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XJWoody
01-31-2009, 22:32
I offer this thread as an examination of modern chain saws. I will limit its scope to gas-powered hand-held equipment, of the two-stroke persuasion. This is geared toward readers who may lack a broad knowledge of the subject, however it may be of some interest to more experienced users.

Chain saws currently available come in sizes ranging from tiny - 30cc, 1.7hp, 8#, to huge - 122cc, 8.6hp, 30#+. They are roughly split into two grades: Homeowner saws that cap out at around 60cc, and professional units that span the range.

Saws are designed for right hand operation. The operator grasps the front handlebar with their left hand, and the right hand operates the throttle and other controls adjacent to the rear handle. Some larger saws may have a wrap-around front handle, which allows a user to hold the saw from either side. These are often used in mountainous areas, where steep slopes affect the felling process. There are also ‘top-handle’ saws, which are designed for arborists for use while up in a tree, or from a lift bucket. Typically very compact and light, these specific-use saws have little application for normal woodcutting chores, and require the operator to be extra cautious during use.

In general terms, pro-grade equipment will offer better build quality, more robust controls, more advanced anti-vibration features, higher power to weight, longer service life, less complex maintenance & overhaul, and often have some interchangeability of parts. The homeowner-grade saws will typically be of lower initial cost, lower hp / #, and a little (or a lot) less quality. Each has its place, and users have their own requirements to evaluate while selecting a saw. A homeowner saw will last many years when used for its intended purposes (yard cleanup, moderate firewood cutting or light farm use.) If one needs to clear a large lot, or cut more than a couple cords of firewood per year, a professional-grade saw would be a better choice. With any small engine equipment, basic operator-level PMCS at the recommended frequency will extend the useful service life.

There are numerous manufacturers currently producing two-stroke equipment for the world & regional markets. I’ll be up front to say I own mostly Stihl, but have a couple Husqvarnas, and a small Dolmar saw. Stihl is the worldwide leader in sales and dealer coverage, with Husky, Echo, Dolmar and others bringing up the rear. Stihl and Husky (Husky's semi-twins are Jonsered, and their cousins are Poulan) have a manufacturing presence within the USA and Europe, Dolmar (and their twins sold by their parent company Makita) is made in Germany. Certain once-famous US brands (McCulloch and Homelite, specifically) are being made offshore, and are good examples of cheap Chi-com junk. Be mindful of which shore the stuff is coming from. I like to support local dealers of the major brands, who will support my purchases after the sale. Buying saws off the Internet will often provide limited warranty assistance, and possibly zero local dealer support. No matter which brand one decides upon, I suggest choosing a dealer like you would choose a spouse. They will be in it, with you, for the long haul.

Saws tend to be sold on “maximum guide bar size” and may be equipped with too much bar for the saw. This is where educated buyers can save themselves some aggravation or disappointment later on. Be honest in terms of requirements & expectations, and let that guide one towards a smart decision.

Guide bar lengths come in varying sizes ranging from 12” to 84”, with 14” to 24” being common. Selecting a suitable guide bar depends on the power of the saw, and the capability of the operator. One can cut roughly twice the bar length if an occasional need arises. Cutting softwoods such as pine and fir is easier on the apparatus than harder species like oak and hickory… this also is a factor in selecting and equipping a saw. Longer bars being used to their maximum potential require more horsepower to work efficiently.

As a basic guide, I offer this range:

30-40cc using a 14”-16” for wood -+10”
40-55cc using a 16-18” for wood -+ 16”
55-65cc using a 16-20” for wood -+ 20”
70-80cc using a 20-32” for production and or big trees
80cc and beyond is for really big timber or milling lumber. Folks shopping this range generally need little guidance, and the model selection is pretty limited.

The above is pretty conservative, and certainly not set in stone. It also shows my east-coast (flatlander with mostly hardwoods) bias towards shorter bars. Taller users may favor longer guide bars, as it lets them work without stooping over as much.

Chains come in several sizes, as well as different cutter shapes, widths & arrangements. One must match the bar groove width (gauge), chain drive link pitch and width (gauge), drive sprocket pitch, bar nose sprocket pitch, and number of drive links (bar length) together. If mismatched, these parts may not even fit up, but if they do, they will not play well together. Most bars will have the pertinent data stamped upon it, normally on the end closest to the powerhead. Some guide bars lack a sprocket-nose tip. These can be used for any pitch chain, as long as the gauge –and drive sprocket- is compatible. Note that Stihl has different bar stud patterns and oil passage journals than the Husky family and Dolmar. Unmodified, off the shelf guide bars are brand-specific.

3/8” Picco Micro or 3/8” LP (both .365” nominal pitch) low profile is found on the smallest saws.
.325” pitch comes in two gauges, NK (narrow kerf) and .063” (Stihl mid-size)
3/8” pitch has three gauges, .050” (common to any brand) .058” (Husky/Jred specific) and .063” (Stihl, typically PNW region)
Large saws may have a .404” pitch, .063” gauge.

Common cutter shapes & uses include round chisel for clean wood. Round semi-chisel is less aggressive, but tends to stay sharp longer in dirty or dead wood. Square-ground chisel chain is very aggressive in clean wood, but has a more involved process to sharpen. No woodcutting chain will tolerate contact with the ground, rocks, or other debris. My policy is such that if I even think I over-cut and nicked Mother Earth, I stop, inspect, and re-sharpen. Often, the thrown wood chips will tell on a dull chain. Sharp chains cut nice big flakes, similar in appearance to oatmeal, while dull chains tend to make powdery dust. A chain installed backwards will also cut (sort of) but makes dust and smoke as it hammers through the wood. A small saw with sharp teeth would potentially out cut a much larger saw with dull cutters.

Chains will stretch over time, and tension is adjusted via a screw on the sprocket cover adjacent to the bar nuts (sometimes this screw will be found on the front of the saw, beside the bar.) The drill is pretty simple: Unlock the chain brake, loosen the bar nuts, turn the screw to increase or decrease tension, and retighten the nuts. I apply some upward pressure to the bar as I am setting tension, to simulate the forces on the bottom edge of the bar as it contacts the wood. A chain that has proper tension will travel freely (by hand) in the guide bar groove, with a little resistance. At the center point of the bar, one should be able to pull the chain away to expose about ˝ of a drive tooth. A chain that is too loose will sag away from the bar, and one that is too tight will be very difficult to turn by hand. Some modern saws have "tool-less" chain tension devices. That feature may appear handy until one pinches (sticks) their saw. What would be a minor hassle to remove the sprocket cover and free the saw head can become an impossible nightmare, and a job for a second saw, axe etc… With the older style manual adjuster, one can free the saw head, install a spare bar/chain, and liberate the stuck bar. Should one get the bar stuck, avoid wrenching & wrestling with it. This could bend the bar, damage the chain, or wreck the saw. A light-duty cutter (or one who never-ever gets their saw pinched) may be well served with a tool-less adjuster, but I prefer to stick with the non-complex manual apparatus.

Along the sharp chains track, I’ll mention that “yard trees” (or fence line trees) can often contain embedded debris like wire, bullets, nails, lag bolts, abandoned chain saw bars, etc, that can wreak havoc on your chain and could cause personal injury to self or a bystander. Often these hazards present with no advance warning, so really all one can do is be aware of the potential.

Shorter guide bars usually have chain with alternating cutting teeth every link. Longer bars and chains come with this same cutting tooth arrangement, but are often found with a “skip tooth” or “semi-skip” arrangement. These have blank links in the mix. This allows wood chips to be more effectively cleared from the cut, although taking longer to saw through. The skip and semi-skip arrangement is usually found on saws with guide bars that are over 24” length.

Some chains are equipped with carbide-tipped cutter teeth. These are intended for fire/rescue services, or for cutting extremely dirty wood like cross-ties, power poles, stumps, roots etc. It is expensive, must be sharpened with a diamond wheel, and presents an extra hazard from shrapnel if part of a tooth detaches.

continued

XJWoody
01-31-2009, 22:33
Often I hear of low-kickback chains being called “safety chain.” This is a misnomer, as there is very little inherent safety. It’s design is such that as the chain travels around the top & front of the bar tip (from 0° to 90° as viewed from the right side) there are “bumpers” (humps) in between the cutter teeth which restrict how deep the teeth can bite. This helps limit rotational effects known as kickback. Most standard chains lack these bumpers, and will take a “normal” bite as it travels around the top & front of the tip. Low-kickback bars tend to have a smaller nose radius, which decreases the size of the 0°-90° kickback zone by maximizing the effect of the bumpers. Within the Stihl family, their low-kickback chains and bars are color-coded green, and their others are coded yellow. Both styles can cause horrific injuries if allowed to contact flesh.

