Herald and Journal, October 19, 1998

Boat storage tips

From the DNR

Now is the time to prepare boats for winter. Requirements for winter storage depend on the boat, according to Kim Elverum, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources boat and water safety coordinator.

"The steps you take now make the job of getting your boat ready in the spring much easier," Elverum said.

Begin with the engine

  • check for worn or loose parts (don't forget any hoses, belts or wiring)
  • check propeller (have it rebuilt or replaced, if needed), and lubricate the propeller shaft
  • fill the fuel tank(s) and add a good fuel conditioner
  • change gear case lubricant in the lower unit(s) - check the owner's manual for details

For outboards

  • disconnect the fuel line and run until the motor stops; make sure that there is water cooling the engine; check the owner's manual on the use of flush kits
  • store outboards in the upright position (water should drain out this way)

For inboard and inboard-outdrive motors

  • flush the cooling system, remove plugs and drain all water from the engine (unless it is a closed system with antifreeze)
  • drain oil from the crankcase, change oil filter and refill (follow manufacturer's recommendations and don't forget to recycle the old oil properly)

The boat

  • clean the boat inside and out (if possible remove electronics, life jackets, fire extinguishers, etc., and store indoors)
  • drain all water in bilge and leave the plug out of the transom; tie it to the tiller or steering wheel as a reminder to put it back before launching next spring
  • cover the boat allowing for air circulation under the cover (placing ordinary mothballs inside will discourage mice or other rodents from chewing on wiring or other objects)

Trailers need maintenance, too

  • check, repack or replace wheel bearings as necessary; to check the bearing for wear, pull the trailer behind a vehicle for a mile or less, then get out and feel the hubs-any sign of heat suggests that the bearings need to be checked and repacked or replaced
  • check wiring, lights and brakes (if trailer is so equipped), and repair or replace if needed
  • examine the tires and check the air pressure; tires last longer when the trailer is on blocks during storage and being on blocks may also help prevent theft
  • think about where you will store the boat; if it is outside and on your property, make sure it is in a secure area and out-of-site from the street. Use an outboard motor lock, especially if your motor can be lifted off the transom by hand. Chain the trailer to a solid object (large tree, deck post, etc.) with a sturdy chain and lock.

Elverum noted: "It is also a good idea to take a photo or two of your boat, motor and trailer and keep it in safe place, along with the hull identification number (located on the right side of the transom), motor serial number(s), trailer registration information and serial number, state boat registration number, title information and any boat insurance policies." This information will be invaluable in the unfortunate case of theft or fire.

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