Winter is coming, and you’re probably busy preparing your major farm machines for cold and snow. You’re switching to winter-grade oil in your tractor, mounting a snow blower attachment on your UTV, installing tire chains wherever applicable, etc.
But what about small farm machines? You know, the string trimmer, the leaf blower, the riding lawn mower—machines that won’t be used again until spring. It’s easy to get caught up in other winter preparation and abandon unused machines in a corner of the garage or tool shed. But taking the time to properly prepare these small machines for winter will help ensure they remain in good working order for next year.
Here are three steps you should take to prepare small farm machines for winter storage.
1. Remove Batteries
Not every small machine will have a battery. Many start via recoil starters. But if you’re putting away your lawn tractor or ATV for the winter, be sure to pull out the battery. Batteries aren’t fond of cold weather and can even freeze if they aren’t fully charged and/or temperatures dip too cold.
Removing batteries and storing them in a warm location for winter will help ensure they’re ready to serve in the spring.
2. Add a Fuel Stabilizer
How long will your small machines be in storage? That’s an important question to ask. Gasoline can start degrading in only a month or two in some circumstances. If you’ll be storing a machine with a gas engine for six months, there’s a chance unused gas in the engine and fuel tank will degrade enough to clog the fuel lines and carburetor.
You might think, “I’ll just drain the fuel tanks,” but this isn’t the best solution. It’s difficult to get every drop of fuel out of the system, and an empty fuel tank can be prone to condensation, introducing the risk of water corroding your fuel system.
Instead of draining fuel tanks, try adding a fuel stabilizer instead. Stabilized fuel can last for a year or more without degrading, so you can safely store unused machines over winter. And so long as you fill fuel tanks almost full before placing machines in storage, you’ll leave hardly any room in the tank for condensation to form.
Just be sure to mix in the right amount of stabilizer (follow the instructions), then run the engine for a few minutes afterward to let the stabilized fuel work through the engine.
3. Store out of the Weather
If possible, store your small machines in an enclosed shed, barn or garage to keep them dry and reduce unnecessary weathering. Your rototiller might be fine stored under a lean-to near the garden in spring, summer and fall. But if you can bring it inside (and keep it out of drifting snow) during winter, all the better.
Preparing for winter takes time, but it’s worth the effort. Think of it this way: going the extra mile to take care of your small machines before winter will make sure you don’t lose time in the spring with dead batteries and clogged-up fuel lines.