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Author Topic: Recommend me a chainsaw  (Read 2815 times)

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Offline matariki

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Recommend me a chainsaw
« on: September 23, 2018, 03:06:53 AM »
Hi everyone, 

I'm thinking about purchasing my first chainsaw for a firewood operation I want to start up. I recently completed my certificate in forestry (processing on the landing). I'm on a budget, so I'm looking for a chainsaw that is not only reliable but also has replaceable parts available. 

Cheers.

Offline lxskllr

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2018, 07:27:31 AM »
There's some Kiwis around, so hopefully they'll pop in. They'd have better knowledge of what's on the local market. Otherwise, The usual suspects are decent choices; Husqvarna, Stihl, Echo... That's what's readily available in USA, with Echo being the economical choice. Might be different in NZ.

If I were to get one saw, 60cc class seems to be the sweet spot. Big enough to get into bigger wood, but not too heavy, and not ridiculous for smaller stuff.

Offline DelawhereJoe

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2018, 08:45:35 AM »
Sadly in NZ I don't know if there are economicly priced chainsaws, as a $400 saw here sells for $1000 there. Any idea what size trees you will be felling ?
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Offline teakwood

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2018, 09:33:08 AM »
Stihl MS261 would be a perfect firewood saw, powerful and light, it's a 50 cc class chainsaw. Probably more expensive than other brands but you get a quality saw for lots of years. 

But as the others have pointed out, dealer support is more important than brand preferences. good luck


don't hesitate making questions here, we will guide you thru
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2018, 02:55:02 PM »
From a NZ perspective, what are you planning to cut? "Old Man" pine, macrocarpa and blue gum need something that will run a 28" or bigger bar, at least occasionally. If you are just cleaning up smaller trees / tops after a logging job, then a smaller 50-60cc saw will do it.

Another question is local dealers? Stihl, Husky, Dolmar/Makita, Echo etc all make some good saws.

I have an older Stihl ms310 (60cc)  which has served me well for part time use. It's a "Farm" grade saw though. My bigger saw is a Dolmar 7900 (79cc), which is a much better firewood saw, for the local logs anyway. Still find you have to cut from both sides sometimes, and that's with a 28" bar.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline matariki

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2018, 12:11:47 AM »
From a NZ perspective, what are you planning to cut? "Old Man" pine, macrocarpa and blue gum need something that will run a 28" or bigger bar, at least occasionally. If you are just cleaning up smaller trees / tops after a logging job, then a smaller 50-60cc saw will do it.

Another question is local dealers? Stihl, Husky, Dolmar/Makita, Echo etc all make some good saws.

I have an older Stihl ms310 (60cc)  which has served me well for part time use. It's a "Farm" grade saw though. My bigger saw is a Dolmar 7900 (79cc), which is a much better firewood saw, for the local logs anyway. Still find you have to cut from both sides sometimes, and that's with a 28" bar.
I'm looking at cutting a variety of woods. Hard and soft woods. 
Hard: Myrtle species e.g. gum, kanuka, manuka
Soft: Radiata and Macrocarpa 
I have a qualification in breaking out and processing on the landing. The chainsaw I was using on the course and while interning was a Stihl 461, It was nice to use but it had its problems. As for piece size, It can vary depending on what is available. When I was doing my qualification, I was processing logs up to 2 - 3m in circumference. I plan on cleaning up after logging, be it on farms or elsewhere. 

Offline teakwood

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2018, 08:14:10 AM »
What problems did you have with the 461?

If you are already used to a 461 and its weight then the 261 i suggested is way to small 18-20" bar is max on this saw. I thought you where cleaning tree tops and branches up to 8-12" diam and cut them to firewood.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2018, 03:10:15 PM »
Probably want more than a 261 I would guess. There is some tops cleanup, but a lot of those farm cleanup jobs will be BIG and ugly logs that need to be broken down. I'm taking apart some "small" pines at the moment for firewood, only 3ft dia, so it's not that big. But the trees are only ~30 years old. Very different to what most of the Nth American guys would cut for firewood.

 Also plan on 2 saws, you will get a saw jammed at some point. I like a large saw and a smaller / lighter one for limbing and small stuff. If you get either pinched, you have a way of cutting if free.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline matariki

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2018, 05:17:12 PM »
What problems did you have with the 461?

If you are already used to a 461 and its weight then the 261 i suggested is way to small 18-20" bar is max on this saw. I thought you where cleaning tree tops and branches up to 8-12" diam and cut them to firewood.
My main problem with the 461 was with the warm starting (we don't drop start in NZ, instead we use a 'step over' method). It could of been my technique or it could of been the saw, as sometimes I was successful and other times I wasn't. I found the 461 you had to pull the starter cord at a certain angle to get the decompressor to 'pop up'. Cold starting it was perfectly fine. So it was probably more my lack of experience than the chainsaw itself. 

