Bar and chain oil

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
All I've ever used has been Stihl and Husqvarna, both are really sticky and thick. Somewhere along the way I picked up the cheap stuff from Walmart, SuperTech SAE 30. I'm at the end of my Husqvarna and figured I better get the cheap ready, I had no idea it was so much thinner. At first I thought this can't be good, then I realized it might be better in cold weather. After I cleaned, refueled and filled with Husqvarna oil, I started it and the bar struggled to get going. Is it best to switch to a lower viscosity oil for winter?

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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Yes winter oil is needed in the cold, depending on how cold it gets there. That SAE 30 isn't really winter oil, most winter oil is about SAE 20W.

Supposedly the all season Husqvarna bar oil is good down to 15f (-9c), which I have a hard time believing because their winter oil is like molasses at -4f (-20c). Personally I run almost exclusively Husqvarna winter bar oil, at least up to about 50f (10c) temps. Saves on switching back and forth and worrying about have summer oil in the winter. I always turn up the oil when above freezing, helps keep the dirt out of the bar and chain and limits heat build up. In the winter here a saw needs less bar oil, the dirt is froze keeping it clean, and the snow does a very good job keeping the bar and chain cool.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
You will get a lot of opinions on here about buying name brand, high dollar, super sticky oil. I think all of the folks who do so are misinformed. I buy one gallon jugs of straight canola oil from Amazon, Walmart, or Target for $6/gallon and run it straight in all of my saws. Originally I wanted to use the canola oil so I wouldn't contaminate my chainsaw milled lumber with carcinogenic chemicals. After trying it for a few tanks of fuel I prefer it over anything else. It flows great in the winter and even in the heat of summer I still get at least one tank of oil per tank of fuel. On my saws with adjustable oilers the canola oil works just the same as purpose made bar oil. The only downsides are sticky and stiff chains. Easy to solve by dipping the loops in alcohol, or any other solvent, or don't and let the sticky dried canola oil work as a rust protectant. Once I get the saw started and rev it a few times to get the oil flowing you wouldn't even know there was canola oil in the tank.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
I use what all the old timers used when I was a kid cutting wood with my father and grandfather, used motor oil. Works great and free
It's really bad for the environment, but otherwise you are correct. Pretty much any oil that is liquid when cold will work in a chainsaw.
 

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
Yes winter oil is needed in the cold, depending on how cold it gets there. That SAE 30 isn't really winter oil, most winter oil is about SAE 20W.

Supposedly the all season Husqvarna bar oil is good down to 15f (-9c), which I have a hard time believing because their winter oil is like molasses at -4f (-20c).
The temperature was in the high teens when I tested it, the first few times it died when I went to rev it up, it was obviously bogging down on engaging the chain. When filling the Husqvarna oil with it's stickifiers you almost need scissors to cut the oil when you're done, and then it would be stuck to the scissors. LOL
 

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
You will get a lot of opinions on here about buying name brand, high dollar, super sticky oil. I think all of the folks who do so are misinformed. I buy one gallon jugs of straight canola oil from Amazon, Walmart, or Target for $6/gallon and run it straight in all of my saws. Originally I wanted to use the canola oil so I wouldn't contaminate my chainsaw milled lumber with carcinogenic chemicals. After trying it for a few tanks of fuel I prefer it over anything else. It flows great in the winter and even in the heat of summer I still get at least one tank of oil per tank of fuel. On my saws with adjustable oilers the canola oil works just the same as purpose made bar oil. The only downsides are sticky and stiff chains. Easy to solve by dipping the loops in alcohol, or any other solvent, or don't and let the sticky dried canola oil work as a rust protectant. Once I get the saw started and rev it a few times to get the oil flowing you wouldn't even know there was canola oil in the tank.
I probably don't go through the volume of wood that you do, a gallon of oil goes pretty far for me. However I also wouldn't mind trying the canola oil. My only concern, as I mentioned in my last comment was the saw bogging down on the sticky and stiff chains when cold and getting the saw up to speed. I have a Stihl 025 that was my dads, it's still running great, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have an adjustable oiler. I know the carb can be adjusted, which I'm never messed with, but would adjusting the carb make any difference in winter?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
I probably don't go through the volume of wood that you do, a gallon of oil goes pretty far for me. However I also wouldn't mind trying the canola oil. My only concern, as I mentioned in my last comment was the saw bogging down on the sticky and stiff chains when cold and getting the saw up to speed. I have a Stihl 025 that was my dads, it's still running great, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have an adjustable oiler. I know the carb can be adjusted, which I'm never messed with, but would adjusting the carb make any difference in winter?
Definitely make carb adjustments in the winter. Usually a saw will make more power in the winter if it is tuned for summer, but at the cost of longevity. They will want run lean when it is cold due to a greater oxygen density in the air and require a bit more rich fuel air mixture to prevent damage from running too lean. It's hard to describe tuning methods in text so the best bet would be to listen to what a "four stroking" chainsaw sounds like. You want the saw to "four stroke" when entering a cut and exiting a cut. If it doesn't adjust the high and low screws until you get what you want. The saw should not "bog" when hitting the throttle (too rich on the L screw) or die out in the high revs (also too rich, but on the H screw). The manual, which can be found online if you lost it, will tell you which direction is rich vs lean. Generally speaking a saw like yours will have limiting caps to prevent catastrophic damage from carb adjustments, but you would know right away if you made a bad adjustment.

