How to Prepare Your Boat for Winter Storage in Canada

In Canada we need to winterize our beloved boats. A little work now will protect it through the winter and make for a smooth launch next spring.

Oil Change: This is the most important thing because acids can build-up in used oil and cause corrosion if allowed to remain in the engine during storage. Buy s simple freshwater flush kit and follow the steps on the package. Next, change the oil and oil filter.

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.

Transmission (Inboard engines only): Using a suction pump, remove the old fluid through the filler opening. Refill the transmission using the fluid or oil specified by the manufacturer.

Run the engine to warm the transmission fluid to normal operating temperature. Shut down the motor and immediately check the fluid level. Doing this right away will give an accurate reading because the fluid expands when heated and runs back into the cooling lines as it cools.

Fuel treatment: Add fuel stabilizer to your tank. This is done to prevent accumulation of explosive vapors and condensation. 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. Apply fogging oil as per the directions on can.

Filters – check and clean or replace: 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.

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.)  Some manufactures also recommend that you remove the hose from the engine circulation pump and if so follow steps in owner’s manual.

Battery: Remove the battery and clean terminals. Store the battery in a cool, dry place where it will not be subjected to freezing temperatures.

Lubrication: 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.

Wash and wax: 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) to seats, motor cover and other polished metal surfaces.

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 is 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.

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

Article based on Bundle Up Your Boat for Winter Lay-Up by Ken Mangano (taken from theWater Skier, September 1991, pp. 52-53,55)

Image courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Paul D. ReynoldsHow to Prepare Your Boat for Winter Storage in Canada

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