Saws and other two-stroke tools are pretty basic in terms of care and maintenance requirements. Well cared for, a good-quality saw should give many hours of reliable service. The basics include always using fresh high-octane fuel mixed with quality oil, at the proper ratio. This is typically 50:1 for modern-era equipment. With the addition of ethanol into pump gasoline, mixed two-stroke fuel has a useful life of three months or less. Stale gas will cause engine problems (and potential for catastrophic failure) if it is used, and one should never use gas with more than 10% ethanol. There are a few ways to mitigate or eliminate the effects of ethanol, including using high-octane fuel and then only mixing up only enough for the task at hand. One can also purchase 100LL AVGAS at the local FBO, or racing gasoline from a track or speed shop. There are also long-life synthetic fuels being sold under the trade name 50fuel or 40fuel in CONUS (which comes premixed with synth. oil at 50:1 or 40:1) or Aspen in the EU & Canada. These have some favorable characteristics, but come with a high purchase price and small (1qt.) retail packaging. One usually cannot get away with running unmixed fuel. An extremely lucky user might get one tankful of raw gas through the engine, but the rest of us will cook that goose, and soon be shopping at the New Piston Store. A great practice is to add the proper amount of oil to the fuel container at home, prior to fetching the fuel. If one has similar or identical containers, take steps to clearly ID the contents within.

The sawyer needs to inspect and service the air filter every so often (every few tanks, or once a day) Simply pop the cover off, remove the filter, and tap/brush/blow off the debris. Once a year one should probably replace the fuel filter & spark plug.

Maintenance typically requires very little in the way of tools. Normally the bar attachment nuts are 13mm or 19mm, and the chain tension is set with a flat-bladed screwdriver. Stihl equipment has an abundance of T-27 Torx head bolts, while Huskys have an assortment of metric hex screws. Tools are available (which normally come with the unit and tend to grow legs. Two is one, and one is none.) that combine the bar nut & spark plug wrench with a screwdriver or Torx driver. One might need a small flat-blade driver to adjust the idle speed and fuel mixture for operation at varying altitudes. A basic “tune-up” involves nothing more than inspecting, cleaning, or replacing the air filter, spark plug, fuel filter, spark arrestor screen, performing guide bar & chain maintenance, and having a look at the chain drive sprocket wear. Air filter service and chain tension is constant (daily++ inspection & maintenance.) One should regularly clean out accumulated debris from behind the covers & shrouds, and blow out around the engine cylinder cooling fins.

Chains are maintained in the field with properly-sized round hand files or a task-specific bench grinder can be used when the teeth are extremely dull, filed unevenly, or damaged from debris impact. The files are sized for each type/style of cutter, and a flat file is used to lower the rakers down in relation to the cutter. Chain manufacturers sell files with angle and depth guides to assist those new to sharpening chains. Problems with a saw cutting diagonally vs vertical are usually a case of an unevenly sharpened chain. It is also a good idea to flip the guide bar over every so often, so the surfaces get equal wear. This also gives one a 50% opportunity to be chided for having the ‘blade on upside down’.

Problems can arise if the operator has a heavy touch. Forcing the saw through the cut and bogging it down creates a lot of heat within the clutch & drive, and can lead to premature failure of these components. Along these lines, revving the saw excessively with the chain-brake locked will create a lot of unnecessary heat and should be avoided. Saw engines are designed to run at 100% power under load… feathering the throttle in the cut is not good. Also screaming the engine at WOT under no load is a bad practice. If one is checking maximum RPMs with a hand tachometer as part of the tuning process, red-lining the engine has to be done, but one should be brief about it, and avoid excessive no load trigger-happiness.

Since the internal engine bearings and rotating assembly rely on the fuel mix for lubrication, letting the fuel run dry under a load is a bad practice and can lead to a lean seizure. Additionally, any air leaking into the engine (through failing crankshaft seals, cylinder base gasket, or the intake area) can also lead to a piston seizure caused by an overly lean air/fuel mixture. A properly tuned saw engine is crucial for optimum performance and reliability. One who is unfamiliar with setting fuel/air mixture should have their saw ‘tuned’ by an experienced technician at least once during the cutting season.

Storage is pretty simple. If it were to be packed away for long-term, or for shipping, I’d drain & flush out the oil tank, then the fuel tank, then start the saw and let it idle dry. This helps purge trapped bar oil from the passages, and gently runs the fuel in the line & carburetor out. I leave the caps off the tanks for a day or three to purge any vapors. For shorter-term storage, I simply drain the fuel and idle it dry.

Bar oil is specially blended for adhesion and minimizing wear. Used engine or gear oil is not a good substitute for several reasons, including toxicity, and suspended abrasive particles. Virgin automotive or industrial gear oils are better bad choices if that’s all one has available.

If one had a special requirement for a light environmental footprint (cutting adjacent to –or in- a sensitive watershed, such as ones own fish pond) common vegetable oil can be used in lieu of petroleum-based bar oil. There is biodegradable oil available COTS if one had a continuous requirement, but for limited specific use, HH6’s favorite brand will do.

Bar oil is metered out in proportion to the fuel used. Some saws have an externally adjustable oil pump which can increase the flow to accommodate longer bars. Most saws are preset, and often the setting will use one tank of bar oil to one tank of fuel. Filling both tanks at the same time keeps things in harmony, and be mindful which fluid goes where. Bar oil in the front tank and fuel mix in the rear tank is a common arrangement, but be clear on this before you pour. It goes without saying to insure the tank caps are secured after refilling... Stihl's new-style caps are extra-easy to befoul and this leads to oily or flammable messes and a blasphemous operator.

All two-stroke oils are not created equal. Blends for outboards, snowmobiles, and other liquid-cooled engines are not made to the same specification as those designed for air-cooled equipment. I like Stihl HP Ultra at 50:1, a fully synthetic and biodegradable oil designed for saws and other small OPE. Husqvarna XP oil is similar. If one strays too far from the manufacturers recommendations on mix oil, bad & expensive things can occur. JASO FB or API TC/TC+ is a good rating standard to look for when selecting a mix-oil that isn’t OPE specific.

Most, if not all saws currently available are equipped with a baffle or screen to prevent sparks from escaping the muffler. These devices are required to operate a saw or other motorized equipment on public lands, and are a good idea for operation anywhere, especially when conditions for a fire are favorable. Periodic maintenance to the screen involves removing any accumulated carbon or debris. Good quality mix oil and proper ratios drastically reduce carbon build-up. An added benefit to a spark screen is that it prevents mud wasps, or other uninvited guests from taking up residence within the muffler or engine during the off-season.

Chainsaws by design are quite perilous, even when everything is done right. Common sense, proper techniques, education, and familiarity with ones equipment can help minimize the risks involved, but one should be clear that it’s serious business. Thought before action, and constant attention to changing conditions are essential tasks. Basic situational awareness is key.

continued

XJWoody
01-31-2009, 22:35
I consider the following to be a minimum requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE): Leather boots, leather gloves, safety glasses, and foam earplugs. I normally wear protective chaps, and a face screen with muffs. If overhead hazards exist, I’ll wear a hard hat with screen/muffs, and I prefer to have an extra pair of eyes looking out until things are grounded. If I am sawing alone, I like to keep a telephone handy, and I keep a basic first aid kit (mainly a Cederroth Bloodstopper dressing) on my belt. PPE is no replacement for common sense, but adds a layer of protection that can reduce the severity of an injury. Saw chains are pretty filthy, so even a nick might fester up. A current tetanus booster is a plus. Protective chaps or pants consist of several layers of finely stranded synthetic material, and are covered by coarse Cordura nylon. They function by winding around and stopping the saw’s drive mechanism, ideally before it gets to carving ones meat. If it’s successful in stopping the saw without injury, you’ll have a mess to clean up before the saw will function… On the other hand, if they fail, or are left hanging in the tool shed, someone else will have a mess to clean up, with no guarantees on functionality. 9-layer chaps are $75 approx, my BC&BS E.R. co-pay is $200, so it isn’t a hard choice for me.

