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Sam's motorcycle winter storage procedure What I do & why

#1 User is offline   Sam Farris Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 09:53 AM

With winter just looming around the corner and all the questions as of late about winter storage, I thought I would put together my recommendations for winter storage.

This is a long one. :postwhore:
The reason it is so long is because I didn’t want to just recommend a procedure, but also explain why I do what I do. There are probably just as many opinions and procedures on bike storage as there are members here. I can say with all confidence if you follow this procedure you will greatly reduce the functionality and reliability based problems associated with storage. I developed this procedure from experience and learning from other motorcyclists and motorcycle professionals.

Winterizing your motorcycles is more about the amount of time in storage than it is about temperature. The reason for this is because everything you do in regard to ‘winterizing’ is in response to ‘neutralizing’ or retarding chemical reaction. The more time allowed for a chemical reaction to take place, the greater the odds that the reaction will be allowed to ‘complete’ itself. In fact, chemical reaction, in general, is retarded by temperature decrease, not accelerated!

Here is what I do and the order in which I do it.

Wash and wax/polish bike.
Put bike on rear-stand.
Stabilize fuel in tank.
Run engine for 5-minutes to warm-up (thin-out) oil and begin stabilized-fuel circulation.
Change oil & filter.
Clean/lube/adjust chain.
Run engine 10-minutes to finalize stabilized-fuel circulation and circulate new oil.
Top-off fuel tank with stabilized fuel.
Cover airbox inlet and exhaust-can outlet with shower cap and ‘ponytail holder’.
Remove battery and bring indoors.
Check tire pressure and adjust if necessary.
Cover bike with ventilated cover.
Connect battery to smart charger or charge overnight once a month.


Why I do what I do.

Wash and wax/polish bike.
Washing removes any road-grime or potential oxidizers from harming the finish while in storage. Waxing/polishing puts a protective barrier on the finish.

Put bike on rear-stand.
This stabilizes the bike and orients it such the fuel tank can be filled to its maximum volume. In addition, this facilitates the remaining storage procedure.

Stabilize fuel in tank.
Fuel is made up of hydrocarbon-chains of various volatilities. It is the high-volatility chains that evaporate the easiest. It is also these very same components that become fundamental in starting a cool/cold engine. Because these high-volatility components only constitute a certain percentage of the fuel, once they are gone the engine becomes difficult to start. Adding a fuel stabilizer ‘locks’ these components into the fuel and makes it much more difficult for them to evaporate.

Also, when the higher volatility components evaporate away, this then increases the percentage of dissolved solids in the fuel. This then can create a ‘varnish’ that coats the interior surfaces of the fuel system and can plug orifices within the system.

Run engine for 5-minutes to warm-up (thin-out) oil and begin stabilized-fuel circulation.
This makes changing the oil easier because the oil flows more freely. It also ‘stirs’ the oil up and puts any contaminates that may have settled onto the bottom of the oil pan into suspension. Once in suspension, contaminates are more likely to be flushed from the crankcase once the oil drain plug is removed.

Change oil & filter.
As a natural by-product of combustion, acids are created and end up in the oil. By changing the oil the majority of these acids are then flushed from the crankcase. You don’t want these acids to sit in your engine over the storage interval if at all possible.

Clean/lube/adjust chain.
This removes destructive contaminates and puts a protective coating on your chain that helps to minimize corrosion. There are just about as many different ways to clean and lube your chain, as there are opinions on which type of engine oil to use. What I have done for years is I use WD-40 to clean my chain, then I use a chain wax to lube/protect it. This is a topic for discussion just in itself.

Run engine 10-minutes to finalize stabilized-fuel circulation and circulate new oil.
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll just add that I set-up a fan in front of the bike aimed at the radiator. I do this as a practice whenever I run a bike stationary for anything more than 5-minutes.

Top-off fuel tank with stabilized fuel.
Topping-off the fuel tank minimizes the amount of air space within the tank. Minimizing the air space then minimizes the potential for condensation in the fuel tank. The tank is vented via the fill cap, so as the fuel tank heats and cools in accordance with the surrounding temperature, the ‘trapped’ air pressure within the tank rises and falls with the temperature and vents out of and into the tank. The returning air can bring moisture with it. Condensation occurs because the fuel has a greater thermal mass than does the air in the tank. As the tank temperature rises and falls, the temperature of the fuel in the tank will ‘lag’ (due to its thermal mass) behind that of the air. It is this temperature differential between the air and the fuel that will cause the moisture in the air to condense out onto the surface of the fuel and the fuel tank. By minimizing the amount of ‘trapped’ air, in addition to the fuel surface area, that then minimizes the formation of condensation. This then minimizes the amount of water that ends up in your fuel and consequently the bottom of your fuel tank. When it comes to fuel tanks, rust is your biggest enemy. That too is a topic of discussion just in itself.

