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Stihl MS 290 best bar and chain?

Post in 'The Gear' started by basswidow, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    I just picked up a used MS 290 with a 20 inch bar. Looks to have a skip tooth chain. I know alot of guys have this saw on Hearth.com and was looking for advice for the best bar size 16,18,20 and best chain. I am leaning toward staying with a 20 bar, but I'd like it to perform well. I'd like a good quality chain that will require less frequent sharpening and one that will really scream thru the wood. I know this is a mid performing saw, but I am expecting a significant improvement over my 37 hp ECHO. My ECHO is a 16 inch so I got this for alittle bigger stuff.

    Thanks.

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  2. southbound

    southbound Minister of Fire

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    I run a .325 20 inch bar with Stihl RSC chain... Works great for me and is what Stihl recommends in the 20 inch bar......
  3. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I run the 290 with a 16"bar and either Stihl yellow or Oregon chisel that I picked up from Amecks.

    I have a 20" bar for it, but the dealer only had green safety for it when I picked it up so that is what I run on it. I rarely use it though since the 16 handles almost all my needs.

    Sharpenings are based on use and the amount of crap in the wood. If I cut clean wood in the the country the chain lasts longer between filings than if I cut wood in the city. A quick touchup when you refill oil and gas and you will stay happy with whatever chain you have. If I bought a chain based on time intervals between sharpenings I'd be afraid I'd end up with some weird temper like they did with handsaws.

    Matt
  4. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    I think 20" bar would be best since that's what you have, lol. Seriously, that bar will do fine & I wouldn't see much point downsizing just 2" to 18". You already have a saw with a 16".
    +1 on Stihl RSC, 2'nd choice would be the Woodand Pro chisel or semi-chisel. Skip chain or not is up to you. You would likely only notice a difference with the bar buried. Skip will dull a bit faster, but be quicker to sharpen again.
    That set-up will serve your firewood needs very well I think.
  5. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    Drill the muffler, pull the limiter tabs/retune and it will pull a 20" .325 nicely.
  6. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    3/8 or .325 is the chain pitch. Does each require a different sprocket and bar? I guess when I get it, there will be markings on the bar to tell me what pitch it will accept? Saw was bought off ebay.

    What comes standard with the saw ? or is this different depending on buyers preference ?

    Looking at the Stihl catalogue, there are alot of chains .

    I see the RSC (Rapid Super Comfort). And it's listed as an aggresive full chisel (Yellow).

    When I receive my used saw, will there be markings to identify the chain brand and type? Maybe the skip chain that is on it will be fine, but I'd still like a few spares. Thanks. Guess I'll have to wait until I receive it to know if its .325 or 3/8.

    Sure hope it runs strong.

    Thanks for the tips.
  7. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    yes its a difernt bar and sprocket set-up. Id is stamp on the bar close to the saw.
  8. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, that's what I was thinking. Maybe I can shoot him a message to find out what the saw has as the listing didn't say.

    Maybe the skip chain will serve me fine. I know that skips are used to discharge / clear the chips out faster. Maybe the set up is already a screamer. Having less teeth to file does sound nice. I usually point up the chain on each tank full.

    I fear that guys know when to unload a saw. Hopefully this one still has some life left in it. Good thing is, there are plenty of spare parts available for this saw.

    Thanks again.
  9. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I like to run the shortest and most narrow chain possible. Without braking the bank! My 880 running 3/8 thats pretty thin for that saw.
  10. whrlkng

    whrlkng New Member

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    I've run all three, but usually use an 18. The 20 will bog slightly more than an 18. The "recommended" length, per Stihl's chart, is actually 16. There isn't too much one can't do with an 18 that can be done with a 20, if you're using the right cutting techniques. To make a huge performance leap on a bigger bar, you really need a pro level saw i.e. 362 or 660 ( the 290's rated power is 3.8 ... that 37 hp Echo must really scream.... : ) There are muffler mods that can be done to the 290 as mentioned.

    You don't really say what your intended use of the saw is, kinda important.

