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Winterizing and Winterizing with E-10
Don't Let Ethanol Give You Wintertime Blues

 

Recommendations on storing ethanol-enhanced gasoline -Seaworthy Magazine, BoatU.S.
For better or for worse, a shotgun wedding took place between boat owners and ethanol-enhanced gasoline.  Everyone wore black.  Now, it seems that some of the warnings of matrimonial acrimony may have been premature.  The key word is some.  The fiasco with deteriorating fiberglass tanks has been painful for owners of many Bertrams, Hatterases, and other, typically high-end boats.  BoatU.S. Technical Services has documented over 70 reports of failures, including leaking tanks and wrecked engines from boat coasts and Hawaii.  In all cases, tanks had to be replaced.
 
But what about the widespread reports of clogged filters that boat owners on Long Island Sound experienced when ethanol was introduced there five years ago?  Why are there fewer complaints of clogged filters when ethanol began arriving last spring at pumps through the rest of the country?
 
John McKnight at the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) speculates the answer has to do with preparation: Boat owners in 2006 were better prepared for the arrival of ethanol than boat owners on Long Island Sound were in the spring of 2004.  That's not to say that boat owners in other parts of the country haven't had plenty of problems this year, but there is now a widespread consensus on how best to cope.
 
Another, perhaps larger test comes in winter when boat owners prepare boats for seasonal lay-up.  One of the unfortunate properties of ethanol is its ability to attract and absorb water.  Ethanol-enhanced gasoline can absorb roughly 10 times as much water as MTBE and still burn safely through the engine.  But if ethanol becomes saturated, which can happen when it sits for long periods, the ethanol separates from the gasoline, forming two separate solutions.  This is called phase separation and it's bad news for the engine.  An engine won't run on the (water-soaked) ethanol solution, which sinks to the bottom of the tank and is highly corrosive.
 
There is no miracle fix.  When MTBE becomes saturated with water, it remains bonded with the gasoline -MTBE doesn't phase separate - and a water separator can eliminate the excess moisture.
 
With ethanol-enhanced gasoline, however, once phase separation occurs, additives and water separators can't help; the only remedy is to have gasoline/ethanol/water pumped from the tank.  The good news is that E-10 has been a fact of life in the Midwest for several years and there have been relatively few problems.  Seaworthy talked to marina operators, surveyors and boat owners in the Chicago area who had the same reaction to ethanol: "It's no big deal."
 
How can E-10, which attracts moisture and can fall apart, be expected to survive the winter?  With any fuel that will be sitting for a ling time, it's important to add stabilizer, an antioxidant, to extend the life of the fuel. (E-10 and gasoline with MTBE have the same shelf life -roughly a year).  What a stabilizer won't do, however, is prevent phase separation.  Several sources, including one prominent engine manufacturer, recommends running the tank down to almost empty and then adding stabilizer.  The following spring, the tank can be refilled with fresh gas.  Lew Gibbs, a senior engineering consultant at Chevron, worries that leaving a few gallons of gas might attract enough condensation to cause phase separation.  If that were to happen, the highly corrosive ethanol/water mixture would settle to the bottom of the tank and remain there even after the fresh fuel was added in the spring.
 
Gibbs said his first choice would be to completely empty the tank when the boat is laid up and then refill it the following spring with fresh gasoline.  No ethanol = no ethanol-related problems.  Unfortunately, completely emptying a built-in tank safely is nearly impossible.  His next choice, one that's more practical; is to top off the tank to 95-percent full (to allow for expansion).  A tank that's almost full reduces the flow of air into and out of the vent, which reduces condensation on the tank walls.  Condensation that does form will be absorbed by the gasoline.  (The National Fire Protection Association requires tanks to be topped off to minimize explosive vapors).
 
Gibbs said the worst choice, which was confirmed by marina owners in the Midwest, is to leave the tank half-full over the winter.  Jerry Metzger, the general manager of Chicago Harbor's nine marinas, said phase separation problems typically occurred when boats had been stored over the winter with tanks that were a quarter to half full.  The tanks have more "lung capacity" and attract larger amounts of moisture.  Boaters in the area have learned to fill the tanks before the boat is laid up.
 
