Author Topic: winter storage  (Read 739 times)

Offline James Landi

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winter storage
« on: October 12, 2017, 09:39:48 PM »

 For those of us not fortunate to own a home with a heated garage that is stored inside or outside in unheated environs up in the north country, I need some advice regarding methodologies you have successfully employed to effectively store your beloved autos over the winter months.  I am especially interested in keeping moisture out of a car's interior and electronics...  Does anyone use passive electric heat or chemical moisture absorbing products, etc.  Is it advisable to take the weight off of the tires??  Appreciate your sharing your expertise.   James

Offline wrench

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 10:13:25 PM »
First thing is check the coolant mixture that you have protection down to the expected outside worst temps.

Trickle charger to keep the battery from discharging too low. This is important, lead acid batteries do not like to run low, especially in cold temps. if your battery is 5 years old or older, change it in the spring.

Theoretically, you should change the crankcase oil before storage to cut down on acid from combustion by products in the oil.

Clean the vehicle in and out. service tires and fluids to full. Think about rodent prevention which would be another whole discussion here. Do some searching on that here.

Weight off the tires is a good idea, if you can do that. I try to run my cars once a month at least up to operating temps to boil off any moisture in the crankcase. If there is no salt or moisture, i will take them for a spin. You could go as far as marking the tires with a white grease pencil at the bottom so you can verify that it gets parked on a different spot for the next couple of weeks.

If the car is on stands, and you want to run it occasionally, you would need to think about a method of running the car at some point, try to run it on more temperate days not the bitterest cold days. Running a car on jacks is a dicey proposition from a safety stand point.

As far as other moisture control, I am lucky to have one heated garage and another unheated. Moisture doesnt really cycle in either one. If you are storing outdoors, there is always debate about substrate... dirt, plywood, plastic or concrete (another subject to search here). You will have to get some input on that. Dirt usually cycles too much moisture up into the vehicle. The other materials have varying properties that may be specific to your application.

If I wanted to control moisture inside, i would use bulk blue silica gel ($125 for 25 lbs) that turns pink when it needs to be reactivated. You can reactivate in an oven and put it back in. You could fill smaller porous bags with it and spread them out. you could then check them periodically for absorbed moisture. best thing would be to seal up the compartments to reduce the amount of exposure to moisture laden air.  You can reuse it year after year.

No matter what, i wouldnt just put the thing away and not check on it periodically to see how it is going with whatever methodology you employ.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 10:24:01 PM by wrench »
1951 Series 62 Sedan
1969 Eldorado
1970 Eldorado (Triple Black w/power roof)
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Offline TJ Hopland

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 11:56:58 PM »
My 2 cents....

I'm in Minnesota so darn near 6 month off season.   Heated storage?  Maybe someday but 40 years has only got enough heat in the garage to keep above freezing when I really have to work on something. 

I don't believe in starting it if you can't give it a good drive to really get it warmed up.

I have not found moisture to be a big issue in the winters but have had a lite mold issue in the interior when I have stored cars indoors in summer.  Most of my storage places are not sealed the best which may help because they always have some airflow so they don't tend to get as extreme fluctuations.   I have had very little indication of moisture issues in places that pretty much stay closed all winter.  I did one season with a car and some other stuff in a multi car garage I was sharing where the other person parked their daily driver in there.   That one winter did more surface rust damage to the car and machine tools than the previous 10 years without a daily driver near them.   I think the door opening twice a day and the hot enigne/car being in there melting off salt and snow made the salty humidity higher than it would normally be and made the temp swings more extreme which is when you get condensation.

If I got power then the battery maintainer is reasonable but get a decent one not an ebay special.   If no power then I take em somewhere warm and throw a charger on occasionally if I remember.

I fully agree change any fluids that need changed before storage and ideally give it a good long drive before 'parking' for the winter.

Full tank of ideally non ethanol gas if you can reasonably get such a thing in your area.   If you can't I still think full is best and then some sort of additive for sure.   I always liked seafoam but many like stabil.     

Finding a way to support the car on jacks so it doesn't put more stress on the frame is a concern for me.   I don't know about pre war but post war till the 90's you can get a lot of flex in the frames depending on where you support them from.   Changing / renewing springs is easier in my book than dealing with a twisted frame.   Bias tires are a possible concern but modern ones don't seem as bad as they were back in their day.  Radials don't seem to have big issues.     If you have nice 'show' tires maybe get a set of junkers for storage?   

