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Steve Foss

Chainsaws: An addict's perspective

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I started to respond to Powerstroke's post in the Husky chainsaw thread, but realized there just oughta be a thread to celebrate chainsaws and folks who love to run them, or who run them for a living, too.

Now, Powerstroke is as loyal to Stihl as I am. I started cutting with them in 1977, and while I've cut with other saws, including Sachs-Dolmar (now just Dolmar-Makita), Jonsered, Mac, Poulan, Homelite and Husqvarna, it's been a love affair between me and Stihl for over 30 years.

Chime in, HSOers. What saws do you have? Which saws do you like? What do you like about chainsaws in general? smilesmile

There are differences between homeowner and pro class saws. Homeowner saws from excellent manufacturers can last years and years and years for casual to medium use applications, if they are well maintained and thoughtfully used. For guys making their living by making chips, the pro class saws (not just Stihl, mind you), offer that extra durability and ease of rebuilding/servicing.

I ain't gonna get into a Ford/Dodge/Chevy thing, cause I've been a Chevy man for as long as I've been a Stihl guy. They all drive and cut good if you treat them right.

These days I'm running 6 Stihls from 40 to 90cc (plus a tough ultralight little Tanaka for up the ladder), and only my lightest old Stihl gal (011AVEQ) isn't considered a "pro" model. Lots and lots of arborists (tree service specialists) adopt the Stihl 2-saw plan of the MS200T and MS460Mag. Between them, they are a fine one-two punch for work in the tree and on the ground. I ended up getting my 460 ported, and it is a real ripper! Throw a 20-inch bar on the 460 and it's a great firewood saw. Stock, it'll pull a 28-inch bar with full comp chain with authority, and a ported 460 will easily pull a 32-inch bar and full comp chain buried in hardwood.

But, IMO, for most guys, pro saws are overkill and money not well spent. I cut a LOT of cords of hardwood with a Stihl MS290, probably the most popular top-brand homeowner saw sold for the last gazillion years (and still only about $350 new), and me old 290 is out there in different hands in firewood land cutting up a storm. Lots of Huskies, Jreds and Dolmars doing the same thing. We have a Jred 2153C at the lake cabin. Does everything we need it to do out there.

Saws. Mmmmmm. wink

Here's my current lineup: 660Mag, 460Mag, 038Mag, 028Super, 026, 011AVEQ, and the Tanaka. The three largest saws are ported and/or milled and muffler modified to add punch to the power-to-weight ratio. Sorry guys for the overkill. I've been a saw ho since I was 15, worked as an arborist for several years back when bell-bottom jeans were in fashion, have never been without one or two saws since, but have gotten back into saws and tree work the last few years. I know, it's kind of sick. For arborist and firewood work, all I really NEED are the 026 and 460. OK, and maybe the little one-hand Tanaka when ya gotta be nimble. The rest is just Stihl obsession, and maybe is a bit embarrassing. The 028S is a sentimental favorite. It was the first saw I ever actually owned, and it did 90 percent of my tree work out in N.D. lo those many years ago. I'd bet the 028 is one of Stihl's top two or three most popular pro designs over time. It's outdated now, with no current pro model to continue the tradition (The MS280 doesn't even come close.) The 038M is its bigger brother, and I've always liked those older round-butt Stihl saws. Because of their profile, the two are easy to pick out in the photo.

Hey, some guys collect fishing lures! shockedshocked

seven-saw-plan.jpg

And I'll add the perspective that personal protection equipment such as kevlar chaps/pants, helmet/ear/eye protection cost about $150, but have saved many a sawyer (weekend warrior and pro alike) from disfigurement or death. I'm no PPE Nazi, and believe everyone should be free to do as they will in this regard. Just a word to the wise. smilesmile

Have fun cutting out there, and be safe! grin

As a bonus, here's my daughter this spring two weeks before her due date (with my first grandchild), helping us clear dead/unwanted trees at the lake cabin. She's wearing PPE and handling the Stihl 026. Grandson Zachary Robert (ZBob, I call him), was at the time only a foot away from the roar of a Stihl. Kind of like reading to the child in the womb, Jackpine Savage style. gringringrin

