J and J Small Engine Blog

RSS Grab J&J Small Engine Clinic Blog Feed

How to Store Equipment Away for Long Term, Like Winter

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

As 2011 draws to a close many of our customers will be storing their STIHL products for the season. Fuel-related problems are among most common issues that STIHL customers have.

Now Let's Talk About Gasoline

The gasoline we buy at the pump is not the same as what we bought 10 years ago. Gasoline is a complex chemical soup that must meet standards set by the EPA regarding the pollution created when the fuel is used in an internal combustion engine. Nearly all the fuel sold today has at least 10% ethanol added. The primary use of gasoline today is for licensed vehicles used on public roads, like cars and trucks. Today the majority of these vehicles are fuel injected with a computerized engine management system that tunes and adjusts the engine to the fuel as the vehicle is being operated. The fuel companies blend this fuel to meet EPA standards for these vehicles.

Today's gasoline is even blended differently by region and at different times of the year to help with cold and hot starting in your car or truck. It is expected that gasoline delivered to a gas station will be sold and used within two or three weeks.

Most small engines manufactured today, for lawn and garden applications as well as small outboards and recreational vehicles, still use carburetors to mix the fuel with the air for the engine to run. The challenge for small engine manufacturers has been to build their products to operate properly on gasoline blends that keep changing. This has lead to such things as materials compatibility. Here is an example: take an engine that is a few years old and ran fine last season, but now will not start. When the unit is evaluated by a service technician at the dealership, they may find that the fuel line was found to be hard and brittle and had crumbled away, or it may have become soft and spongy and simply collapsed so no fuel can flow through it.

In some cases the carburetor itself may be damaged by the fuel, clogging jets or damaging rubber or polymer components that the fuel comes into contact with. They may swell or shrink, causing problems that prevent the machine from running correctly. It is easy to blame some of these problems on the ethanol that is mandated by the EPA to be added to most fuels, but there may be other additives in the fuel that could be a cause of these problems as well, especially in older machines.

Available Options

So what should you do to make sure your small engine will start when you want it to? There are some options available. They may require spending more money on fuel, or more time in preparing the machine for off-season storage, but the cost of not doing these things will be down time and a repair bill to correct the problems.

STIHL continues to make changes to the polymers and the carburetors used on current products to help prevent this sort of thing from happening. We do have some recommendations to help prevent starting problems for anyone with a small air cooled engine equipped with a carburetor, regardless of how old it is.

The most important thing you can do is buy name brand (89 or higher) octane fuel. The reason is that name brand fuel (Shell, EXXON, BP, CITGO, etc.) is blended more consistently and should be fresher and of a higher quality than fuel bought at a retailer with no brand on the pump.

Only buy enough fuel to last you a month at a time. The shelf life of today's gasoline is not as long as it was in years past. Fuel does "go bad" over time and will change color and eventually have a sour odor. This can happen much faster if the fuel container is open to the atmosphere, as in some older gas cans that do not seal out the air.

Some older gas cans have a little plastic vent that you would open to allow the fuel to pour out, and often it will break off and the oxygen in the air can get inside the gas can and start a process called "oxidation" that will rapidly degrade the fuel. Always use a clean fuel container and consider buying a new one that has a positive sealing dispensing cap and an automatic vent.

In high humidity areas, the ethanol additive in the gasoline will rapidly absorb moisture from the air and "phase separation" can occur. This will cause the water and ethanol to settle at the bottom of the container. When the can is tipped up to fill the tank, the water and ethanol will flow into your machine's fuel tank possibly causing a non-start condition. In a worst case scenario, this can actually ruin the carburetor or even cause internal damage to the engine.

Do not use a "winter"-blended gasoline you bought in January in June, as it may cause lean running, vapor lock, hard-starting and could also lead to internal engine damage.

