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Bits and Pieces

Winterize and Have Winter Eyes!

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

No humans were harmed in the making of this picture.

I prepare my aircraft for not being flown in the winter. How about you? I’ve developed my own routine, but I’d be interested in what you do. Let us know what you do to make sure your aircraft passes the winter with no scars. I’m sure none of us would like to have our aircraft wind up like this one.

I’m sure challenges could vary based on aircraft type and storage conditions. My RV-9A stays on the tarmac outside in the snow. Here’s a list of the things that I do to make sure my aircraft gets through the winter safely:

  • Remove battery and put it on a conditioning trickle charger.
  • Remove plugs, put some oil in the upper cylinders, give the prop a few turns, and replace plugs loosely.
  • Cover canopy with an extra blanket (under the regular cover) to protect the Plexiglas from abrasion, and secure it in place.
  • Support the tail, in case of a heavy snowfall, with a sawhorse.
  • Relubricate hinges and linkages with airframe grease to prevent corrosion.
  • Make sure cowl plugs are secure.
  • Add extra restraint on rudder, elevator, and ailerons in case of high winds.
    (Someone once told me that internal control locks allow wear of the control linkages. It made sense to me, so I use only external control surface restraints.)
  • Put electrical tape over fuel caps to avoid too much invasion of water.
  • Block any access to rodents. An unused aircraft is an ideal shelter.
  • Remove the seats and put them in the basement at home to avoid mildew.

And that’s about it. How about some Canadian input? I’ve used preservative engine oil in the past. I’m not convinced that’s a necessary expense since I think you should probably change the oil filter and refill with new oil when you’re removing the winterizing oil. Several sources, including www.SacSkyRanch.com/corrosion.htm, suggest timing your oil changes for the late fall and using regular-grade rust-preventing oil.

Remember that a hard freeze can kill an uncharged battery, so if you leave your battery on the aircraft make sure that it’s fully charged at all times to prevent damage. How do I know this? I lost a nice new Concorde battery while my RV project was still in my unheated garage being built; it was in a discharged condition during an especially cold night.

What did the title mean by “Winter Eyes”? Simply that if you’re not there, it would be nice to know that another pair of eyes was checking on your precious investment. I’m fortunate that several pilots rarely miss a week at the airport; they would contact me if something went wrong, or they’d just fix it, if it was a loose tiedown! The airport manager should also have a contact number for you if you go away.

So let’s look forward to spring with an aircraft in the same condition as we left it in December, and in the meantime, give your fellow readers something to think about by adding your own winter storage tips below.


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