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A Couple of Things I Learned at the Saw Chain Factory

Post in 'The Gear' started by Eric Johnson, Jul 28, 2008.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The Oregon Saw Chain company recently hosted the summer meeting of the American Loggers' Council, of which the association I work for is a charter member. So I went out to Portland, OR for the meeting and was treated to a tour of the place where they make all the chain and bars that we love so much. And I learned a couple of things in the process:

    1.) All of the cutters are heat treated and chrome plated.
    2.) The plant makes millions of rivets a day--from steel wire stock which is stamped and heat treated.
    3.) The cutters are sharpened before the chain is assembled.
    4.) Since 1947, the company has manufactured more than 550,000 miles of saw chain.
    5.) The plant runs 24/7 at near capacity.
    6.) All new saw models sold in the U.S. are tested for kickback at the factory with Oregon chain, and the results are reported back to the saw mfg.
    7.) According to the CEO, all saw chain sold at Home Depot is made in China and guaranteed to break.

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  2. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    ...just say'en I use Oregon chain and am very pleased with all the production I can make with it...never had one break on me. Thanks for the report.
  3. aussieblake

    aussieblake New Member

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    Nice to know about the HD chains, I was in there the other day to buy one and decided to pass and go to Lowes and get an Oregon.

    aussieblake
  4. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    The idea of a chain coming apart on me is scary. Another place that it pays to spend a bit more on tools. (I have Stihl chain on my Stihl saw).
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    In my experience, chain breakage (I've broken a few over the years) isn't usually dangerous. Basically, once the tension is gone, the chain just drops down and away from the drive sprocket. But it's annoying and can get expensive.

    BTW, I would expect the CEO of a company to say nasty things about the competition. He did praise Stihl as being high quality and a worthy competitor, but he didn't have anything good to say about the Chinese mfg. He also said that they are seeing counterfeit saw chain--both Stihl and Oregon. So you might want to buy your chain from someplace other than Ebay. Another thing I learned is that both Carlton and Windsor saw chain companies are now owned by Oregon. I think he said they plan to keep those brand names, however.
  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Interesting. I have two new HD chains laying here in the packages. Looking through the clear packages they both say Carlton on the links. Carlton BTW brags that they sharpen the chain after assembly. :lol:

    I have seen Chinese chain in the HD packages but grabbed these two because they were Carltons. Love them Carlton chains and wish they were easier to find.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    They did mention that Carlton sharpens after the chain is assembled. Two ways to look at it, I guess. I asked Oregon if they get the sharp edges dinged up during the mfg process, but apparently it's not a problem. They said that sharpening after assembly introduces the possibility of metal filings getting into the linkages. Of course, that definitely happens every time you sharpen a chain with a file, so it must not be a huge deal.

    Don't know about the HD Carlton, but I'd stay away from anything without a recogngized brand name, i.e., Oregon, Carlton, Stihl or Windsor.
  8. splitterless

    splitterless New Member

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    So what brand name are the chinese chains? Does the local wal-mart sell those even though they are oregon? :-S
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Our Wal-Mart quit selling chains two years ago. But they were regular Oregon "safety" chains made in the U.S. The Chinese chains at HD are sold under the "Power Care" brand. And pretty much cost as much as other chains at other stores.
  10. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Been cutting for 18 years and never had a chain break. Use mostly Oregoin plus some from Baileys. I rotate 8 chains; I believe this minimizes wear on the drive sprocket; but when it's time to replace the drive sprocket, also time to replace all the chains. They "wear in" together.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I run one chain at a time, but change the sprocket ring every second chain, for the reasons you mentioned, Jim. I also try to keep the bar trued up with a bench grinder. I've been getting about 40 tanks, or roughly 20 full cords of 2-foot firewood out of my chains, and that includes one or two major encounters with rocks and other destructive obstacles. I broke an Oregon chain the other day cutting some brush. It had 44 tanks on it, so I guess I can't complain.
  12. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I too keep the bar trued up with a file tool and a rail closer. The file keeps the burs off the edge of the rails, and the rail closer closes the rails as they tend to gradually wear and spread. Both available from Baileys. There use saves wear on the chains and the bar.
  13. Catskill

    Catskill New Member

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    I was able to visit the Shihl factory in Germany a couple of years ago and found it to be a very interesting place. It sounds like you had a good visit. Glad to hear it.
  14. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Last time I was at HD, pretty much all I saw were Oregon packages...I opted to buy them next door at Wal-Mart because the same 2 chain package was $18 there and $22 at HD. I'll have to check the package and see if they're Chinese manufacture when I get home tonight...the package is definitely Oregon though...it all I can find around here in the box stores so I[ve been buying a quality chain for years without even knowing it becuase there are no others offered...all I was doing was buying the absolute cheapest thing on the shelf.
  15. Rickochet

    Rickochet Member

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    What did you find out on the origin of manufacture?
  16. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Nothing actually. The package isn't marked with a country of origin, I suspect it may be printed on the sheet that shows you how to moun the chain, but thats long gone.
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    If it says "Oregon" and is being sold at HD, then I'm sure it's the real deal. I may have misunderstood what the guy said. I thought they didn't sell Oregon chain at HD, but apparently they do. So, to amend my original statement, "any non-Oregon chain sold at Home Depot is made in China."
  18. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Well thats much better.

    Does this mean then that more or less all Oregon chains are a domestically produced quality chain and that they don't have a junk chain they sell to Wally World and other discount box stores? I cna go to Wal-Mary and buy a 2 pack 18" bar chain for about $20 or my local hardware store and buy one chain for $21.
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I was in two HD stores here yesterday and there weren't any Oregon chains to be found anymore. Lowe's still carries them.

    I also inspected several of the Power Care brand chains at HD and it appears that they aren't Carlton anymore. Damnit!
  20. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    All Oregon, Carlton and Windsor chain that you buy in this country is made in the U.S. They have factories in several other countries that make chain for international markets.
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