Another suggestion that you might consider is to add a fuel stabilizer, such as STABIL. Be sure whatever brand you buy does not have any alcohol in it. A fuel stabilizer will not fix old gasoline but it does help lock down the chemistry of fresh gasoline so if it does sit in your gas can for a month or two, it should still burn properly when you use it. But remember that adding a fuel stabilizer does not make your gasoline last forever, just longer than it would without a stabilizer added. Some two-cycle engine oils have stabilizers as part of their chemistry, which makes it convenient to have a stabilizer in the mix.

Use a dedicated two-cycle fuel can. If you have a two-stroke engine such as a chain saw, leaf blower, or trimmer, use a fuel can just for two-cycle mix, and label it clearly. We suggest using the best quality oil from the manufacturer of your particular machine, and put the oil in the can before you add the gasoline so that it mixes better and there is no chance of forgetting to add it later.

Another option is to buy pre-packaged fuel for your two-stroke equipment. STIHL markets MotoMix® which is a 92 octane fuel with synthetic oil already added at a 50:1 ratio, and there is no alcohol of any kind present. Additionally this fuel will remain stable and useable for up to two years after the seal on the container is broken as long as the cap remains tightly sealed. While this option is more expensive up front, the payoff will be no downtime or repair bills down the road. This may be a good idea for someone that uses their equipment only occasionally, like a homeowner, fire department, rescue squad or farmer.

Prepare it for long term storage. Finally, no matter what gasoline you use, the most important thing to do when a machine is going to sit for any length of time, say over three or four weeks, is to actually run it out of fuel. Carefully drain the fuel out of the tank if it is not near empty, and save that fuel or dispose of it properly. Now start the engine and let it run at idle until the engine runs out of gas and stops. Don't rev the machine, just let it idle. This will do more than anything else to help mitigate starting problems the next time the machine is put into service. There will always be a little gasoline left in the carburetor, so this is why it would be best if the gasoline had some stabilizer in it, or for a two-stroke, a product like MotoMix®.

Remember, selection of fuel and proper mixing is your responsibility. Use a name-branded fuel and two-cycle mix, and follow the information above. Your machine should be ready when you are. If you have questions, contact us by calling 774-987-9399 to speak with our experienced technicians.

For Heavy Snows Consider a Two-stage Snow Blower

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the market for a snow blower? If you have a single-stage gas model, your memories of last winter’s victory over your best efforts might still linger. But even you’ve merely had your fill of shoveling, there’s good news: For the same money as some of the better single-stage models, a two-stage model’s addition of an impeller behind the usual auger gives it more heft in lifting and throwing snow. Even a compact 2 stage snow blower , with widths up to 24 inches, can give you the edge in the coming months. What doesn’t help, however, is that that two-stage models are heavier and take up more space in a garage or shed.

We’ve added further detail on the models in our Snow Blower Ratings to allow better comparisons. Here, in the meantime, is a primer on how a two-stage gas model differs from a single-stage in actual use.

Performance. Particularly with the widest two-stage models, snow removal is quicker—important if you’re in a hurry. The largest models throw snow the farthest, which keeps you from blowing the same snow twice in your driveway. And they offer the most muscle against the dense pile that municipal snowplows leave where your driveway meets the street.

Maneuverability. Two stage snow blowers can be twice as heavy as single-stage, but that doesn’t mean they’re twice as hard to move. Multiple speeds mean the snow blower can do all the work of getting the unit where you want it, and you can set the speed according to how easy or challenging the snow is. (The denser the snow, the slower the recommended speed.) And if your driveway slopes, the driven wheels can keep you safe. How? For my own hilly driveway on a busy street, I set a slow speed but keep my hand off the drive lever.

Other features. The beefier two-stage snow blower have freewheel steering, noted in our Ratings, which disengages either or both the drive wheels for easy, sharp turning. The higher price of the larger models also gets you single-hand controls, which frees up a hand for careful chute aim—important for driveways situated near the neighbors’. As with winter viruses, after all, generosity is not necessarily a virtue.


Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.


Delivered by FeedBurner

Recent Posts


Tags

blower sprayer, MA power tools for women, MA snowblowers, North Attleboro power tools not working, MA two-stroke engines black friday two-stage snow blower lawn mower storage outdoor power equipment repair questions, North Attleboro, MA leaking head gasket lawn equipment, MA small engine tune-up, MA power tool parts and service, MA blowers, north attleboro mower blade needs sharpening, North Attleboro Stihl Dealer E10 gasoline, North Attleboro father's day gifts, MA small engine tune up, MA power tools, North Attleboro, MA choke snowblower safety standing mowers, MA small engine repair shops, MA electric hand held leaf blowers, North Attleboro new lawn mowers, North Attleboro buying a generator lawn mowers care, MA power tool repair and maintenance, North Attleboro two cycle engines, MA snow removal backpack blowers wet/dry vacuum hedge trimmers E10 gas, North Attleboro wet-dry vac snowblower tune-up small engine repair, North Attleboro generators, North Attleboro, MA engine parts, North Attleboro power tool maintenance, MA wood boring drill power tools parts, MA fuel containers back pack leaf blowers E10 gas green lawn mowers generator repair and maintenance, North Attleboro, MA power tools maintenance and repair, North Attleboro damage to outdoor power equipment Attleboro, MA gas for small engines, MA power tools, north attleboro battery-powered yard equipment Toro lawn mowers chain saws, North Attleboro hedge trimmer, North Attleboro Torro lawn mower lawn mower gas leaf blowers standing lawn mowers, MA seasonal snow blower maintenance, North Attleboro, MA necessary power tools, Attleboro engines idles wrong trimmers, MA Toro snowblowers snowblower power equipment retailer, North Attleboro filters small snow blowers, MA, RI small engine equipment North Attleboro gas lawn mowers outdoor power equipment repair and maintenance, North Attleboro small engine problems zero turn mower generators ethanol-free gas, North Attleboro, MA problems with lawn equipment, MA snowblower maintenance, North Attleboro generator, MA recycler lawn mowers, MA generator service battery operated electric lawn mowers, MA electric lawn mowers leaf blower service ethanol-free gasoline 2 stage snow blowers, North Attleboro, MA small engine repair servcies north attleboro ma chain saws, MA preparing your lawnmower, ma chain saw STIHL leaf blowers leaf blower maintenance, MA maintenance of power tools STIHL chain saw portable generators, North Attleboro, MA electric snow blowers, MA, RI schedule lawn mower maintenance, North Attleboro toro lawn mowers, MA engine overheating Toro snow blowers, MA, RI small gas engine repair, North Attleboro, MA snow blowers, MA, RI snowblowers Generac generators, MA prune trees power equipment repair, North Attleboro, MA wet dry vacuum snow blowers with electric start power tools won't start, MA tips for outdoor power equipment, North Attleboro ethanol-free gas Wright lawn mowers magneto, MA lawn equipment engine problems, MA lawn mower engine problems, MA power lawn mowers electric drill locally owned power tool dealer, north attleboro preparing lawn mower batteries for winter storage, North Attleboro, MA cordless drill, MA toro snow blowers lawn mower service mower tune up, MA power tool service small engine repair air filter service north attleboro power tools, Attleboro Toro lawn mowers, North Attleboro flywheel, MA backpack leaf blowers trimmers and brushcutters lawnmowers, North Attleboro snow blowers, North Attleboro, MA Small Engine air filter lawn mower service, MA power tool maintenance, North Attleboro small engine maintenance leaf blowers, North Attleboro, MA small engine oil gift ideas, North Attleboro, MA snow blower repair, North Attleboro two stage snow blowers portable generators jandj small engine clinic spring lawn mower maintenance, North Attleboro small engines power tool service, MA snow blowers, North Attleboro shop-vac gasoline chain saws mower blades, MA ethanol free gas STIHL chain saws outdoor power equipment maintenance, North