Of all the maintenance we do to these machines one of the most important procedures we do is winterizing them. For those folks who are not fortunate enough to live in the south where winter riding can be fun, it might be the most important and perhaps the most neglected maintenance we do.
The various fluids in the bikes break down, become contaminated, or loose their effectiveness by the process of simply doing their job. What is worse is some become destructive when they break down.
Glycol anti-freeze breaks down to become a progressively stronger acid through use. The dissimilar metals in the cooling system in contact with that acid form a simple wet cell battery, eating away the less noble metals in the system, in this case aluminum and the magnesium that is alloyed into it.(as much as 3 %). A flush with clean distilled water, (which is cheaper than bottled drinking water) followed by fresh 50% glycol mix using distilled water just before storage will prevent a lot of deterioration in the cooling system over the winter.
Motor oil breaks down at an alarming rate on these bikes, there are lots of threads discussing that. That means that the protective additives as well as the lubricating properties fail. What is more, there is a continuous stream of combustion gasses that sneaks past the piston rings even on a fresh engine. That is why all engines have crankcase ventilation systems. The products of combustion in these gasses are very complex in chemistry but most importantly, they are quite corrosive and condense out in the oil . (That is why exhaust systems deteriorate so quickly when left to sit.) I once read a scientific paper that maintained that used crankcase oil was one of the most complex compounds know to man. In attempting to analyze it the writer found substances that were unknown, but in such quantities and with a lack of repetition that made them impossible to analyze. Most important was the high levels of strong acids, and when ethanol is part of the fuel this gets even worse.
There are a number of parts in these engines that are very easily damaged by acids. The soft alloys in the engine bearings are the most susceptible to attack but all the internals are susceptible to some degree. On the GL1200 that poor defenseless stator is a sitting duck.
Gasoline, especially ethanol blends, separate, form varnishes and sludge, and absorb moisture from the air to coat, plug and corrode the fuel system. There are some really excellent fuel stabilizers that have been discussed on these forums that prevent this. Running some MMO or Seafoam or my favorite, some Type III outboard motor oil in the last tank of fuel will coat the carbs, upper cylinders, inlet valves and fuel pump with a nice protective film of oil. The outboard motor guys often use a fogging oil to coat everything including the exhaust internals with a protective film just before layup.
So, my suggestion, if you love you bike is to tuck it into bed properly with fresh fluids and not let it sit a whole winter in it's own #*%#@. There are other parts of winterization that are important, such as ensuring the battery is topped up and connected to a battery tender, a wax job, cover etc. and some things others might add, but fluids are the most important. Even flushing the brake and clutch systems would not be excessive if you live in a moist environment since brake fluid can be quite hydroscopic.
SilverDave suggested on another thread to drain and refill the crankcase with a low additive diesel oil, (15W40, by Walmart or Canadian Tire, or whatever brand would do) Run it till warm, and then put it to bed. In the spring, warm it up, drain and refill with the oil of your choice.
I'm sure others can add more, but the point is the same. Although our thought are moving to other things, this it the time to love it and leave it for a while, but most of all love it and pamper it.
Technical information and Q&A applicable to all years and models of Goldwings
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