An annual ritual was completed today, when I put my 1967 Alfa Romeo away for the winter. I’ve followed the same basic checklist for a number of years, on this car as well as on my previously owned collectibles. The success rate has been very good, with all the cars eagerly starting up on first try once the spring weather returns. I’ve been spared any issues with dead batteries, flat-spotted tires, or gummy fuel systems, by completing a few steps which are quite simple to do.
Friday, November 6, 2015, was unusually warm in New Jersey, so it was a good day to take the Alfa for one more brief maintenance run before beginning the winterization process. The car ran superbly, as it has since I bought it in the spring of 2013. Once back home, I added about 4 ounces of Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer, then headed to my local Shell station to top off the tank.
The Sta-Bil was added first in order to better blend it with the fuel. Purchasing the 6 gallons I need to fill the tank ensured that the stabilizer would be more thoroughly blended. If I had added the Sta-Bil after the fill-up, it would be less likely to completely mix with the fuel in the tank. I always store the car with a completely full fuel tank, as this minimizes the chance of condensation on the inside of the tank walls. I let the car idle for 5 minutes or so, in order for the gasoline/Sta-Bil combination to circulate through the carburetors.
The Sta-Bil label recommends that the product be used within two years of opening it, and since I use it in the Mazda Miata, the lawn mower, weed trimmer, and snow thrower, I don’t have too much of an issue consuming a 32 oz. bottle within that time frame.
Next on the list were the tires, specifically, resetting the pressures. Because I let my cars sit on the garage floor during the winter, the car’s weight continues to bear down on the tires. It would be better to get the car up on 4 jack stands, remove the tires, and store them horizontally, but I have found this method avoids all that. I overinflate the tires, being careful to stay within the maximum pressure on the tire’s sidewall. The 155-15 Vredesteins on the Alfa indicate a maximum pressure of 51 psi, significantly above my driving pressure of around 26-28 psi. I decided on 40 psi, and all tires were pumped up to that.
Part of the winter ritual is a fresh oil and filter change. However, given that the Alfa got that done just several hundred miles ago, I didn’t do that today. Instead, the car was backed into its garage bay, all windows were rolled up, and the battery kill switch was turned to “off”. The car was once again cocooned under its cover, and except for attaching a Battery Tender, which will be done later in the weekend, the task was finished.
Last year, the car was up on four jack stands, as I spent much of the winter, and a good part of early spring, rebuilding the front suspension. There are no winter projects for the Alfa this year. Come spring, I will tune it up and change some filters, as I haven’t done that since first acquiring the car, when it had 54,000 miles. Hard to believe I’ve driven it 7,000 miles over three driving seasons. The car’s reliability all that time has been remarkable. Yes, there have been some hiccups, but it has never failed to get me where I was going, or get me back home. The plan is to continue that for 2016!
All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.