Fatigue and dehydration are issues to be aware of… both have negative effects on clarity and judgment. Unless things are “an emergency,” if the sawyer finds they have slipped into a drone-zone, it’s wise to park the saw for the day, or at least take a break to stretch out, water up, maintain the saw, and regroup.

There is big change coming in the world of saws/OPE. OSHA has already forced the manufacturers to quiet the noise levels. EPA regulations on emissions and EU standards on vibration levels are requiring them to completely revamp their products to comply. Enhanced anti-vibe is not a bad thing, as it allows an operator to stay at the task longer and with less fatigue. The emission output targets have been in place since 2007, but companies were able to offset their sales of gross-polluters (typically larger pro saws sold in low numbers) with higher volume sales of clean & green equipment. This carbon credit offset, “cap in trade” deal is done in 2010.

Stihl has approached their solution with hybrid 4-stroke motors (4-Mix) for trimmers & blowers, and with “stratocharged” two-strokes that re-circulate some of the exhaust gas back into the combustion process. Their first available Strato saw is the MS441, but there are several smaller homeowner-grade saws hitting the shelves in various regions. They have also delved into self-adjusting carburetors that prevent an enthusiast/operator from monkeying with the fuel/air mixture settings. The whole lineup will very shortly be revamped to comply. Husqvarna and others have their own methods & solutions, including mufflers equipped with catalytic elements, and self-adjusting carbs.

As an unapologetic troglodyte, I like my loud toys loud, smoky, and dangerous. What these evolving regulations mean is that if one has a need or desire to purchase a new “old-tech” piece of equipment, 2009 is the time to get one. 2010 is bringing change we can believe in, so we can all look forward to holding hands under the rainbow, and tickling the happy trees with our eco-friendly chainsaws.

In summation, I hope this thread has covered the basics of selecting and caring for a chainsaw. I deliberately avoided much about technique, since I feel myself unqualified to offer anything beyond the basics. If one has an interest in learning more, the USFS offers various levels of sawyer training. I took a course to become certified as an apprentice sawyer. The course was held in Troy NC, and was which was geared towards off-road and equestrian enthusiasts doing volunteer trail clean-ups within the local National Forests. It was pretty basic in nature, but I managed to un-learn some bad habits, and it exposed me to quality pro-grade equipment.

I’d like to credit the ArboristSite.com chainsaw forum as my main source reference, along with thanking Andy N. aka Lakeside53 for copious topical wisdom and Lee B. aka Plant Biologist for helping with the editing of the text.

Some suggested sources for further subject knowledge include:

www.ArboristSite.com A great website for those working in the tree trades, or the unfortunate few who’ve been bitten by the saw bug.
www.Stihl.com High quality US and German-made OPE.
www.usa.husqvarna.com High quality Swedish-made OPE.
www.dolmarpowerproducts.com High quality German-made OPE, also sold under the Makita brand in different distribution channels.
www.usa.jonsered.com Sister company to Husqvarna, they share several models with some minor differences.
www.baileysonline.com Mail order/Internet saw parts, supplies, chains, climbing gear etc…founded by Bill Bailey, who was an old-school west-coast logger and US Paratrooper. It remains a family-owned and operated business, based in Laytonville, CA.
www.oregonchain.com Oregon, a manufacturer of saw chain, guide bars, and other allied products.
www.sawchain.com Carlton, another manufacturer of chain, bars etc…

JJ_BPK
02-01-2009, 06:54
Thanks,, Here in the Conch Republic, we use chain saws infrequently. Palms de-foliate naturally. The hardwoods like Buttonwood don't get real good feed, so they are very slow growers. The Melaleuca, Sea Grape, Brazilian Pepper,and other soft woods are usually kept low or eliminated, as they are fodder for wind storms.

But we do need them. Think Hurricanes,, lots of things fall down in the streets,, and your yard.. No joke, after Georges in 98', the wood we cut-corded in my neighborhood could have kept Minnesota warm for a month,, well maybe Miami.. It was a lot,, took us a couple days.

I've have an old Poulan (fixed) 260, yellow pro series, 14-16 " bar. I was told to be careful to buy the older American built,, and that was 10-14 yrs ago.

It has done yeoman's work,, but she didn't crank last fall, when I wanted to trim my Mahogany. Had to barrow the neighbors..

This note is very timely.. Thanks..

If you don't mind, I would like to send it to my local friends.. it's that time of the year when we start getting ready for storm season,, at least the ones who do what should be done.. :cool:

Defender968
02-01-2009, 09:00
Thanks,, Here in the Conch Republic, we use chain saws infrequently. Palms de-foliate naturally. The hardwoods like Buttonwood don't get real good feed, so they are very slow growers. The Melaleuca, Sea Grape, Brazilian Pepper,and other soft woods are usually kept low or eliminated, as they are fodder for wind storms.

But we do need them. Think Hurricanes,, lots of things fall down in the streets,, and your yard.. No joke, after Georges in 98', the wood we cut-corded in my neighborhood could have kept Minnesota warm for a month,, well maybe Miami.. It was a lot,, took us a couple days.

I've have an old McCulloch, yellow pro series, 16"?? bar, forgot the model. I was told to be careful to buy the older American built,, and that was 10-14 yrs ago.

It has done yeoman's work,, but she didn't crank last fall, when I wanted to trim my Mahogany. Had to barrow the neighbors..

This note is very timely.. Thanks..

If you don't mind, I would like to send it to my local friends.. it's that time of the year when we start getting ready for storm season,, at least the ones who do what should be done.. :cool:

JJ_BPK before you take your McCulloch in I'd like to make a suggestion if I may. I worked at an Ace Hardware in their small engine repair shop for a couple of years in high school, we serviced/repaired McCulloch, Echo, and Homelite 2 cycle equipment (as well as all 4 cycle stuff) so I'm pretty familiar with repairing them. Most small engines are very simple and are usually very easy to get back into running condition when they stop with a little work (obviously this in not the case with some catastrophic damage but I'll get into that later if need be). If you haven't done so the first 3 things I would do would be to replace the spark plug, air filter, and internal fuel filter. The spark plug and air filter are very simple and should be self explanatory, to change the fuel filter you'll need a piece of wire that you can bend a hook in, put it into the tank and pull the filter out. That will solve probably 2/3s of most people’s problems, if that doesn't work I'd check to make sure you're getting spark. Easiest way to do this if you don't know is to take the plug out, put a screw driver in the plug socket and touch it to the block, (don't put the screw driver into the spark plug hole, could do bad things, and don't hold onto the screw driver when you pull the rope or you'll get a little shock) pull the rope and see if you have a spark (if you’re a gear head they make a little tool for this but I have no idea what they cost now probably more than getting the saw serviced), if you get a spark, then the most likely issue will be the carb. A carb rebuild kit is very easy to install, I would start by just installing the 2 rubber gaskets (pay attention when you take them out and put the new ones in the same way as the old ones came out, that will likely get you back up and running, if not there is a needle with a small/thick o-ring type gasket in the kit that goes below the needle, that will need to be swapped out, the easiest way to get it out is to use compressed air, if you need/desire to go that far I can pull a carb and take some pictures of where to put the air nozzle to get that little gasket to pop out. If/when you get that out you need to make sure the new gaskets flat side is facing out with the round side with the small seam faces away from the needle. Now if you put the do all of the above and it’s still not running it’s possible you have bigger issues, next most common are the magneto going bad but you’ll know that when you do the spark test, after that you’re probably talking major internal damage, though if you mix your gas properly that’s probably not the case.


Let me know if you need/want the pictures.

When I was working at Ace we did what we called check ups which cost about 50 bucks, which was basically just putting a new air/fuel filter, new plug, fresh gas in and sharpening the chain, usually took less than an hour and got more than 2/3s of saws back up and running.

The Reaper
02-01-2009, 09:26
Great thread, thanks XJWoody!

