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Shopping for second saw...

Post in 'The Gear' started by Gooserider, Jan 19, 2008.

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  1. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I currently do my own wood processing, about 6-10 cords a year (this may go down once I get a couple more years ahead on the supply) and I need a second / better saw. I do some felling, but most of my wood I get delivered as log length. Almost all the stuff I get is hardwood, and most of it is oak (some white, mostly red)

    My current saw is a 36cc Poulan "homeowner" grade saw - came with a 16" bar, and I didn't find it to cut that well - I have since replaced it with a 12" bar, and learned a bit more about sharpening a chain and adjusting it - now it's a wood eating mini-machine. Great for limbing and small stuff, but doesnt get it on the larger logs. (I still haven't mastered the art of getting my cuts to line up well enough to deal with more than about 16" diameter logs)

    My wood guy brings trees w/ up to 40" or so trunks, so I'd like to get a saw that can handle serious wood occasionally, though I'd like to stick with the usual 3-4cc per inch of bar rule most of the time. Thus what I'm considering is something in the 60-70cc range, more or less, that I will mostly run with around a 20" bar, but have the ability to occasionally swing a 26-28" bar if needed. Does this sound like a logical choice for a second saw?

    I'm inclined towards a Stihl pro-grade, probably an MS441, or (dreaming) an MS460, but could be talked into a Husky / Jonsered, or Dolmar of similar grade - Other saws in that class? (I've seen a couple mentions of Shindaiwa?) Cost is a definite issue, but I think a pro-grade saw is probably worth it. I'd also look more favorably on a saw that makes it's power with displacement, not revving through the ceiling... I think an outside sprocket is also a desirable feature. I'm not unwilling to go for a used saw, as long as it's in reasonably decent shape, however I cheaped out on getting my Poulan (before I started burning) and this time I'd rather pay for whatever it takes to get a GOOD saw...

    I've noticed there is some difference in the chain sizes the different saws seem to come with - some use 3/8", some .325, and some .050 - Is there any real difference to make one size better than the others?

    Any particularly good model reccomendations?

    How about good shops in the Lowell MA area? I'd also be interested in shops in southern NH - we get up to the Nashua / Manchester area fairly often... When is a good time to buy a saw (i.e. when are the dealers most likely to be A: Hungry, and B: Loaded down with used saws and / or last years models?

    Other good places to purchase a decent used saw?

    Thanks,

    Gooserider

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  2. MALogger

    MALogger New Member

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    Loc:
    Foxboro, MA
  3. sedanman

    sedanman New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
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    Goose, If you were close I'd let you try my 5100 and my 361. My 5100 is fitted with .325 chain in .050 guage (thickness of the drive links) My 361 is fitted with 3/8 .050 chain. The 5100 is 51cc and the .325 chain has smaller teeth than the 3/8 so it puts less load on the smaller saw and alllows it ti stay in its powerband easier. The 361 is 59cc (makes more of a difference than you might think) and easily pulls the larger (faster) 3/8 chain. If I could only have one saw it would be something in the 60cc range. If were only to have 2 saws ( I have a chainsaw addiction) I would have a 5100 and a 7900, these two saws are the best 50 and 70cc saws out there.

    Chain is measured by pitch and guage. Pitch is the distance between three rivets divided by two, sound nuts but that's how it is. Guage is the thickness of the drive links which must match the width of the bar groove.

    There is 1/4" pitch chain (older smalll saws and modern carving saws)
    3/8 low profile, sometimes called .370 pitch
    .325 pitch, good for anything up to 60cc
    3/8 good for 50cc and up (I like .325 better for most 50cc saws)
    .404 BIG lumberjack saws over 100cc
    1/2", no longer made used to be common on older saws.

    1/4" is made in .050 guage
    3/8 low profile is made in .043 and .050 guage
    .325 is made in .050,.058,.063 guage
    3/8 is made in .050,.058,.063 guage
    .404 is made in .063 (maybe others but I'm not sure)
    1/2" is no longer made.