Is she a chip off the old block or what? I bought ZBob a plastic Stihl key fob for teething. winkwink

Heather-026.jpg

So chime in with your own perspectives on chainsaws. Pics are good, but not necessary. Stories are REALLY good! smilesmile

My name is Steve, and I'm a Stihlaholic. grin

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Not a PPE nazi but you must be a saw nazi!!! I've never seen that many used saws so clean in my life! I don't really have any experience with husky saws but have a lot of experience with stihl pro model saws and even for the occasional cutter I wouldn't recommend anything but. It's something you will have for pretty much the rest of an average persons life unless doing cutting for money then you may go through a few. Been in the tree business for a while and we beat the [PoorWordUsage] out of them and they keep going like crazy.

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Not a PPE nazi but you must be a saw nazi!!! I've never seen that many used saws so clean in my life! I don't really have any experience with husky saws but have a lot of experience with stihl pro model saws and even for the occasional cutter I wouldn't recommend anything but. It's something you will have for pretty much the rest of an average persons life unless doing cutting for money then you may go through a few. Been in the tree business for a while and we beat the [PoorWordUsage] out of them and they keep going like crazy.

Yeah, loggers and arborists alike talk about how long Stihls last when they get the snot beat out of them. I know the world ain't made up of Stihlies. I'm just saying.

And my saws get used a lot. But I'm a photographer too, so when I'm taking a portrait I like to slick them up a bit, not to mention that a wider angle group shot like this makes the dings, scars and scratches of individual saws harder to see. And, well, compressed air is a blessing for guys like us. winkwink

I will admit that the Sugi bar was new in the photo, and I used a bit of Photoshop magic on the Stihl bars to get them ready for the personals. gringrin

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I gotta say, that is a cool photo!

I have a confession to make--as cool as I think chain saws are, I have never used one, and frankly, they kind of scare the bejesus out of me (I'm already down one finger due to a lost fight with a table saw). My bro-in-laws run Huskies at our cabin; I usually pull stacking/spliting duty. Someday, I'll get over that.

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Steve,

That is a great photo and a wonderful essay! While I cannot compare my experience to yours, I can share some interesting stories. I too have been cutting wood for a long time and not just firewood. I started out back around 1980 with a Power Mac 6 from McCulloch, which at the time was the lightest saw available at only 6 pounds. A friend and I had a local tree trimming business and I was the climber, so that saw was perfect. A little while later I bought a Pro Mac 700 (70cc) to cut the bigger stuff. I still have the PM700 today and it still runs great. I wore the main bearings on that little 6 out and now use a Jonsred Pro 38 for the lightweight work. It is nicely balanced with the handle on top of the engine and can be used for one handed work when necessary.

I have been an avid woodworker most of my life and shortly after I got the PM700 I heard of the “Alaskan Mill” attachment to rip lumber from logs. Being a devout DIY guy, I built my own mill attachment and set it up on a 28” bar. To maximize the saw’s power, I used a .404 skip tooth chisel chain, modified to have every other tooth a raker. Over the years I probably cut over 1000 board feet of lumber this way. Needless to say, I got rather good at filing chain!

I also experimented with synthetic lubricants, starting about 20 years ago with an oil sold by Grandberg that was rated for 100:1 mix. Most of the lumber cut with the PM 700 was fueled at 100:1, and with the saw run at WOT and heavy loads. Today, it still runs excellent, a testimony to lubricity of that synthetic oil.

It’s a little sad to look back now that McCulloch is history and realize that the saw that has run so good over time is now obsolete. I guess I’ll keep it running as best I can until something that cannot be replaced finally fails. Who knows, maybe then I’ll join the club and buy a Stihl!