TR

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 09:36
Thanks for mentioning storm clean-up. I grew up in the countryside west of Boston, so our saw use was 98% firewood harvesting, and 2% debris clean up. Dad had an older (70s) ProMac something or other, approx 60cc -80cc class. It was a pretty coarse piece of kit, but it was reliable, and pretty much state of the art for it's era. Mr H can no doubt relate, and I bet he still has an oversized thumb from mashing the chain oiler.

When Hurricane Fran blew through NC some years ago, we lost a number of larger oaks. Several didn't fall completely, and were snagged by otherwise healthy trees. I was equipped with close to zero skills, and a little Husky 41, but we slogged through the mess and netted a few years worth of wood to burn. In hindsight, I was way out of my league, under equipped, and quite lucky I didn't get squashed or filleted. The extent of my PPE was a pair of gloves, Oakleys, and workboots. It was summertime, so I can imagine shorts and a tee rounded out the duty uniform. After a couple sessions, I taped some foam pipe insulation to the front handlebar to fend off vibration (which conflicted with the chain brake, so it was defeated with a zip-tie. :D FUBAR, soup sammich, high-order jackassery etc... Live & learn? Absolutely. I share this as a good example of bad practices. I was "that guy" in full regalia.

I shall work up a section on troubleshooting, since even with meticulous care, sometimes our junk just won't light off. There are a few steps to follow, and they apply to most any internal combustion engine. It may not ultimately help one fix the issue, but it should get them pointed towards resolving it.

If I may inquire of the currently-serving QPs, if your team has a saw on inventory, what brand/model is it? Is there a standard-issue NSN piece, or is it something that would be local-purchased based on need? I can't imagine that a team with a tropical focus would have the same requirements as a team that works in the frozen tundra, but the Army works in mysterious ways. I would think the primary uses might include clearing a camp site or LZ, field construction of structures, and creation or reduction of obstacles. If this is a breach of TTP, I'll go do some log PT. I don't really have need to know, and I'd hate to be the next cat that curiosity killed.

Don

Peregrino
02-01-2009, 10:23
Great thread, NTM timely. Your profile says "Moore County". Who has the best small engine shop in the Aberdeen/SP area? I've resurrected my Stihl enough times that it needs a professional touch (or a stake through the carb). Spring is fast approaching and all my 2-cycle engines need serviced. I've about reached the conclusion that extended periods of disuse cause more problems than anything other than flagrant abuse.

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 11:07
Despite our best efforts to the contrary, there are times when a piece of equipment refuses to start. I'd like to expand a bit on what Defender968 posted above. (He was spot on BTW)

Most gasoline-powered equipment has three basic requirements to run: Air, fuel, and spark.

The air is the easiest to check & rule out. Inspect the air filter and clean as necessary. Peer into the carb while the filter is off to insure there are no obstructions. Operate the choke controls and observe (there would be a metal plate that rotates when this control is engaged, blocking off the airway.) Also operate the throttle trigger and insure it's not sticking or that the linkage is disconnected. One could leave the filter and shroud off for the next steps, but do reinstall these before normal operation.

Fuel (more specifically, fuel and air under compression) is the next thing to check. A quick & dirty compression check is to hold the saw up, grasp the starter handle, and let the saw drop. With "good" compression, the saw should hang, or very slowly drop. (blup.......blup......blup etc) If the saw freely drops or offers little resistance, something is worn internally. (Blupblupblupblup) Of course, if the internals are locked up, the rope wont pull, and the show is over until those issues are addressed.

Some pro-grade saws have a compression release device on the top or side of the cylinder. It's function is to allow for an easier pull when starting. If this device is engaged or stuck open, there is no hope of getting good compression, and the engine will likely not run. Rule this out.

A compression gauge may give a closer idea what's going on inside, but these diagnostic tools vary in application. A saw has a very small volume, so an automotive gauge may give falsely-low readings on a small engine. In a nutshell, 180psi would be outstanding, down to about 130-140 psi is serviceable, and below 125psi indicates the chestnuts are roasted. If the compression is very low, one could remove the muffler and carburetor, then slowly rotate the crank and observe the condition of the piston, rings, and cylinder bore. If things appear pretty smooth, or just lightly scuffed, that is good. If it appears to have spent it's summer vacation in Mogadishu... bad news & steel yourself up for a visit to the New Engine Store.

If the saw has an unobstructed airway, holds good compression, and has known good fuel, the only thing left is to check for spark. Remove the spark plug and inspect it (or if in doubt, replace with a new one) it should have only light brown deposits on it. Dark oily deposits indicate an overly rich condition, and one that is very white indicates a lean condition. "Reading" a two-stroke plug is somewhat voodoo science, so I default to swapping in a fresh part.

While the plug is removed, it's a good idea to pull the engine through a few times to purge any accumulated fuel. One might have to invert the saw, and pull, just to insure that no fuel has pooled up in the valley below the crankshaft. If one has flooded the engine badly, it may take several hours to clear it out. (Pull awhile, let it sit, repeat as necessary.) Once things are sufficiently dried out, confirm that the kill switch is in the "run" position, attach a known good spark plug to the lead wire, ground the plug electrode against the cylinder (this may take several hands, or rigging up some apparatus) and pull the starter. One should see a bright blue spark at each revolution. As Def968 advises, do not become part of the ground path. Letting your spouse or children hold the plug is an option :eek: However these folks may be caring for you in your old age, so memories of Grandpa's workshop should probably not include high-voltage. Failure to achieve a nice fat spark indicates something is amiss with the electronics (The kill-switch is in the 'run' position, yes?) Older saws & tools had points & condenser that could fry, wear, or come out of adjustment, but new equipment is pretty much a case of it's working or it's not.

Some equipment has an air-purge bulb ('primer') that forces the air out of the carburetor passages. Like anything rubber or plastic, it will degrade over time. If this is inop or leaking, it's fairly easy and inexpensive to replace. Same applies for fuel lines. These are also sacrificial parts, and especially so with ethanol blended with our gasoline.

If the saw runs, but seems to want to hold it's revs, or reluctantly idles back, this is not a new-found cruise control... It indicates an air leak somewhere which needs addressed ASAP. Your expensive tool is heading towards becoming a Chernobyl replica at a double-time. See "New Engine Store" above.

That's about it for two-stroke engines, at the very basic level. Snow-mos, watercraft, dirt-bike/quad engines etc... may have advanced sub-systems such as fuel injection, variable port timing ('power valves') and other features to increase performance, reliability, and control of noise or emissions. These all add complexity, and have their own specific procedures for troubleshooting.

Pete
02-01-2009, 11:23
A chain saw for most is a rarely used item. Was running fine when it was put in the back of the shed 3 years ago.

Ice storm, tree down, I know I've got one around here somewhere - pull and pull and pull and it never starts.:mad:

It's one of those things that runs best on fresh gas/oil.

Oh, and a sharp chain. Again, most get put away after use - and the chain is dull. A dremel tool with the chain kit and you can have it sharp as new in 10 minutes.

Edited to add - I own a Poulan and baby Homelite

The Reaper
02-01-2009, 11:24
I have to put in a good word for Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer.

My Stihl saw started and ran fine after sitting for four years with the same gas in it that had been stabilized. I would not recommend testing it for that long, but it should give you an idea of how well it works.

I have heard people say that you are better off leaving a little gas in the carb to keep seals from drying out and dust from getting into things.

TR

Bill Harsey
02-01-2009, 11:29
XJWoody,
Great post and a good reference to have on record here.

Could I offer a couple things from an Oregon perspective?