Rodents are always my biggest concern.    Make sure there is nothing that possibly could smell like food left in the car.   A french fry under the seat?   Some bird seed that spilled?   Kids macaroni art?    Don't leave any paper towels, rags,  paper in the car that could be nesting material including things like owners manuals.   Put your insurance card and anything else that should stay in the car in a ziplock bag and leave it on the seat.  Glove box is a popular place to nest so if anything is in there it will be part of the nest.    If mice have ever been in the car in the past they will likely find it again.   They leave scent trails and leave stink in places you don't always see.   If you do see that there have been mice in the car then I think leaving poison blocks in bait boxes is a good move.   Blocks because they can't easily carry them to their nest like the pellet type.  When I have done that I have found them dead in the open rather than deep hidden somewhere where you can only smell em.    If there are no signs then I would not put the poison in the car because it may attract them.   If possible put the poison blocks / bait stations around the storage area so they hopefully never get to the car.    Once they have been in the car none of the usual things seem to keep them out like moth balls and dryer sheets.   I have had them make nests out of the sheets.    The idea behind stinky stuff is to mask the scent of predators so they theoretically won't be comfortable if they can't tell if or where the cat is.   Like I said in one car I think they made a nest out of the sheets on the dash so they could wave at the cat.   Poison on top of the tires is what our pest control guy suggested. 

Regular checks and inspections don't hurt.  Slam the doors.   Check under hood.   May be enough to scare them away if they just moved in.         
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

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Offline Mike Josephic CLC #3877

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2017, 12:02:41 AM »
My two cents worth.

I don't recommend trickle chargers.  The best bet is to invest about $50
and get a Battery Tender (brand name).  It has a computer chip in it
that keeps the charge at "float" level which does not permit it to overcharge.
That's the quickest way to kill a battery.  I use 4 of them.  Also, disconnect
your battery (pull the positive terminal off) so that current drain and potential
fire hazards are eliminated (or use a switch device at the terminal).

For your longer term planning give this option some thought:

If your garage is integral with your home or connected to it I highly recommend
adding an auxiliary gas furnace.  I did this about 30 years ago and I'm on my
second one now.  These are the "vent through the wall type" that use a double
walled pipe to pull to pull fresh air in and exhaust gas out.  This does several
things including circulation of the air, keeping the temperatures where you want
and preventing condensation. It cost me about $2,500 to install a 44,000 BTU unit
that keeps a large double garage toasty warm -- and my garage is not insulated! 
Best thing I ever did.  I live in Pittsburgh and we can get some very cold days here!

If the garage is sitting on the back of your lot it can get more expensive since
you'll have to dig a gas line in to wherever it sits.  If gas is not available in your area, an electric unit does the same but is more costly to run.

Mike
1955 Cadillac Eldorado
1973 Cadillac Eldorado
1995 Cadillac Seville
2004 Escalade
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Offline wrench

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 09:47:04 AM »
Good points all. I would reply that i used trickle charger as a generic term, 'battery tender' is definitely a more precise term.

As for sealing, my recommendation to limit the airflow is in the case of application of the dessicant method of preservation. No sense dehumidifying the whole garage or even the outdoors. Of course, if you are not applying dessicant, then proper limited airflow would be better than sealing.

As for starting, I find this an interesting debate. My preference for starting/running monthly is that I like to keep the rotating group and the valve seals moving so that the weight of the crank and the location of the valves doesnt create a 'set' point on the various seals. Plus it gets lubricating oil to the top of the motor. I would rather start a motor that has only sat a month or few weeks than one that has sat for 6 months, especially in extreme cold temps.

I am glad rodent control methods have come up in this discussion as it always a significant storage problem.

Thanks for the feedback, guys.
1951 Series 62 Sedan
1969 Eldorado
1970 Eldorado (Triple Black w/power roof)
1958 Apache 3/4 ton 4x4

Offline James Landi

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 10:18:32 AM »
  I am all but certain that the EXPENSIVE dryer sheets, liberally applied throughout the interior and trunk, and yes, engine compartment as well as on top of the tires. plus moth balls  keep the mice away.  I have used the generic,cheaper brand, and still had a few winter "guests."  Without the application of these products, my poor 72 Convertible served as a large condo for mice--- even in the exhaust pipe, that blasted out an entire "garden apartment" size mice hotel.   Regarding the short run cycles during the winter, and am ambivalent.  James

Offline TJ Hopland

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 10:54:43 AM »
Expensive sheets?    It was Snuggle or Bounce that they moved around one of my cars and made a nest of.   Is there a more expensive brand?   I wasn't using the much cheaper store brands.   I put what was left of the package in the glove box and they made a nest of that too. 

Starting vs not is a good debate.   Being lazy / busy is one reason I like the non start method especially if the car isn't somewhere you are on a semi daily basis.    I did it on a couple engines for a couple years and it really didn't seem to help,  I actually think it may have been harder on them since it isn't heated making the very cold starts which were never ideal for carb engines that likely have 'summer' weight oil in them. 

