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New mid-range chainsaw for Christmas?

Post in 'The Gear' started by cbrodsky, Dec 10, 2006.

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  1. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    I have a Homelite 16" 33CC saw that I bought for $109 4 years ago. Over the past couple years, I'd guess I've cut at least 4-5 cords with it. (lighter load last year since I helped a neighbor cut his trees thus didn't have to do all the cutting)

    We burn about 4-5 cords per year, most of which I'll process on our own land. In addition, I'm considering opening up an acre or so of woods to start a pasture area in the next few months. This could involve "getting ahead" on my wood a couple years and would mean a lot more cutting - lots of tall trees easily 30ft+ - frankly too many so their skinnier and crowded and could stand thinning.

    I honestly can't complain yet about my Homelite, but I've already found a couple times that it's nice to have two when you screw up and get one stuck, so this is my first interest in another saw. (I borrowed a friends saw to get unstuck once... and it was also a Homelite although even lamer than mine - I think 14" :)

    So, I do subscribe to the idea two saws are nice to have, but I'm not totally clear on what I'm really going to see "better" with a "name brand" saw in the $300 range - image alone is not reason enough, nor are claims of "anything in a big box store is junk." I don't really want to spend more than this since so far, $109 has done a pretty damn good job. But if I could cut makedly faster, and support a larger bar for larger trees when needed, like one gigantic dead ash I have to take down at some point, then I would be interested in paying a little more. Not $500 though.

    I'm a bit turned off by Stihl's forcing their product through local dealers that do not do anything on price - this makes me think big big markup and on specs, hard to see what justifies the prices. I did stop in one locally to see if they had biodegradable oil, and they acted like I was an idiot for wanting it... so much for the wonder service.

    Husqvarna is one I've been looking at as there is at least some competition in the distribution network yet it seems equally well regarded. In the $300 range, they have a 350e that looks quite a bit larger and more powerful than my current saw, but they also have a 346 XP that seems similar weight, slighly more HP out of less cc, but rated to have more vibration.

    Any thoughts on these from people that have them? Would either really make a meaningful difference or would I just be blowing money on something that won't really matter that much for my level of use? Should I be looking at something else?

    Thanks,
    Colin

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  2. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Sence you already have a 33 cc saw i would suggest the Husqvarna 359 for about $380.00 or the Dolmar 5100S for about $380. Really great firewood chainsaws for a mid low level saw and good prices.

    The Husqvarna 346XP is an awesome saw and would work great if all the trees you cut was under 16". It s a high speed saw but dont have quite the torque the other two has for your mid size saw needs.

    The 5100 and the 359 have some more oomf for mid size trees. For you price budget these saw are your #1 choices ( at least my choices )
  3. sedanman

    sedanman New Member

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    The Dolmar PS460)46cc) and PS510(51cc) are good choices too, The 460 is in the $299 range and the 510 is on the $350 range. The 510 is the same displacement as the 5100 and .2hp less powerful, it also has aluminum crankcases vs. the pricier magnesium crankcases of the 5100.
  4. bobo

    bobo New Member

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    I ran the ps510 and it too was a real nice saw. Sedanman you are correct on this.
  5. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    sedanman , bobo ........... I'm actually really suprised you guys suggest a 45cc-50cc chainsaw for a mid range saw for firewood cutting 5 cords a year and also taking on a job to "opening up an acre" of land felling trees with thinning other lots.

    To be honest if i was in Colins shoes and from what i know now over the years i would get a Stihl 361 , Husqvarna 357xp , Husqvarna 365 or 372XP/ms440 minimum for this kind of job/work.

    I have two 346xp's , one 359 & one 372XP and myself wouldnt want anything less than a 59/60 cc chainsaw for what he is looking at doing.

    Colin , I dont think your going to see a power house of difference from your 33 cc to a 45 cc size saw.
  6. bobo

    bobo New Member

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    He could just get the PS7900 and that would take care of everything less then a 395xp or ms660. The 7900 will kick the 372 and 440's butt's.

