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Author Topic: Chainsaw Recommendations  (Read 24169 times)
Captain Blue
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« on: July 27, 2011, 11:45:25 AM »

A few days ago I did a mass emailing to all BTA trail maintainers asking their advice on what chainsaw to purchase for trail maintenance. Lots of people replied with some good advice. Below are their replies. I thought some of you might find it useful. If you have anything to add please chime in

Replies ...

I suggest a phone call to Jim Runk.  There is no one more experienced with a chain saw on the Buckeye Trail.

My husband recommends a Homelite (lots of lengths).  He says it starts easily and if it breaks, you just get a new one because it is not very expensive.

Can't go wrong with a Stihl Farm Boss. 18 in. Bar. Saw will last a lifetime.

I am not a chainsaw expert, but I have a few thoughts depending on how far you might have to hike with your chainsaw before you use it.  The bigger the chainsaw, the heavier it is to carry.  I am using a 16" Echo.  It is small enough to carry, but it gets pretty heavy when I have to carry gas, bar and chain oil, a couple of bottles of water and other tools.  Don't go too big if you might have to hike a couple of miles just to get to where you will start cutting. Another thing I am about to start looking into is a backpack carrying case.  I have seen them, but I don't have one yet.  If you may need to hike several miles before and after you cut, I think it would be a good investment.  I am not sure if they are available for the larger size, or you need to stay small.

One thing to consider is weight of the saw and bar length.  You don't want something that's too big but yet something not too small to cut thru  anything you may find in your area... Not sure how much mileage you have to cover, but tools get really heavy in a short period of time!  Plus you will also be packing fuel and bar oil, plus a wedge and a hammer or ax , just in case you get it caught in a bind and need the assist to get it "unstuck".. You should also consider packing a small file in order to sharpen in the field.  Plus your water, food, and any other maintaining equip you may pack on a regular basis the load soon adds up unless you have a partner who can help carry the load.    Stihl is a very dependable brand and comes in a host of various sizes.  Some are rated for simple yard clean up but depending on your expected usage (now and later on) you want to get a heavier rating. I know you can get a chain saw backpack carrier that works pretty well, but they are pretty expensive.   Some just get an old backpack or book bag to tote chain saw supplies.  Go to a dependable Stihl dealer and talk to them explaining what you plan on doing with the saw, they should be able to give you a good recommendation to suite your needs.  You're looking at a substantial investment and you want to be sure you get the right piece of equipment. I know we run several size Stihl's here and really like all of them.

All the BTA sawyers that I know have some model of Stihl chain saw. I have a Stihl MS 250 Easy2Start with a 16" bar. Don't forget the sharpening file or sharpening kit.

I have a Stihl easy start----only because I do not have the power and strength to start a regular saw.  I have an 18" bar on mine.  I truly love my saw.

I think Stihl is a good saw.  I think a 16 inch would be ok for most work. Keeping the saw sharp is very important.  Get a sharpner that is the size for the saw that you get.  Chain saws require a lot of adjustment.  I use a mixture of oil to gas that is slightly richer than the chain saw requires.  It is very important to have a helmet that has ear muffs and a face shield.  Keep your left elbow straight when using.  This will keep the saw to your right in case it kicks back.  The blade will go past your head and no hit the center of your forehead.  Do not use a chain saw by yourself.  Always have another worker nearby. A Stihl helmet would be a good choice.  Check the chain oil frequently.

I have a Stihl that I bought back in 1978. It still runs fine. I have cut quite a few tons of wood with it. It has no safety devices like the new ones. I would recommend a smaller saw than I have. I keep a 18" ? bar on it. Way more than I need for trail work. A nice light smaller saw, one that would carry a 12 to 14 inch bar, would be what I would recommend for trail work. If you are experienced you would be surprised how large a tree you can fell or cut up with a small saw. Carrying a larger saw is no fun at all. If you can get an external frame to set up to carry a pint bottle of gas, your saw, a 4 or 8 ounce bottle of bar oil and a spare chain along with a good arborist type hand saw and your felling wedges and an axe you will be set. Some of that is great for the one time you get your saw stuck in a log.

Anything made by Stihl. The middle class of saws are reasonable, sturdy and dependable. No need to go to the professional class of saws unless you plan on cutting a lot of wood all of the time.

 A 16 inch saw may be a little small and short.  A 20 inch or 24 inch may be better.  You don't want a large saw because it is heavy to carry.  Most of the work on the BT is limbs or trunks 10 inches or less in diameter.  
 
I bought a Stihl easy-start a year ago. There's been very little swearing associated with its use....in other words, I've been very happy with it. It's an MS210C.

I used to run the tree crews for the power co. A few years ago one of the best (not cheap) small/light/rugged saws was a Stihl 20T later called a MS200T. It is in the $500.00 range if you can find it. I looked on E-bay & saw 3 used ones $200+ range and one new for $500+.  Another good one back then was the Echo 330. I would think a chain saw dealer could cross-ref. these models to the current ones. Another good choice (cheaper too) is a Stihl 019 (or equivalent).

