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Winter Storage Warning !

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Richard Whatley
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2499
Member
Topic starter
 

As winter approaches, many riders are getting in their last few autumn rides and starting to think about what steps to take for winter storage. Here's my advice as a professional mechanic and mechanical engineer....

► Your Number 1 issue next spring will be carburetor issues caused by leaving fuel in the bike (tank and carbs) for periods longer than 6 weeks. The VERY BEST carburetor plan is to be proactive NOW and take 5 minutes to save yourself weeks/months of fiddling next year. (This also applies to your lawn mower, chain saw, anything that is powered by gasoline.) 

1. Drain all the fuel from the tank.

2. Empty all the fuel from the carbs. On an Airhead this is best done by simply removing the float bowls and leaving them OFF

• Fuel aging is a very big issue. If you want to learn more, look up "water phase separation in gasoline". And water intrusion is exacerbated by storage and transfer from multiple containers, as is commonly done with lawn mowers.

• If winters are generally mild in your area and you typically get to ride every 2-3 weeks, then at a minimum use a "fuel stabilizer", like StarTron

 

► Your second concern is your battery. A lot of people swear by their "trickle charger", but many of these are designed for car batteries and simply charge too much for use with smaller motorcycle batteries. Here are the steps I recommend...

1. If you do nothing else for your battery, then simply DISCONNECT the negative cable from the terminal. This will stop all discharge. And is generally all that's needed in areas with moderate winters, like Georgia.

2. If you live in areas of extended freeze times, then remove the battery and take it to a semi-heated place, like a room with a water heater.

3. If you want to charge your battery (usually NOT needed if 1 and 2 are being done) then make sure the charger's output is limited. I recommend 1/50th the battery's Amp-Hour rating for continuous charging. Normal m/c batteries are about 12Ah, so a maximum charger output of 1/4A or 250mA. If your charger is rated higher than that, then plug it into a common lamp timer so that charging times are limited to the bare minimum. Consult the output current printed on your charger's electrical output label. Each charger is different.

Again, if your battery is disconnected and kept from freezing, then only minimal charging is required. In my experience, most motorcycle batteries die from being over-charged. Either the rate is too high or the time on charge is too long.

 

You may need to modify these suggestions based on your locale's average winter temps, number of hours below freezing, etc. But generally, if you cover those 2 bases, then your first maintenance next spring will consist of only 1. connecting the battery and 2. pouring in enough fuel to ride to the gas station. 

This topic was modified 4 months ago 3 times by Richard Whatley

[color=blue]Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!
#15150[/color]

 
Posted : 11/12/2023 06:56
Michael Benko
(@18672)
Posts: 21
Eminent Member
 

Great reminders- thanks for posting. Is there any concern about oxidation in an empty tank? I've heard it both ways.... fill all the way up and add fuel stabilizer OR drain and wait... I'm on team drain and wait but am continually curious.

Mostly, thanks for the assurance that my procrastinated battery tender purchase is no negligence.

 
Posted : 12/27/2023 07:03
John Canfield
(@3596)
Posts: 6
Active Member
 

I have used a “battery tender” in the past with no problems. Just wondering what others have done, connect it all winter or just do it a month before you start to ride again?

 
Posted : 01/01/2024 13:45
Richard Whatley
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2499
Member
Topic starter
 

Posted by: @18672

Great reminders- thanks for posting. Is there any concern about oxidation in an empty tank? I've heard it both ways.... fill all the way up and add fuel stabilizer OR drain and wait... I'm on team drain and wait but am continually curious.

• If you fill the tank, then there is the possibility of leakage past the petcocks and float valves. It happens and I've seen it. If you want to do it that way, then take a whole 15 seconds and remove both float bowls. If you get a leak, then it will be onto the floor with no harm done to the engine.

• If you fill the tank to prevent rust, with the rapidity that ethanol fuels attract water you're really no safer. You could end up with rust anyway. I suggest you leave the tank empty with the hinged cap propped open, or screw-on cap left off. The thinking there is that confined spaces attract condensation with changing temps... which allows water to puddle. The only sure-fire way is to empty the tank and take it inside where temps and humidity levels are more stable.

Either way warrants fresh fuel in the Spring for the first ride, which also eliminates the stale fuel ("ethanol phase separation") issue.

 

Of course all this is ruled by numerous local variables like average winter temps, average winter road conditions, presence of local caribou herds crossing the highways, and the length of your February "honey do list". I'm not laying this down as a hard and fast rule for every rider, but rather things to think about before you push your Airhead into the shed for a winter nap without doing anything.

That is to say, five minutes of carb prep sure beats spending all summer chasing down a skip that wasn't there last summer.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Richard Whatley

[color=blue]Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!
#15150[/color]

 
Posted : 01/02/2024 17:04
Richard Whatley
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2499
Member
Topic starter
 

Posted by: @3596

I have used a “battery tender” in the past with no problems. Just wondering what others have done, connect it all winter or just do it a month before you start to ride again?

You fell head first into the trap, my friend.

Battery tender is a generic name and a brand name. Each come in hundreds of flavors, types, sizes. Do not quote me the name of the unit... tell me the output current printed on the outside of the unit. 

 

[color=blue]Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!
#15150[/color]

 
Posted : 01/02/2024 17:09
John Canfield
(@3596)
Posts: 6
Active Member
 

1.25 amp, Battery Tender is the brand name.