Attleboro cordless drill causes of small engine problems snow blowers fuel for engines women and power tools, North Attleboro lawn mower maintenance leaf blower parts, MA zero turn lawn mowers, MA commercial lawn mowers small engine parts, North Attleboro, MA chain saw FAQs new snowblower Massachusetts standby generators, MA power tool repair, north attleboro portable generator repairs, MA new power tools, North Attleboro new power tools, Ma new snowblower, MA power tools sales, MA ethanol free fuel, MA mulching lawn mowers, North Attleboro ethanol free gas, MA sharpen mower blades, MA lawn mower carburetor order small engine parts string trimmers annual maintenance, MA snow blower maintenance and repairs chain saws power tool engine parts generators, MA wet-dry vacuum buying a snowblower, MA fuel stabilizers circular saw, MA power tools, MA single stage snowblowers, North Attleboro, MA 2 stage snow blowers sawzall, MA lawn mower carburetor, ma pole pruner small engine service, MA snowblower maintenance STIHL wet dry vac pressure washer stand by generators, MA tax free weekend, MA STIHL brushcutters gas leaf blowers, North Attleboro outdoor power equipment repair North Attleboro portable generators, MA leaf blowers two stage snowblowers, North Attleboro, MA leaf blowers, north attleboro generac generator, MA outdoor power equipment repair and maintenance, North Attleboro, MA fall maintenance on lawn mowers, North Attleboro service power tools generators, North Attleboro storing the snow blower solid nose bar preparing a small engine for winter storage, North Attleboro, MA Recycler series power lawn mowers wheeled blowers, North Attleboro small engine parts and service, MA Kipor generators, MA power outages care of power tools, North Attleboro electric chain saw regular maintenance, MA leaf blower Stihl single-stage snowblower STIHL extended reach hedge trimmers small engine parts hand-held power tools STIHL blower sprayer, MA engine dies single stage snow blowers, North Attleboro, MA generac generator lawn care, North Attleboro electric power tools, MA leaf blowers, MA residential generators backpack sprayer, MA common small engine problems lightweight portable generators, MA gas stabilizer, North Attleboro, MA edging, MA parts, MA push mower, MA single stage snowblower, North Attleboro small engine problems, MA regular maintenance small engine repair small gas engines string trimming, MA yard tools, MA lawn mower blades, North Attleboro, MA yard tool service, MA tips for preparing lawn mower for winter storage lawn mower engine parts, MA standing vs sitting lawn mowers, MA drought lawn care, MA power tool sales and service, north attleboro STIHL hedge trimmers stationary generators, North Attleboro, MA snow blower maintenance wet vac preventative maintenance STIHL trimmers pressure washer, North Attleboro power equipment standing lawn mowers lawn mower won't start, MA ethanol free gasoline, MA lawn care, MA buy and power tools, North Attleboro Father's day power tools, MA power equipement repair and maintenance lawn mower tune up power tools service, MA outdoor power equipment sales portable generator small engine repair north attleboro ma EPA standards backpack blower, MA powerwashers, North Attleboro sales and service of power tools snowblower maintenance and repairs outdoor power tools snow blowers, MA shop vacuum, MA power tool service, north attleboro prepare lawn mower for winter storage new and power tools, North Attleboro outdoor power equipment repair, North Attleboro power tools maintenance, MA wet vacuum equipment dealers carburetor kits power equipement repair edgers, MA electric snow blowers snow blowers require maintenance, North Attleboro, MA tighten the chain rototillers, North Attleboro basic power tools, Attleboro leaf blowers for clearing snow leaf blower repair, North Attleboro, MA lawn mower blade sharpening, MA snowblower shopping, North Attleboro smoking small engine, MA small engine maintenance, MA putting your lawn mower away for winter storage snowblower repair, North Attleboro hand power tools, MA small air cooled engine lawn mower