    Then there is a dizzying variety of cutter(tooth) styles and sequences(cutter spacing. To get the right chain for a given saw you need to know pitch, guage, # of drive links (length) and cutter style/sequence.
  4. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
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    337
    Loc:
    East Lansing, MI
    Buying new, any of the 70cc-80cc saws would be fine, though your post suggests a preference for torque over revs. If this is the case, the clear answer is the 7900 - open the muffler up a bit and you'll have 6.5hp+ with a ton of torque. Mine is my go-to saw for all purposes except super small stuff, and runs a 20" bar normally and a 28" when I don't feel like bringing a second, bigger saw along. With a bit of searching you can find one for $650 with a 20-28"bar.

    Otherwise, the Stihl 460 (with dual-port muffler cover) is a very strong saw. The 441 is a very nice saw, thoguh I still prefer the feel and sound of the late 440. Your best bet, dollar for dollar, might be a used or rebuilt 044/440, especially if you're ok doing a bit of work to get it up and running at 100%.
  5. fullbore

    fullbore New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
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    Loc:
    Northeast PA
    I have two Stihl 046 Mags. The dual port covers make a big difference. My first 046 came with a factory dual port cover, later I bought another in 2000 and it had the choked down, single port cover. It ran much worse than my first 046. After changing the muffler cover, it really came to life! The 046 is a great saw with good power to weight. You can cut all day with it and not kill your back. I usually run a 25" bar but it'll handle bigger without any issues. It's definitely overkill for firewood cutting; however, you be amazed at how much work you can get done in a single hour...
  6. downeast

    downeast Guest

    With the logs dropped off, most of the hard work is done for you.

    No need for for a logger's saw like a MS440; that's what we use in the woods for felling, pulping, sawlogs, TSI work, felling.
    Look at the 3 cu ft saws with a 16"-20" bar : they have the torque, power, and are light enough to use for firewood bucking all day. The best IMNSHO are the older but reliable Stihl MS260, or the go fast but tricky-in-the-cut, Husqvarna 346XP. Loggers and arborists find that the lighter saws are less fatiguing for all day work....and safer.

    Get a good NON-safety "yellow" chain that you can sharpen by hand--we like the Stihl chains for durability. "Safety or "green" chains have bumper tie straps that actually make cutting rougher and more difficult. While they are supposed to prevent kickback, most users find that they create more danger than not.

    Not mentioned by anyone here ( except Eric of course) is PPE. :bug: Get it. Use it. If you don't use know what it is, or don't use it, don't use a chainsaw. There are no macho chainsaw cutters.
  7. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Thought I'd do an update - After the advice here, and asking the same question over on Arboristsite, I decided to go with the big kahuna, and got a Dolmar 7900, and a bunch of other stuff from Amick's - even with shipping I saved almost $100 over the best price I could get from a local dealer - I got the saw, two bars 20" and 28" - two chains for each bar, a dozen files (on sale for $8.95 / dozen) a metal grease gun, a digital tach, and a helmet/muff/faceshield unit.

    Service from Amicks was great - I put the order in about 10:45 on a Friday, it shipped 1:00 the same day, and arrived in MA on Tuesday morning. Only problem was the saw took a tumble and the plastic handle on the chainbrake got cracked - I called Amicks and they said they didn't have one in stock, but would pull one off another saw and send it out ASAP - otherwise stuff looks great. Unfortunately, it's been raining and snowing since it arrived so I haven't had a chance to go out and test the new saw, but I can hardly wait... (I don't want to try getting familiar with a new peice of equipment when the weather isn't safe...)

    Other than the broken chainbrake lever, the saw looks really nice, everything appears to be well designed and put together. The manual and tool kit are well done, and they even give you a tool to clean the cylinder cooling fins - seems like a good purchase, will see how it runs as soon as the weather breaks.

    Gooserider
  8. downeast

    downeast Guest

    28" BAR !! :bug:
    This is a PNW size bar for big, man sized wood, not our tiny tiny logs back East. %-P Nice saw for logging, or tree work.
    Got chaps ?
    Got steel toe boots ?
    Hey, best of luck......kinda like driving a tank to the office. :lol:
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    As I've said before, I've had 36"+ logs dropped in my yard by my wood guy, and I don't really like having to do the full length double cuts... I'm figuring roughly 30% of my cutting I'll stick with the slightly lighter Poulan for limbing and the like, 65% of it will be with the 20" bar on the new saw, and maybe 5%, if that, using the 28" bar - but I want that ability to do the 5%.