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Ralph, I'm still a bit afraid of them, even after 30 years. It's good to be a little bit afraid. Keeps you alert. smilesmile

Hydro, cool story and perspective. I've been a carpenter and woodworker for a long time, too, and have come close to getting one of those Alaskan mills a couple times. No room where I am right now for a milling operation, and not much real nice lumber up here, anyway. If I was 100 miles south or west in prime oak and maple country, you betcha! I think the milled/ported 660 would do a bang-up job milling with a skip chain on a 36-inch bar. Very little lumber wood in northern MN a 36-inch bar can't handle.

I use Amsoil synthetic in all my 2-stroke motors, and of course within the chainsaw community all you have to do is say synthetic at 100:1 to start a bar fight. gringrin

I mix my Amsoil at 50:1 or 40:1 in all my 2-strokes. While I think Amsoil is a great synthetic, even after using it for years with great results I'm leery of going 100:1. I deal almost exclusively with used motors when I buy tools, and I'll tell you that running several tanks of Amsoil at 50:1 (really, substitute any high quality synthetic here) has cleaned, smoothed out and increased apparent power on many a motor gunked up with the cheapest conventional oils.

No, NOT trying to start an oil argument, anyone. But I do find your results with 100:1 intriguing. Milling is one of the tasks hardest on a chainsaw motor, with all those long cuts at full throttle, and if you've been running synthetics at 100:1 in your milling saw for that many board feet, that's saying something. Have you ever pulled the saw apart to examine the piston, rings and cylinder? Or even pulled the carb and muffler to take a look at the piston and rings? If they are all clean, I'd say that's pretty strong evidence that a synthetic rated for 100:1 is doing its job.

I hear you on the old Macs. Those saws were ahead of their time. Too bad the company got sold and the saws went down the tank. But that's a different thread! smilesmile

I ran a Poulan 4200 back before Poulan Wild Things were all the rage, in the days when Poulan was one of the respected names in the saw business. That saw cut a LOT of wood for me at 10,000 feet in Colorado and never missed a beat in that thin air. Well, didn't hurt that it was all SPF or aspen (soft woods). I've got my eye on an old Homelite EZ Super that's been sitting in an old fellow's garage since he bought it new a gazillion years ago. Yeah, like I NEED another saw. Homelite is another one of those companies that produced top quality saws for many years.

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I run a part-time tree service and most of mine are Stihls. Line up now: 025,029,390, and 75 power pole saw. I have an Echo climbing saw because its lighter weight than the Stihl and I'm an old man. Also a Husky climbing saw that has a great power to weight ratio. I've retired a stihl 011, 028, and 031. I tried to run too much bar on the bigger ones and paid the price. The 011 just got used up. There are other brands that probably would serve me as well as the Stihls but the Stihl dealers are great about service and parts and the hardware and big box stores that sell other brands aren't. My sons also seem to be buying Stihl saws too, since that's what they grew up using----and borrowing.

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Thanks for the comments Steve, it’s nice to hear someone who actually has some real perspective on the synthetic oil topic.

I agree with your comments on the 100:1 mix ratio issue and I have to say that most of the vocal people on that subject really have little objective experience to base their opinions on, but argue hard anyway. On my PM700 I have had the carb off for cleaning, and since it is piston ported, I was able to look at the piston skirt and rings, and they still look fine with no scuffing or ring bind. Compression is still good so that says something for the oil that was used. These days I still use the Grandberg oil (I bought a case of it a while back) but I mix it at 64:1 simply because it’s easy to drop one ounce in a half gallon can, and I don’t use the fuel fast enough to use up larger quantities.

On the other side of the argument, my little Power Mac 6 did wear out while running the same fuel mix. It eventually wore the main sleeve bearing on the flywheel side out of round, so maybe the 100:1 was not enough oil for that type of bearing. BTW, I gave that saw to a friend and it is still running today. In my opinion, the bearings in a motor are the limiting factor in oil requirements, and since most chain saws and outboards are fully rollerized they are good candidates for the leaner ratios. On a side note, some of the smaller OMC outboards in the mid 80’s were actually rated by the factory for 100:1 oil mix. We had a couple at out resort and ran them at that mix on standard OMC oil and they never showed any problems related to lubrication.

