Preparing for Winter
Winter is coming…
As the nights lengthen and the temperatures drop gardeners’ thoughts turn to putting away their mowers for the winter. For too many this simply involves pushing the mower into the shed, perhaps throwing a tarpaulin over it, and forgetting about it until the following spring.
Come the spring, the peace of the new season is often shattered by a string of expletives as aforementioned gardeners struggle in vain to get their mowers started.
In 99% of cases difficulty in starting mowers in the spring can be traced to one key factor – the fuel. Much has been made of modern unleaded fuel recently but, in case you are still unaware, bog standard unleaded fuel has a shelf-life – and quite a short one at that. As it ages the ethanol drops out of solution rendering the fuel incombustible and gumming up the carburettor. It also produces moisture which can cause corrosion around inlet ports.
It is therefore vital that, before you put your mower way for the winter, you run it completely dry of fuel. This is less important if you use an alkylate fuel such as Aspen or mix Fuel Fit with your unleaded but it’s still a good idea. In the spring fill the mower with fresh fuel. Check the oil and make sure it is topped up to the correct level. If your mower has a battery start make sure the battery is stored in a frost free environment
Make sure the mower is completely dry and give the underside of the deck a good brush out to remove any residual grass cuttings – this is particularly important if your mower has a steel deck. Tip the mower backwards to access the deck as this will prevent oil contaminating the air filter.
Do not be tempted to use a powerful jet of water – like a pressure washer - on the bearings, gaskets or engine parts as damage to the machine may occur.
A wipe over the metal parts with an oily rag will also help keep any potential rust at bay. Use a blower or vacuum to make sure there is no dry grass residue around the exhaust or cooling fins that could constitute a fire risk.
Finally, if you are putting the mower away, the winter is an excellent time to have it serviced while our workshops are less busy. Leave it until the spring and you may find there is a waiting list…