Craigslist find: Stihl 020 AV Super top handle arborist saw

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New Member
Hearth Supporter
Dec 24, 2009
SoCal Southern Sierras
Just thought I'd post a few pics of the saw I picked up last weekend off of CL. It's an older (30 years or so?) Stihl 020 AV Super top handle arborist's saw. I saw the ad for it while looking for a bigger Stihl saw, and decided to take a look at it, in-case it was nice.

Got to the sellers place; saw started and ran fine, so couldn't see any good reason to not buy it. Even came with a Stihl case.

Later, I figured out why he was dumping the little guy.

I got home and there were a couple of tablespoons of gas in the bottom of the saw carrying case, from a tank leak.

I tore it down pretty far, without splitting the crank case, and found that the gas tank is a two part magnesium casting. One of the 6 screws was recessed down in the casting about 3" in a well that made it difficult to see.

When I tried to undo the recessed screw, it spun easily. Turns out that someone had put one of the larger 6mm screws from the handle in that location. The head was large enough to keep the screw from engaging (fortunately) in the 4 mm hole so it was never tightened - thus the leak at that corner. Bought a correctly sized 4mm screw at Home Depot for something like $0.79 for two.

The gasket between the tank halves was shot, and a new one was a special order from Stihl for $11.59 (parts seem to be available, though.) I decided to use some copper impregnated RTV to form a gasket with, as an alternative, since that was what was on my bench and handy.

Did a thorough cleaning of everything, modded the muffler while I was in there, and put it back together. Screams like a particularly angry banshee, cuts like a light saber. I'm pleased for $80.00!

I'm guessing that this saw sat around a lot. Not much wear and tear. It still had 175 psi compression when I tested it, no crank case leaks under pressure or vacuum. Factory chain looks like it was never sharpened. Could have been replaced, but I think it might have been the one that came on it.

I have never been a huge Stihl fan, but working on this saw really was fun. I spent an afternoon with it, and was very impressed with the level of sophistication in the castings. I worked in the defense/aerospace world for a number of years, and some of the castings on this saw were at the limits of what I was seeing in fighter aircraft technology from about the same time-frame. There was almost no plastic in the saw; maybe a cover on the top of the handle, the pull start handle, an inner air director, the gas and oil caps and the air-filter element. Every thing else appeared to be mostly magnesium, aluminum or steel.

Since I already have a newer MS200T, I was kind of planning on selling this guy to put a dent in the price of my forthcoming MS660. However, I decided to query my FIL about what sort of shape his old 020 was in. I know that it is his favorite saw, but I had never seen it.

Turns out his was kind of thrashed, with a tank of straight gas once, run over in the field a couple of times, and just beat to hell and back over 30 or so years of hard use. Think I will send him this one and see if he can make it last another 30 years! It seems to be built to take it.


  • Craigslist find:  Stihl 020 AV Super top handle arborist saw
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