When I say the chains are sticky and stiff, I mean tacky like a glue stick and you can still pull it around the bar by hand. The adjustable oiler is more important in the summer to reduce the oil flow, in winter the canola oil will work just fine.
 
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MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
Definitely make carb adjustments in the winter. Usually a saw will make more power in the winter if it is tuned for summer, but at the cost of longevity. They will want run lean when it is cold due to a greater oxygen density in the air and require a bit more rich fuel air mixture to prevent damage from running too lean. It's hard to describe tuning methods in text so the best bet would be to listen to what a "four stroking" chainsaw sounds like. You want the saw to "four stroke" when entering a cut and exiting a cut. If it doesn't adjust the high and low screws until you get what you want. The saw should not "bog" when hitting the throttle (too rich on the L screw) or die out in the high revs (also too rich, but on the H screw). The manual, which can be found online if you lost it, will tell you which direction is rich vs lean. Generally speaking a saw like yours will have limiting caps to prevent catastrophic damage from carb adjustments, but you would know right away if you made a bad adjustment.

When I say the chains are sticky and stiff, I mean tacky like a glue stick and you can still pull it around the bar by hand. The adjustable oiler is more important in the summer to reduce the oil flow, in winter the canola oil will work just fine.
Good to know, today will get up to 45 degrees and will be a good day to play with the carb adjustments. Appreciate it.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I run Husqvarna bar oil because its the cheapest I have available to me. I pay $15/gallon for it, the other knock off stuff is $16-17/gallon here. Occasionally there is one hardware store that will get it for $7, but you never know when they'll have it and it's summer grade oil.

Canola oil sounds great in principle, until you let it sit and it goes rancid in your saw, or until you hit temps below 14F (-10c) and the oil freezes solid. Now there's commercially available biodegradable oils available, I'd probably buy these instead, I don't use enough bar oil in a year to justify the risks of vegetable oils.
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
4,970
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I run canola oil mostly on my saws, and every so often a tank of regular bar oil. I always try to make bar oil the last thing to go though the saw if it's going to sit for a week plus, you do not want canola oil sitting in there.

Overall the canola is a PITA and not any cheaper, but I use it anyway because I feel better about it.

My neighbor uses old motor oil (same guy with the smoke dragon OWB full of green wood... always looks like a garbage fire in progress over there).
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
I run Husqvarna bar oil because its the cheapest I have available to me. I pay $15/gallon for it, the other knock off stuff is $16-17/gallon here. Occasionally there is one hardware store that will get it for $7, but you never know when they'll have it and it's summer grade oil.

Canola oil sounds great in principle, until you let it sit and it goes rancid in your saw, or until you hit temps below 14F (-10c) and the oil freezes solid. Now there's commercially available biodegradable oils available, I'd probably buy these instead, I don't use enough bar oil in a year to justify the risks of vegetable oils.
What are the risks of vegetable oils? Freezing is a non issue, just store it inside and it takes oil a long time to get from 70df to 14df. The rancid thing is kind of a non issue if cutting firewood. The saw gets enough use to not go bad. If it's that big of a deal, just dump it. Honestly, even if it goes rancid, the oil will still serve the same function and I don't have to breathe (as many) carcinogens while I work. You are right, if you don't cut much there are finally bio based chainsaw oils available now. Just this year a bio based chainsaw lube became available in the US, not sure about Canada. I would really love to get a barrel of alkylate gasoline, but don't really have the storage available right now anyway. When I start milling logs again I might try some of the bio oil.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
I run canola oil mostly on my saws, and every so often a tank of regular bar oil. I always try to make bar oil the last thing to go though the saw if it's going to sit for a week plus, you do not want canola oil sitting in there.

