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May 15, 2007

Run Hard and Put Away Wet

I have often referred to myself in the context of the above title, 40 years of motorsports will do that to a fellow but when it comes to my sled this is not how it should be done. There are many different things you can do to ensure youbearing.jpgr snowmobile emerges from storage in the fall, fires up at a glance and delivers continued reliability year after year (providing of course, you have a Yamaha to begin with 😉 ). There are several things to keep in mind when you prepare for summer storage. Considering the basics, moisture is our most common enemy followed by residual contaminants, critters including insects and the elements.

I’ll start with moisture: condensation occurs in the fuel tank when the gas comes in contact with air (which contains water) and temperature change. You have two options, get rid of the fuel or minimize air contact by filling the tank. I prefer the latter with the caveat of understanding and planning for the possibility of fuel evaporation and the resulting fire potentials. You need to ensure some ventilation and protect from spark or flame. Moisture is present in the chassis. Be sure to grease all the pivot points liberally until the nasty ‘spooge’ is purged and you see fresh clean grease coming out of the ends, (wipe off the excess). Chances are your seat has absorbed a couple pounds of water which will slowly ferment over the summer months. I suggest you remove it and put it away somewhere warm and dry. Good old WD40 (water displacing) makes for a great chaser, I hose down the whole sled with the stuff, avoiding the drive belt and purty parts. Depending where you elect to store the unit and ambient conditions it will be exposed to, the choice of cover is quite important. I have seen sleds shrink-wrapped in plastic like a boat… bad idea. This seals the moisture in as well as out, a good cover needs to breathe while repelling the worst of the elements. If you must use a plastic tarp try to leave some air-space around the machine.

Residual contaminants: for us who ride in the east, there is a good chance our machines have been misted with salt and other corrosives from scratching along the road shoulders and ditch lines. Make sure to really wash the sled down, rinse and apply some anti corrosion protection, lots of penetrating oil spray and polish. If you have some mechanical attributes, now is a great time to clean and inspect the clutches, lots of compressed air to blow out the belt dust, dress the shieve faces, grease the splines on the secondary etc. There are acids produced as a bi-product of combustion, always change the oil (and filter) prior to storage and while you’re at it replace the lubricant (hypoid) in the chain case.

Moving on to critters and bugs, this really depends on where you are storing the sled but consider if there is any chance of mice getting at the machine? What a great place to set up camp. It’s nice and dry with lots of nooks and crannies to nest in, add to that some colorful and chewy wiring for flossing and some cool caves like in the air box to explore and poop in… I once had a spider get into the carb bank of a heavily mod V6 outboard I was running (what air box?). It wasn’t until several misdiagnoses and several hours of grief that I discovered the gritty residual inside the pilot air circuit but I digress. I have heard some good results coming from the application of ‘Bounce‘ fabric softener sheets as repellent for mice, there is also the old standby of moth balls (just don’t forget to take em off the header in the fall!)

Finally, the elements should be considered if storing out of doors. UV rays from the sun will fade the paint and dry out rubber seals. wind will push dust and grit into places where you didn’t even know you had places and rain will add more moisture to the equation.

A few additional tips: elevate the rear end, getting the track off the ground and relieving the suspension from duty (same for the front end if possible). If you stud your track, loosen it off as it may shrink (moisture, remember the 196 holes you drilled in it) and tighten up over the summer. Remove the battery, give it a trickle (not 10amp!!) charge and store in a cool dry place (don’t leave it on concrete). Add some fuel stabilizer to the tank and run the engine long enough for it to reach the fuel rails or carbs. Another option is to run the engine every 4-6 weeks but if you choose this make sure you let the motor get up to operating temperature or you’ll just be inviting more condensation and don’t ‘gas’ yourself in an enclosed area. Storage spray aka engine fogging is another option which is especially valid for 2-strokes being more open and dry in the crank-case. I have an interesting story I’ll share with you.

The Bravo 250 snowmobile had proven itself bullet-proof for about 8 years. I was working in the service department in the fall of I believe ’89, when we started getting warranty claims and parts orders for crankshafts like crazy. Bravo’s were going down all over the east coast and we had no idea why. Engineering got involved, sample parts collected and analyzed as it became apparent the failures were being caused by rusted and ‘pitted’ bearings. Initially we had to credit improper storage for the spate of cranks but as we asked more questions a common factor became clear. Every one of the effected units had the engine ‘fogged’ using a product that we sold and recommended. As it turned out the properties of the fogging spray did a reasonable job of coating parts as non-migrating (the key to a good oil coating is staying put resisting gravity). However the ‘propellant’ that the vendor used to pressurize and spray the product was a moisture ‘attractant’ that had a particular affection for briny sea-air. The dang storage spray was pulling salt air into the engine… sometimes, try as you might ‘stuff’ happens.

In conclusion there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ perfect way to store your sled but if you consider what your particular conditions are and focus on what you are trying to protect against, you will make the right decisions to protect your investment. Here is a link to the detailed recommendations from our service department for step by step storage procedures.

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Posted @ 10:46 am in Yamaha Insights   

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4 Responses to “Run Hard and Put Away Wet”

  1. DNR says:

    Hey cr, a 45 ft. by 45 ft roof, loosely
    covers my toys.
    Ambient air always moving is the key.
    Stay away from ground “ph” and moisture.
    ( think you can relate with ground moss and mildew.)
    Never just start them up to make
    sure they run.
    For any season….empty to full tank still in question.

    …good points DNR, Our service department concurs on the empty v.s. full tank. Factory says on carbureted models to drain the tank and float bowls and on FI models to fill the tank and add stabilizer … I guess the main point is to do something (aside from running hard and putting away wet!!!) cheers cr

  2. DNR says:

    lol well it was worth a try.
    Hope all is well with you.

  3. Brock Norris says:

    Hi CR;
    Great post – but I need to contradict your comments on shrinkwrap- We have been doing customers machines for storage for 8 years now with no issues! But we use side vents to allow air flow and also blue in colour for uv protection plus store them off the ground in racks.Also with all the fuel issues in Ontario and alcohol content stabilizer is not enough you protect against migration of water into fuel – isopranol must be used to disperse the water. Also the lite ends will disperse over time and therefore fuel quality is compromised and render it unsafe for use next season-DETONATION!!!!. We recommend draining the fuel completely including carb bowls to eliminate next fall problems.

    …Thanks Brock, as I said, no-one-size fits-all solutions, vented UV shrink-wrap up in racks sounds OK to me, hopefully we’ve provoked a little thought for the folks that just park it under a tree and tarp it!

  4. Scott says:

    Interesting read on the the Bravo warranty issues. I like that your blog allows us some insight into the world of the manufacturer. I learn something new every time I visit. Thanks!

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