Offline Huntaholic

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2018, 08:56:53 PM »
I don't understand the love for the decompressor button????? I NEVER use the dang things! Im sorry but I just don't see why you would have to? Im 5ft 8 in and 150 lbs and I can crank any saw Ive ever picked up.

Offline matariki

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2018, 09:06:10 PM »
I don't understand the love for the decompressor button????? I NEVER use the dang things! Im sorry but I just don't see why you would have to? Im 5ft 8 in and 150 lbs and I can crank any saw Ive ever picked up.
Either you are using a well tuned chainsaw, or you have really good upper body strength or good technique or you're using a smaller chainsaw.

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2018, 09:12:49 PM »
Or you don't run very big saws.  Try that with a 95cc saw and let me know what you think at the end of the day.  
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2018, 11:25:20 PM »
My 395 will wack you in the leg and face at the same time if you dont use it.  Judo chop!
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Offline Greyhound

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2018, 11:56:02 PM »
MS461 is one of the most reliable saws on the market right now.  Hot start problems are not at all common.  Probably your issues were due to the individual saws you were using.  If you like the weight and power, go ahead and get an MS461, it's a wonderful saw.  With a proper tune, it is rock solid consistent.  If you don't need that much power all the time, go ahead and look at other 60 cc. saws. The MS362C is a great choice.  Unfortunately, the Husky 562 does have a well known issue with hot restarts.  In fact, newer ones have some mod's to help with this.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2018, 03:30:38 AM »
Some saws do seem to have their own little quirks with regard to starting. My little Stihl cold starts reliably (choke, couple of pulls until it fires, then choke in, couple more pulls and it's away). Likewise hot starts are fine, set fast idle, and one or 2 pulls and it's away. 

It gets temperamental in the middle, when you have sat it down for 5-10 mins? Do you try choke, and flood it, or just keep pulling at the hot start setting? What I've found is that if it wont start on 3 pulls of no choke, if I give it ONE with the choke on, then go back to the fast idle setting, it will fire up after a couple more pulls. But if you keep trying to get it to fire on choke, then it floods.  :(

And alternative to a MS461 might be a Makita 7901, basically a blue, slightly updated, version of my Dolmar. They claim slightly less weight and slightly more power than a 461, but I don't know if it's enough to really notice (Both are good saws). But it's a pro-grade saw, that will cost several hundred less than the Stihl, and the size is more suited to our local "firewood" trees. 

And as for decomp valves, I've got a Stihl 090AV in the shed. That will teach your shoulder a lesson if you don't use the decomp button  :D
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Huntaholic

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2018, 07:01:02 AM »
Or you don't run very big saws.  Try that with a 95cc saw and let me know what you think at the end of the day.  
LOL you aren't the only logger on here ya know! ;) Right now my biggest saws are 2 390xps and an ms660. In the past I have owned and wore out most of the legendary "big" saws and nope, I never found the need to use a decomp. Before I decided to just forget about that little button, it always seemed to me that saws were HARDER to start with it than without it.

Offline Busysawyer

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2018, 07:33:19 AM »
I love my little 441c. Starts pretty much first pull hot or cold.  Pulls a 25in bar very well.  As far as decomp valves, I don't use them. I honestly can't tell a difference using it even on the 880.
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Offline Upstatewoodchuc

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2018, 07:36:06 AM »
Eh, I'll second that notion, I've always had better luck with my saws starting quickly when I don't use the decompresser, I start my 365, 394xp and 3120xp that way no problem. The dealer that I bought my 365 from new even said as we we're testing the saw "you won't find much use for that button there" motioning to the decompresser...
Current collection: Husky 3120xp,  394xp, 365, 345, stihl 017, homelite xl12.  Ford 8n with loader and forks. 1968 Chevy C50 dump truck

Offline lxskllr

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2018, 07:46:51 AM »
Regarding the decomp... I've heard they sometimes go bad. If one doesn't need to use it, would it be better to never use it, as opposed to using it occasionally? My thoughts are an unused button will get a layer of crud, and keep it from leaking, while a sometimes used button could introduce crud into the mechanism, and possibly cause a leak. Thoughts?

Offline Huntaholic

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2018, 07:56:46 AM »
Regarding the decomp... I've heard they sometimes go bad. If one doesn't need to use it, would it be better to never use it, as opposed to using it occasionally? My thoughts are an unused button will get a layer of crud, and keep it from leaking, while a sometimes used button could introduce crud into the mechanism, and possibly cause a leak. Thoughts?
Im with you 100% on this! All a decomp does is open a hole up into the top of your cylinder. I know the risk is small but theres always the chance of something breaking off or falling into the cylinder when you push that button.

