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help me choose a bar length

Post in 'The Gear' started by RAY_PA, Jun 7, 2008.

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  1. RAY_PA

    RAY_PA Feeling the Heat

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    I am getting the Stihl MS290 sometime next week and I am having trouble deciding what bar length to put on it...18 or 20.

    I fall, limb and cut all my trees in the woods. (or sometimes the lawn, if I am lucky)

    Thanks.

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  2. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Ray I take it you harvesting wood off your own land?

    20" bar works well for me after using a 16" for over 10 years...I have a bad back and tip cut all the time with the limbs on the ground. Some will tell ya 'never to tip cut'...the trick is with a sharp chain and using no force what so ever with half throttle you can tip cut till the cows come home.

    A 20" bar is perfect for this cause you can squat at the knees keeping your back straight most of the time resting your right elbow on your right thigh. It's easy and you can make excellent production.

    Also with a 20" bar you can cut those huge boundary trees too. Since moving up to a 20" I find myself cutting more limbs that I use to just pile up for the lower wildlife...like moles and rabbits at the advice of the DEC.

    Those smaller rounds produced by the cutting of limbs add up to the cord production real fast and burn well in the newer EPA stoves.

    btw I'm 6ft I suppose if a person were shorter perhaps an 18" would work as well. all I know it that when I used a 16" it was a pain to cut the limbs in the field...now I gladly cut 'em and am better off wood wise for doing it.

    Also with my 20" bar I'm buying 73LG chains 10 at a time for less than 11 a chain...not that that's a big consideration but ...just say'en I've been using less chains per season going to a longer bar. I have no idea why that is, I'm no great thinker when it come to logging...just speaking from experience.

    Good luck with your decision.
  3. RAY_PA

    RAY_PA Feeling the Heat

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    Yep, I am cutting on my own land. The saw I have now has a 20 on it and I havent been upset with it, but the dealer suggested an 18, I usually cut the limbs down to about 2 inches, then the rest I pile up for the rabbits and such. I am 5'10".
    great post and thanks.
  4. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    I am 6' 4" and I would recommend a 16" or 18" bar unless you are cutting stuff that requires a little more length. The purpose of a longer bar is not to reduce how much the user has to bend. If stuff is on the ground it is better to take a knee than to be running the tip towards the ground anyway. The dealer is steering you in the right direction.
  5. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Just say'en I completely agree with you.

    When I upgraded to a 20" bar it was like a serendipity type thing when I discovered how much easier it was for my to deal with the smaller limbs.
  6. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    With the 290 I'd go with an 18" or 20", personally I'd do the 18".

    The 18" will give you a little faster chain speed when buried in wood and will be as versatile in most wood compared to the 20". Smaller saws always do a bit better with smaller bars on them. Just make sure you get it with a good non-safety chain and make sure to leave room in your budget for Personal Protection Equipment if you don't already have it.
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I bought the MS290 with an 18" bar a couple years ago. Dealer steered me away from the 20" bar, said it could do it but had more power with the 16" or 18". So far I have no complaints, rips through everthing I've thrown at it.
  8. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    No real reason to maximize bar size there. Go with the 18 for a bit more speed...
  9. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

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    Having run both, I thought that the 18" feels better on that saw than 20". No major difference in performance, really. You should be OK with either, in terms of performance.
  10. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Standard rule of thumb that I've always heard is to have 3-4cc of engine for every inch of bar - especially on a small / homeowner grade saw. Pro-grades can push a little bigger, but you are better off not doing so if you don't have to.

    W/ my consumer grade Pull-on I have a 36cc engine, it came with a 16" bar, and never cut all that well, even w/ brand new, sharp chains. I put a 12" bar on, and it's a little wood eating monster - weighs almost as much as my 80cc Dolmar, but that's the difference between a consumer saw and a pro saw... For my Dolmar, I have both 20" and 28" bars, and the saw works fine with either, but I do 90%+ of my cutting with the short bar, and wouldn't mind terribly if it had an 18" - except that it would probably be way over powered with a shorter bar.

    I've also heard multiple people say that a shorter bar is somewhat safer and easier to keep out of the ground.

    Bottom line, I'd go with the smaller bar.

    Gooserider
  11. RAY_PA

    RAY_PA Feeling the Heat

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    Well, I went with the 18" and I really am glad I did.
    My old (still have it) saw is a Husky 66 with a 20 inch bar. I am not certain what the CC of the Husky is, but it certainly didnt have a lack of power. I will honestly say that I think the 290 is a tad under-power with the 18 and I cant imagine running it with a 20. I like the saw, no doubt. Tons more quite, alot lighter and runs good, but could use a few more CC's. It will be fine, I will just need a little more getting-used-to-it.
  12. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    I have the 029, just an older 290 with the 20 inch bar. I don't think you can go wrong with either size. As for faster chain speed with an 18inch bar??? The sprocket is the same how can that be? I always thought that the 20 inch may stay sharper longer but unless you NEED the extra 2 inches I don't think either is a bad way to go. My next saw will be a pro series to lighten the weight and gain rpms. The 029 is going on probably 60 cord cut and 9 years and still has the same plug on it...buy quality and it lasts!!!
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    IF the engine can spin the sprocket at the same speed, you will get the same speed regardless of bar size... However a longer bar takes more power just to move the chain around it, and so will load the engine down more when you put it to the wood, even if you aren't burying the bar full length. If the saw is seriously powerful, then bar length isn't a big factor, but if you are pushing the engine size / length ratio, then you will get more chain speed with a shorter bar just because the saw isn't loaded down as much...

    As to the longer bar staying sharp longer, in theory you might be right - assuming that each cutter will take out the same amount of wood per pass, it would take "X" number of passes to saw a given log - A longer bar has more cutters on the chain, so the number of passes per cutter would be lower - however I doubt that the difference would be significant since there are only going to be a couple more cutters on a two inch longer bar.

    In general, my opinion, and that of pretty much everyone else that I've seen, is that all else being equal, you are best off with the shortest bar that will let you get the job done... The shorter bar weighs less, takes less energy to move the chain around the bar, leaving more to spend on cutting the wood, is easier to manuver, etc... The exception might be if you are looking for a bar that will let you cut logs that are on the ground without having to bend over too much, in which case an extra inch or two might be nice...

    Gooserider
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