maintenance, North Attleboro string trimmers, MA STIHL auger two-cycle engines service and maintenance or portable generators, North Attleboro, MA sprocket nose bar gas powered snowblowers, North Attleboro stocking stuffers yard equipment won't start, MA over seeders, North Attleboro battery powered lawn mowers outdoor power equipment repair, North Attleboro, MA hand-held gardening equipment benefits of standing mowers, MA gasoline small engine sales repair service north attleboro ma small engines, MA STIHL backpack blower sprayer, MA holiday shopping small engine tools landscape contractors power tool engine parts, MA power tool repairs, MA 2 stage snowblowers lawn and garden power tools, North Attleboro lawn mowers handheld leaf blowers two-stage snow blowers zero emission lawn mowers, MA wet dry vac commercial generators power tool repair, MA outdoor power equipment, North Attleboro, MA two stage snow blowers, North Attleboro, MA spark plugs snowblower maintenance, North Attleboro, MA new snowblowers, North Attleboro, MA chainsaws smoking engine, MA Local small engine repair compact two-stage blower STIHL power tools small engine repair sales services north attleboro snowblowers, MA leaf blower won't start, MA J&J Small Engine Clinic gas snow blowers electric leaf blowers, North Attleboro gasoline with more than 10% ethanol leaf blower repairs, MA portable generators, North Attleboro care of lawn mowers, North Attleboro right fuel for power tools zero turn lawn mower STIHL drills leaf blower won't stay running, MA small engine service department, MA Torro zero turn lawn mower small engine repairs small engine service, North Attleboro, MA small engine parts, MA STIHL backpack blowers small machines yard care equipment, MA power tools Generac portable generators, North Attleboro, MA lawn mower maintenance, ma vacuum trimmer, North Attleboro cordless electric lawn mowers, MA economical snow blowers, MA, RI zere turn mowers lawn mower tune up, MA yard equipment, MA power tool repair Local small engine repair, MA parts and service for all small engines, North Attleboro lawn mower batteries, North Attleboro, MA standing vs sitting mowers, MA small engine repairs, MA beginner power tools, Attleboro snowblowers require maintenance, North Attleboro, MA outdoor power equipment, North Attleboro lawn mowers, North Attleboro generator service, MA power tool storage prepare snowblower for storage, North Attleboro Attleboro new power equipment, MA snowblower needs a tune-up plug in lawn mowers WRIGHT lawn mowers, MA power hand tools, MA ethanol free gas, North Attleboro, MA fuel-related problems power tools parts and service, MA lawn care equipment, MA power tool maintenance right fuel for power equipment 2 stage snowblower, North Attleboro power tools for Father's day gifts, MA outdoor power equipment repair specialist, North Attleboro, MA generator repairs, MA torro lawn mowers Gasoline-powered tools snowblower won't start small engines, North Attleboro air filters shop vac, MA electric mowers, MA bar and chain Generac generators, North Attleboro, MA new lawn equipment, MA gas for snow blowers, North Attleboro, MA lawnmowers, MA lawn mower, MA power tool parts, MA snow blower maintenance, North Attleboro, MA aerators, North Attleboro Torro lawn mowers, MA snow throwers small engine service department, North Attleboro smoking small engine new lawn mower, MA where to buy ethanol free gasoline, MA two cycle engine repairs, MA lawnmower service, North Attleboro outdoor equipment lawn tools, North Attleboro leaf blower service, MA small engine repair, MA engine oil ethanol free gasoline electric lawn mowers, MA wet dry vac, MA small engine service gas powered tools, MA engine won't start snow blower storage pursh zero turn mowers trenchers Toro Stihl Wrigth North Attleboro MA TORO sales and service of small engine equipment backpack blower sprayer, MA lawn mower repairs, ma Generac portable generators, North Attleboro fall cleanup power equipment, North Attleboro, MA new power tools STIHL leaf blowers, north attleboro outdoor power equipment power tools repair, MA

Archive