Offline teakwood

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2018, 08:43:20 AM »
The saw is a little harder to start with the opened decomp valve because the lack of compression but it's easier to turn over.

On the 361 and smaller i don't use them but i find it useful on the 066. On the 088 it was absolutely necessary IMO or the saw almost flips you over without the pushed decomp button.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2018, 01:28:15 PM »
When the saw is cold I will use the decomp button, then pull the choke and SLOWLY roll the piston a few times with the starter cord - no where near fast enough to get it to start, but enough to move some air through.  Then I will give it a regular pull, doing so on that first real pull she will come to life, enough to bump out the button,  push in the choke and next pull and she is running, basically two pulls and go to work.  When warm I just skip the slow roll and still use the decomp, runs right away.  Less wear and tear on the recoil and cord this way too.  

At 6'1" 250 lbs, I could muscle through it, then again I could muscle logs out of the woods too, but what would be the point of either?
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Offline olcowhand

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2018, 05:45:37 PM »
I'm not a Pro Logger or a Manly Man :D, so I consider the Decomp button a blessing. I'm in the MS 461/ MS 261 CM Club, and I don't want the most strenuous thing I do with a saw all day to be starting it.
When I saw HolmenTree's Post on the MS 261 CM, I traded my smaller (easier to pull w/o Decomp, but couldn't pull a drunk off a Barstool at 2:00 am) saw to get it. The Decomp is a blessing on that saw; but I don't know if it (or the MS 461) would start just as easy without the Decomp, because I haven't once neglected (or refused) to use it.
My shoulder, which was rebuilt in spring 2015- will be forever grateful for the Time- tested marvel that is the Decomp button [Other well- known Engines in our history (Can you say "Knucklehead?) have used this technology...].
Back on Topic- Matariki, the MS 461 that I have has been a great saw that handles some pretty tough Hardwoods with a 20" b/c. And it has a Decomp button, if you choose to use it.
They say the mind is the first to go; I'm glad it's something I don't use!

Ezekiel 36:26-27

Offline matariki

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2018, 09:26:34 PM »
When the saw is cold I will use the decomp button, then pull the choke and SLOWLY roll the piston a few times with the starter cord - no where near fast enough to get it to start, but enough to move some air through.  Then I will give it a regular pull, doing so on that first real pull she will come to life, enough to bump out the button,  push in the choke and next pull and she is running, basically two pulls and go to work.  When warm I just skip the slow roll and still use the decomp, runs right away.  Less wear and tear on the recoil and cord this way too.  
Towards the end of the course I was on, this was the method I started to use. It worked beautifully on the Husky I borrowed from my tutor (372), this was from the warm start position. Talking to my tutor asking him what chainsaw he recommends, he told me to go for the Husqvarna 372xp. Unfortunately its a model not sold through dealerships in New Zealand, so I'm thinking of getting one off Ebay.

Has anyone bought a chainsaw off Ebay before from a dealer?

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2018, 09:36:55 PM »
If it's from a legitimate dealer I would not be too concerned, they have a physical presence - brick and mortar - and ebay is just another way to advertise their products. If you don't have any luck finding one send me a PM and I will give you the contact info of the dealer I have bought several 372's from.  They are very competitive price wise and have been excellent from a service perspective.  
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Offline 630red

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2018, 05:45:25 PM »
we fit loads of starter pawls and pulleys to the bigger cc saws,and when you tell the owner about the decomp button most dont know or dont use it,so i reckon its designed for easier on the user and the starter

Offline HolmenTree

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2018, 10:13:15 AM »
When the saw is cold I will use the decomp button, then pull the choke and SLOWLY roll the piston a few times with the starter cord - no where near fast enough to get it to start, but enough to move some air through.  Then I will give it a regular pull, doing so on that first real pull she will come to life, enough to bump out the button,  push in the choke and next pull and she is running, basically two pulls and go to work.  When warm I just skip the slow roll and still use the decomp, runs right away.  Less wear and tear on the recoil and cord this way too.  
Towards the end of the course I was on, this was the method I started to use. It worked beautifully on the Husky I borrowed from my tutor (372), this was from the warm start position. Talking to my tutor asking him what chainsaw he recommends, he told me to go for the Husqvarna 372xp. Unfortunately its a model not sold through dealerships in New Zealand, so I'm thinking of getting one off Ebay.