    I have to say that I'm REALLY impressed by the service at Amick's - As I mentioned above, when I got the saw I found the handle on the chain brake was broken - apparently from shipping damage. I called my sales guy, Tony, at about 4:30PM on Tuesday, the day I got the saw. He said he didn't have the part in stock, but would pull one off a new saw, and that it would go out the next day (as it was too late for that day's shipments) - I'm certain that if I'd asked, he would have been willing to do a replacement, but I thought getting the part and changing it myself would be faster / easier all around. The part arrived FRIDAY morning, in good condition, with a note inviting me to call if I needed advice on installing the part, and a $10 bill to compensate me for the trouble... :coolsmile: THAT is what I call taking care of a customer! (Bear in mind that the price I paid was already $70 less than the best local dealer I could find...)

    I tried the saw out for a little bit the other day, using the 20" bar on an oak that fell in the neighbors back yard, probably about 14" at the base, and it was amazing - went through the wood like it wasn't there. Weight was reasonable, noise wasn't bad, and seemed like it had way less vibration than my Poulan, especially at speed, it was a bit "lumpy" at idle. It was a beast to get started initially, I suspect because I was having to pull fuel through the lines and carb, etc. but once I got it started the first time, the subsequent restarts were all 1-2 pulls... Makes me really want to get in some more wood for cutting.

    As to the gear, I have and wear a pair of Stihl chaps, a pair of Matterhorn Chainsaw boots (UL Listed, 12", 7 layers of kevlar, steel shanks and toes...) a pair of Husky chainsaw gloves, and now a helmet/muff/screen unit - Only part of me that isn't armored is my upper body, and the stats I've seen on injuries (as posted by makers of the armor - presumably interested in inflating the number for sales advantage) don't seem to justify the costs.

    Gooserider
  10. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Nice choice of a pro saw and glad that you have PPE.
    Now about those local helpless "girls" you know................. %-P
  11. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    central Indiana
    Dolmar starting tips. The 7900 is horse of a saw. Depress blue button, pull choke. Hold firmly then pull it til it fires even the smallest hint of rumble.. Now close choke. Do not touch the trigger.Touching trigger will turn off fast idle mode. Pull it one or two more times it should fire and go to fast idle. let it run for a couple of seconds then tap trigger.
    Stating 5100s They can be tricky. Slide start/choke lever to the top position.,again do not touch throttle trigger. Pull until it fires or "Pops" Then push start switch down to Middle "Run" position and pull again. It should be running within 2 pulls.
    Love them Dolmars.
  12. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Have you tried the new Dolmar out Goose? I'm thinking of selling my 056 and a couple cords of wood to finance one. I'm really interested to see what you think.

    Of course I might just break down and buy one outright since I've caught the MCD (That's gotta pass the wife approval test).
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the tips, will give that a try the next time I go to start it. As I said, I think the first time was a bear more because of needing to fill up the fuel system than anything else, plus I may have flooded it and then needed to clear it out. I will say that there is something to be said for a primer bulb, even if some folks don't approve of them. Once I had the saw warmed up, it was no trouble at all to start.

    So far I've only done a short stint, about 1/2 tank or so worth, in miserable weather, while fighting off a bad cold (which I've still got) Did at least the initial cuts to turn the better part of a 50-60' tall oak, about 16" diameter at the base, into 18" log length - I'M IMPRESSED! I would say performance is somewhere between "Light Saber" and "Ginsu Knife" - "It slices, it dices, it turns trees into cole slaw" :coolsmirk: It was more or less put the bar on the trunk, pull the trigger and let the saw fall through the tree. I didn't feel like the saw was getting loaded down at all. It shook a little bit at idle, sort of the way a big engine car does, but once you rev the engine it goes dead smooth, hardly any buzz, much less than my Poulan which will just about put my hands to sleep after a full tank of gas. Weight was reasonable I didn't feel any major strain in my arms, though my lower back was starting to give me grief about all the bending over. This is my first time with a big engine saw so I can't say how the Dolmar compares to the 056, but it is impressive to say the least. Build construction seems excellent, the only thing that arguably feels a bit "cheesy" is the kill switch, which is a slider as opposed to a toggle, and feels a little "gritty" in action, but presumably works fine.

    Gooserider
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