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Winter Storage

Winter Storage Published: 30th Jan 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
Winter Storage
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Here’s some top tips on how to protect your prized classic over the winter as you relax by the warm fire…

Enjoy your classic over the summer, did you? Well now it’s probably time to tuck it up for the winter, as most owners do to protect it. However, there’s more to it than simply shutting the garage doors and forgetting all about it – do that and face a lot of trouble and expense come the time you want to re-commission your pride and joy next spring. Half a day and a few quid, that’s all it takes to wise up to winter and beat the cold war. Here’s how!

Home sweet home

Before you even think about your classic, give the garage – its home – a thorough tidy up and sweep out, which is probably long overdue. Safely put away anything that can fall on the vehicle or impede working in the garage. A damp leaky garage is a haven for rust so attend to any repairs now. Rapid Racking (01285 686869 http://www.rapidracking.com and Big Dug: Tel 08459666000 http://www.bigdug. co.uk) offer a range of affordable racking systems to make your lock up safer and more orderly, for instance.

Time to come clean

Before you tuck your classic away, give it a thorough clean and clear out. Leaving old dirt and grime on the body and the interior will only cause problems when you have to re-commission it. Just a good wash and leather down will suffice but you can go further and really make it clean which will stave off any deteriorations and also help save you the chore when you recommission it.

Rust in peace?

Leaving your car in a dry garage over the months simply isn’t adequate enough to keep corrosion at bay. If possible, clean the underside (steam or jet wash) and apply wax/oil-based preserving fluid plus attend to stone chips or exposed wounds before storing. Any paint (or polish etc) to cover the damage will do until you can repair it properly – the important thing is to protect that bare, rusting metal now!

Keep your coat on

Although some owners like to give their classic a good old polish, we don’t advise cutting the body finish back just yet – indeed that old layer of fading paint actually acts as a useful protective shield. And don’t put a coat of wax on the body to act as a barrier as once dust and dirt settles it can act like a grinding paste.

It’s an inside job…

Hoover the interior out and clean off any stains or grime on the trim – it will only fester over the winter. If possible, remove the carpets and store them in your house to prevent mildew damage and close the car’s windows and air vents, but open the car up regularly to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent musty smells.

Lubrication lore

Some advocate changing the engine oil even if the unit isn’t to be run as the old lube may well contain harmful acids that lead to internal corrosion. Special storage oils are available from the likes of Millers, Penrite and Morris Lubricants: these give off a mist which protects the inner workings as the oil lays in the sump. Also go mad with your grease gun and pump fresh stuff anywhere you spy a nipple. It’s perfectly legal and they can’t touch you for it…

Secret service

Why not ask your local classic car specialist or marque expert to give your car a winter service and check over? Some have special winter promotions and it’s invariably money well spent. A stitch in time, saves nine, as they say

Fuelling around

There’s divided opinion over what to do with the fuel tank as unleaded petrol can goe ‘off’ if left dormant. That said, an empty tank attracts condensation leading to possible internal rust as well as gummed up fuel lines. A fair compromise, we think, is to leave the tank between half and full, and to add a gallon or two of the fresh stuff when you are about to bring the car out of storage.

It pays to spray…

That faithful friend of every classic owner – WD40 or similar – should be sprayed liberally about the engine, and especially the electrics, to keep moisture at bay, plus prevent surface rust forming on the carbs, throttle linkages, battery terminals and so on. And don’t forget the door locks, window mechanisms and the hood’s frame, either.

Assault on battery

Don’t leave that expensive box of sparks to inevitably discharge itself over the winter as this will most certainly lead to premature failure – so many perfectly healthy batteries have been killed off this way!… If possible, remove completely to trickle charge it regularly. If this is not feasible, then disconnect the battery to prevent any chance of an electrical fire but even so you really should charge it up every now and then to keep the plates healthy.

Cold comforts

Don’t be a cheapskate by simply draining the engine’s cooling system – always keep quality anti-freeze in it. True, in theory, an engine sans water can’t freeze up and crack the engine block or blow a core plug, but good anti-freeze also contains corrosion inhibitors (see strip out on the right).

Which brings us to a sticky subject…

Lack of use can cause other sorts of freezing. Leave the handbrake off to prevent the brakes locking on (but chock the wheels for safety sake). The clutch plate can rust onto the flywheel; prevent this by using a broom handle (or similar) to keep the pedal fully depressed. Failing this, check on the car every couple of weeks (always a good idea anyway) and pump the pedals while applying the handbrake a few times to keep all the mechanisms free and easy.

Taking a turn for the worse

Engines which haven’t been run for a while can partly seize and starting up could well break the piston rings. Slowly turn the engine over manually with a spanner to free it off gently. Some enthusiasts advocate pouring some upper cylinder lubricant such as Redex down to bores to keep them well lubricated; a wise ploy.

Under pressure?

Should you raise the car up on stands so to take the weight off the suspension and tyres? Years ago this practice was strongly advised but opinions have changed and, given of the inconvenience of jacking the car up, plus hindering its movement, we’d simply ensure the tyres are over inflated and regularly check them for leaks. Roll the car frequently to prevent ‘flats’ forming.

What a layabout…

Inactivity is a classic car killer. Just letting your pride and joy stagnate will only lead to future trouble and expense. A regular run does any car – and you – a power of good. Don’t just give it a quickie round the block though, let it throughly warm up and stretch its muscles.

The great cover up

Don’t worry if you don’t have the luxury of a cosy lock up, there are some excellent heavy-duty tailored car covers that will protect your prized classic, including dedicated air bubbles which seal the car in a special protective environment. Names worth knowing are Carcoon (01617379690 carcoon.co.uk), Cair-o-Port, Permabag and Airflow (01367 718550 airflow-uk.com) and sell them from as little as a few hundred pounds. And even if you possess a warm garage, some form of cover is still a very wise move especially if you have a delicate soft top classic. There’s loads available as we’ll show next month.

The old folk’s home

If you feel that your classic deserves it, a professional car storage outfit can provide round the clock care for as little as £30 a week. Given what it can save by preventing damage it could be money well spent.

Make time to pay a visit

Keep a regular check on the car over the winter, ensuring that it – and the garage – is safe and sound. If the car is under a flimsy pvc cover, don’t think all is well because it isn’t! Remove it periodically and check the bodywork for damp damage, which can show up as microscopic blistering of the paint. This is nasty yet avoidable damage that’s hard and expensive to rectify.

The road to ruin

Don’t think that just because your classic is perhaps an ongoing restoration that none of the above applies to you! Many a pricey project has been spoiled by not preserving the car (and its parts, which may be dismantled) over the winter months, undoing all the previous good work. A can of WD-40 may do the trick.

Don’t just sit there…

Do something before winter suddenly takes hold – like this weekend! Then you can put your feet up, read Classic Motoring in peace, and ponder on your classic plans for 2017!



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