Small Engine Winter Storage - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 12 Old Oct 29th, 2014, 7:20 pm Thread Starter
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Small Engine Winter Storage

This isn't bike-related but internal combustion engine-related.

I have a small gas-powered generator. It's new and I'd like to treat it right when it's not in use. I found a thread on this topic but it's 5 years old and doesn't address this question. Which of these is the best way to treat a small engine that may sit for months at a time? (Or in the case of a generator, I'll be starting it monthly and putting a load on it.)

Option 1: Run the engine until it's out of fuel.

Option 2: Add Stabil to the remaining gas in the tank. Do nothing else.

Option 3: Add Stabil to the remaining gas in the tank. Run it for several minutes to ensure it gets through the carburetor.

Option 4: Add Stabil to the remaining gas and run the engine until it's out of fuel. (not sure what good this does - there is no gas to be stabilized!)

And if gas is left in the tank, what about the fuel shut off valve: leave it open or closed? On my larger generator - the one we use to power the house during outages - I close the fuel shut off valve and let the engine run through that amount of gas until it dies, and I add Stabil to the gas tank.

Howard Schisler
2015 BMW K1600GTL
2009 BMW K1200LT - 60k miles
2012 BMW F650GS (sold)
2005 BMW K1200LT - "Gray Ghost", traded at 120k miles
2005 Honda Shadow 650 (sold)
AMA, IBA, BMW MOA. CCRs: Braselton 2006, Osage Beach 2007, Duluth 2012


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post #2 of 12 Old Oct 29th, 2014, 7:29 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I put ethanol fuel stabilizer in my generator and run it until I can smell the fumes from the stabilizer. Then I shut the fuel valve off & let the generator run until it quits running. Then I drain the fuel from the tank & put it in my wife's car. I've had my generator for 12 years now & it still starts the first pull on the rope every time.
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post #3 of 12 Old Oct 29th, 2014, 9:28 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I vote for solution 4 or what Dave does, either way I never leave fuel in the tank. There is almost always some amount of fuel left in the Carb bowl so the Stabil will take care of that.

John Baker

2005 BMW K1200LT
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post #4 of 12 Old Oct 29th, 2014, 10:32 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I have a 4000 watt generator and I put stabilizer in the tank and that's it. Always starts with one or two pulls. This not a fancy machine just one of those $500 jobs from Home Depot, I think the motor is a Chinese Honda clone.

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post #5 of 12 Old Oct 29th, 2014, 10:57 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

Depends on the construction of the tank. Draining a plastic tank empty is fine, draining a metal tank can lead to rust. I prefer fuel stabilizer and run it long enough to get it into the carb, leaving the carb wet. Dry carb can cause seal and rubber diaphram failure, wet carb can cause varnish and primary clogging. The most important part is the masking tape where you write the service date and stick it to the tank.


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post #6 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 5:08 am
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I add stabilizer to my gas cans before they get filled up.
Then I just turn the generator off when done using it and let it sit until I turn the key the next time. At my cabin it can sit for max three months without use and I have had no problems
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post #7 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 7:26 am
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I agree with the Sta-Bil also, and if I may add, just start up the unit once a month if You remember.
Also, depending on where you store it, ensure there are no mice around, as they will make nests around the cylinder and head.
Serviced my Log Splitter Yesterday, started and ran fine, but upon closer inspection, saw some feathers sticking out of spark plug area.
Removed flywheel shrouding, and there was the nest.
It was stored in an outside shed, so just my "Two Cents".
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post #8 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 10:56 am
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

I agree mice are a problem, I buy these wax blocks with mouse poison and they work well. The advantages of the blocks is that they have to eat it in place and it is not effected by moisture. When the little buggers carry the poison away you don't know if there is still poison in the shed so you buy more and it becomes costly and this is easy to monitor.

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post #9 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 1:52 pm
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Question Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

What are folks using for fuel stabilizer? I always used to use Stabil but recently switched to Stabil marine version. Is there something better?

A few years ago I tried to count the number of internal combustion engines here on the farm. I came up with 21. I counted everything from automobiles to weedwackers. Cars that stay unused for the winter, snowmobile that stays unused for the summer. Rototiller that gets used for a few days in the spring.
Tractor, chainsaws, firewood splitter, the list goes on.

Holy Moly, if I had to "winterize" each of those suckers, that's all I'd be doing.

I've have half dozen or so 5 gallon gas containers. When I go to fill 'em up, I add marine Stabil to the containers so the Stabil is already in the gas.