Note, however, that phase separation can occur anytime E-10 sits for a long time.  On Long Island Sound, which has been using ethanol-enhanced gasoline for the past couple of seasons, Mitch Kramer at TowBoatU.S. Oyster Bay said they haven't had any problems with their own boats, which are used every day.  Kramer says the problems now on Long Island Sound seem to be with boats that are used infrequently.  Perhaps because of fuel prices, some owners don't use their boats as often and are also less likely to top off their tanks.  Half-empty tanks that sit for long periods are more likely to attract moisture, which causes phase-separation.  The key: Use your boat!  One final note: don't try to plug up the vent to prevent moist air from entering the tank.  Without room to expand, the additional pressure could rupture fuel system components.

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Winterizing Your Boat
Even with Oregon's mild winter, it still pays to winterize your boat. You never know when the next hard frost will come, and once it's here, it may be too late. Even without the frost, an improperly stored boat can suffer damage through the winter. Follow these steps to help prevent costly repairs later.

Winterizing Worksheet 

Your Boat

If possible, store your boat ashore for the winter. The bulkhead, keel and motor are the critical areas needing support. Cradles work best, but don't store your boat on a cradle that was designed for a different model.
 
If you store your boat in the water, close all through-hull fittings, gate valves and seacocks. Do not close cockpit drains. Plug exhaust ports. Check your boat occasionally to make sure lines are secure, bumpers are in place, and the bilge is dry.
 
Cover the boat. Use a frame under the cover to prevent water from pooling and tearing your cover or damaging the boat. Canvas is best because it breathes, but plastic works too. Make sure you leave vents in it to allow condensation to escape. Allow for drainage if you're storing outside.
 
Add non-toxic anti-freeze to water tanks, toilets and septic holding tanks. Never use engine anti-freeze in a freshwater system.
 
Remove electronic equipment, important documents and other valuables that could tempt thieves.

Your Engine
  • Drain the cooling system and add anti-freeze. On outboards, this means filling a large bucket or drum with enough antifreeze to reach the water intake, then running the motor until it is warm. Use a non-toxic antifreeze only.
  • Disconnect the battery and store in a warm, dry place. If you have to leave it on board to operate an alarm or bilge pump, fill battery cells with distilled water and fully charge it so it doesn't freeze. Apply petroleum jelly to clean terminals to prevent corrosion.
  • Oil: Drain and replace the engine, transmission and outdrive oil. Replace gear oil in outdrives. Use internal oil fogger while the engine is warm to prevent corrosion.
  • Top off fuel tanks, leaving a little room for expansion. Add a fuel stabilizer.
  • To keep water from collecting in outdrives, leave them in the down position.

Your Trailer
  • Rust spreads easily, so inspect your trailer before storing. Sand off and prime any rust spots you find.
  • Check tire inflation and brakes and brake fluid. Consider raising the trailer onto blocks to take stress off the tires and suspension.
  • Lubricate all rollers, pivot points, the winch, and the coupler.
  • Look for signs of cracking or metal fatigue. Tighten bolts and screws and inspect the electrical system for worn wires or loose connections. The bulb bases inside taillights can be sprayed with WD-40 to keep moisture out.
  • Protecting your boat now against the extremes of winter will save you time and money in the long run.
 

BoatUS Recommendations on Winterizing
Putting a Boat Away for the Winter? What You Need to Know About E-10 Gas
 