JJ_BPK
02-01-2009, 11:38
If you haven't done so the first 3 things I would do would be to replace the spark plug, air filter, and internal fuel filter. The spark plug and air filter are very simple and should be self explanatory, to change the fuel filter you'll need a piece of wire that you can bend a hook in, put it into the tank and pull the filter out. That will solve probably 2/3s of most people’s problems, if that doesn't work I'd check to make sure you're getting spark. Easiest way to do this if you don't know is to take the plug out, put a screw driver in the plug socket and touch it to the block, (don't put the screw driver into the spark plug hole, could do bad things, and don't hold onto the screw driver when you pull the rope or you'll get a little shock) pull the rope and see if you have a spark (if you’re a gear head they make a little tool for this but I have no idea what they cost now probably more than getting the saw serviced), if you get a spark, then the most likely issue will be the carb. A carb rebuild kit is very easy to install, I would start by just installing the 2 rubber gaskets (pay attention when you take them out and put the new ones in the same way as the old ones came out, that will likely get you back up and running, if not there is a needle with a small/thick o-ring type gasket in the kit that goes below the needle, that will need to be swapped out, the easiest way to get it out is to use compressed air, if you need/desire to go that far I can pull a carb and take some pictures of where to put the air nozzle to get that little gasket to pop out. If/when you get that out you need to make sure the new gaskets flat side is facing out with the round side with the small seam faces away from the needle. Now if you put the do all of the above and it’s still not running it’s possible you have bigger issues, next most common are the magneto going bad but you’ll know that when you do the spark test, after that you’re probably talking major internal damage, though if you mix your gas properly that’s probably not the case.


Let me know if you need/want the pictures.

When I was working at Ace we did what we called check ups which cost about 50 bucks, which was basically just putting a new air/fuel filter, new plug, fresh gas in and sharpening the chain, usually took less than an hour and got more than 2/3s of saws back up and running.


I chk'd,, it's a Poulan 260,, I knew it was yellow/black,, whoops..

I did 1 & 2 the day of.. I also put fresh gas in and liberally goosed it with either carb spray.

My thoughts at the time, was I need a carb re-build.. I purchased it from a guy that had it 4-5 yrs,, he cut one 3" maple and put it the cellar. I know it was maple, because the case and chain guide was packed full,, he never cleaned it. Otherwise it looked brand new. I've had it 10 yrs or better.. My concern was the carb re-build parts were long gone..

Anyone know if there are sources for Poulan 260 parts??

I will take a look at the internal filter..

I have Federal Jury Duty the next 2 weeks,, starts Monday,, I may get back to you after..

Thanks for the helpful note..

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 11:47
Great thread, NTM timely. Your profile says "Moore County". Who has the best small engine shop in the Aberdeen/SP area? I've resurrected my Stihl enough times that it needs a professional touch (or a stake through the carb). Spring is fast approaching and all my 2-cycle engines need serviced. I've about reached the conclusion that extended periods of disuse cause more problems than anything other than flagrant abuse.


Sir, I'd be reluctant to advise a small engine shop locally. I love my loud toys and place that in the same category as which hospital I'd like to admit my grandkids... D. None of the above.

Carthage Saw & Mower which is on 15-501, N side of town, across from the old Brathaus resturant building has helped me out of a jam, and is my go-to source for Stihl & Husky parts. I've had little contact with their service department, but they did get my Farm Boss back in action (a fouled up carb from poor storage) after it soundly defeated me.

I hesitate to talk bad, but the small engine shop on US1/15-501 near downtown Aberdeen incurred one (and only one) FTFSI violation. If I badly needed a new chain or some other doo-dad when I was down there, I might go back... but it would be under duress, and would certainly not make a special trip.

If one wanted to travel a bit, Amick's in Asheboro (Bus 220, N side of town) is a very good shop. They sell Stihl, Husky, Dolmar and several other name brands. I trust their competence and ethics, and they have always treated me fairly. That is the highest honor I could bestow on a shop. The snag is only that it's pretty inconvenient. At least they have Saturday hours, which is rare in that business.

I fully agree that even properly stored, equipment tends to go bad over time. Fuel lines and other rubber/plastic bits decay, seals become hardened and fail, electrical gremlins conspire, and (around here anyway) insects roost up in the nether-regions.

How much equipment are you talking about Sir? I am all about the "Teach a man to fish..." drill. I'm not a Pro (be very wary of a mechanic that "will work for beer") but I have an occasional fit of brilliance.

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 12:07
XJWoody,
Great post and a good reference to have on record here.

Could I offer a couple things from an Oregon perspective?

Mr Harsey,

Being that you have likely forgot more about saws and forestry operations than most of us will ever know, by all means please share with us what you feel relevant.

I'm looking forward to it, especially things that involve improvised tools, field expedient remedies & techniques etc...

Thanks!

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 13:09
JJ_BBK mentioned some tropical tree species from his AO... this reminded me of a tree guy from down under. He posted up some pictures of saws that were attacked by the sap from some sort of palm they encounter. Whatever was in that stuff, it was mighty unfriendly to the saws crankcase and other exposed metal parts. Quite literally, it dissolved the saw. Amazing, and something to keep in mind when considering a job, or when conducting post-op cleanup & PMCS.

Some tounge-in-cheek maxims:

In a case of saw vs tissue, always bet on the saw.

In a case of saw vs skidder, always bet on the Cat.

In a case of tree vs personnel, structures or equipment, smart money is on the tree. (Also heard as "Park where the fellers park, move your truck when the fellers move theirs.")

Bill Harsey
02-01-2009, 13:20
XJWoody,
Thanks but I'm just an Oregon kid who got to work in the timber for a while.

Your thread prompted me to remember a couple easy things to do to keep the work going better and this applies to military folks using saws in far away places like Kentucky.

The chisel bit chains cut very well but as you referred to, need to be sharpened with a machine grinder. This is why I usually use a round tooth that can be hand filed back to full sharp. I have seen only one or two men who can hand file a chisel bit chain and keep it cutting straight.

Note: a chisel bit chain can be round filed back to full sharp but it is no longer a chisel bit.

A chain that has been re-sharpened enough that it's about 1/3 rd of it's original tooth length will cut very fast.
I hate "anti-kickback" chain. It doesn't get as much work done for same running time.

Buy your chain files by the carton from a pro-shop and when the file is dull use a new one. At the very least wrap the end of your file with tape or use a file handle.

CUTTERS TIP!
Keep one or two extra chains, fully sharp, coiled up and individually wrapped in cloth shop towel in your kit or pack. This way you can change out a dull chain without having to hike out or go to town. Of course this means your saw wrenches are always with you too.
In some fibrous bark woods, like cedar, we would run the chain a little loose on purpose to keep it running free. Loose chains come off the bar pretty fast too.

As your statement about "mother earth" indicates, that stuff dulls chains fast.
Wood that has hit the ground picks up dirt and rock too. Use your 4 lb. axe (standard cutters size) to get the bark off if it's dirty and that's where the cut has to go.

I like the longer bar whenever possible because the user has some standoff from the cut. Watch the cut carefully while cutting, if it starts to close on the bar, more cutting is not going to make it better. Get the bar out fast and finish cut from other side. Sometimes a log is going to drive itself straight back together and one has to start another saw kerf to make enough room to keep cutting.
I think a longer bar lets the user stand up and see what else might be going on while cutting.
If a tree has other brush and wood bent over and pinned down underneath it,
cut this stuff loose with a lot of caution. This is not theory.

If you have a tree felled but standing off the ground because of its limbs or branches please carefully consider where you are going to stand and how you are going to cut those limbs off. This can be very dangerous stuff.

Always clear a path into and out of your work area so you can move fast if needed. The good cutters always have at least two ways out.

You can use another saw to cut out a stuck saw but try not have two saws stuck in the wood. It's embarrassing because the guy you get the third saw from will remember this for a long time.

Get some plastic falling wedges to keep in your saw kit. They can be driven into the kerf of your stuck saw with the 4 lb falling axe and will usually get the saw free.

Always watch the tip of your saw and see what it's going to touch. Turn the saw off and look if the log is too big to see all the way over it. The tip of the bar hitting something one doesn't see or expect is a source of kickback and every kickback I've had happens very fast.

Refer to the first aid section here for a good cut-kit. Sometimes doing everything right can still get you hurt. Please be careful.

Oh yeah, I always use Oregon brand saw chain. My brother works there. :D

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 14:23
Great points Sir.

My mentor referred to reading the log... or sizing up the 'binds' The wood fibers will be under compression or tension (either from gravity or by that plus external forces) and will tend to release energy in relation to that. Sometimes one encounters a tree with multiple binds to contend with... Like Mr Harsey's example of a tree suspended above the ground by its limbs. One tactic is to attack (a grounded tree) from the top down, thinning and clearing the lighter branches and working towards the main limbs and trunk. One can sometimes work on one side, and leave more substantial branch parts intact to act as a 'kickstand' of sorts.

