A Stitch in Time…

Issue #1

How To Store Your Engine For Extended Periods

Of course, the title of the column is the beginning of an old adage: A stitch in time saves nine. The saying simply means that if you do a little today, you can save yourself from doing a lot tomorrow: one sewing stitch today or nine sewing stitches tomorrow.

We'll periodically cover a preventive maintenance issue in this column. Little things you can do to avoid costly repairs and replacements. The subjects will run the gamut from gardening to plumbing, from insulation to engine care – and everything in-between.

This issue, we'll focus on keeping your gasoline fresh. Each year countless small engine repairs, many of them extensive and costly, could be completely avoided simply by making sure that the gasoline in the stored engine is fresh.

Here are the two biggest problems with old gasoline:

  • Over time, gasoline turns to varnish. This varnish is very sticky and extremely hard to remove from sensitive surfaces and areas, such as those in fuel delivery systems and carburetors.
  • Water can accumulate in gas systems during periods when the engine is not in use. Lawnmowers have this happen during the winter months, and snow blowers have it happen during the summer months.

Fortunately, you won't have to disassemble your small engine's fuel system, dump the gasoline, reinstall the system and add fresh gasoline to ensure you're using fresh gasoline in your engine. All you have to do is mix in the appropriate amount of additive to your small engine gas tank whenever necessary – such as when you winterize, or when you know you won't be using the engine for sometime – which is often the case with chain saws, weed eaters, snow blowers, motorcycles and lawn mowers, for example. The additive we recommend and sell is Sta-Bil.


Sta-Bil comes in a handy container that makes the measuring fast and easy. Simply figure out how much gasoline you want to treat, tip the bottle to put the proper amount into the pourer and then add that to your gas tank.

If you know that your engine won't be used for a while, here's what to do to make sure it fires right up the next time you need it. Fill the gas tank and add Sta-Bil. *Start and run the engine for 3-5 minutes, to ensure that the treated gasoline is all through the fuel system. Allow the engine to cool and then fill the gas tank all the way to the top with gasoline – no more Sta-Bil is required. Now replace the gas tank top – and make sure it's secure. By filling the tank all the way, you prevent moisture from being able to accumulate in the tank. Pro-tip: remove the spark plug and clean the contacts/electrodes vigorously with a wire brush. Then blow the dust away and replace the plug.

*If you have a gasoline petcock, after the engine runs for about 3 minutes, close the petcock to stop the flow of fuel to the carburetor. Allow the engine to die in this way.

Steadman's Ace Hardware of Miles City offers everything needed to keep small engines running great – including additives, equipment, parts and the tools to install them. Of course, we also have superb, highly experienced mechanics who are ready to quickly and properly repair any small engine problems for you.

Read Issue #2 - Air Filtration