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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #1
Just as with any topic, there are "lots of opinions out there" about just about anything you want to talk about.

BECAUSE of that, I need to rely on experience, and not hearsay.

Now that my bike is up on the lift for the Winter, and it will stay there til March (some four months).

Stabil is in the gas; steel wool is in the exhaust pipe; the tires are elevated off the cold concrete floor and the battery tender is monitoring and trickling as needed, and the fuel valve is in the "off" position. That's about it for storage measures.

I've heard a couple of different opinions about starting the bike during the Winter, depending on who I ask. Some will say "don't bother." Still others will say, "you shouldn't leave a motor (car or motorcycle) sitting for four months without starting it up and letting it run for five minutes, every month.

The ones who DON'T avocate starting it, say something about the way the extreme cold of Winter (unheated and uninsulated garage) will potentially damage the engine if started in those conditions and allowed to cool in those extreme temps.

The ones who DO avocate starting it, don't seem to be concerned about what potential issues might arise from the cold temp start (anywhere from -10ºF to 30ºF.

Your opinion? Your thoughts? Should I bother? Long term ramifications?

I wouldn't do it "for the battery's sake," since the Tender I use is trusted to keep the battery in good order. It would only be for the sake of the fluids in the system I suppose. Not sure what would justify periodic starting of the bike.

-Soupy
 

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My question would be what advantage is gained by starting it up periodically?

Churning the oil won't do anything beneficial for it. It's going to be basically the same after 4 months as when it was parked.

The internal engine parts will still have a coat of oil on them after a few months, keeping them from getting oxidized.

A motorcycle being stored for several years could benefit from being run once a year or so to keep everything lubricated inside the engine.
 

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I've seen engines sit idle (car engines, sure mc engines work the same somewhat) in the garage for many of years. Sure, the smart mechanic will wait till he's ready to put it back in to change the seals and stuff. But I've seen them first hand fire right up after sitting for so long. I honestly don't think four months sitting is going to hurt the engine much.

But if one must start their motorcycles in their garage, especially if it is attached to the house, make sure it's properly ventilated. We lose more people this time of year to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. You don't want to save the Steel Horse and lose the Battle Axe.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #4
............The internal engine parts will still have a coat of oil on them after a few months...........
Wouldn't (and I've been trying to reason this out, in my mind) that "coat of oil" have solidified to some degree? If so........wouldn't starting the bike in the extreme cold of winter force the solidified oil to function as it normally would if fully liquid, and thereby cause damage to the rings or seals BECAUSE it won't flow as freely as it would have, had it been warm and fluid?

-Soupy

P.S.: Zippy, my garage is not attached.
 

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In really cold conditions, it may take a second or two for the oil pressure to reach normal. I guess theoretically, some extra engine wear may occur. I doubt it would be measurable if the engine was well maintained and started like it should.
 

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I have restored, rebuilt, and maintained MANY machines that have sat for months and in some cases years without being started and it does them no harm. Starting a COLD engine (like well below freezing) is far harder on the engine than leaving it sit because all the oil has drained back to the sump and its viscosity is higher in the cold and takes longer to re-lubricate all the critical surfaces. My father was a Master Mechanic and if he had to start a cold engine, he would crank it over a number of times without letting it fire up to spread the oil around. If possible, he would also "pre-heat" the engine before cranking to warm the oil - a common practice on aircraft engines.

The only damage I have seen to the internals of an engine are with motors that have sat 5 or more years without even being turned over. The hot/cold cycle of the seasons tends to form condensation in an engine when the engine is cold and the air warms up in the spring. THAT is when an engine can really benefit from being run long enough to bring the temperature up to the normal operating range.

I have (and farmers have) a lot of machinery that is only operated in the summer and sits idle from one year to the next and that machinery doesn't seem to suffer any ill effects.

P.S. There is a pretty standard procedure for starting an engine that has sat for a LONG time but that isn't normally done if it has only been a few months.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #7
............... Starting a COLD engine (like well below freezing) is far harder on the engine than leaving it sit because all the oil has drained back to the sump and its viscosity is higher in the cold and takes longer to re-lubricate all the critical surfaces................My father.................. would crank it over a number of times without letting it fire up to spread the oil around. If possible, he would also "pre-heat" the engine before cranking to warm the oil.................
The first part of your response speaks to the issue directly, and the second part is one that I'd like to explore a bit deeper.

