze anywhere in the engine compartment. HOWEVER, I have a heater in the boat, and although I thought I had done a pretty good job of draining out all of the water, the heater hoses were such that not all of the water could drain (I didn't realize this until later). When I went out to check it as soon as the temperature finally stayed above freezing, the engine compartment and all hoses with residual water were fine (the light bulb was still on). But when I checked under the bow, the hoses to the heater were stiff with ice. I finally took a blow dryer on low power to the heater and as soon as it started to warm a little, the heater started leaking all over the place. The copper core had split in two places and started leaking when it thawed. Luckily, I was able to re-solder and repair (4 seasons now and no problems). Since then, we haven't had any cold weather like that (occasionally down to just below freezing). But from December to March, I now drain it after every use. The big problem however is still the heater (and shower lines). But I came up with a great way to get all of the water out: USE A WET-DRY VACUUM TO SUCK OUT THE WATER!!! Even when it has gotten cold enough for standing water to freeze a little, I have not had any more problems: Drain the engine, etc. normally. Then connect the vacuum to your drain port and run it for a few minutes (you can usually tell when most of the water is out as the sucking sound changes when only air is being sucked vs. air and some water). The heater and shower use some of the same plumbing so it's easy to pull one hose and then use the various valves to make sure everything is sucked dry. This also sucks the engine as well. And you can even use it to suck the raw water hose at the raw water pump to drain the hose that runs through the trans cooler. Many people had ruined blocks after that bad freeze. I did what I was 'supposed' to do, and although my engine was ok (thank goodness), I still had the heater problem (albeit an easy and inexpensive fix compared to a new block). Since more and more of you have heaters / showers, etc., be very careful since those lines don't drain very well. The last thing you want in early spring when the bug really bites you is to have hot water dripping out of your heater all over your feet! Happy Skiing! And here's hoping it doesn't get cold enough that you need this information! Gordon More useful tips
From Sun Sep 17 15:49:26 EDT 1995 Newsgroups: Subject: Re: Winter Freezing = Big Boat Problems! >No. 4 is what I have a question on. Am I leaving water in the transmission >cooler yet? How can you get it out? Is this the lowest point in the system? Up here in the Northwest we have to drain the block, manifolds, transmission cooler water pumps heater and shower after EVERY use in winter. There are quick drain stopcocks you can buy for the exhaust manifolds. Just disconnect the shower from the block and that is half the block. The other side is a knock detector (on newer models) and you need a torque wrench or a careful wrenching not to damage it putting it back. Just pull the heater hose off the engine at both ends and blow in the upper hose and it all comes out the lower. Pull the two large hoses off the water pumps and spin the engine. Pull the small plug from the transmission cooler and you're done. When I first started doing this in the winter it took 30min. After a season of practice I can do it in 10min flat. Time well spent as the boat next to mine got a cracked block one cold winter night! Big bucks. Greg C.