Overall the canola is a PITA and not any cheaper, but I use it anyway because I feel better about it.

My neighbor uses old motor oil (same guy with the smoke dragon OWB full of green wood... always looks like a garbage fire in progress over there).
I don't usually get my saws out unless I'll be running a few tanks of fuel through them.
 

JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
554
Iowa
All I've ever used has been Stihl and Husqvarna, both are really sticky and thick. Somewhere along the way I picked up the cheap stuff from Walmart, SuperTech SAE 30. I'm at the end of my Husqvarna and figured I better get the cheap ready, I had no idea it was so much thinner. At first I thought this can't be good, then I realized it might be better in cold weather. After I cleaned, refueled and filled with Husqvarna oil, I started it and the bar struggled to get going. Is it best to switch to a lower viscosity oil for winter?

View attachment 270320
I don’t use thinner oil unless it’s down in the teen’s or colder. I am using up my winter weight since I switched to all season. Once the saw warms up it shouldn’t make much difference because the oil will draw heat from the saw.

NAPA sells winter weight oil also.

If you are wanting something different try an all season oil. I see you are in NE MO head over to the local MFA & snag a gallon of their oil & try it or just go all out & buy 55 gallon. They usually have an oil sale twice a year. Spring/Fall. Local taxes will effect your price, mine was around $6.25 gal. in jugs & $5 gallon for the barrel at MFA.

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215EB9A2-D0A1-4EA4-AEBB-0E990996DEB6.jpeg
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
What are the risks of vegetable oils? Freezing is a non issue, just store it inside and it takes oil a long time to get from 70df to 14df. The rancid thing is kind of a non issue if cutting firewood. The saw gets enough use to not go bad. If it's that big of a deal, just dump it. Honestly, even if it goes rancid, the oil will still serve the same function and I don't have to breathe (as many) carcinogens while I work. You are right, if you don't cut much there are finally bio based chainsaw oils available now. Just this year a bio based chainsaw lube became available in the US, not sure about Canada. I would really love to get a barrel of alkylate gasoline, but don't really have the storage available right now anyway. When I start milling logs again I might try some of the bio oil.
Unfortunately a 1.5 hour ride in the box of a truck in -18c (0f) temps like I'm doing tomorrow will solidify the canola oil. My saw sits a lot too, mine sat 7 months this summer without use, we normally cut wood in the winter, making the rancid issue a concern over the summer. I average a gallon of bar oil per year, I'm not going to lose sleep over it being petroleum based.

I wish I could find Alkylate fuel at a reasonable price, but locally I've only found it in gallon jugs for about $30. I have been using avgas in my saw as I always have extra from my sled, which in hindsight is not such a smart idea as avgas contains 2 grams of lead per gallon. Which now thinking about it we now have a gas station that sells 94 octane ethanol free gasoline, I should be using that in my saw and try blending it with avgas for my sled to reduce the amount of lead released.
 
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MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
I don’t use thinner oil unless it’s down in the teen’s or colder. I am using up my winter weight since I switched to all season. Once the saw warms up it shouldn’t make much difference because the oil will draw heat from the saw.

NAPA sells winter weight oil also.

If you are wanting something different try an all season oil. I see you are in NE MO head over to the local MFA & snag a gallon of their oil & try it or just go all out & buy 55 gallon. They usually have an oil sale twice a year. Spring/Fall. Local taxes will effect your price, mine was around $6.25 gal. in jugs & $5 gallon for the barrel at MFA.

View attachment 270365 View attachment 270366 View attachment 270367
View attachment 270368
I usually buy my gas from the MFA down the highway. I'll have to check into their all season bar oil. A gallon at a time would do. LOL
 

MoDoug

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2018
310
NE Missouri
I tinkered with my carb adjustments, and it was pretty much dialed in already. Now that I think about it, I rarely use my saw in the summer, but when I do that would be the time to make adjustments.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
Unfortunately a 1.5 hour ride in the box of a truck in -18c (0f) temps like I'm doing tomorrow will solidify the canola oil. My saw sits a lot too, mine sat 7 months this summer without use, we normally cut wood in the winter, making the rancid issue a concern over the summer. I average a gallon of bar oil per year, I'm not going to lose sleep over it being petroleum based.