I presume that if I simply disconnect the spark plug wires from the spark plugs, I could effectively "crank it over a number of times, without letting it fire," right?

With regard to pre-heating, ..........I see myself in March of 2015, when the weather gives me a couple of 55ºF days in mid-day, pulling the bike out and letting it sit in the sun for an hour or so. Does THAT qualify as "pre-heat" for the engine?????


-Soupy
 

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Troublemaker
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While I don't winterize anything, I do find that when I'm in the barn and it's warm enough to be out there for a half hour or so, I will start the bikes up and let them warm up a little. I only use synthetic oil in them so I am not worried about it getting thick. It never hurts a thing to put a fresh coat of oil on the internal parts. It also doesn't hurt a thing to move gasoline through the petcock, jets and float bows of a carburated bike. I move the bikes to keep the tires from sitting in the same place all winter. I run them until the oil filter gets warm, or the fan comes on a couple times on the water cooled machines. If I do get a warmer day, I will take them each around the block and refill them with non-ethanol gas. It's 24 miles around the block, so they do get some miles on them.

This has worked on a 41 year old bike, the case has never been cracked so I don't think it has hurt a thing.

Tomorrow, all the bikes get out for a ride, it's supposed to be quite warm for two days before it gets cold again.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #9
........................ I move the bikes to keep the tires from sitting in the same place all winter..............
One of the best suggestions I got, was to purchase a lift. I am so glad I did so, and it has proven to be a real god-send in many situations. Particularly when this old back of mine doesn't want to be all bent over during maintenance procedures.

I have the bike "off the floor" on this:

 

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Troublemaker
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If I had room for that, it would be a good idea. I have to shoehorn bikes into the barn the way it is. When I hit the lottery, I'll be more like Shredder is, the bikes will have their own building.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #11
If I had room for that...........
I'm not swimming in space either. I have a "car and a half" garage.

The actual space needed for a lift like this, and a typical 500cc Cruiser Bike like mine, is about 6 feet (length) by 4 feet (width), with the bike up on the Lift.

-Soupy
 

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Wouldn't (and I've been trying to reason this out, in my mind) that "coat of oil" have solidified to some degree?
Try doing a test this winter..

Pour some oil into a glass jar & drop in some metal parts in there too (nuts, bolts, whatever). Put the cap on & stick it on a shelf next to your motorcycle so it gets the same temps the bike does.

Now anytime during winter if you are wondering what the oil is like in the bike, just give that jar a shake & see how "stiff" the oil got. It's actually a better test if you use OLD OIL in the jar, that is full of engine contaminants.
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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If your really concerned about keeping the motor lubed over winter, just fog (lube) the motor before putting it away. A spray can of fogging oil is inexpensive and it doesn't take long.
 

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The biggest issue with starting a bike up for just a short time is it never gets to the real operating temperature, to heat the oil to sufficiently burn of any accumulated water vapor.

Modern oils retain a film at all times between the parts but turning it over WITHOUT starting the engine couldn't really hurt anything.

Having said this, millions of riders start their engines periodically and let them run for a while and it gives them some peace of mind.

I love your lift and doesn't it make life so much easier!!!!

We were at a custom car show maybe 10 years ago and there were a couple of hot rods up on a full size, portable hydraulic lift and I fell in love---with the lift:) The company brings them in in one piece, sits it where you want it, plugs it in and it's ready to go. The four main support posts have 4 holes each drilled it them for 'Red-head' anchors.

Two or three days later, when the lift showed up, my wife just said: "Happy Birthday." She's sweet like that!

Now I don't have to lay on the floor to work on my stuff! Fantastic piece of equipment for around $3,000.

Sam:)
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #15
Try doing a test this winter..

Pour some oil into a glass jar & drop in some metal parts in there too (nuts, bolts, whatever). Put the cap on & stick it on a shelf next to your motorcycle so it gets the same temps the bike does.

Now anytime during winter if you are wondering what the oil is like in the bike, just give that jar a shake & see how "stiff" the oil got. It's actually a better test if you use OLD OIL in the jar, that is full of engine contaminants.