If you ever did look at a chain saw mill, that 660 would be a good fit. For a good read, look up chain saw milling in the archives of Fine Woodworking magazine. They have a pictorial of how to set up and sharpen the chain for maximum cutting speed. I added an auxiliary oil tank that held about a half gallon of oil to the top of the rig since you go through a LOT of bar oil when in the cut. My saw only had a 28” bar and never found a log too big around here that I could not cant and rip. I ripped through many a tough old elm that put the saw’s torque to the task. I cut red elm (my favorite), white elm, butternut, red oak, maple, white oak (toughest stuff I cut), hackberry, and anything else I could get my hands on. I’m sitting at a table made from red elm as I type. Still have a bunch of boards in the shed today.

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Fantastic reading. Steve, I laughed my arse off when I read your doting about your daughter running the saw. The perspective is fantastic.

I will right my true contribution to this thread tomorrow. Its given me something to think about.

I'm very interested in doing the home milling. I'll have to look at that more. I'll save the rest for tomorrow.

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Although I don't spend the time cutting wood like many of you guys, I bought a Stihl MS310 with a 20" bar about 6 years ago. My dad did a lot of tree work during his employment with the city (Dutch Elm era). At that time, their main saws were Homelites. They now use Shindaiwa.

The first time my dad wrapped his lunch hooks onto the Stihl, his eyes immediately lit up like a speed freak in a top fuel dragster for the first time. He didn't want to put it down. Although he's no longer in the health to be out cutting firewood, he's a closet Stihl fan. grin He's used the Homelites and Shindaiwas for so many years so he's a bit brand loyal.

But for me, it's all Stihl.

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I'll start by saying I'm a city boy, but not by choice. I grew up in N. Minneapolis and the only motor I knew how to run was a lawnmower.

In an effort to get more experience I took a job with the Minnesota Conservation Corps at 19yrs old. The MCC is the modern version of the depression-era CCC. I was the youngest guy in our group and had never used a chainsaw, let alone held one. In a few days I learned everything there was to know about running, cleaning and maintaining a saw. The DNR used all Stihl saws. Mostly 026's with a couple Farm Boss 360 or 390's. The MCC did various jobs for the DNR, for other gov't agencies or for non-profits who contracted us. I did everything from small scale logging to exotic species removal, and primarily more of the latter. Some of my finest work can be viewed along the Mississippi River near St. Thomas University.

When I took a real job with a large nationwide tree company, I was told the only name in professional tree-work was Stihl. Our company had a corporate contract and we had nothing but Stihl. I bought an MS 200T right away. We bought our own saw and received a "saw wage" as a rental fee for using our own equipment. Having guys own their saws created responsibility. Only a foreman owned a "big saw". I bought mine after 4yrs. An MS 460. We had the choice of bar size. I was only 24yrs old and thought bigger was better. That 28" bar does some mean things. The only downside is we could only buy safety chains.

6 years later I still own both theses saws and they run like tops.

After busting my butt for profits, I decided to aim for quality. People can say what they want about city workers, but some of the best city workers started working in private business. The city was flush with saws, and mechanics who fix saws and accounts for purchasing parts. I used a different brand for the first time. The city owned 11 saws of various sizes covering the big 3, Stihl, Husquvarna and Jonsered. I quickly learned what I liked and didn't like.

The Jon is a nice saw, especially in the mid-size. I like their decompression the best. The Stihl has some unique designs that are a little annoying when shopping for parts, but I still think they are the best out there.

Any average Joe can make a homelite, echo, poulan or craftsman last a long time if you cut wood at camp or in the yard a couple times a year. When you use a saw 5-8 hours a day, 4-6 days a week you need a saw built to last. It is tough and easy to service. Give me a Stihl!! At work we have Stihl backpack blowers, Stihl chop saws for cutting pipe or asphalt Sthil trimmers with convertable heads and Stihl polesaws. The only thing that puts one down, is not using mixed gas. That never happens in a business, but when you don't own the equipment, you're not as careful.

