Spring Cleaning

May 12 2016

Well, north Alabama finally has some warm weather. It was a long time coming this year, and has been for the past couple of years. Cold, wet springs are starting to become the norm. However, between the cold spells and the rain, there has been a little sunshine and some thermometer readings upwards of 70 degrees. It’s supposed to hit 80 two days this week. Along with the warmer temps and sunshine comes that insatiable desire to get outside and soak it up. Cabin fever, vitamin D deficiency, pale winter skin – whatever the reason – we really want to be outside on those warm spring days. Fish are biting, turkeys are gobbling, flowers are blooming, Easter and the risen Christ have just been celebrated, and the grass needs mowing. Yes sir, spring time is here.

So, what does that mean for the sportsmen and women? Just a couple of months ago, we talked about after-season gear maintenance and storage. Well now it’s time to talk about getting that spring and summer gear up to speed. Boats that have been sitting all winter need some attention. Now is the time to make sure all batteries are healthy and will hold a charge. Water pumps and impellers need to be checked and changed if needed. Make sure all fire extinguishers and life jackets are in good shape and replace anything that is questionable. If your vessel is large enough or you operate in waters that require you to have them, check your flares and launching device to make sure they are in date. Inspect trailer tires, grease wheel bearings, check the trailer tongue, and test lights and wiring to make sure it will get your vessel where you want it to go without issue.

Rods and reels also require some basic cleaning and maintenance to perform at their best and to insure long service life. Check all of the guides on your rods for cracks, chips, missing eyelets, and dirt. Replace any missing or damaged eyes and wash your rods with a mild soap and water solution. Reels should be stored with the drags relaxed. This will help prevent them from sticking when you need them. Reels should be cleaned, oiled, and greased annually, and generally in the spring before they see their heaviest use. Fresh line is always a good idea after cleaning your reels.

I hate to mention it, but now is also the time when you need to make sure your lawn care equipment is working at its best as well. Lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and chainsaws all seem to get a good workout as spring in Alabama progresses. Make sure you check oil levels and change oil and filter as necessary or needed. Wheel bearings need to be checked and greased if warranted. Spark plugs need to be inspected and changed if required, and don’t forget about fuel and air filters, which are the lifeblood of any small engine. Clean fuel and plenty of clean air are what help small engines operate properly and greatly improve service life. Try to replace fuel and air filters annually or at least with every oil change.

Something that must be mentioned that affects all gas-powered engines is ethanol. Ethanol is corn alcohol that is added to gasoline because the government said it should be. I can find no positive argument for the addition or use of ethanol in modern fuels, but I am neither a lobbyist nor politician, and therefore am not suitably equipped to comment or make assumption about this issue. However, I can tell you that ethanol is bad for engines, fuel tanks, and fuel lines. The gasoline and alcohol separate readily into two distinct liquids that cannot be remixed after this phase-separation occurs. This separation can and will occur in the fuel tank, fuel lines, carburetor, or any other place it is allowed to sit. Use of a fuel stabilizer designed to work with ethanol treated fuels can delay, but not prevent the separation. I am a firm believer that even treated fuel, if not burned within 120-180 days of storage should be drained from the tank and properly discarded, then replaced with fresh fuel. Due to the use of ethanol in modern fuels, you will need to inspect fuel tanks for varnish or “gunk”, replace fuel lines with “ethanol approved” fuel lines, and change fuel filters and water separators more often. Because alcohol attracts water, phase separation can introduce water into your fuel system if allowed to sit for extended periods of time. Ask me how I know. Just make sure your vehicle or equipment fuel system is in good working order. This will save hours of frustration later on.

Anyway, once your equipment is in top working order, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures that make living here a real joy. Make sure you enjoy it with friends and family, get the kids involved, and even if it’s work, make it fun and enjoy being in the outdoors.