Trees and limbs that are leafed out are considerably heavier than ones that have shed. Post storm conditions often add moisture to this (rain, ice, or snow) and will increase the forces involved.

Storm trees may also involve a partially uprooted substructure (root ball) and depending on it's mass, may want to stand back up. They don't mind passengers, and may bring the sawyer or ones equipment with them.

"Spring Poles" include limbs, saplings, or other trees that are trapped under a larger object. These can release with considerable force... or trigger other events. Use extreme care while dealing with this... I like to reduce those threats straight away, if at all possible.

In most cases, approach and reduce a fallen tree from the uphill side, and work facing downhill. My dad ran afoul of this once, bucking up a large pine trunk, and got rolled upon. Good times, and luckily our German Shepherd hung in there with him... barking and making a scene (probably pointing and laughing) until someone checked it out & freed him. He knew better, but sometimes folks do things.

A single-bit axe and some plastic wedges are pretty essential BII for the woodsman. If one forgot theirs, a club can be crafted from a small tree or branch, and wedges can be cut from the same. Not ideal, but at least the price is right, and the store is nearby. Another handy piece of kit is a Peavey or cant hook. This is basically just a lever with a claw, that is used to roll the logs. Some have an additional "foot" opposite the hook, that suspends the rolled log off the ground for sawing. Longer ones offer more leverage, and a strong pole and a fulcrum can sometimes do in a pinch.

Felling trees is sketchy business. Key is the establishment of a 'felling plan' and setting up several E & E routes... clear out any tanglefoot brush, note any other significant obstacles, and consider all the possibilities. Once it gets going, a tree is most likely going to fall and it certainly doesn't care where it lands, or what it does enroute.

Felling 'hazard trees' is no fun. These include standing dead, partially dead, lightning struck, hung live trees and the ones they are hung in (dominos) leaners, and so on. Not for the faint of heart, and often it's wise just to avoid messing with them if it's an option. Dead lasts a long time... There are no set rules as to how these might behave, so all I'll say is be extra-careful.

Bill Harsey
02-01-2009, 15:00
Good points on the hazards especially with all the ice downed trees and parts.

One important thing I learned about chainsaws from the years I spent logging here in Oregon.

Use the smallest saw that will get the job done.

That Stihl with the 120cc motor and 48 inch bar is going to kick anyones butt in small wood.

HOLLiS
02-01-2009, 15:07
Bill, Yes Oregon brand is the way to go. I have 3 Stihls and a McCulloch. I have for each saw a place where I hang my extra blades. Each saw has two spots one for new/sharp blades and one for "to be sharpened". I like to have about 5 blades per saw.

On my 361, I have two bars for it, a 24 in. and a 30 in.

I have a 170 with a 12 in Bar same as my poll saw. I like that saw a lot. It is high speed, narrow blade, and light. I can cut up to a 20 in. tree.

The McCulloch is a 16 in.. that I don't use much

Along with the saw, I have a short axe and wedges.

Sometimes judging a down tree which way it will bend when being cut is difficult. Wedges sometime helps. Fortunately I never have gotten two saws stuck at the same time.

I don't cut to dimension for a mill so, for me it is all for fire wood. When we do a selective harvest, I let the real loggers do that.

As you mention a long bar is really nice. Also when one has a bad back, it helps when one does not have to bend over.


After this last storm, I have 4 oaks that needs to be felled and a bunch of down fir and other. Kids were bemoaning the fact, that last summer we just got our woods cleared.


Along with files, I have a electric sharpener. They have gone down in price over time and prices to resharpen have gone up.




Dead trees are not fun, I had one that was about 26 inch round at the base. Rotten in core to about 2 inches from the bark. Then there are leaners, I have one now. The Oak that it is leaning against is going to get cut, so maybe not a big problem.

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 16:09
Weight is a concern, even for the manliest men.

Who is jumping the MS880 is probably not an issue, but prospective junior Charlies might hit the weight-pile again. It's only 40 more pounds of lightweight gear, right? Consider it in Kilograms, it's much less. :lifter Log drills too, with displaced chiggers, fire ants, hornets & vipers. Good stuff.

For small chores, I always grab the lightest saw I have (or the lightest one that starts :o ) OTOH it is sometimes beneficial to work larger stuff up with the most productive equipment, then switch down, as the wood gets smaller. I'd much rather end the day with a little 10# 40cc tool than the 20# 77cc beast, and my work days are more productive that way. But the mission ultimately drives the choice of equipment, and you gotta dance with who you brought, at least for one song...

Like I mentioned in the initial posts, be aware of dehydration and fatigue. These can combine to allow poor judgment and decreased SA to creep up... and bad things occur fast. I normally cut alone and unsupervised, so I self-regulate, and try to work smart & safe. So far so good... but I do this stuff for mental therapy & exercise, not for a living.

Bill Harsey
02-01-2009, 18:01
XJWoody,
I learned that "small saw" thing when I was high climbing and rigging for the logging side. There was a day when I could pick up off the ground and load a full 55 gallon drum of oil into the back of a pickup by myself but 9 hour days driving a saw thru wood made body parts hurt for months on end.

Your working by yourself is called "single jacking" out here and is, for anyone keeping track, kinda against the law for safety reasons (if your working for pay).
Please take extra precautions because the logging accidents I have been called to help with have been significant especially because of the distances from any form of professional trauma help.

Weather can keep the best helicopter pilots grounded and time matters when large diameter high pressure plumbing is involved.

Try drinking beer and sitting still for mental therapy ;)

abc_123
02-01-2009, 19:01
Gentlemen,

My complements for an excellent thread.

Last year I bought a few remote acres bordered on 3 sides by nat'l forest. Iffy cell phone coverage. Need to do chainsaw work to cut wood for the wood stove at the hunting shack that I have and for firewood for the kids to make fires with.

I've never had any formal chainsaw training... I just bought a Husky and started OJTing it.

I've tried not to run the saw when I was by myself and when I did cut wood with my family around, I've tried to be extra-careful. I've googled about saw technique etc. but I've learned a lot more useful info from this thread.

Thanks, guys!

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 19:06
Dammit Sir, sitting still and drinking was the genesis for this thread. Peer + liquid encouragement might prompt a bug out to the junk shed (Hurricane Drill! :D ) and light off the dual-port 460 & 361.

That will bring about an early awakening of the grandbaby, closely followed by unfavorable HH6 attention, potential homicide, and risk of becoming a headline in The Pilot, or just another unmarked Pineland grave. Bad JuJu for certain...

I herded them into the basement for a tornado drill (not a drill- it was really real and local) last summer, I brought a half gallon of bourbon, a gallon of water, my 870, a bag of extra 00, and my Stihl 361 with :confused: Momma brought jack sheet and was disappointed. :rolleyes: WTF?? STFU or GTFO! PPP=PPP. Thankfully the exposure window was open briefly and closed without incident. I still don't know what she might have brought down with? Tornadoes bring massive suckery, planning is subjective... with prior warning, I'd prefer a C5 Corvette and a tank of gas for a GTFOD.

Bill Harsey
02-01-2009, 19:47
Gentlemen,

My complements for an excellent thread.

Last year I bought a few remote acres bordered on 3 sides by nat'l forest. Iffy cell phone coverage. Need to do chainsaw work to cut wood for the wood stove at the hunting shack that I have and for firewood for the kids to make fires with.

I've never had any formal chainsaw training... I just bought a Husky and started OJTing it.

I've tried not to run the saw when I was by myself and when I did cut wood with my family around, I've tried to be extra-careful. I've googled about saw technique etc. but I've learned a lot more useful info from this thread.

Thanks, guys!

XJWoody opened this party and I just "ran 'em, didn't work on em, much" .
If my saw shop knows I adjusted a carb, they charge me 25 extra bucks just to approach the service counter.
Your tracking on all the high points. Go slow and easy because your not being graded on speed of production. This makes things a little better.

At the very least, let folks know where your at and when your supposed to be back.