I usually fill the tank just to the bottom of the fuel tank fill-inlet chamber. The reason I do not completely fill the inlet chamber in an effort so as to minimize ‘trapped’ air is because fuel expands and contracts with temperature. Granted, fuel is not as springy or compressible as air, but it still has to expand and contract. Allowing a small air-space minimizes the chance of fuel overflowing out the fill cap vent check-valve and spilling onto the fuel tank surface.

Cover airbox inlet and exhaust-can outlet with shower cap and ‘ponytail holder’.
This helps to discourage (but won’t prevent) small rodents from nesting or storing food in your bike.

Remove battery and bring indoors.
As a battery self-discharges (see battery charging explanation) the electrolyte (acid) turns to water. If in the event the battery does become discharged, at least with it being indoors it will not freeze. Once your battery freezes you may as well toss it, because the plates can become warped or the case may even crack.

Check tire pressure and adjust if necessary.
This reduces the likelihood of the tires taking a ‘set’. I have never personally experienced this; I do see it as a possibility, but not a likely one. At a minimum, insuring your tires are properly pressurized reduces the likelihood (but doesn’t prevent or guarantee) of them going flat over the storage period.

Cover bike with ventilated cover.
This keeps your bike clean and reduces the amount of ‘visual’ exposure as your bike sits for months at a time unattended. As they say, “Out of sight; out of mind”.

Connect battery to smart charger or charge overnight once a month.
Our bikes use MF (Maintenance Free) batteries. These batteries need to be connected to a charging source so as to maintain charge level. MF batteries lose approximately 1% of their charge capacity for every day they are not connected to a charging voltage source. The trick is to give them only as much charge as they need to stay ‘topped-off’. I cannot emphasis enough how fine of a line there is between too much or too little charge. Too little charge, the electrolyte (acid) turns to water and the plates inside the battery ‘sulphate’. If this chemical process (sulphation) is allowed to continue for any extended period, the battery becomes irreversibly damaged. On the other hand, if too much charge is applied, the battery overheats and the acid boils away; once again, you end up with a battery only good for use as a paperweight.

Connection of a smart charger allows you to connect your battery to it and forget about it until its time to bring the bike out of storage. A smart charger constantly monitors the charge level of the battery and gives it only as much charge as is necessary to keep it topped-off. Do not assume a ‘trickle charger’ is the same as a smart charger. If you make that mistake you will find a boiled-away battery come springtime.

In fact, if you use a smart charger you could conceivably leave the battery in the bike and connect the smart charger to the battery for the duration of storage. The only problem I can see with that is if the charger becomes disconnected from the battery or unplugged from the wall, or possibly fail, then you may find a bad battery come spring.

You can use a trickle charger to maintain your battery, just that you cannot leave it connected indefinitely. The procedure for using a trickle charger is to connect for only one day a month during storage. What I did before ‘smart chargers’ were available is I would connect a trickle charger (1-amp) on a monthly basis overnight (7~12 hours), then disconnect it for a month.

…..and finally some general comments and observations.

None of this winterization is necessary and you may find that you can simply park your bike for the winter and fire it up next spring and ride away. If your bike is new, the battery may be strong enough and the fuel system ‘fresh enough’ that you can get away with this. In fact, you may be able to get away with it for a few years; but then it will all catch up to you. You’ll begin to have problems with starting the bike, rough running, and batteries going bad prematurely (a battery should last 5~7 years). These things often happen at some of the most inconvenient times. Having a fuel system clog up with rust is probably one of the most frustrating and irritating problems you can encounter. There is no limit to the amount of times you can completely disassemble the whole fuel system, flush the tank and system, change filters, reassemble it, start the bike, and it immediately clogs up again.

Some will advise ‘fogging’ the cylinders with oil before storage. My opinion is that it certainly doesn’t hurt. If I were to store a bike for an extended period (more than 6-months) or if the bike were being stored along a coastal area (sea air), then I would recommend fogging. In out part of the country the winter air is pretty dry due to the low average temperature. I guess the argument could be made that storage in a garage that sees a lot of temperature cycling, such as a garage that is periodically heated to serve as a ‘shop’ during the winter months will likely contain a higher than ‘average’ moisture content. This then exposes the bike inlet/outlet tracts to condensation. I would say to that is that condensation is a result of temperature differential. Aluminum heats and cools quickly, thus minimizing the chances for temperature differentials to exist in the first place. Secondly, if you seal the both the inlet and exhaust with a shower cap, the likelihood of condensation within the engine is greatly minimized.

