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Window Shopping for (another) Chainsaw


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Guest Kakugo

I own a Stihl MS231 (42.6cc engine, 16" bar) chainsaw. It has served me well so far and it's usually enough for 80% of the trees requiring my attentions.

 

But after the past Winter (lots of snow and lots of trees to fell down in the neighborhood... most people these days have seen a chainsaw only on TV) I have come to realize I may need something bigger. Cutting down some trees was a Herculean task with my little saw! I fear I may have shortened its lifespan. :P

Now: I won't be buying right now. I'll just keep an eye out for good second hand units or special offers over the next few months, so no hurry at all.

Given what I had to fell down and cut this Winter I think 60cc is the absolute bare minimum and a 3/8" chain is mandatory.

 

I tend to buy power equipment long term, so reliability and good quality are top concerns. Getting high quality equipment around here is not that hard.

I have narrowed down the brand choice to Dolmar, Stihl and Echo in that order but I am well ready to consider other brands, provided they are comparable quality and performances. Husqvarna is not an option since it's impossibly priced here (on average 20% over the comparable Stihl model).

Any direct experience with present or past models is much appreciated.

 

Thanks!

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I work with an electricity Distributor as a Comms Tech, but started on Line clearing before getting my electrical/electronic/Comms qualifications.

So I was on the Chainsaw every day for 1 1/2 years and then still occasionally as I moved up to EWP/Truck/Chipper.

At some stage the council had the brilliant idea to do some penny pinching and try other (read cheaper) Chainsaws.

We tried all sorts of brands and had nothing but trouble. None of the Saws could handle 8 hour work without requiring constant re-tuning, which was particular annoying and sometimes dangerous, when the saw would decide to die in the ass right during a crucial back cut, with the tree being now ready to drop. This could be quite dangerous as a 40m+ tree is now sitting there 90% cut and any wind gust from the wrong direction could cause it to fall in the wrong direction. Very dangerous around high voltage power lines of 11/33/66Kv.

In the end we went back to the good old Stihl Farmboss. 100% reliable even in 40 degree Celsius heat.

Despite that I can buy a saw for less then a 3rd of the Stihl, I purchased a Stihl for private use. Worth every penny.

By the way....most Farmbosses come with quite a short bar and we used to increase the bar size on all of others for easier work, i.e, can cover the full width of any large tree. Makes felling so much easier and less risky.

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Guest Kakugo

Thanks Alfred.

You are preaching to the converts when it comes at having a piece of power equipment that needs to work for hours in any condition without a hitch. ;)

 

Farm Bosses are unobtainium here and have been since they have been discontinued a while back. Local forums are full of people looking for a used one "in any condition".

Stihl replaced them with the MS 291: a nice saw, but not enough of an upgrade over mine to justify the purchase. It's not exactly flying out of shops, so there must be a reason.

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It's a little dated, and it has something of a funny name, but you need to read Barnacle Parp's Chainsaw Guide. It's almost a certainty that used units you might purchase won't be from the 1970s, but it's loaded with everything else (not so time sensitive) that you didn't know you needed to know.

 

Amazon copies are out there.

 

Or, conveniently, there's a crappy photocopy scanned version HERE.

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Guest Kakugo
It's a little dated, and it has something of a funny name, but you need to read Barnacle Parp's Chainsaw Guide. It's almost a certainty that used units you might purchase won't be from the 1970s, but it's loaded with everything else (not so time sensitive) that you didn't know you needed to know.

 

Amazon copies are out there.

 

Or, conveniently, there's a crappy photocopy scanned version HERE.

 

1978? I have just broken up for spares an Echo chainsaw that old! :grin:

The poor thing still had good spark and compression but had a leaky fuel tank (plastic gone brittle with age) and the oil pump was shot. With no hope of obtaining spares, new or used, it was worth more in pieces than as a whole. :P

 

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I'm in that same boat. I've got a Stihl 031AV from the '70s. Good little saw (well, maybe not all that little). Some parts are near impossible to find. All I can hope for is that the rarest parts don't fail on me. Otherwise, it'll prolly get parted out too.

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Guest Kakugo
I'm in that same boat. I've got a Stihl 031AV from the '70s. Good little saw (well, maybe not all that little). Some parts are near impossible to find. All I can hope for is that the rarest parts don't fail on me. Otherwise, it'll prolly get parted out too.

 

That particular saw belonged to my grandfather. It was a set of two Echo's he bought about the time my brother was born (hence 1978).

When he died, my grandmother gave them to my uncle and I was given the surviving one (no idea what happened to the larger one) to "try and fix".

Those late 70's saws were all metal: weighed a ton for the performances but were pretty much unstoppable.

 

Modern professional grade Echo/Shindaiwa and Dolmar/Makita are still mostly metal. Heard glowing praises of both from professional users and I have many Echo products already I am extremely impressed with.

If everything else fail, I'll take a trip across the German border and buy one of these. Dolmar are dirt cheap there...

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  • 8 months later...
I work with an electricity Distributor as a Comms Tech, but started on Line clearing before getting my electrical/electronic/Comms qualifications.

So I was on the Chainsaw every day for 1 1/2 years and then still occasionally as I moved up to EWP/Truck/Chipper.

At some stage the council had the brilliant idea to do some penny pinching and try other (read cheaper) Chainsaws.

We tried all sorts of brands and had nothing but trouble. None of the Saws could handle 8 hour work without requiring constant re-tuning, which was particular annoying and sometimes dangerous, when the saw would decide to die in the ass right during a crucial back cut, with the tree being now ready to drop. This could be quite dangerous as a 40m+ tree is now sitting there 90% cut and any wind gust from the wrong direction could cause it to fall in the wrong direction. Very dangerous around high voltage power lines of 11/33/66Kv.

In the end we went back to the good old Stihl Farmboss. 100% reliable even in 40 degree Celsius heat.

Despite that I can buy a saw for less then a 3rd of the Stihl, I purchased a Stihl for private use. Worth every penny.

By the way....most Farmbosses come with quite a short bar and we used to increase the bar size on all of others for easier work, i.e, can cover the full width of any large tree. Makes felling so much easier and less risky.

 

Well, call my not surprised. :grin:

 

Recently a 290 Farm Boss came up for sale locally.

I rang the seller and told me I was the first calling him with a "reasonable" offer.

I went to see the saw and took it home.

 

It had far too much compression (exhaust port carbon buildup: the owner told me he ran it on 3.5% premix... talk about erring on the safe side!), needs a new scabbard since the one it came with is literally in tatters, a new air filter and a spare chain.

I have no idea if the chain it came with ("I've never sharpened it") can be satisfactorily resharpened but it won't stop me from trying. ;)

 

After cleaning the port, filling it with fresh 2% premix and setting idle the saw runs beautifully even with the old air filter.

It came with a 20" bar and the (expensive) 3/8" chain conversion.

 

Now all I need is to sharpen that chain and find something to cut. :grin:

 

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