Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your Billy Goat equipment away. Brushcutters, debris loaders, and vacuums can be used to finish projects before the spring rush. However, you may run into some problems if you try to use them the same way you do in the summer. Here’s what you need to know to keep your equipment working in low temperatures.
Fresh fuel is important all year, but it has added importance when temperatures dip. Winter gasoline blends are more volatile, which means they evaporate more easily at low temperatures. This makes it easier to start the engine. Instead of treating fuel with a stabilizer and buying it every two or three months, try to limit fuel purchases to a month’s supply or less. This guarantees you’ll have fresh, easy-to-ignite fuel for your engine.
When operating in low temperatures, your Billy Goat’s engine may need a thinner oil to get adequate lubrication. Each engine manufacturer has their own recommendations for their products:
– Honda recommends 5W-30 or 10W30 for cold weather use. Single weight oils like SAE 30 are only approved for use above 50°F.
– Subaru Power recommends 10W-30 for temperatures as low as 10°F, and 5W-30 for use below 32°F.
– Briggs & Stratton recently revised their oil recommendations for their own engines, as well as those in their commercial Vanguard line. They recommend synthetic 5W30 or 10W30 for all temperatures, conventional 10W30 for use as low as 32°F, and 5W30 conventional oil for temperature below 40°F. Vanguard 15W50 synthetic can be used at temperatures as low as 20°F.
Using Electric Starters
On one hand, thick oil and low temperatures make it harder to start an engine. On the other hand, battery output decreases as temperatures drop. At 14°F, a lead-acid battery can only produce half of its rated cranking amps. This can make it difficult or impossible to get the engine to start on electric power.
If you only plan on using your equipment occasionally, keep the battery indoors. If you use it frequently, consider using a battery warming blanket. By keeping the cells warm, the battery will have a higher output.
Constant cranking will burn out the starter motor. After cranking the starter for 5 seconds, wait 10 seconds before trying again.
If the electric starter won’t work, or the battery is weak, you can always start the engine by hand. Billy Goat’s electric start models, including their brush mowers, debris loaders and leaf blowers, all have backup recoil starters. To start the engine, pull the recoil starter gently until you feel resistance. Give the handle a hard pull to kick over the engine.
Carburetors use a choke to restrict airflow. This makes the air/fuel ratio richer by adding less air, which helps the engine warm up. Once the engine is warm, the added fuel reduces power. Opening the choke returns the air/fuel mixture back to normal, so your machine is ready to work.
You may barely notice this happening on automatic choke engines in the summer, while manual chokes can be opened after running for a few seconds. In the winter, these warm up times can last several minutes. On manual choke engines, gradually open the choke as the engine warms up. The engine should run smoothly with an open choke before you use your equipment. On engines with fuel injectors or an automatic choke, the equipment should run smoothly under load. If the engine bogs down when you engage the transmission or other components, it needs more time to warm up.
Protecting Yourself from Cold
Weather exposure can take a serious toll on your body. Choosing the right clothing and taking frequent breaks will help you stay alert and reduce the chances of getting frostbite.
– Wear warm layers and maintain complete skin coverage to reduce skin exposure. Balance out layers, keeping yourself warm without sweating.
– Loose clothing can get caught in moving parts on your equipment. You’re better off wearing a balaclava to protect your head instead of a hat and scarf.
– If spilled gasoline lands on a hot engine, it can start a fire. When you need to refuel, take a break. This gives time for the engine to cool and gives time for you to warm up.
– Don’t forget to factor in wind. When checking the weather, pay attention to wind chill. Anything below -15°F will cause frostbite within a half hour. If you’re using a riding debris loader, you’re adding an additional 5-10 MPH to the total wind speed.
We’re Always Here to Help You With Your Equipment
No matter what you own, if it’s Billy Goat, you can get parts for it from www.billygoatparts.com. We’re a certified dealer for Billy Goat and their manufacturing partners including Honda Engines, Subaru Power and Briggs & Stratton. That means you can get replacement parts for anything on your equipment as well as OEM accessories. We ship across the United States and Canada.