I'll try to get a pic of mine. They aren't as pretty as Steve's, but that's okay, I know I'm prettier than Steve. But we all know looks aren't everything. I'd love to buy another saw that falls inbetween the two I have. I also want the backpack blower. My wife gets more hours on the leaf blower than I do. She loves it.

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Great stuff, Andy! Thanks for sharing it. Now I know more about you than a did 10 minutes ago. smile

My saws ain't that pretty when they're on the job, but they do clean up OK for pics. Kinda like me. gringrin

Think about an MS362 to fall in between your 200T and 460. It's a strato design, but the strato saws have already proven themselves. And compared with either of your current saws, the 362 will sip gas. Better filtration and some other key features as well. Just a bit heavier than its predecessor (non strato MS361), but very nice. I got to cut with one recently. Strong design advances since the 460 came out.

Put a 20-inch Rollomatic ES bar and full comp Stihl non-safety RSC chain on that 362 and you'll really like it! The 200T for up the ladder/ropes, 460 for felling/bucking big wood and the 362 for felling/bucking 90 percent of your day-to-day work. And the mid-range saw will take some of the load off your two other saws, extending the lives of all three. In fact, you can leave the 28-inch bar on the 460 and only trot it out for the big stuff. Honestly, with full skip chain, the 460 will pull a 36-inch B&C with enough authority to get the job done, though I imagine with your situations there's not much a 28-inch B&C couldn't handle.

If budget means a new saw isn't feasible, lots of used 360/361s out there with plenty of life left in them.

And if you're running 3/8 sprockets/chain on all three saws, you never have to phart around with different file sizes. Heck, you might even buy a roll of 3/8 chain and start making your own loops! I'm not to that point yet, but only the 011 (low profile picco) wears anything different. All my other Stihls run 3/8. Makes it nice. smile

Great 3-saw plan.

Well taken care of, as I'm sure your saws are, they'll last you several more years. If memory serves, most pro-class Stihls will yield about 2,500 to 3,000 hours with proper care/maintenance.

Chainsaws. Mmmmmmmmm. gringrin

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Stihl for me. MS 290 (FarmBoss) with 18 inch bar and more chains than I know what to do with (found a couple in our woods this spring after the snow melt and a couple in the back of my pickup when I traded it in this summer). I cut quite a bit of firewood every summer and the saw is great!

I also own a Stihl weed whipper.

Stihl makes great products and it is easy to find Stihl certified repair shops (can think of 3 within 10 miles of my place).

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2 Stihls for me. I picked up a 036 or 038 with a 24" bar for cutting my heating wood when I lived in Alaska 20 years ago. Cutting 20" diameter hemlocks was work but the saw went thru it but man it got heavy after a couple of hours. I had a kinda close call with it and realized I needed to pace myself and stretch out my cutting so I wouldn't get tired. My safety rules are now no cutting if I'm tired or had any alcohol. The second part of that rule gets me out of some work at the cabin now a days. I do have to get myself some chaps. I always wear safety glasses and a helmet with ear muffs.

I picked up a little 026 (I think) 8 years ago. That covers most of my cutting now, except for larger items or ripping logs. I got an attachment for my big saw and had a chain cut flat so I can rip logs. It is fairly slow cutting, even on Cedar. I made a nice picnic table for the cabin and a really nice picnic table for the deer camp. I too like my chainsaws!

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I forgot to add on about the safety gear. I am an absolute stickler about this and won't compromise. You will always find me with Stihl helmet like in Steve's pic with safety glasses, ear plugs or muffs, leather gloves and chaps.