So, now that you know what I do for storage, what might I recommend you not do? That’s easy. What not to do is do none of the above, in addition to periodically throughout the storage period start the bike up and run it. Starting the bike up periodically accomplishes none of the things I’ve talked about. In fact, you would be better off simply parking the bike and forget about it until spring, rather than start it up every so often.

Starting it up periodically drains the battery, rather than charge it. A general rule of thumb is that it takes about 15~25 minutes of normal driving (at an average of about 3500 rpm) for the charging system to replace the energy lost by the battery from cranking the engine over. Even if you ran the bike long enough to replace the energy lost by crank-over, what have you accomplished/gained? Lets say you run it long enough to replace the energy lost by both crank-over and self-discharge. That would be accomplishing something, but how long do you have to run it to accomplish that? I don’t know.

Starting it up periodically also consumes fuel, which in turn creates more air space in the fuel tank (we don’t have to cover that again, right?). It also adds to the combustion acids in the oil. Granted, it would be a small amount and realistically probably of little impact/consequence, but nonetheless it is creating something you do not want, regardless of quantity.

Just my .02.

Well, if you stuck it out and read this far you deserve a reward, so I would recommend treating yourself to a bowl of ice cream, or maybe crack open a fresh brew,…or what the hell,..both!!

Sam
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#2 User is offline   GonZilla Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:02 AM

Sam, youre the fucking man! Im gonna print this out and use it!!!
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#3 User is offline   FoxyLady Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:06 AM

Oh... So thati's what they do to my bike every winter...? :duno:


:love: Haha maybe I'll witnerize my own bike this year!
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#4 User is offline   Astyle Icon

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  Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:16 AM

I plan on running the bike in the winter. You see I have a heated garage, my plan is to run the exhaust
outside and put the bike on a old used treadmill. :wheelie: J/K
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#5 User is offline   Dan B Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:46 AM

View PostSam Farris, on Oct 22 2006, 10:53 AM, said:

Some will advise ‘fogging’ the cylinders with oil before storage. My opinion is that it certainly doesn’t hurt. If I were to store a bike for an extended period (more than 6-months) or if the bike were being stored along a coastal area (sea air), then I would recommend fogging.


Just a side note:
If you do fog your cylinders make sure to put anti-seize on the spark plug threads before you put them back in the bike. Most modern sport bikes have aluminum heads and since the sparkplugs are steel rust/oxidation can be a big issue.
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#6 User is offline   Sam Farris Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 11:05 AM

View PostFoxyLadyF4i, on Oct 22 2006, 11:06 AM, said:

Oh... So thati's what they do to my bike every winter...? :duno:


Well, you would hope so anyway!

My guess is they pour some stabilizer in the fuel without topping-off the tank and then change the oil/filter and spray the chain with some WD-40....DONE!

Sam
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#7 User is offline   Sam Farris Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 11:17 AM

B)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Dan B @ Oct 22 2006, 11:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->
Just a side note:
If you do fog your cylinders make sure to put anti-seize on the spark plug threads before you put them back in the bike. Most modern sport bikes have aluminum heads and since the sparkplugs are steel rust/oxidation can be a big issue.
[/quote]

I have never found it necessary to use never-sieze (I think that's the brand name anyway) on spark plug threads in aluminum heads; just made sure they were clean before reinstallation. I have used this product on tight-tolerance/high-load rotating surfaces and also on exhaust manifold bolts with good results.

FWIW, I can see no harm in using this product on spark plug threads and it's probably a good idea. Thanks for your input Dan!