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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 12:40:16 PM »

When our troop cuts firewood for our council camp, it looks like a Stihl commercial.
Everyone using a chainsaw on BSA camps has to be certified, wear chaps, helmet, faceshield, ear protection, etc. etc.
I have three chainsaws, but 98% of the use is with my 16-year-old Stihl 044 with either the 24" or 36" bar.
But .. it's not something I would take for trail maintenance since most blowdowns probably occur at the midpoint between road crossings.
~~
This fall Stihl will "hopefully" be selling their MSA 160 C-BQ here in the U.S.
It won't replace the gas models for cutting truckloads of wood, but should be great for trail clearing.
http://stihldealer.net/videolibrary/OnePlayer.aspx?v=37&vt=37&vb=2&id=37
Until then, I just carry a Trailblazer Sawvivor Saw to clear most of the blowdowns I encounter.
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 01:02:24 PM »

I used firewood as the only heat source when I lived along Madison lake for about 14 years.  Having cut many, many cords of wood from massive oaks down to pine from a sawmill, I used a Homelite XL and then later a Stihl 044.  Both were 20 inch models and I would never buy one smaller for average farm use as a 'just in case'.  Both were stolen from my shop by a dope head and sold for $20.  Most saws in the retail stores are for the occasional use and often perform that way.  I bought dad a cheap 14 inch from Sears and the chain drags were so small that the chain would keep coming off especially when cutting through a lot of water sprouts at once.

Once my house is sold I will replace it with a 20 inch Stihl although I had my eye on the big 3 footer they sell.  A 20 inch will take apart the biggest trees including that big one on the hill at Wright memorial.

Once you get the saw, go to an Army surplus and find an ALICE pack frame, remove the pack and modify into a packboard that will hold the saw, small gas container like a SIGG bottle, bar wrench chain and a couple plastic/nylon wedges.  Keep a couple spare chains handy too, famers loved to nail fence wire to trees and it is often embedded deep inside of the tree.  I found an old horseshoe the hard way.   Use old motor oil from your oil changes as bar oil.

I have a commercial Foley-Belsaw tool sharpener in my shop that is used for everything from chains to axes and scissors.


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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 03:26:52 PM »

One more ...

There are two kinds of people in the world, Husqvarna people and Stihl people (like Ford vs. Chevy), I'm a husqy guy myself I have a E350 18" Bar that has suited all my needs on the trail.  Not sure they still have that model, I don't keep on these things.

You've probably noticed some hardware stores are dealers for one or the other.  If you go to a stihl dealer they will tell you they are better than husqy's and visa versa.  Either way, you want something light enough (you don't need the biggest thing) to manuever and carry through the woods for miles and you need something strong enough to do the job (horse power and durability).  If you tell a salesman what you are after they should be good enough to make the right recommendation.  You do not need a a saw that will fell a four foot wide tree, you probably will be shooting on average for a two foot width, and we get creative with bigger jobs.

Don't forget the bar and chain oil, oil for the gas mixture, and an extra chain and the right sized file for the chain: all are necessary.
Extras might be some MSR bottles to carry gasoline in your pack on the trail, and creative ways to pack your saw, many of us use our old Camp Trails external frames, they (forestry suppliers???) do sell backpacks for saws that I covet.


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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 12:05:07 AM »

What process is involved in becoming certified?  I'm currently a safety coordinator at a food processing facility and train all new employees on OSHA required subjects from PPE to forklifts.
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 08:07:55 AM »

For our BSA Council it has three parts
Read the owners manual - http://www.stihlusa.com/stihl_ownersmanuals/044_Manual.pdf
Watch the How to Operate Chain Saws Safely Powerpoint - http://www.flagsafe.ufl.edu/powerpoint/chainsaw%20safety%203.ppt
Then spend a day for hands-on use with others while being observed by the instructor.
.. and voilą (wahlah) you get a signed piece of paper that carries more weight than 40-years of experience.  Roll Eyes
---
Watching the Stihl Chain Saw Safety 1-hr video is probably more useful
- http://stihldealer.net/videolibrary/OnePlayer.aspx?v=22&vt=22&vb=0&id=22
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 09:08:32 AM »

The certification obtained in this chainsaw workshop is a "USFS Class B Chainsaw Certification". The instructor is a Safety and Occupational Health Specialist from Forest Service Region 8 & 9. If I understand correctly this certification is required to operate a chainsaw on forest service land for trail maintenance. 

You are interested? I heard there are still a couple of spots open in the workshop. The dates are August 10th and 11th, 9am-4pm in Dayton. You need a current CPR/First Aid card. If you don't have it this training is supplied on August 9. No charge for the chainsaw or first aid workshops. Free camping. You need your own chainsaw. You get to take home free personal protective equipment (ear, head, face protection, gloves and chaps). All that is asked that you put your training to use on the BT/NCT.

It is a great opportunity!
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 12:23:46 PM »

The certification obtained in this chainsaw workshop...
I missed something, which workshop would that be?
I thought maybe it was part of the NCT activities, but it's not in the schedule of events and the Wilderness First Aid is $160.
http://northcountrytrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2011-Schedule.pdf
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 12:30:50 PM »

Greetings!