I wish I could find Alkylate fuel at a reasonable price, but locally I've only found it in gallon jugs for about $30. I have been using avgas in my saw as I always have extra from my sled, which in hindsight is not such a smart idea as avgas contains 2 grams of lead per gallon. Which now thinking about it we now have a gas station that sells 94 octane ethanol free gasoline, I should be using that in my saw and try blending it with avgas for my sled to reduce the amount of lead released.
If I only cut at your quantities I would just get the gallon of bio oil per year and call it a day. I've gone through at least eight gallons of canola oil this year milling and cutting firewood. I have tried leaded gasoline in my Challenger SRT8 back when I still had it, and didn't really notice a difference compared to unleaded besides the smell. The best gas station we have locally is actually a Shell station, but the Gulf product isn't far behind. We also have Irving energy products here and they are easily the worst quality in gasoline or diesel.
 

qwee

Member
Jan 17, 2013
77
I wonder what happens when canola oil is mixed with regular bar oil. Anyone done this?
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
4,970
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I wonder what happens when canola oil is mixed with regular bar oil. Anyone done this?
Regularly, it seems fine. (I don't purposely mix the two, but I'll add one to a partial tank of the other when I'm switching).

If you've ever seen a saw running with the oil cap off, you know whatever is in there gets mixed pretty well!

The main hazard of canola oil in my mind is that if it sits in the saw for more than a week or so, it starts to gum up the oil outlet tube, and takes a while to get flowing again. Always check your oiler on startup anyway, but doubly so if you run vegetable oil.

It's also thinner, so its wear prevention may not be as good, but I don't have any data behind that speculation.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
If I only cut at your quantities I would just get the gallon of bio oil per year and call it a day. I've gone through at least eight gallons of canola oil this year milling and cutting firewood. I have tried leaded gasoline in my Challenger SRT8 back when I still had it, and didn't really notice a difference compared to unleaded besides the smell. The best gas station we have locally is actually a Shell station, but the Gulf product isn't far behind. We also have Irving energy products here and they are easily the worst quality in gasoline or diesel.
I'll probably try the bio stuff once I get through what I have, but still have 2 gallons to go.

All our fuel here is good, all 3 refineries are a 5 hour drive away, as long as it hasn't been sitting in the station tanks too long or has water contamination, but I agree that shell here seems to be the best as well. I run leaded in my sled out of necessity for additional knock resistance. It started life as a N/A 800cc 2 stroke that made ~150hp on 91 octane pump fuel, it has since had a garrett GT2860RS turbo added as well as 2 additional fuel injectors and a fuel controller to compensate for the additional airflow, at 8-9 psi boost its making about~220hp, but at the cost of high octane fuel. Now that I've got the AFR dialed in I'm hoping I can go from 100% 100LL to a 50/50 mix of 94 and 100LL.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
I'll probably try the bio stuff once I get through what I have, but still have 2 gallons to go.

All our fuel here is good, all 3 refineries are a 5 hour drive away, as long as it hasn't been sitting in the station tanks too long or has water contamination, but I agree that shell here seems to be the best as well. I run leaded in my sled out of necessity for additional knock resistance. It started life as a N/A 800cc 2 stroke that made ~150hp on 91 octane pump fuel, it has since had a garrett GT2860RS turbo added as well as 2 additional fuel injectors and a fuel controller to compensate for the additional airflow, at 8-9 psi boost its making about~220hp, but at the cost of high octane fuel. Now that I've got the AFR dialed in I'm hoping I can go from 100% 100LL to a 50/50 mix of 94 and 100LL.
I figured you needed that extra cushioning from the lead in your application, either a ton of compression or a ton of boost.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,201
Downeast Maine
Regularly, it seems fine. (I don't purposely mix the two, but I'll add one to a partial tank of the other when I'm switching).

If you've ever seen a saw running with the oil cap off, you know whatever is in there gets mixed pretty well!

The main hazard of canola oil in my mind is that if it sits in the saw for more than a week or so, it starts to gum up the oil outlet tube, and takes a while to get flowing again. Always check your oiler on startup anyway, but doubly so if you run vegetable oil.

It's also thinner, so its wear prevention may not be as good, but I don't have any data behind that speculation.
I tried a few gallons of soy bean (vegetable) oil vs the canola oil and found the canola oil to be superior across the board. The small difference in price is not worth it. I let my saw idle on high for a few minutes before revving or using the saw and by that time the oil pump flows well.