Detail about falling timber, look up and study the tree. See which way it's leaning THEN look again to see if the limbs weigh it heavy on one side or another. Standing at the stump to see which way to step while a tree is twisting and falling is an acquired skill. Don't run before your sure the direction you go is not directly underneath it.

abc_123
02-01-2009, 19:50
XJWoody opened this party and I just "ran 'em, didn't work on em, much" .
If my saw shop knows I adjusted a carb, they charge me 25 extra bucks just to approach the service counter.
Your tracking on all the high points. Go slow and easy because your not being graded on speed of production. This makes things a little better.

At the very least, let folks know where your at and when your supposed to be back.


Detail about falling timber, look up and study the tree. See which way it's leaning THEN look again to see if the limbs weigh it heavy on one side or another. Standing at the stump to see which way to step while a tree is twisting and falling is an acquired skill. Don't run before your sure the direction you go is not directly underneath it.

I guess I need re-training on that point. I usually run quickly, fast, and often!!!

XJWoody
02-01-2009, 22:21
I guess I need re-training on that point. I usually run quickly, fast, and often!!!

The last tree I felled went straight down my primary escape route, and approx 90° off target (not my proudest moment, but had a 360° safe range fan, and I triggered the fall with wedges-the only things in peril was my axe and I) It would have brought high-order suckerry had I jogged down there and looked back up... :confused: oops :eek: Shiznit Fikking Pea! -splat-

Don't zig and zag. The threat is fixed (you caused it) and only firing from and towards one direction, briefly.

haste makes waste... judge where it's going and haul ass 180° opposite

Sometimes the trunk gets acted upon downrange, and can come back over the stump. The top can dislodge dead branches from itself or adjacent trees and fling them. Be very clear of things, and be on the lookout even as & after the primary target drops safely.

Re evaluate the situation constantly... up, down and all around.

Defender968
02-01-2009, 22:57
I chk'd,, it's a Poulan 260,, I knew it was yellow/black,, whoops..

I did 1 & 2 the day of.. I also put fresh gas in and liberally goosed it with either carb spray.

My thoughts at the time, was I need a carb re-build.. I purchased it from a guy that had it 4-5 yrs,, he cut one 3" maple and put it the cellar. I know it was maple, because the case and chain guide was packed full,, he never cleaned it. Otherwise it looked brand new. I've had it 10 yrs or better.. My concern was the carb re-build parts were long gone..

Anyone know if there are sources for Poulan 260 parts??

I will take a look at the internal filter..

I have Federal Jury Duty the next 2 weeks,, starts Monday,, I may get back to you after..

Thanks for the helpful note..

Almost all 2 cycle equipment around for sale in the US in the last 15-20 years uses Walbro carbs, I'll bet a small fortune the parts will be readily available at any 2 cycle shop, though going to one who services Poulan will be helpful only because they'll be able to pull up the schematic of your particular saw to give you the exact right rebuild kit. When in doubt take the saw with you when you go for parts. Let me know if you run into problems and I can be of help.

Defender968
02-01-2009, 23:12
I have to put in a good word for Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer.

My Stihl saw started and ran fine after sitting for four years with the same gas in it that had been stabilized. I would not recommend testing it for that long, but it should give you an idea of how well it works.

I have heard people say that you are better off leaving a little gas in the carb to keep seals from drying out and dust from getting into things.

TR

TR I'm grimacing right now reading that.

Note too all, leaving gas in any equipment that long is bad ju-ju, Stabil is great and I use it every year, but you're risking some serious issues to leave gas sitting in any small engine more than 6 months Stabil or not. Gas will turn to a red varnish in fairly short order and it will lock up pistons like they're burned up, trust me I've seen it.

The best preventative maintenance you can do for your equip is to run it out of gas, and I mean slam out after every season, run it until it quits then pull the starter a few more times, normally it will sputter to life 1-3 more times, and then it will be completely out of gas. I've seen 500 dollar blowers completely seized up from gas being left in them for years at a time.

TR I've heard the leave gas in the carb as well, but I'll tell you I rarely saw equipment that the seals had dried up to the point they wouldn't run, but I saw many a mower/saw/blower/trimmer that needed a complete carb cleaning and then a rebuild from old gas sitting in them for the winter to the tune of $50-100, as opposed to a $7.5 carb kit.

When in doubt, run it out, I know it's corny but that's what I live by when it comes to small engines, and I haven't had to rebuild any of the carbs in any my equipment in the last 5 years.

Just my .02

Bill Harsey
02-02-2009, 09:44
Speaking of two cycle engines and fuel...

You boys and girls allowing for any extra oil when using gas with "corn" in it?

***Edited to add this link:http://www.forestnet.com/TWissues/August08/chainsaw.pdf***

This might be one of the better written things I've read on the topic.

HOLLiS
02-02-2009, 09:55
Speaking of two cycle engines and fuel...

You boys and girls allowing for any extra oil when using gas with "corn" in it?

The guy at the saw shop only mentioned, to drain the tank when not in use. The "corn" will mess with the seals.


A side note, a friend who was a loyal Stihl user, replaced his Stihl with a Husky. Really likes it.

Also, on the 170, it would be nice if I could get a 30 in bar, so I would not have to bend over so much. (really great little all purpose hot rod saw)

Bill Harsey
02-02-2009, 10:21
Hollis,
check out the link in my last post, would like your opinion. It seems to tie together some things about ethanol and two cycle fuel.
Oregon last year passed law that requires all gas fuels sold at pumps contain 10% ethanol.
The PDF I linked to explains better why some two cycle engines are failing with this stuff. It relates to air-fuel mixture.

Here is a rock solid tip on adjusting the "high rev" screw on your saw carb.
DO NOT adjust it so your saw is screaming fast, this means you have leaned out the air fuel mixture and you are going to burn up your cylinder/piston much faster.
Adjust your "high rev" screw on your carb until it leans out then bring it back so there is a slight "gurgle" in the high revs. This means your running a bit richer fuel mix and it is what you want.
All above has been learned the hard way.

HOLLiS
02-02-2009, 11:26
Hollis,
check out the link in my last post, would like your opinion. It seems to tie together some things about ethanol and two cycle fuel.
Oregon last year passed law that requires all gas fuels sold at pumps contain 10% ethanol.
The PDF I linked to explains better why some two cycle engines are failing with this stuff. It relates to air-fuel mixture.

Here is a rock solid tip on adjusting the "high rev" screw on your saw carb.
DO NOT adjust it so your saw is screaming fast, this means you have leaned out the air fuel mixture and you are going to burn up your cylinder/piston much faster.
Adjust your "high rev" screw on your carb until it leans out then bring it back so there is a slight "gurgle" in the high revs. This means your running a bit richer fuel mix and it is what you want.
All above has been learned the hard way.


Bill, I guess my saving grace is that I have newer saws. I traded my older ones in for lighter and more powerful saws. The other factor is I am kind of whimp. I can last almost a tank of fuel and I am done for a while. I'll ask the guys at the saw shop. They have been doing this a long time and seems to be up on things. If anything I am more a recreational chain sawer, if you can call it that.

Interesting is the 10% ethanol. How big is the fuel tank? That is not much ethanol. What does it call for in adding oil? 10% oil increase is probably negligible for all practical purposes.

I have a off brand weed whacker, it is a 36:1 ratio. I will use my Stihl mix (50:1) and then toss in some extra oil. Close enough, it smokes a little but still runs.

Thanks for the PDF, it was a interesting read. I think the biggest performance booster is keeping a sharp chain on the saw. I watch my chips, when they start looking like saw dust, I will change by chain.


I like wood heat, house runs around 75 Degrees with stove chokes all the way down. We added to the house insulation a few years back and it pays.

The energy resource people will pay about 80% of the cost. I need about 2 cords a year. When it is not so cold, I use a heat pump.

Last year I help some other people by giving them about 8 + cords of wood.



Again thanks for the PDF, I will ask the guys at L&L.

H.

Just asked L&L, guy there said, "Just don't leave it in your saw/can for longer than 60 days and keep the oil ratio the same."

TrapLine
02-02-2009, 11:58
Thanks guys for all the great information. I run a 290 Farm Boss and have been happy overall with its performance. It does a nice job on firewood, but gets a bit heavy for all day cutting around deer stands or trails. An addition to the fleet might be in order, maybe a MS 170. Like TR has said, I have had pretty good luck with Sta-Bil, but after reading here I will drain/run dry.

