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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

It's winter, and the machines are rebelling

I've written previously about keeping my snowblower running, and how troubleshooting it is almost always simple application of the old adage, "You need spark and gas." I've also expressed the opinion that, in both the snowblower and the cars I store over the winter, I've never felt the need to use fuel stabilizer because I've never had a no-start or running problem that I correlated with stale fuel.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/its-winter-and-the-machines-are-rebelling/
22 REPLIES 22
audiocage
Advanced Driver

Yep, we have that same back-feed extension, which we've dubbed the Cable Of Extreme Danger. Last time the power went out, I spent an hour sitting on the driveway rebuilding the varnished-up carb on the generator. Got it finished just in time for the power to come back on. Lesson learned...
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

You know that the acronym for Cable Of Extreme Danger is COED, right? (something also generally of extreme danger :^)
TomBrattin
Intermediate Driver

It is kind of funny, but here in North Georgia ethanol free gas is very available to serve the boating industry, but the tree trimming folks still swear by TruFuel and use it in their chainsaws.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

"It's the most horrible time of the year...." <- My rephrasing of the famous Christmas song.

Well between the cold and the carb business it could have been.

gpsuya
Advanced Driver

After having similar problems as Rob, I converted my portable generator to run dual fuel, Gasoline or Natural gas. I now only run it on Natural gas. It starts easily, and everything stays clean as a whip.
cyclemikey
Detailer

So spending a few bucks on a gallon or two of VP and some Sta-Bil is out of the question, but spending the day effing around with all the machinery, squirting ether at them and and replacing carburetors is just fine.

Your time apparently isn't worth very much, and you'll have to forgive me if I don't take your advice too seriously.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Only in hindsight is the comparison so clear.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

Here in New Jersey, there is no ethanol-free gas, except that sold at airports. Unfortunately, the airport gas is leaded, which presents other problems. Typically, they won't sell it to you unless they know you have a plane based there or you're filling up an aircraft, but friendship can get you a long way sometimes. The guy that tuned up my Triumph buys his gas at his local airport. I still have half a tank of 100LL.
Flashman
Technician

The only place in my environs where I can get ethanol-free gasoline is the premium grade at Canadian Tire. I always drain my snowblower (but not the lawn mower); I feed them both the premium fuel. Luckily, they don't use much.
tanglefoot
Intermediate Driver

and you can still get 93 aka at UPI
wdb
Advanced Driver

My Honda generator has a fuel shutoff that I can use to run all the gas out of the carburetor. I close the valve and let it run until it dies. I also leave the tank full to reduce condensation. I run the generator occasionally too. Unfortunately around here the power goes out a lot!

With the snowblower, I drain all the gas out of it in spring, then also run it until it sucks the carb dry. I really think clearing the carburetor of fuel is important with these small motors. I think that by running the engine the various passageways should be getting pretty well suctioned out.
wdb
Advanced Driver

Reply to self -- bad form?

I forgot to mention the lawn tractor. I literally do nothing to that besides run it occasionally. We move wood around in wintertime so it gets used every month or so. That has so far (30 years!) seemed to be enough.
Tinkerah
Engineer

The next time you change your guitar strings, save about four inches from each gauge. They are excellent carb port cleaners. And don't forget the teeniest holes in the side of the main nozzle, in addition to the jet. They are hard to spot when plugged, about 1/64".

tanglefoot
Intermediate Driver

and also use piano wire; available in every diameter you'll need.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Yes tanglefoot but we don't have an acoustic piano in the house 🙂 And piano gauges aren't wound (wrapped) until the sizes are too large for carb work. I find the smaller wound guitar strings are like teeny, gentle rat-tail files.

sspader
Pit Crew

As a disciple of the Church of the 6 "P's" (Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance), I had a good laugh while reading your article. I wasn't always a disciple but trying to perform various maintenance/service on a piece of equipment while it's pouring rain (or full-blown blizzard), running late for a key appt. (such as picking up the wife) or ________ (fill in your own predicament), I've learned the hard way, as most of have, that a little bit of TLC upfront pays for itself in the long run. Loss of power is not the time to discover that you haven't serviced your generator in 3 years and it will not start! Some say I'm crazy to do all that prep work at the end of the season on my 34 yrs old, 21" Sears rotary push behind lawnmower but every year it starts on the first pull and has no rust on the body!
DUB6
Specialist

I simply MUST become a convert to that church!  In fact, I'm currently designing the t-shirt that I'm gonna order to give each of my children for Christmas this year,,, 😄

sk8nsam
New Driver

It's a good idea to keep another new, replacement snowblower carb on the shelf.  I've had the cheap ones die after a year or two, even with proper winterization.  It's a small investment, and if you're like me, you won't know the snowblower won't start until there's a foot of snow in the driveway.

tanglefoot
Intermediate Driver

because none of the internal passages are smooth or least of all polished.
DUB6
Specialist

I think you may want to look at doing an edit, Rob.  When talking about the cost of the available non-ethanol fuels in your area like race fuel and AV-GAS, you refer to "inexpensive regular-octane pump" gas.  I think you accidentally left out the word RELATIVELY in front of that term.  'Cause I'm pretty doggone sure that you don't really think (or expect us to) that regular pump gas is "inexpensive".  🤣

MoparJeff
Pit Crew

I always find your articles enlightening and enjoyable. And I share the challenges of ethanol fuel, as we can not get ethanol-free anywhere near where I live. My solution is to add Marvel Mystery Oil to the fuel each time I add fuel. I also try to exercise them regularly, weather permitting. But... it would take more driving than I would do to burn through a full tank of gas before it got to be very old. My compromise is to add fuel in 5-7 gallon increments, keeping the tank about half full, especially before winter. My winter (in Virginia) is not as severe or long as yours, but I am curious your advice on my compromise: is it better to fill the tank full to prevent room for condensation, but then to have fuel get older before the next fueling, or to keep at least several gallons (at least five) in a tank, and to add fresh more regularly? So far, I haven't had any major fuel problems, but have had the usual fuel hose, fuel pump, and carburetor maintenance issues likely caused (or at least contributed to) by the ethanol fuel.
tanglefoot
Intermediate Driver

Seafoam! I tried it once on the orders of my chainsaw doctor. Now I buy it by the gallon....but....do not use too much at a time.