Howard Delo

I look out the window and see the gray sky, the bare trees, and hear the rain falling on the roof. Summer is over, and, for that matter, fall as well. Winter isn’t quite here yet, but it won’t be long. I have always enjoyed the change of seasons but finding meaningful things to do outside when the weather is like this can be challenging!

One necessary thing owners of various types of “outdoor toys” need to do is service and maintain them with the seasonal changes. Boats, ATVs, RVs, and snowmachines all need periodic service and attention. Don’t forget checking over the trailers used to move these toys around as well. If you have the storage space, moving items under cover for the winter is a good idea, along with bringing the winter toys out for use.

My boat has an inboard engine and is easy to winterize. Draining the sand trap and heat exchanger systems eliminates water in the system and I always fill the manifolds (I think that’s what they’re called) with antifreeze. I have a battery maintaining charger installed in the boat. After parking the vessel on its trailer in my storage building, plugging in the charger, and putting the cover over the back deck of the boat (the front is covered by an aluminum cabin), the unit is set for the winter.

I check the tires on the trailer and fix any electrical problems with the lights before putting the boat to bed. I had the engine tuned up and only have a few trips on the boat since then, so I’m confident things are working fine. If you put a lot of hours on your engine during the summer, now would be a good time to change the oil and filter. That way, you’ve gotten the dirt and sludge out of the engine prior to its long winter sleep. Changing the fuel filter might not be a bad idea as well. I also add some fuel stabilizer to the tank.

My older four-wheeler has an air cooled, two-cycle engine so there isn’t a lot to do to it. I check the tire pressures, fill the gas tank, add fuel stabilizer, fill the oil reservoir, and plug in the Battery Tender brand charger. During the winter, I will periodically go out to the storage building and start the engine. I usually let it run until the unit warms up and then shut it off. Depending on snowfall amounts, sometimes I’ll take the ATV out and run it instead of the snowmachine, so it needs to be in running condition.

My six-by-six ATV is a little different. Any service and maintenance work done to it is by the dealership where I bought it. The way my unit is set up, I can drive it throughout the winter, assuming the snow isn’t too deep, and I often do. It has a four-cycle, liquid-cooled engine which is analogous to a regular vehicle. I also have a Battery Tender brand charger installed on this unit and keep it plugged in during the winter. I keep the fuel tank topped off and periodically start it, running it until it’s warm, at the same time I run the smaller ATV.

The RV gets most of its service and maintenance from professional service mechanics. To winterize it, I’ll have the water system drained and filled with antifreeze. When I get it home and backed into my storage building, I’ll disconnect the house battery negative cable and plug in the Battery Tender brand charger I installed to keep the batteries maintained over winter. Again, I’ll start the engine and run it until it’s warm at least once a month during the winter.

The snowmachine gets the same treatment only in reverse. I’ll start it off and on during the summer so it’s ready once the snows are deep enough. I also keep the battery charged up too.

Since I am not mechanically inclined, I have service done at Hatcher Pass Polaris in Willow on the four-wheeler, the six-wheeler, and the snowmachine, which all happen to be Polaris brand machines. The dealership mechanics are first class and have kept my machines in top running condition. If you own another brand of machine and, like me, you’re not a mechanic, I’m sure you can find a dealer or service business which can keep your machines well-tuned and ready when you need them.

With regular service and maintenance, your “toys” will last a lifetime of recreational use.

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