Now if I could only borrow Mr. Harsey to help fell the 100' leaning pine that happens to be growing between the hunting shack and shed/sauna. Vegas odds are probably 23% that the felling project will end with a construction project on one of the aforementioned structures.

Thanks again.

HOLLiS
02-02-2009, 12:06
Thanks guys for all the great information. I run a 290 Farm Boss and have been happy overall with its performance. It does a nice job on firewood, but gets a bit heavy for all day cutting around deer stands or trails. An addition to the fleet might be in order, maybe a MS 170. Like TR has said, I have had pretty good luck with Sta-Bil, but after reading here I will drain/run dry.

Now if I could only borrow Mr. Harsey to help fell the 100' leaning pine that happens to be growing between the hunting shack and shed/sauna. Vegas odds are probably 23% that the felling project will end with a construction project on one of the aforementioned structures.

Thanks again.

We have a tree service here, that will fell that tree in small pieces. They are the guys to call when you don't want additional construction work. Maybe check in your A/O.

TrapLine
02-02-2009, 12:38
We have a tree service here, that will fell that tree in small pieces. They are the guys to call when you don't want additional construction work. Maybe check in your A/O.

Thanks HOLLis. The problem is that the shack is located on a lake along the MN/Canada border and is only accessible by ATV. This also raises the issue Mr. Harsey touched on about distances from trauma help. Thankfully two members are M.D.s, but the last stitch job I received on site tells me a surgery there would be less than ideal.

HOLLiS
02-02-2009, 12:44
Thanks HOLLis. The problem is that the shack is located on a lake along the MN/Canada border and is only accessible by ATV. This also raises the issue Mr. Harsey touched on about distances from trauma help. Thankfully two members are M.D.s, but the last stitch job I received on site tells me a surgery there would be less than ideal.

The guys walked in. There is a tree climber and his assistants. Climbs the tree, then he ties off a bit of tree, cuts and then his assistants lower it. I had 5 trees done for $600.00 Three guys, three hours and they where done. A mistake would have cost a new roof, power line and who knows what else.

Peregrino
02-02-2009, 12:47
We have a tree service here, that will fell that tree in small pieces. They are the guys to call when you don't want additional construction work. Maybe check in your A/O.

Trapline - GO WITH THE PRO'S!!! Taking it down in pieces means topping it. (Unless you just want an excuse for a construction project. :D) There's a cool Youtube video of a guy topping a "Harsey" sized tree and getting the snot beat out of him. It's always less painful if you can learn from somebody else's mistakes.

BMT (RIP)
02-02-2009, 14:27
How many of you guy's have used a saw with a bow instead of a bar??


BMT

Bill Harsey
02-02-2009, 15:56
How many of you guy's have used a saw with a bow instead of a bar??


BMT
Sounds like you have.

I have a little bit. This is probably why chainsaws are pretty popular.
Also have pulled an Australian "M" tooth and traditional peg and raker single buck saw.
Used the peg and raker for work up high occasionally because it didn't weigh as much as the saw with starter rope on it but here is the main reason:
Was up a tree about 100 ft once and cut a strand out of my climbing rope with an axe, started packing a climbing saw for limbing my way up after that. Easier to control when a little tired. The old man would climb with about thirty five lbs. of McCullough hanging off his belt. I wasn't that tough.

HOLLiS
02-02-2009, 17:44
One piece of gear that has not been mentioned, that IMHO, is very important to have is "Bee Bopper" . Get a saw stuck is bad, but not as bad as having to abandon it. I have also left my tractor in a hurry.

Peregrino
02-02-2009, 18:45
Sir, I'd be reluctant to advise a small engine shop locally. I love my loud toys and place that in the same category as which hospital I'd like to admit my grandkids... D. None of the above.

Carthage Saw & Mower ---- (a fouled up carb from poor storage) after it soundly defeated me.

If one wanted to travel a bit, Amick's in Asheboro (Bus 220, N side of town) is a very good shop. ------- At least they have Saturday hours, which is rare in that business.


Now that I've got time to phrase a proper reply - Thanks. I suspected your first comment based on informal queries of new neighbors. I'm familiar with the Carthage shop (I at least know where to find them) and they're a lot closer than the Sanford, Fayetteville, and Hope Mills shops I have used. The Ashboro shop sounds like somebody I could check out on a Saturday trip to visit the gunsmith. They're enroute and, depending on their policies, l don't mind leaving it until I can get back up there. The problem will most likely be the Poulan Weedeater; it was a little too "pedestrian" for the shops I took my saw to. Unfortunately, many of the shops I've encountered tend to be brand specific. They usually turned their noses up at somebody else's product and launched into a sales pitch. I'm sure this audience can imagine how much that tactic "annoys" me. Like most of us, I have what I have because it was the best I could afford when I "acquired" it, and I'm not interested in somebody else's irrelevant opinions. Whatever happened to the generalist who would fix whatever you brought him and, other than friendly or professional advice, keep his opinions to himself?

XJWoody
04-14-2009, 19:47
I'd like to give an open invite to PS.COM folks to a chainsaw meet, 4-18-09 at Amick's (1611 N Fayetteville St, Asheboro NC 27203 - 220 to Vision Drive exit, turn N on bus 220, parking 2d block NW, listen for the noise 0830+ to ?)

There will be a bunch of saws there to try out, watch, learn etc. I doubt there will be much advanced sawing skills taught (mostly harmless redneck goons slicing chunks off logs with others equip... like an open range day) but if some want to come out and try some saws in a family friendly/low stress environment... come on up! I have clean/unused PPE to share, unless you are a gargantuan.

It's a little far flung for the FBNC folks... but for the greater Pineland folks, come on up!

abc_123
05-11-2009, 11:13
Not really about chainsaws or chainsaw equipment, but since this thread did delve into cutting techniques and chainsaw safety I thought this would be the place to post this.

Terrible tragedy and I can't imagine living with myself if I was the guy driving the saw but... I'm sure there was more than one violation of good common sense principles before this accident took place...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,519737,00.html

Man Accidentally Kills Wife With Chain Saw
Monday, May 11, 2009


Print OTSEGO, Mich. — Michigan authorities say a man working in his yard accidentally killed his wife with a chain saw.

The Otsego couple were trying to cut a tree Sunday when the man hit his wife in the neck with the chain saw.

She died at the scene of the accident, about 35 miles south of Grand Rapids.

Sheriff's Deputy David Labonde lives nearby. He tells WOOD-TV he heard a cry for help and did what he could to help.

The sheriff's department says it's withholding the couple's names until other relatives are notified. The TV station says they're in their 40s.

Bill Harsey
05-11-2009, 13:18
abc 123,
Sad stuff.
Has happened to loggers too when saw kicked back.

Pete
05-11-2009, 14:19
Has happened to loggers too when saw kicked back.

Not being a logger or chain saw expert I'm a little over careful when using a chain saw.

Every cut gets a quick think on where the feet are, stress on the downed treet, cut and will it pinch, where the tip is and who's around me.

Get a little slack cutting the small branches. Would be easy to swing up, miss and have the blade drop down onto the leg.

Man, I need a good Peavey.

abc_123
05-11-2009, 15:45
Happening to self is one thing.

Having another adult place their neck within range of a running chainsaw and then the guy with the chainsaw cutting anyway.:eek: I wonder if he had insurance on her.;)

Highwayman
06-27-2009, 19:42
Great thread with loads of useful info. Thank you all for your input. I'm recommending that some of our other sawyers at work take a peak at this. Granted my experience comes mostly from the last couple years cutting for the Forest Service on a few fire lines, we have recently found ourselves overwhelmed with a bark beetle epidemic and 10-12 hours of cutting on a typical day in developed sites (campgrounds, trailheads, etc) just to remove potential hazard trees. We like to refer to them as the "Northern Colorado Red Pine".

In response to BMT's question using a bow saw. While some of our other non fire personnel use them for small jobs I did have the opportunity to work with a 12 foot crosscut saw in a section of wilderness in northern Colorado. Carrying that bad boy for 8 days on a trail making room for pack strings to haul in lumber was an amazing experience. If anyone knows what I'm referring to, we managed to get the saw to "sing" consistently on about the 3rd day.

Again thanks to everyone for a great thread.