    If it was me, I'd just wait til you need to replace the bar, unless money is no object ( in which case you might be better just upgrading the saw ). Depends on how important it is to you to finish slightly faster.

    Usually the more aggressive the chain, the more often you need to sharpen. Touching it up often is important, as already mentioned. RSC chains are quik, but you also need to maintain the right angles.
  11. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    That's what I'd do. New models I've seen come with RMC3 chain (semi-chisel green safety chain). Forget that chain and get a new loop of yellow RSC (full-chisel).

    A stock 290 bogs down too much for my taste when burying a 20" bar. The vibrations get to me, too.
  12. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    I agree with you and Hermit above....... 18" .325 with a muffler mod is probably the sweet spot for a 290
  13. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    I don't mind the poke at my ECHO. That cheap little saw has cut a ton of wood for me, but I've gone at stuff that I shouldn't even attempt with that saw and need something bigger.

    I scrounge my own firewood. Mostly trees that are down due to construction or storms. A bigger saw will allow me to get bigger stuff. Last year I did 9 cords. This is what the saw will be used for. I would love to have picked us a professional grade 362 or other or a husky xp. Money is an issue. I was also looking for a Makita 6401.

    Last year I scored some maple from a tree service and watch them buck logs at a tremendous pace. They loaded me up with partial tree lengths that I had to buck and it was a joke with my saw. Right then, the light bulb went off and I was drooling for a better saw.

    I started out with a Dolmar 5100 but had some problems with it. The Echo was cheap and disposable. I'm ready for something with alittle more get up and go.
  14. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    Basswidow:

    "I don't mind the poke at my ECHO. That cheap little saw has cut a ton of wood for me, but I've gone at stuff that I shouldn't even attempt with that saw and need something bigger.

    I scrounge my own firewood. Mostly trees that are down due to construction or storms. A bigger saw will allow me to get bigger stuff. Last year I did 9 cords. This is what the saw will be used for. I would love to have picked us a professional grade 362 or other or a husky xp. Money is an issue. I was also looking for a Makita 6401.

    Last year I scored some maple from a tree service and watch them buck logs at a tremendous pace. They loaded me up with partial tree lengths that I had to buck and it was a joke with my saw. Right then, the light bulb went off and I was drooling for a better saw.

    I started out with a Dolmar 5100 but had some problems with it. The Echo was cheap and disposable. I'm ready for something with alittle more get up and go."


    Several times you mention that your Echo was cheap. I was at Home Depot yesterday. Their 18", 40.2cc Echo was $299.95. The list price on a Stihl 290 with an 18" bar is $359.95...doesn't seem like a huge difference?
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Whatever you do, go with Stihl brand chain. It makes a difference, IMO
  16. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Yeah - full retail, the 400 and 440 are $299. I paid $ 179 for mine.

    You can get a refurb Rancher 455 for $289. I'd get that over an echo 400.
  17. whrlkng

    whrlkng New Member

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    That wasn't a poke at the ECHO, only the typo about 37 hp. If that's accurate you might be a tad disappointed with an 880 Mag, cuz it's only 8.6 : )

    You must be really dealing with some monster dbh trees then. For reference, last year I did about 30 cords with my 290 w/18" and several of the trees were in the 30-40" dbh range. Those would certainly have been done a bit easier with a Mag saw, but it can be done. The 290 is a great bang for the buck saw, and that's why it's so popular with the masses. If you want tree service type speed, you'll have to pay tree service type saw prices.

    You might want to get checked out by your doc for possible CAD and BBE.
  18. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    oops

    Hermit you're right. I think it's CC's not HP, I stand corrected. Yeah I don't need that much HP!

    What's cad and bbe?
  19. whrlkng

    whrlkng New Member

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    Chainsaw Acquiring ( or Addiction etc. ) Disorder

    Big Bar Envy
  20. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I've got a Stihl MS390 with a muffler mod running a 16 inch bar. It really tears through the oak and hickory I have around here. I have no experience with a yellow chain but might try one some day.
  21. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Now that's funny! Is there like a 12 step program for that?
  22. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    There is no known cure. Just stay away from the enablers in the Chainsaw forum at ArboristSite.

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