I personally have cut into chaps several times. Twice they've saved my leg. Had I not been wearing them I surely would have a much different left leg. The most tedious job I don't mind doing if pulling all the little threads out of the saw sprocket after hitting the chaps. If you've never seen the demonstration of stopping a saw on chaps its worth your time. First cut is done on a watermelon without chaps, second cut done with chaps wrapped on that melon.

The final thing I harp on is cutting "one-handed". I don't care how small a saw is or if the handle looks like its made for only one hand, its a recipe for disaster. I know too many guys with less than the standard of fingers because of this. Its too much power to be holding in one hand.

I know no one likes a safety nazi, but its become my passion. Enjoy your saws, but always protect yourself.

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I won't cut at all without the helmet assembly, gloves and Kevlar chaps. Too many close calls over the years that, like in Andy's case, could have been really ugly without PPE.

The chaps pictured are full-wrap Labonville chaps, I highly recommend them. I just picked up a Peltor helmet. Like the Stihl helmet pictured it's got the face mesh and earmuffs, but also has a rear plastic bib that covers the back of the neck so you can cut in hot sun or rain, and a plastic bib also is mounted between the top of the face shield and the helmet so no chips/sawdust can get into your eyes through the gap. At only about $50, the Peltor costs the same as the Stihl and has those two extra features.

I keep thinking I'm going to spring for Kevlar lined chainsaw boots but haven't yet. I've got a great pair of Carolina steel toe boots with the steel flap that runs part way up over the front laces, so there's some protection offered.

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Well I have to change the color up some and say that I run Jonsered. I have run others (mainly stihl) and still like the Jonsered. Dad's firs one that I started with was an old 70E. Still works like a top today. Pretty much just keep an older chain on that one now for work around dirty logs or where there may be old fence through a tree etc. Now have two additional 2171's.

Should mention however that I have a Stihl weed trimmer/brush cutter and a stihl pole saw however.

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Steve I have a stihl 028 wb and wondering how big of bar and chain it will handel. It is the only saw I have now looking to ad a 14" stihl to the fleet some thinig a little liter for clearing brush and cutting up small limbs any secrets to sealing a bar oil tank I think it is leaking betwen the case halves thanks for any in put oh also have a stihl combi tool string trimmer brush saw love that thing thanks Bret

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Bret, you need to stay with the pitch of your current drive sprocket (either 3/8 or .325). Look at the base of your bar and it'll tell you whether it's .325 or 3/8. Your sprocket should have the pitch stamped on it, too. Most likely 3/8, but could be either. No matter which it is, I wouldn't got over an 18-inch B&C. The 16-inch is optimum on that saw, but 18 will work fine, too. You could go 20-inch in spruce/pine/fir, but even softwood like that will be a bit much for the saw if the bar is totally buried. If you are working smaller wood and don't want to have to bend down as much, a 20-inch B&C works well.

As for the leaking oil, if you're sure it's leaking out of the case seam, other than splitting the case and resealing it, your only real option is to drain the oil, let the saw sit for a couple days to make sure it's REALLY drained, clean and scour the outside of the seam, dry it completely, and apply JB Weld. JB does a ton of great things. Make sure you give it a full day or two to harden before moving on. Since the bar oil reservoir isn't under much pressure, the JB Weld ought to work well if you prep the surface as mentioned.

The first ever saw I ran as a pro was an 028WB, and I have a soft spot in my heart for that saw. I do own an 028 series saw these days, but it's an 028 Super, which has a good bit more beef than the Wood Boss. Those 028 series saws were darn near bulletproof with care and maintenance, and there are hundreds of thousands of those saws still making money out in the woods, on the woodpiles and in the back yards today. smile

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Does all the oil leak out? I believe it is normal for a small amount of bar oil to "leak" out. Both my Stihl's do that and I've been told that it is normal by a Stihl service shop.

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I have the same problem, if my 026 pro sits 5-6 months the bar oil will be gone. my 192t never leaks!

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It depends on where the leak is. Since the bar oil comes out with gravity and being pulled out as the chain moves, its possible that oil is seeping out onto the chain while the saw is just sitting.