This is a special notice just to Buckeye Trail Association Volunteers like yourself!

For those of you who are actively engaged in building and/or maintaining Ohio's Buckeye Trail you may appreciate the use of a chainsaw to clear downed trees and limbs from our path.  BT Hikers that follow may be none the wiser of all your hard work that makes it all possible.  A chainsaw makes some of that hard work easier if not possible all together.  You can also appreciate that chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools at our disposal and certain safety considerations help us leave our trail work safe, sound, and satisfied with a job well done.

Through our partnership with the North Country Trail Association and the National Park Service we are able to provide free CPR/First Aid, and US Forest Service Class B Chainsawyer Certification training to at least 10 BTA volunteers at no cost to you.  The training is being offered right before the NCTA 2011 Annual Conference, this year hosted by the BTA in Dayton, OH, right on the Trail.

Some of you may be like myself, I had used a chaisaw for years without any training thinking "why should I go through the trouble of the training and wear the equipment?".  After being certified myself I am convinced I learned new saw techniques no one had shown me before, I was reconvinced of the potential hazards, I was better skilled, and am happy to walk away from each trail work project without a scratch and my hearing intact.  I also approach each downed tree situation with the cautious confidence that I am doing the job correctly and that I am covered by North Country National Scenic Trails workman's comp policy (where the BT overlaps with the NCT).  If you already know everything, I can't convince you, but if you would like to learn more.... here are the details. 
 
BTA/North Country Chainsaw Training
August 9th - 11th, Dayton, OH


August 9th American Red Cross CPR/First Aid
If you do not already have American Red Cross or American Heart Association CPR/First Aid Certification we will be conducting a training on Monday evening prior to the Chainsawyer training.  CPR/First Aid training is also offered locally around the state, feel free to check in your county.  You will not be able to participate in the following training if you are not able to produce your CPR/First Aid Certification cards.
 
Time and location are to be determined, most likely at Wright State University.
 
August 10th and 11th, 9am - 4pm
Beginning with some classroom training this two day course covers both chainsaw safety and skills.  Most of the course is hands on in the field using your own chainsaw.  All Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided to you to take home after you are certified, its the least we could do for those who devote so much time and effort building and maintaining the trail for all to hike. This includes chainsaw chaps, helmet, eye protection, ear protection and gloves.

You must:
- Produce your CPR/First Aid Certification.
- Bring your own chainsaw, gas, and bar and chain oil, they will not be provided.
- Wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy boots.
- Bring your own water, packed lunch, and be prepared for inclement weather.
- Arrange for your own accommodations, see the NCTA conference info below for camping and hotel suggestions.

Working outdoors with a hot chainsaw in August in Ohio will be hot, there will be bugs, you can bet on thorns, slippery terrain, and a nice pop up thunderstorm, sounds great!

Location to be confirmed with our partners at Five Rivers MetroParks.

I'm Interested! Where do I sign up?

Please send your interest directly to me so that I can compile a roster and waiting list if we get more interest than our 10 available slots.  You can email me at director@buckeyetrail.org.

To do so please provide the following required information so we can get you signed up, get the right sized PPE to you and make sure the folks who will benefit the most from the training have a spot.


Name:
Mailing Address:
Phone:
Email Address:

1) Outseam Size, inches: Measure from your belt line to your ankle.

2) Are you a BTA Section Supervisor? Y/N

3) Are you a BTA Adopter/Maintainer? Y/N

4) What BT Section do you volunteer in?

5) Are you willing and able to use your training throughout your whole BT Section? Y/N

6) Are you willing and able to use your training further around the state, with the Buckeye Trail Crew, the Travelling Buckeyes Work Crew, or by request? Y/N

7) If not selected this time would you like to remain on a waiting list for our next available training? Y/N

No matter what your answers may be, please send me your interest, I would like to see the class filled.  Whether or not you are interested in this training opportunity I can't thank you enough for all your work on Ohio's BT, especially during wet springs and hot summers like we are having. Thank you for our Trail!
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 01:15:47 PM »

I'm a second shifter and rarely have an evening off work so I can't make it to afternoon/evening events..  I re-certified in CPR this year and have access to a smaller Stihl that wasn't stolen during the break-in.  I will have to wait until the next class.  I briefly checked through the Nelsonville college timber management courses looking for what I needed.

On a positive note, I picked up blue paint today in the Grove City Sherwin-Williams.

I'm also on a jury duty list in Vinton County that week Tuesday through Friday and I am considering changing my work schedule to get the certification in.  When it rains..it pours.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 01:26:30 PM by Pioneer Spirit » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2011, 01:18:58 PM »

Quote
On a positive note, I picked up blue paint today in the Grove City Sherwin-Williams.

Bring that blue paint to the Troy section. I can think of lots of sections that need it. I will even replace the blue paint for you!
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2013, 09:15:49 AM »

If the chainsaw workshop ever comes to NE Ohio notify me.  I would definitely sign up.  As far as saws go, nobody can ever go wrong with a STIHL.  A 16"- 18" bar would be good for medium to light duty work. 
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