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Thread: do I need a new chain saw?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas

    do I need a new chain saw?

    When we moved to our present home almost six years ago, I bought a new light duty Homelite Rancher chainsaw to replace my worn out 30 year old Poulan. I didn't expect to need it very often and opted to not get a good saw. Well, folks, I have used it more than expected. And now, with the big ice storm just behind us I have thousands of branches to cut up, plus one very large oak tree. Normally, I use it just to cut the occasional tree into turning wood but now it is getting heavy duty usage. Still runs fine but I'm fearing failure at any time. But, when this stuff is cleared, I'll be back to occasional light duty. So the dilemma is, should I take my chances and use until dead and replace with another cheapy? Or, should I invest now in a good saw? It would be a Stihl at about $400.00 compared to $125.00 for another Rancher. I know the Stihl will outlast me, but do I need it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    If it is running good, I see no reason to buy another in anticipation of failure, although, it is a valid reason for tool junkies to buy another tool!
    I would put the money into three good (read high quality) chains. They (all three together) will probably cost you a hundred or a little more. But they make the saw only have to run, not labor. Sharp chains are the real key with maintenance in keeping saws alive. For that big tree, get a chipper chain, it is very aggressive and will really make a cut. That is what I run on my Stihls all the time now. I keep six chains, two to three with my chainsaw bucket (goes to the woods with me) and it has my bar tool, chain file, extra chains (wrapped in rags), a couple of little brushes (for wiping sawdust and grime away from oil and gas cap before opening) and a couple of bottles of water (for me). The other three chains are usually out being sharpened as my chain sharpener died. I usually hand file them three or four times then swap them out and get them sharpened so the teeth are reset. I have a good local sharpener that doesn't "grind" the teeth down needlessly. So, long story short, put the money into good chains, keep them SHARP and I bet the saw survives the work. Anticipating the work load, put in a new sparkplug and air filter.
    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake.

    I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place.

    Premier Bovine Scatologist


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Great advice Jonathan

    Frank, Robert has a few saws for sale.....

    Husky 55

    Echo 500VL

    Echo 750EVL

    Echo 330EVL

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Run what-ya-got until it dies. It might have a much longer life than you think. --- Then get a Stihl! You ought to be able to get one of the smaller, non-commercial, Stihls for a bit over $200. It doesn't sound like you'll ever need a Farm Boss, etc. for your usage level.

    Jonathan's advice about having an extra chain or two is good, too.
    Jim D.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Thanks all. I had a couple extra chains but they musta falled down a rat hole. Can't find them.
    One reason I am a bit hincky about the inexpensive saw I have now is because of an experience I had with a Weedeater trimmer. A friend recommended a particular model. Got it. Worked great two season, shortly into the third it died. I tried making carb. adjustments but there were no screws to adjust. Local shops wouldn't work on it. Then, I found a tiny label hidden under the engine saying this was a "50 hour" engine. I contacted Weedeater and they confirmed that it was designed for 50 hours then the grave. Talk about planned obsolence. Vance Packard, where are you when we need you?
    I have a similar fear with the light duty Homelite. But, budget being slim right now, I can't handle the $400.00+ for a new saw and am leery of used ones. Will use this until death. (the saws, not mine hopefully )
    BTW, I favor the Stihl because I have other products by them and like. Plus, our local dealer takes care of their customers and has only one price.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Cushing Oklahoma
    I had a poulan pro and when we had the ice storm hit here a year or so ago I told my wife I need a new saw. The poulan was a POS out of the box. I bought a shihl ms 250 with extra 18" bar and chains and I think I have a little over $300 in the total set up. I am very happy with the saw. You won't beleive how much nicer it is to use a good saw compared to a BORG saw.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    another solution would be to have someone come and cut the tree up for the wood around her yu have protect your wood source or its gone by drive bys so perhaps if you got some neighbors that burn wood for heat they might take care of it for you???
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    another solution would be to have someone come and cut the tree up for the wood around her yu have protect your wood source or its gone by drive bys so perhaps if you got some neighbors that burn wood for heat they might take care of it for you???
    Most folks who burn wood have enough fallen on their own property to last them this season and the next. This is not a time to try earning a living selling firewood. Those who cut and clear are gouging with their prices. One friend who lives in town and has a small lot with only a fraction of my branches on the ground was quoted $1,500.00 just for pick up. At that rate my 1 1/2 acres would be thousands. I would rather go slow and take two years to clean up myself. I'll cut, pile, burn. Move on and repeat. The big tree, I'll have to hire some kind of pusher. Dozer, big backhoe, bobcat, etc.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Hi Frank,

    The small saws are great for trimming branches and small trees but I have found that the better saws work far better with the bigger trees. It is very similar to the quality of the table saws. It is the same diference between getting a less expensive underpowered table saw to getting a better higher powered table saw. One is for certain small jobs and the other is good for all jobs. I look at it as how many tools do you have in your shop that are only used once or twice a year? When you do need them it sure is great to have them. I have 2 huskies with 2 sized bars and one small saw that is good for small branches. Sure you can push the small one through a tree but I wouldn't.

  10. #10
    I think it is time for a new one.

    Normally I am all for running a seldom used tool right into the ground, but in a chainsaw's case, I don't think that is a good road to take. One of those reasons is because quality saws are more then just power and longevity...the better ones have some safety features that the lower cost ones do not. If you are going to be using your saw a lot in the next few months, now may be the time to upgrade.

    Does your current saw have a chain whip preventer? What about an inertia hand brake instead of the old contact handbrake? Does your old saw have bucking teeth? Which saw is quieter? Which has more power? All this stuff is related directly to safety.

    Hold on you said trading up had nothing to do with power?

    Well I do not know of any tool that causes fatigue like a chainsaw. If you get a better saw with more power, you are reducing the fatigue by quite a bit. A loud saw makes you tired as well. Being able to jam your bucking teeth into the log and using lever action to run your bar through the wood rather then relying on upper body strength, reduces fatigue as well. For a really scary trial run, grab your saw like you are felling a tree and whip it backwards really fast. Did the chain brake stop the chain from inertial or did it darn near swing into your leg? Cheaper saws lack this type of chain brake, but better saws work by inertial and not by coming contact into your hand alone.

    For the occasional use I can see getting by with what you got, but if you are going to use it a fair amount, you may just want to go to your dealer and ask him to explain all the safety features the new saw has. Compare that to your old saw. Here, every saw shop has a pile of wood out back to test the saw out on. I'm betting if you test saw the two saws you will notice a huge difference in the "fatigue factor."

    I've been bit by a chainsaw on two occasions Frank and both times I was pretty humbled by how dangerous these tools really are. Granted my saw had all these features and I still got bitten, but I wonder what the carnage would have been after all these years if my saws had not had these things on them???

    Saws loaded with safety features and are designed to reduce fatigue are cheaper then ONE trip to the ER!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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