 
ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 9, 2010 – Boaters and anglers will soon be putting away their boats for the season. But before they do, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some tips learned from fuel industry insiders on how to store a boat with E-10 gasoline (containing 10% ethanol) over the winter.
The Octane issue:   Over long winter storage periods, E-10 gasoline loses octane at about the same rate as non-ethanol gasoline. So leaving the gas tank mostly empty — and then refilling in the spring in the hopes of “refreshing” the fuel to regain any octane loss — is not necessary. However, a nearly empty gas tank introduces another problem: the strong possibility of phase separation.   Ethanol (an alcohol) attracts water. It also absorbs water — about 10 times more than regular gasoline. When ethanol can no longer absorb the water, it will “phase separate” from the gasoline. Should phase separation occur, the (water soaked) ethanol will settle to the bottom of the tank, which is where the engine’s fuel system pick-up is located.   The problem with leaving a tank mostly empty is that it increases the tank’s “lung capacity” to breath in moist air (water) through the vent. If the tank is mostly empty over the winter, there will also be less E-10 gas in the tank to absorb the moisture. This combination of more water and less absorption greatly increases the chances of phase separation. Adding fresh gasoline in the spring would not remedy the problem — the phase-separated ethanol would remain separated at the bottom of the tank.   The Water Separator issue:  Any moisture in a tank will be readily absorbed by the ethanol. E-10 can hold up to 1/2 percent of water by volume and up to that concentration the water molecules will dissolve in the gasoline forming a soluble mixture that will pass through a water separator and burn harmlessly in your engine.   The only time water will collect in a tank and not be absorbed is if phase separation has occurred, and by then it will be too late. A water separator is not a solution to the phase separation problem.      The Fuel Additive issue:  Fuel additives are good for many reasons and should be used when laying up a boat for winter, but no additive will stand up to a good-sized slug of water. And once too much water has entered the tank and the gas has begun to phase separate, no additive will return the fuel to its original state. The only solution to phase-separated gas is to have a professional drain the tank and start anew.   The best advice for storing E-10 in your boat’s gas tank over winter:  Keep the tank nearly full. This greatly reduces the volume of moist air that can enter the tank via the fuel tank vent when temperatures fluctuate in the fall and spring. With any fuel, an antioxidant will help keep it fresh during lay-up. Finally, never plug up a fuel tank vent — it creates pressure that could cause dangerous leaks in the fuel system.  

Five Tips for "Green" Winterizing a Boat
 
Five Tips for "Green" Winterizing a Boat How to Put a Boat Away for the Winter and Protect the Environment

 
ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 23, 2010 – Boat Owners Association of The United States has these five tips to help boaters be good stewards of the environment while they put their boats to bed for winter’s long lay-up period:
Shrinkwrap recycling starts in the fall: While many boaters know that shrinkwrap is recycled in the spring, installing shrinkwrap in the fall also generates waste material.  Ask your marina or club to set up a recycling program now to recycle the scrap leftover from covering boats. Shrinkwrap should also be separated from other trash. Putting it in a dumpster that is open to other refuse makes it unusable to recyclers. In addition, anytime shrinkwrap is recycled it must be “clean”: ropes, tie-downs, zippers, or plastic vents should be removed or else the wrap won’t be picked up by recyclers.

Know your antifreeze: Be sure to winterize the engine and freshwater system with safe, non-toxic “marine” or “RV” antifreeze that contains propylene glycol. This fluid is most often a pink color, but can also come in other colors (such as purple, orange or blue) that offer increased freeze protection. Never use automotive antifreeze (ethylene glycol), which is toxic to the environment and can cause serious illness if used in fresh water systems.
The fluid bonanza: Winterizing a boat’s motor and outdrive creates quarts of waste oils. Collect and save these fluids for your marina’s or local gas station’s oil recycling program. It’s okay to put all of these oils in the same container but be to sure ask where it should go — placing the container simply on the ground near the collection tank can put a marina at risk of fines (and can be easily spilled). Also don’t forget to have a supply of absorbent materials to handle drips when winterizing the engine, outdrive or gear cases. 

Go for the wash pad: If you are going to pressure wash you own boat, ask your marina where the best place is. Many marinas have wash pads designed to prevent contaminants from entering the water. If none is available or if you are at home, use a tarp under the boat to capture any debris. Also try to use an environmentally friendly boat soap when washing down the topsides before you put her away.
Try a clean marina: Looking for a new marina or boat yard to haul and store your boat this winter? Try selecting a certified "clean marina" that can help make green winterizing easier. Clean marinas follow established environmentally friendly practices and there are programs in over 20 states.  To find a clean marina near you visit: http://www.boatus.com/foundation/cleanwater/marinas.asp.

Winterizing How-To Video's on YouTube!
Step-by-step instructional videos...
Winterizing your boat can seem pretty daunting, but when you do it once, it's like riding a bike -it gets easier.  If it's your first time winterizing your boat yourself, here are a few instructional video links that can help!
 
From the experts and posted on YouTube:
 
Learn how to clean the engine and lower unit, what to do with waste water, how to clean the cabin and interior, and inspect and store your boat.