 
Posted : 01/06/2024 08:21
Don Walter
(@don-walter)
Posts: 14
Active Member Customer Registered
 

New member here. This winter for the first time I've removed the tanks, inspected for rust, removed rust & old liner on the tank that needed it (phosphoric acid), and stored them in my heated basement storeroom. After allowing them to equilibrate with fill cap & petcocks open with the dry warm room air they've been sealed. 

Carbs totally drained as usual. Left the empty & dry float bowls mounted since the tanks are removed.

Batteries are connected & onboard clocks work providing a minimal draw [Iowa garage that stays above freezing]. About once monthly I flip the power on to the Battery Tender Jr's. They reach fully charged status in less than a day (AGM batteries) and are turned back off. 

Undecided if I'll stick with bare metal on the tank I stripped or reseal it. I've heard rational arguments both ways. Might go naked for a year, monitor for new rust frequently and reevaluate.

 
Posted : 01/06/2024 10:19
Richard Whatley
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2499
Member
Topic starter
 

Posted by: @3596

1.25 amp, Battery Tender is the brand name.

1.25A is WAY too much for a small motorcycle battery. That charger is designed for maintenance of car and truck batteries.

The smaller battery size means that the charging will create more heat that the battery can easily shed. (A smaller battery has less surface area.) When that happens, the plates within the battery will warp, causing the plates to touch, which will short out 1 or more of the 6 cell(s) internally. When that happens the battery will be useless.

You need some way to moderate either the current OR the time on charge. Obviously, Time is easier and can be effectively moderated with a standard lamp timer. I would suggest charging the battery for no more than 30 minutes a day, and because of the heat, probably during the coldest part of the night. In that way you are protecting the battery from over-heating and sulfation.

You may have had good luck with this charger, I'm only suggesting that you monitor the internal heat. By the time the case is "warm to the touch", the liquid inside the battery is much, much hotter. Maybe twice as hot. Consider that the plastic case walls are a thermal insulator that keeps heat in.

If you want to moderate your charge current, then I suggest a charge current of 1/2A (500mA) with a max around 3/4A (750mA).

 

[color=blue]Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!
#15150[/color]

 
Posted : 01/06/2024 12:22
John Canfield
(@3596)
Posts: 6
Active Member
 

The manufacturer of the Battery Tender says once the battery is charged it will maintain a float level and not overcharge the battery.

 
Posted : 01/08/2024 08:38
Joe Hall reacted
Steven Rankin
(@14724)
Posts: 145
Estimable Member
 

I have been using the name brand Battery Tender in a four battery bank unit for 30 years now on my two airheads, the lawn mower when out of season and my BMW car.  I have NEVER had an issue with overcharging.

While I have not been on the company website and can't quote them direct, they have a system in place that charges the battery to full charge then as said cuts the charging.   So they are not continually charging.

Other companies have their own means of controlling charging and some may be good and others not so.  I found out thirty years ago the Craftsman charger that was supposed to "maintain" charge did charge the battery full but didn't shut off and overcharged.

A while back I posted in another Airhead forum post Snowbum's views on winter storage.  I don't have access to Oak's preferences, He does recommend draining the tank but allows if this is not desired, filling the tank and using a good stabilizer is the alternate.  I also pointed out he agreed petcocks could leak but he only refers to early cork gasket ones.    Some motorcycles can flood the engine if the petcocks are left on and the floats fail, this is very rare.    I have only seen in the last ten years one episode recently of this happening and it was only due to the bike being brought out of long term improper storage with bad gas.  The floats were shot and the engine flooded.  This happened when the new owner put fresh gas into the bike on its first attempt to start.  Not during winter storage of a properly maintained bike.  

Everyone is fine to do what they want and make as much work as they want.  I personally find draining the tank a waste of time. Frankly I also in my jaded opinion find pulling the petcocks out of the tanks to clean the screens every year also a waste of time.

I have never found that much stuff in them to make any difference in performance the few times I have had the tank out for the three time I have had the tanks off the bikes. One bike with 50K miles and my main rider with 250K miles.  The best advice I always give is to beware who you get your gas from.   I got burned with water in gas a couple of times using small town less used pumps.  To fix That meant wasting a pint of gas to get it to the point where it wasn't getting into the float bowls then several fill ups after.

I do use ethanol free gas when I can get it but, if not the highest rated gas I can get.   Gas tank liners don't go bad if the bikes are ridden regularly for that matter gas does not go bad either.  Maybe one day I will regret this attitude but so far I have not and I don't worry about it.  St.

 

 

 

Beware! I do not suffer fools gladly! St.

 
Posted : 01/08/2024 12:55
Joe Hall
(@joe-hall)
Posts: 70
Trusted Member
 

I feel Blessed to live in Kentucky where winters are usually mild, so no need to put either MC (95 R100RT and 2008 GL1800 GW) into mothballs. We're currently in a deep freeze, now about 5-7 days, but it will soon break. Normal temps here this time of year, is in the 40s. Once in awhile, if either of my MCs have been sitting over a week, I put a .75 amp, or 1.5 amp (whichever is handy) trickle charger on, and usually disconnect when I notice the green light is on, which usually takes less than an hour. Anytime temp is below 32, the Airhead cranks a bit before starting, but always starts, though I have not tried it much below 30. The Goldwing, OTOH, always starts like a modern car, no matter how cold. I have Duracell lithium batteries in both MCs.

Next week, temps are forecast to be in the 40s - 50s, so I will likely take both MCs out for some exercise, and fresh air for me.    

 
Posted : 01/18/2024 13:09

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