    PS7900 = 13.9 lbs 6.3hp bang for the buck

    372xp = 14.75 lbs 5.4hp needs to go on diet

    MS 440 = 13.4 lbs 5.3hp nice weight but needs more hp

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  7. bobo

    bobo New Member

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    Here your saying a 5100 would be ok .Then in the next post you say how could we even suggest a 50cc saw? Care to explain this?


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  8. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Read enough posts here or on Arboristsite and after while you'll realize the Dolmar is recommended more and complained about less. When I win the lottery I'm getting a Dolmar 5100. For now it's me and the WildThang. 9 years old and still getting the job done....
  9. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    Out here I don't know anyone who runs one. I'll have to check around for a dealer.
  10. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Hmm - seems like there is some debate as to whether a 50cc is going to really speed my work up significantly or not. That is important - otherwise I have a hard time justifying spending $300 on a saw.

    I guess I should look into the Dolmar brand some more - would just like to make sure it's established with good parts availability. Obviously I assumed that if the Homelite dies someday, it may go in the trash heap... for $300+, I want to be able to repair it :)

    Sounds like the Dolmar 510 would be very similar to Husky 350e in specs at least so I will look into it.

    For Stihl, it seems like the MS290 is in similar class but larger end of displacement range and recommended for woodcutting/farm use - "mid-range" and a notch up over a homeowner saw, but not a "pro" saw. Looks like quite a bit heavier than Husky 350 which I've seen it compared to. (why is MS270 smaller displacement, but more $?) Also 350 is about $50-$60 cheaper online - many shipping w/extra chains too.

    As for more displacement or power, the one concern I had beyond cost was weight - I have read that too big a saw gets unpleasant after a while... that was part of the reason I was looking at saws in the ~10 lb. range vs. 12+.

    I'm fairly certain that the next class of pro saws are well beyond the level of use I intend, which is probably no more than 50-100 hours in a typical year; but I wouldn't mind having something that gets the job done faster than what I have and is maybe nicer to start cold. (current saw requires priming, 5 pulls, adj. choke, set on max speed, hope it starts; if not, back to max choke again, etc...) Also saw some models slow the oil pump when idle - this irritates me with my current saw - when I idle it and then start again, it spews a huge glob of oil everywhere. Kind of wasteful.

    Perhaps if I can narrow down the right class of saw and displacement through this discussion, I can go start a flame war on picking the best brand/model :lol:

    Oh, one thing I should clarify about clearing - anything I do out of that acre is going to be banking my wood ahead; that is, I am not going to clear acres on a regular basis. This would be something I do over a couple years and I suspect I'll end up with 4-5 years of wood out of the deal. But with that heavier work coming this spring, I thought good time to investigate whether I should have a better saw.

    Thanks for all the input,
    Colin
  11. sedanman

    sedanman New Member

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    Soapstone, I see you are in Millbrook. I live in Beacon and run a Dolmar dealer in Fishkill. I would be willing to lend you my personal 5100 to try out (take it for a weekend), you WILL see a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE between this and youre 33 cc saw. I do not have a 460 set up for demo use but that too would be more powerful and durable than your 33cc Homelite. Call the store on monday, 845-896-6221 (ask for Paul) I will NOT ship a saw to anyone as this is a violation of my dealer agreement with Dolmar.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I understand your feelings about a dealer, but a chainsaw is not your typical consumer item. As in, it can kill you if it's not properly maintained. Hell, it can kill you even if it is.

    Here's one reason to pay a few bucks more at a dealer:

    If you buy a decent chainsaw, there's a break-in period--say four or five tanks of gas. A dealer will set your carb to run rich during the break-in period. Then, you need to take it back and have the carb leaned out and the RPMs set for normal use. To do that, you need a tachometer.

    Ain't nobody at Home Depot or Lowe's gonna do that for you. So you're either buying a saw that's factory set too lean for break-in or too rich for long-term use. Either way, your saw's performance will suffer over time. Try to lean your carb out by ear and you risk damaging the engine, since the setting that makes the saw sound "good" is too lean.