Cold start and idle is usually going to be running rich to very rich which isn't ideal for lubricants.  It tends to wipe the lube from the cylinder walls and gets into the oil which especially with moisture can turn into nasty acids that are not good lubricants.   Normally a lot of the fuel residue and moisture burns off when you take a drive.  If you don't drive you don't really burn it off.   My theory is at idle you are creating as many issues and you are solving so why bother?   A benefit would be annoying and displacing critters especially if they were in the exhaust.   If we were talking years rather than months I think there are different concerns.   A working AC equipped car could also sway thing to maybe running it assuming you could even get temps above the AC cutout level. 

If lubrication and sitting position is a concern how about just cranking the engine enough to build oil pressure with the ignition and possibly fuel disconnected?    That way you get the lube and move it without creating the heating and cooling that causes the condensation?    If you are doing it in a freezing space that has power you could do a stick on oil pan heater to warm up the oil slightly before the cranking.   I would think that 50* oil in 20* ambient would flow better but not be so warm that there would be a lot of condensation.    This is an area where a 5w-40 synthetic or blend may be a great choice.  5w-40 is a common diesel oil so its easy to find and most brands also carry an API S certification for gas engines so its in theory at least as good as any other modernish oil.
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
75 Eldo rusty but trusty
80 Eldo Diesel
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Offline gary griffin

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 10:58:38 AM »
For rodents I have ultra sonic transmitters plugged into outlets near each door. In addition to that I use a product I found in a farmers feed store called "Just One Bite" and is labeled "For agricultural use . I call it mouse candy. It is cream colored and about 6 inch long bars and when they eat it they search for water which activates the poison and they do not die in the cars,  There are 6 bars in a package and I break them into about one inch increments. When I find tooth marks on them I know they are working but never find dead rodents? No water available in the garage. I am about out of "mouse candy" and have not purchased any for a few years. I am about out so time to go back to the feed store I guess.   Extreme caution is required as it will also kill pets.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 11:01:03 AM by gary griffin »
Gary Griffin

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Offline TJ Hopland

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 11:18:58 AM »
On the poison front you for sure want something in block or sticks.   Anything smaller they will take back to their nests for later so you end up with a glove box stuffed with poison along with your hood insulation and what is left of your owners manuals and tire warranties. 

You can get the block stuff in a some sort of a box.  They come in clear and black.  TomCat is a popular brand.  Clear is nice because at a glance you can see if they have been eating em.   The boxes keep the stuff off your nice surfaces and make it difficult for anything bigger than a mouse to get the stuff.    A bigger animal eating the stuff directly will for sure be bad.  A bigger animal eating a mouse that has eaten the stuff in most cases isn't too bad.   Bigger animals that normally eat wild stuff have pretty tough systems and the concentration isn't that high after the mouse has digested it.  They may get a tummy ache and decide they are not going to eat there again but it usually doesn't do serious damage.   That is just what the pest people say,  if you talk to vets they obviously would rather not see any poison anywhere.  The truth is likely somewhere in the middle.    Just take a moment to think who and what may be in the area before you use any sort of poison especially if its not in the little boxes.
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
75 Eldo rusty but trusty
80 Eldo Diesel
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Offline lexi

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 11:40:10 AM »
All excellent points. All I can add is that smart chargers like Battery Tender Plus, do an excellent job. That said, they alone CANNOT be relied upon to save your battery (or extend it's life) as they do not provide a deep charge. They do provide a low maintenance charge to ensure your battery will be operational. The down side is if your car is not being used and on a smart charger, sulfation within the cells can and eventually will prematurely take place as there is no physical activity within the battery, (i.e. nothing to keep the acid in a homogeneous state). A battery tech advised me that you should still run a heavier charge on the battery say every month or two, (the sooner if we are talking winter storage). That way it keeps everything 'mixed' and in suspension within the battery as there will be a boiling effect with a heavy charge, (something that is lacking with a smart charger). This will stave off sulfation and in the end promote longer battery life. We are talking only occasional use here, say with a 10 amp trickle charger once a month in the winter, just long enough to keep all in the acid in suspension, (to stir things up so to speak). Be careful not to overdo it and to guard against cell plate damage. Long story short, I have seen smart charged batteries pass certain tests but prematurely fail a CCA load test when maintained solely on a smart charger. Don't get me wrong, I swear by smart chargers but they must be used with the occasional deep charge to properly maintain your battery unless you wish to be buying a new one say every 3 years. Clay/Lexi
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 11:52:01 AM by lexi »

Offline Daddio

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 02:14:41 PM »
I keep my cars in a separate section of the garage, so the doors are not constantly opened and closed.
My workshop is in the same building but separated with a 2x6 insulated wall and door so, if I warm up the shop, the car storage section remains cold.  Minimizing condensation and the chance for mice is the reason I did this.
I still put mouse traps in the car storage area (never caught one) and Warfain blocks at the doors (never been gnawed on). Battery tenders on both cars and full gas tanks with ethanol-free hi test and stabilizer. And I usually put a coat of Neatsfoot oil on the leather seats to soak in and keep them supple.
Mike