View PostAstyle, on Oct 22 2006, 11:16 AM, said:

I plan on running the bike in the winter. You see I have a heated garage, my plan is to run the exhaust
outside and put the bike on a old used treadmill. :wheelie: J/K


Could I get a picture of that for my scrapbook? :thumbup:

Sam
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#8 User is offline   VENNOM Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 11:28 AM

I think half the point of changing oil before storage was NOT to run it, and avoid acids that form as result of combustion from sitting in the pan all winter.
$.02

Personally I skip some of that stuff and am storing mine here.Attached File  Picture030.jpg (56.78K)
Number of downloads: 8

And I wonder why I get depressed durring the winter
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#9 User is offline   Sam Farris Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 12:36 PM

View PostVENNOM, on Oct 22 2006, 12:28 PM, said:

I think half the point of changing oil before storage was NOT to run it, and avoid acids that form as result of combustion from sitting in the pan all winter.
$.02


I assume you are referencing the 10-minutes of running to circulate the oil and stabilizer? If so, a rather small point, wouldn't you agree? In the big picture, 10-minutes of running generates how much acid? The idea here is to minimize these chemical reaction effects. I think I mention that more than once. Total elimination is impossible.

I have in the past done all of the stabilizer circulation ahead of the oil change so as to minimize the post oil change run time. Doing so got the oil very hot and made it difficult to change immediately and ended-up waiting for it to cool down enough to change. A person could do this if they don't mind waiting. If so, then one could either skip the post engine run after oil change, or just run it for a minute to circulate the new oil throughout the system. I felt it important to circulate the new oil and get it up in the cam area and also in the crankshaft journals. 1-minute vs 10-minutes. In my mind not much difference. In addition, waiting for the oil to cool also allows any contaminate the opportunity to settle back to the bottom of the pan.

In the development of this procedure I weighed the convenience vs possible negative effects of the sequencing of this part of it and felt the positives outweighed the negatives.

A person could change the order of the procedure if they feel this is an issue.


Sam
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#10 User is offline   cra_fizzer Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:44 PM

B)-->
QUOTE(Dan B @ Oct 22 2006, 11:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Just a side note:
If you do fog your cylinders make sure to put anti-seize on the spark plug threads before you put them back in the bike. Most modern sport bikes have aluminum heads and since the sparkplugs are steel rust/oxidation can be a big issue.
[/quote]
It's not actually rust but electrolysis. Aluminum vs steel.

This is why I hate monster cables as well. They are gold plated, most stereos are not.
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#11 User is offline   Cory06R6S Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:47 PM

How important is changing the oil before winter and if you do, are you good for next year i have heard people say change oil before storage and when you take it out. i have also heard dont do it till you take it out but it seems more important to do it before
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#12 G_Blade_*

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 07:14 PM

This should be pinned for a month or two..?
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#13 User is offline   YNOT Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 08:28 PM

Been there done that.....

get ready for my new ultimate storage procedure............

ready, go....

turn key to off position....

done! good job have a beer.
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#14 User is offline   ride_there Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 08:44 PM

View PostYNOT, on Oct 22 2006, 09:28 PM, said:

Been there done that.....

get ready for my new ultimate storage procedure............

ready, go....

turn key to off position....

done! good job have a beer.




And when you sober up. Turn the key to the on position and go for a ride. :duno:


Dress like you are going snowmobiling and get out there. Even If you cannot lean way over in the corners do to the sand and ice, it is still way better than going six months without riding.

There often is at least one 40 degree day evey month if you really cant handle the cold. :uhh:

I do not even have to charge my battery in the winter, but I do switch over to non-oxy premium fuel with Seafoam added.
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#15 User is offline   Sam Farris Icon

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 08:59 PM

View Postcra_fizzer, on Oct 22 2006, 06:44 PM, said:

B)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Dan B @ Oct 22 2006, 11:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->
Just a side note:
If you do fog your cylinders make sure to put anti-seize on the spark plug threads before you put them back in the bike. Most modern sport bikes have aluminum heads and since the sparkplugs are steel rust/oxidation can be a big issue.

It's not actually rust but electrolysis. Aluminum vs steel.

This is why I hate monster cables as well. They are gold plated, most stereos are not.


Dan is correct, but you are also.

Aluminum is subject to oxidation from exposure to oxygen. This oxidation on the aluminum surface is aluminum oxide (probably no surprise there). Anodized aluminum is created by the process of electrolysis. The anodized surface is in fact aluminum oxide. In the electrolysis process of anodization the aluminum is used as the anode, hence the 'anod' portion of 'anodization'.

Even though aluminum oxidation is not technically known as 'rust', it is oxidation in steel that creates rust; same process, different name.

In application, dissimilar metals (such as aluminum and steel) when immersed in an acid solution can form a mild current. This is the same chemical process that takes place in a battery to produce current. Usually all it takes is water/moisture with an impurity in it to get the process going.

If you have metal tooth fillings in your mouth try chewing on some aluminum foil. The unpleasant sensation is the electric current generated from electrolysis.


Sam
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