    I'm as cheap as the next guy, but I tend to spend more than the bare minimum on products and services that I know something about, mainly because I know something about them and recognize the long-term savings and value provided by good quality products and services. Of course, there are good dealers and bad dealers but a good one, IMO, is worth paying a little extra to do business with.
  13. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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  14. sedanman

    sedanman New Member

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    Plus $16.95 shipping = $316.90, You put it together and set it up. It takes a few days to get to your house, UPS (United Package Smashers) might crush it then you have to send it back and wait for another one. You buy a saw from a dealer and it's ready to go, set up , test run, verify the oiler works, show you all the controls (might be different from your old saw with a seperate choke lever and kill switch) answer any questions you may have, register the warranty FOR YOU, and you leave with full oil and fuel tanks. And the dealer will talk to you before you spend any money to make sure what you're looking at will suit your needs, I have sold people smaller saw than they were looking at after talking to them. Sometimes people just want what their neighbor has even though their needs are different. I also have 3 saws in demo use, I had to buy these to let people try them out, a PS3410TH top handle arborist saw, a PS5100s and a PS7900. Will Baileys let you try out a saw? If a storm blows though your town and you rock out all your chains cleaning up after it, who can get you back up and running quicker, your local dealer or the mail order guys? Will the mail order guy be able to adjust your carb if it's not right?
  15. bobo

    bobo New Member

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    Nothing wrong with Baileys. One question is on a mail order saw who is going to do warranty work if needed. My Husky dealer will put you on the shelf if you didn't buy from him . So you send it back to Baileys who covers all the shipping.

    Sorry buy local and buy from a servicing dealer. That way your covered.

    Warranty is only as good as the dealer (that takes care of it).





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  16. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    510 ~ 3.2 hp
    5100s ~ 4.0 hp

    Yes , i suggested the 5100 and then the 510 was thrown in the mix for firewood.
    I'm suggesting the 4.0 hp saw 5100s and not the 3.2 hp 510 model
  17. sedanman

    sedanman New Member

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    I just looked at the latest specs, the 5100 is listed at 3.8hp and the 510 is 3.2 so I guess it's .6 hp different not the .2 I stated earlier and it's not the .8 Roospike states either. SEE!, we all make mistakes. Still, the 510 fits the bill for enough power WITHIIN THE BUDGET.
  18. Yogi

    Yogi New Member

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    I have been quietly reading all of this as well, not sure of the pricing on the Dolmar, but I know several people that run Husqvarna 350's and have been very happy with the way they perform. Priced at around $325, it's close to the budget and at 3.1hp compares to the Dolmar 510.
    I fully respect trying to stay in a budget, and have read a lot of late at other chainsaw sites. I see where they are always pushing people to purchase the po versions of saw where it doesn't seem, to me, it is warranted. I would love to have a 70 or 80cc saw, but I don't need one, much less cant afford one. Lets all step back a bit and put ourselves in his shoes, what will work for him on his budget vs. what we "think" he needs, before he breaks the bank.
  19. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    I know the Dolmar site states 3.8 but a lot of the dealers and guys at the Arborist site are stating 4.0 ...new model ,usa model, this that and the other thing , bla ...bla ... bla... , maybe a bunch of Dolmar BS , i dont know but i just have called it 4.0 per the information.

    If Colin bought a ms170 to stay in budget its not going to bother me one bit , I'm just posting information from my experience. I would rather have some one get the right chainsaw and say it works great for them and they had no idea of the difference ( just as i did at one time going to a real saw made for what i need it for ) vs spending the money on an under powered item and not being happy with the purchase.

    Colin owns a soapstone stove so he knows the difference from the bottom of the line to what the better quality item will do for your needs. Chainsaws is no different. That would-a , should-a , could-a "after" the purchase is what gets you for years.

    Just my .02
  20. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Hey Yogi ! Why dont you post your story .............

    You know the one when your were thingking the Poulan wild thing was the greatest chainsaw and then upgraded to a 346XP and now also having the 090. night and day difference ? The right saw for the right job? makes the underpowered saw look like a toy now? You've been there, done that , you know what I'm talking about.