1959 Eldorado Biarritz
1956 Thunderbird

Offline Jim Miller

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2017, 04:46:27 PM »
I'm curious to your opinions on this one for winter storage for engines. I have a heated garage so I don't think I'll need do this to my '41, but I have a 50 year old wooden boat with a big Chrysler V8. I have a lift in the boathouse and before I lift her up I change the oil, start her up, get her hot, and pour Marvel Mystery Oil down the carburetor  to fog the engine. When it starts to bog down I shut it off. Picked this up from all the old guys years ago-- engine runs fine. The engine sits there six months idle every year. Might be an option if you have to leave the car in unheated storage and can't start regularly.
Jim Miller
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Offline The Tassie Devil(le)

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 05:55:27 PM »
Boy, with all that stuff that one has to do to protect their vehicle in Winter, I am glad that I live in an area where I can drive my cars any time of the day, night, or season.

Bruce. >:D
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Offline TJ Hopland

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2017, 02:34:25 PM »
Good thought on doing some leather treatment before storage.    I bet by spring that greasy shine look you often get will have faded.

One season I went crazy and did the whole 'fogging' treatment on every seasonal engine.  Never had so much trouble getting things going next season as I did that year so that was the end of that.    Now I only do that when I expect it to be years of sitting rather than months.   An example would be a car I buy to part out and I'm saving the engine. 
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
75 Eldo rusty but trusty
80 Eldo Diesel
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2017, 03:23:15 PM »
As far as starting them occasionally, let me add this. Years ago I did an oil change on the plane with a cold engine. The reason I mention this is that there is a quick drain on it which allows me to see what comes out vs a drain plug that no matter what you have to move your hand fast and not see what come out at first.
When I did that, there was water that came out first. Much more than I would have liked.
Point is, if you start it, but don't get it hot enough to burn the water off, then all you are doing is getting moist oil all up in and around everything.
Jeff
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Offline gkhashem

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2017, 04:23:09 PM »
One incorrect statement was made about battery connections in an above response. Always disconnect the negative cable or the ground side. When I remove the battery I remove the negative first then the positive. When you connect the battery positive first then the negative. All my disconnect switches are on the negative or ground side.

If you don't some dangerous things could happen.

One site stated it well

 Once you disconnect the negative terminal the battery is disconnected for practical purposes. The negative is always disconnected first and connected last because it is the same potential as the chassis - if your wrench touches the chassis while you are loosening the clamp nothing happens, but if you do that with the positive terminal while the negative is connected there will be very big sparks and possible damage. I once got my wedding ring between a wrench on a positive terminal and the chassis, and within a fraction of a second it became very hot. If it had become welded in place I would now have nine fingers and a bad memory. Lessons: remove all jewelry before working and remove the negative terminal first.
1959 Cadillac Coupe Deville
1964 Oldsmobile 98 Town Sedan
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Offline Bobby B

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2017, 04:23:50 PM »
Boy, with all that stuff that one has to do to protect their vehicle in Winter, I am glad that I live in an area where I can drive my cars any time of the day, night, or season.

Bruce. >:D

But I don't like Spiders and Snakes.... ;D ;D ;D

New Jersey Bitter Winters and Unheated garage. FULL tank of Premium Fuel, Add correct amount of Sta-Bil for use with Ethanol Fuel, and a little MMO. Driving back from the gas station is enough to get it mixed up in the tank, and distribute it through the lines and carb. Disconnect the battery. Don't touch the car all winter, unless it's one of those fluke super warm days and I can go for a decent ride. When the Winter's over, I'll drain the oil, and put a fresh filter in. Usually starts right up like it always does. Never had a problem.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Bobby
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Offline Jim Miller

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2017, 04:37:10 PM »
Question on the battery, I'm positive ground. Would the steps George described be opposite?
Jim Miller
Jim Miller

1941 62 sedan
2016 SRX

Offline Bobby B

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2017, 04:46:45 PM »
Question on the battery, I'm positive ground. Would the steps George described be opposite?
Jim Miller

Yes...Disconnect the battery terminal that would go to the Frame first. In your case, the Positive side.
                                                                                                                      Bobby
1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe
1968 Mustang Convertible
1973 Mustang Convertible
1969 Jaguar E-Type Roadster
1971 Datsun 240Z
1979 H-D FLH

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

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Re: winter storage
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2017, 05:05:32 PM »
Question on the battery, I'm positive ground. Would the steps George described be opposite?
Jim Miller

Think of it like this. If your wrench is on a terminal and the other end accidently hits the frame, would you get a spark?
The answer should be no.
Negative ground, negative first.
Jeff
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

 

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