Interesting idea!

-Soupy
 

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Nightfly
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The biggest issue with starting a bike up for just a short time is it never gets to the real operating temperature, to heat the oil to sufficiently burn of any accumulated water vapor.

Modern oils retain a film at all times between the parts but turning it over WITHOUT starting the engine couldn't really hurt anything.

Having said this, millions of riders start their engines periodically and let them run for a while and it gives them some peace of mind.

I love your lift and doesn't it make life so much easier!!!!

We were at a custom car show maybe 10 years ago and there were a couple of hot rods up on a full size, portable hydraulic lift and I fell in love---with the lift:) The company brings them in in one piece, sits it where you want it, plugs it in and it's ready to go. The four main support posts have 4 holes each drilled it them for 'Red-head' anchors.

Two or three days later, when the lift showed up, my wife just said: "Happy Birthday." She's sweet like that!

Now I don't have to lay on the floor to work on my stuff! Fantastic piece of equipment for around $3,000.

Sam:)
Completely agree with you Porky about not starting the engine.
But a 3000K lift? Must be one hell of a lift. I don't have room so it's out of the question, but I would were it possible.
 

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Gone.
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I presume that if I simply disconnect the spark plug wires from the spark plugs, I could effectively "crank it over a number of times, without letting it fire," right?
Yeap. Or you can just pull one of the wires off the primary side of the coil, whichever is easier. And if you remove the plugs it will make it easier for the engine to turn over.

With regard to pre-heating, ..........I see myself in March of 2015, when the weather gives me a couple of 55ºF days in mid-day, pulling the bike out and letting it sit in the sun for an hour or so. Does THAT qualify as "pre-heat" for the engine?????
Anything above 50f is fine. Many motorcycle oils are fine well below that too, but I'd have to look up which viscosities are good to what temperature.
 

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Nightfly
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FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH DEPARTMENT:

This is taken directly from the 2015 Harley Parts and Accessories catalog.

"You should always change your engine oil and filter prior to winter storage (or any extended storage) so that your engine oil is clean and free of contaminants during this time period."

I generally do this anyway about 50 percent of the time. I've had no problem when I don't change the oil and filter prior to storage. And like many on here, should a day or two come along during the winter months that I feel I can get a ride in, I make it long enough to get the engine good and hot. Otherwise I won't do it. JMHO.
 

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Engines.

When I was on the farm, I would park the truck when the snow started. Sometimes November, sometimes December. It sat there until spring when I fired it up. Had more than enough other things to do.
On the Island. The belch mobile ( farm truck ) still sits doing nothing for months on end, 4 outboard motors sit, 1 Nissan diesel engine has sat for several or more years, 1 diesel engine in a boat has sat for 5 years, the tractor sits for long periods, and the main boat diesel engine sits for weeks without being fired. Then there are the generators and mowers.
The SV1000 Suzuki will not be run until spring.
After about the first week in December I get in Christmas holiday mode, and it lasts until early January. So I do not lose any sleep worrying about sitting motors. Let sleeping motors lie.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Nightfly
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When I was on the farm, I would park the truck when the snow started. Sometimes November, sometimes December. It sat there until spring when I fired it up. Had more than enough other things to do.
On the Island. The belch mobile ( farm truck ) still sits doing nothing for months on end, 4 outboard motors sit, 1 Nissan diesel engine has sat for several or more years, 1 diesel engine in a boat has sat for 5 years, the tractor sits for long periods, and the main boat diesel engine sits for weeks without being fired. Then there are the generators and mowers.
The SV1000 Suzuki will not be run until spring.
After about the first week in December I get in Christmas holiday mode, and it lasts until early January. So I do not lose any sleep worrying about sitting motors. Let sleeping motors lie.

Unkle Crusty*
You make a lot of sense unkle Crusty. I too lived on a farm in the early days and we never worried about those tractor's and other equipment that sat unused for many weeks and months. It seems we assume our precious motorcycle engines are not made of stout stuff and will collapse at the first sign of neglect. It's not neglect, it just letting the damn things sit for awhile.

Guys like Eye will always be needling us because he gets to ride 365. And I'm jealous as hell.... :biggrin:
 
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