For those machines with a fuel line shut off, I'll shut off the fuel and run the engine until the carb is dry.

For those without a shut of, I just walk away from them.

For "precious" old machines with metal gas tanks, I'll top off the tank to reduce rust in the tank. Plastic tanks I don't worry about so much.

Ethanol in the gas does seem to be raising havoc with some machines and leaving untreated gas in a carb for long periods does seem to be asking for trouble. But, I don't understand exactly what the problem is.

The rotor tiller is decades old with a pre-ethanal Briggs and Stratton. All I ever do is try to remember to top off the metal gas tank at the end of its season. It has started year after year on the 1st or 2nd pull. Crazy good!

I have a relatively new Honda V-twin as a transplant engine in a 1960s Craftsman lawn tractor (the only V-twin I have ever had BTW. ). That engine gets a plugged jet in the carb a few times a year and I can't for the life of me figure out what causes it. Some kind of precipitate forms and plugs the jet. It seems to form right in the carb float bowl. There is a good in-line fuel filter so it isn't coming from the tank.

I suspect that if the structural material of a carb isn't good for ethanol you can have problems no matter what you do if gas sits in there for any period of time. In my experience, the classic symptom of the "ethanol crud in the carb" is the engine won't run at a steady RPM once it is warmed up. It will idle, but once the throttle is opened it won't run at a steady RPM. Then pull out the choke a little and it will run steady. Crude in the carb causes it to run a little lean, and then the govenor causes the rpms to cycle up and down. Clean the carb, and things are back to normal until the next time.

I see no point in draining gas tanks. Seems like a lot of extra trouble to me.
If a machine were going to sit for more than a year, I'd consider draining both the carb and the tank and oil misting a metal tank.

Last edited by CharlieVT; Oct 30th, 2014 at 5:02 pm.
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post #10 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 2:47 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieVT View Post
What are folks using for fuel stabilizer? I always used to use Stabil but recently switched to Stabil marine version. Is there something better?
I would also like to know if there is anything better. I have three products sitting on my shelf in the garage, which are:

--Stabil - For storage up to 12 months (per back of label).
--Star Tron - Stabilizes gasoline for up to two years (per bottle attachment).
--Liquid Performance - Ethanol equalizer (purchased from BMW vendor).

Are the above used for different purposes, or are they basically the same?

Mike Trevelino
Williamsburg, VA
2008 RT
2000 LT - Totaled at 99,960 miles


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post #11 of 12 Old Oct 30th, 2014, 5:21 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

For anybody wondering "what's in it"? just do a search for MSDS with the name of the product. Startron for example is almost entirely Naptha, which is the same thing as Coleman lantern fuel. I searched one of the new yellow colored fuel stabilizers recently and found it was simply industrial strength ethelyne glycol. Yep, it was undiluted anti-freeze. Alcohol.

But back to the topic. I too just add stabilizer to my fuel cans at the end of the summer and then just change the oil and top off the tank when things are ready to go into hibernation. Labeling the tank with the service date is a very good thing to do though, as it's real easy to forget how long something like a generator has been setting between uses.


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post #12 of 12 Old Nov 1st, 2014, 5:41 pm
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Re: Small Engine Winter Storage

Here is what I do and why. Since I live in the northland there are many things that I do not use in the winter. I do the same thing to all my equipment with an internal combustion engine since none of it is stored in a climate controlled environment.

I only use non-oxygenated fuel. I add Startron at the rate of 1oz per 5 gallons of gas when I bring the filled cans home. It's easier to measure and remember 1oz. I do this all year long. Anything that gets fueled, gets stabilized gas throughout the year. When I am done using it I fill the tank and just shut off the gas valve if it has one. The reason I fill the tanks is to limit the amount of condensation that can form. Since I have been using this process I have never had any problems with starting or running. I have eliminated the stink on the first tank of fuel after sitting all winter that I had when I used Stabil or Seafoam. I do not have to worry if the chainsaw, granddaughters dirt bike, or generator ect. will start when I want it to. They all work great every time I use them. I use the same mix rate on the BMW and top off the tank with fuel from my can when I store it.

I had been shown the Startron around 8 years ago by a local ATV/Bike dealer tech who said it really worked great for them. Been using it ever since. I also make some side cash working on small engines on all sorts of equipment and have seen the dried out parts and accelerated damage to fuel systems caused by the ethanol in the enhanced fuels. I know our government has said it causes no bad effects to modern fuel systems. Everybody gets to believe who they want. I am not trying to start a debate on gas. I am just stating my personal reasons for what I do.

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