    This is the same thing Colin is asking about now.

    BTW, just for the record...... there is a difference from a saw that will "get you by" or a saw that possibly "fits your need" to the "right saw for the job" ..... Im suggesting the right saw for the job. If the saw is to get you by then you Colin already has that saw , the Husqvarna 350/ect.. is a great saw but i dont think its the right size saw for what he is doing tho it will work.
  21. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    I bought a Husky 50 about 20 years ago. Its not a pro saw. I took very good care of it. My dad still uses it today. That saw has cut about 10 cord a year since I bought it. The only major thing I have had to do to it is rebiuld the carb. Pro saws are great. But it does not matter if you pay 200$or1000$ for a saw. If you dont take care of it it wont last a year or 2.
    JMO JOHN
  22. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Hey EH mitch's opposite the Eagel brook on Rt 1A Norfolk sells both Stihl and Dolmar saws
  23. Yogi

    Yogi New Member

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    Ok, I got a GREAT saw, for a little more than a new Wildthing would have cost me, no way to pass up on that deal, but how often does that happen? But, it is still a 50cc saw, versus a 40cc? saw, right?
    I do not own an 090, just think they are sweet saws and after researching had to change my signature to show proper apreciation o the biggest saw ever made. I would probably cut myself in half with something like that!

    The propper saw for what the job calls for? Ok, a Dolmar 7900, light, powerful, and can be bought at a decent price. But it's out of the budget.
  24. ourhouse

    ourhouse Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Elk I can check out the saws and get a beer. Do you run a Dolmar or know anyone who runs one?
  25. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Funny how I started this thread and today I ended up chainsawing up a storm.

    Coming home this afternoon, turns out our neighbor was cutting down a dead tree on his 4 acres, and like last year when he had some standing deadwood to cut, he was cutting them to 16" length for me to come pick up. Really cool guy. I have been neglecting to deal with a massive tree that was completely rotted out near the base and not that far from our house - figured I'd get his advice since he was out cutting today. He ended up coming up to help me take it down after dropping his tree. In about 15 minutes, it was done. He used a 24 ft ladder to put a huge rope ~20 ft. up the tree. Tree must have been at least 50 ft tall and > 20" base - I'll have to measure it before bucking it up. Routed the rope towards the ground in the direction to fall. He also has a nice pulley and strap assembly that we were able to use on another tree at ground level to anchor the fall line and then redirect the rope back to a pickup pulling on the tree to assist. Worked beautifully - tree hung a bit in the others as it came down but that was the planned direction - then used the same tow rope to drag the tree out and get it on the ground and now it's nicely laid out for processing. Actually the thick end is a couple feet off the ground to really make it easy. Last year I helped him cut up some of his trees and watched him use the same method - worked great every time on some big ash.

    After he saved me many hundreds or more with this, the least I could do was go spend an hour sawing up the rest of his tree he had taken down and cleaning everything up for him!

    My biggest complaint with the saw is just that it seems to really slow down easily as I get well into a cut - particularly when > 1 foot diameter. I file the chain after each tank of gas as some here suggest - this helps, but it still can be slow going at times. When I was done, I had about 2 Tacoma loads of nice hardwood dumped in my splitting area. Strong smell when cut - birch?

    The Dolmar 5100S sounds like a really good candidate if I raised the budget a bit (not sure how much...) - seems like a similar class to Husky 346XP but quite a bit more HP. And if I didn't spend that much more, the Husky 350e seems good. The Dolmar 510 is listed as being a lot heavier in that class - not sure why.

    Will also get in touch with sedanman - I work in East Fishkill so not far at all! Small world on Hearth.com...

    -Colin

    ps - really bad picture attached... didn't have much time. I tried to brighten the lower part so you can see the tree next to this guy and the woodshed for frame of reference... can also see pull line if you look carefully. The crown of the tree is still well above the top of this picture. Can also see all the rotted core about 6 ft up from the base. Never should have let it sit this long... we probably could have not even used a saw and just yanked it down with the truck.

    Will have to post a picture of the "after" later.

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