If you notice the oil is leaking from a seam or the filler cap, then you need to find the leak and seal it.

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Hey guys thanks for all the help I will stick with the 18" b/c. Just want to get a smaller saw little less weight Just thought a bigger spread would be nice but I only cut wood for smoking meat and camp fires not for heating. The leak is going to get envestigated more it seems to be geting worse I got a new cap and looking in to a o ring or what ever is behind that plug below the filler but it does leak all the oil out in may be two to three weaks. Thanks again Bret

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Bret, as mentioned, most of my Stihl saws drool some bar oil after use. Take paper towels and thoroughly dry the whole oil tank area. Fill the bar oil reservoir completely and run the saw for 15 mintues or so cutting wood. Then pull off the bar and chain, lay the saw on a square chunk of 2x4 so it's elevated, and keep an eye on it so you see where the oil is leaking. It's easier if you run something like Poulan oil, which is bright red (or at least used to be) because it's easy to see where it's leaking. Transmission fluid is another good option for the experiment, for the same reason.

You may just have the typical Stihl drooling problem. You'll know that's it if the oil pools under the round metal clutch drum or out the small oiler hole by the front bar nut. If it's that, nothing you can really do about it. If you do actually have cap/rubber ring or seam leakage, you'll be able to tell.

I have one Stihl saw (an 034 AV Super) that will leak out everything left in the oil tank after use, so I just make sure I run it almost out of oil as I finish cutting.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • I remember the pictures you posted of your neighbors house. Those pictures along with the news paper article about the guy from WI that blew up his garage and killed his wife were enough to convince me not to refill 1lb tanks.
    • Just my opinion but I find the 1 pounders to be convenient. I used to hook up a hose to my mr. Heater/Cooker years ago and run off a 20 pounder and I almost melted through the hose. I never found dealing with a hose and a tank to be as convenient as using the 1 pounders.    For me, if it were all about saving a couple of bucks, I would just buy my fish in a store. It seems funny to me that guys that spend thousands of dollars to sit on a sheet of ice and catch fish would risk their safety trying to save a couple of bucks on propane.   But again, that's just my opinion.
    • Thanks for all the info fellas! I ended up buying two 140 mm fans, but have only installed one.  I decided to take it one step further and install a thermo fan switch. I actually ended up buying the switch and mounting plate directly from empire for $30. This way the fan cycles with the heat. The switch kicks in about 5 min after the heat turns on and runs from about 5 min after it turns off. Using the switch should keep things more consistent.  I wired it up to a SPDT On-Off-On switch so that I can run it either in thermoswitch mode or manual.   As far as the fans go, the 140 mm seem are quieter and draw less (0.16 amp) than the 120 mm fans due to the reduced RPM requirements. One thing that I did notice though is that although they are rated high on the CFM scale, they do not seem to have near as much pressure as the smaller fans. I understand why that is, but not sure if the lower pressure will make a difference in pushing air over the heat exchanger. That was one reason that I left room for two  
    • A guy would probably want to buy a back up canister, at that price you could buy a 5lb and save a couple bucks. 
    • I like both so I smoke for about 2 hours and finish in dehydrator.
    • will stay with this method. dont want to be filling that thing every night.  I have a dozen that I keep reusing . 
    • 20 pounder in my sled aint gonna happen. 
    • Been there done that. Not worth refilling. I'll stick to my 20 lbers!
    • https://www.menards.com/main/heating-cooling/propane-tanks/steel-1-lb-refillable-cylinder-with-refill-kit/ysn1lbkt/p-1491546053102.htm   Only $34.99 at Menards. That looks like the real ticket. Personally I would never re-fill those coleman 1 lbers. They aren't made for it and it seems dangerous to me. This kit comes with one refillable cylinder so you might need to buy one or two more but then they are supposedly good for 12 years. I think I might buy myself one for the holidays.
    • It is super good, but tasted it from a buddy who got it made from a locker.  I know a couple of ingredients like maple syrup and honey but thats about it.
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