Has anyone bought a chainsaw off Ebay before from a dealer?
matariki, I'm a little late here. 372Xtorq is a good choice, but a MS461 for your region is a better choice.
Australia, NZ and Tasmania Stihl trumps it for service and parts availability.  Big factor is the bars and chains are not compatible on either saw. Service is second.
There's a well known  Tasmanian lady arborist by the name of Fiona Doe aka Bermy. She debated what you're doing and she picked the MS461 and she speaks very highly about it.
She's about 5 ft 1 inch and about 110 to 120 lbs so no problems for her.
Get the 461 with a 20" Stihl ES Light bar and have a 28" for a spare.
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline reride82

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2018, 11:29:18 AM »
When the saw is cold I will use the decomp button, then pull the choke and SLOWLY roll the piston a few times with the starter cord - no where near fast enough to get it to start, but enough to move some air through.  Then I will give it a regular pull, doing so on that first real pull she will come to life, enough to bump out the button,  push in the choke and next pull and she is running, basically two pulls and go to work.  When warm I just skip the slow roll and still use the decomp, runs right away.  Less wear and tear on the recoil and cord this way too.  
Towards the end of the course I was on, this was the method I started to use. It worked beautifully on the Husky I borrowed from my tutor (372), this was from the warm start position. Talking to my tutor asking him what chainsaw he recommends, he told me to go for the Husqvarna 372xp. Unfortunately its a model not sold through dealerships in New Zealand, so I'm thinking of getting one off Ebay.

Has anyone bought a chainsaw off Ebay before from a dealer?
matariki, I'm a little late here. 372Xtorq is a good choice, but a MS461 for your region is a better choice.
Australia, NZ and Tasmania Stihl trumps it for service and parts availability.  Big factor is the bars and chains are not compatible on either saw. Service is second.
There's a well known  Tasmanian lady arborist by the name of Fiona Doe aka Bermy. She debated what you're doing and she picked the MS461 and she speaks very highly about it.
She's about 5 ft 1 inch and about 110 to 120 lbs so no problems for her.
Get the 461 with a 20" Stihl ES Light bar and have a 28" for a spare.


I'm with Holmen Tree on this. Although I love my 372 husqvarna for a firewood saw, having a good dealer/service agent would sway me to the MS461. You're trying to get into the business of firewood, not chainsaw repair. If you are good with two-strokes and chainsaws, then go for the 372. But, if you aren't, leave that side of the equation to a dealer. If you buy a saw off ebay, will your local dealer service it? I know here a dealer tends to favor the customers that purchase saws from them. I also second getting at least one spare bar to help you get a saw unstuck, just remove the powerhead and use your spare bar to cut out the stuck bar.

Levi
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #28 on: October 05, 2018, 12:18:11 PM »
I will say that dealer support was the driver that led me to become loyal to Husky. At the end of the day all I really care about is that the saw is reliable and does what I need it to do using a reasonable amount of fuel. I really don't care about the name. So there is weight to that factor. 
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Offline esteadle

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2018, 05:49:31 PM »
Many folks are giving you good advice to by a good saw. 

I'm going oppo and I'm going to give you some bad advice to buy 2 bad saws. 

Get on whatever your local "Craigslist" is in NZ and find 2 used, but working Poulan 4218s. These are 42 cc saws that run an 18" bar, and S52 chains. These should cost you less than 1/2 of what you'd pay for them new. 

When you get them, plan to use the better saw as your primary and the lesser saw as backup and for parts scavenging when the good one breaks down. Learn about this saw by working on it yourself. Pull it apart when it breaks. Swap the parts. Figure out all the little nuances and quirks. 

When I look for these saws on craigslist, I always find them. Usually I can pick one up for $60 bucks or less. these saws sell for 150 new in big box stores. I run them for a year or two, and I beat the crap out of them until they run no more. Then I get another. 

I have a couple big Stihl saws I use for big stuff, but when I want to get some quick stuff done, I pick up a small, lightweight, agile crap saw and I use it as hard as I feel like. My logging buddies laugh at me, but they stop laughing when I ask how much they paid for theirs, and I tell them I could buy 8 of these pieces of junk for that much. And they run. They start. They cut like any other saw with a good sharp chain. 

Timber Harvester 30HT26 (setworks, hydraulic) Stihl 880 (36" bar).

Offline lxskllr

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2018, 06:12:09 PM »
There's a lot to be said about a cheap saw. I've done a fair amount of cutting with my PoulanPro, and only got a Stihl this year for a big job. Even on the big job, I used the Poulan to buck a log that was 30% buried in the ground. I had the bar jammed into the dirt getting that log cut. I wouldn't have like doing that with the Stihl. The PoulanPro was paid for on the first job I bought it for ~8 years ago, and everything else has been a bonus afaic. It's now running kind of rough. I'm hoping it'll straighten out with some good run time, but if it doesn't, oh well.

I certainly wouldn't center my business on a PoulanPro, but it makes a fantastic limbing saw, and a "I don't want my Stihl anywhere near that" saw. Takes the strain of the major equipment for a fairly low price.

Online barbender

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2018, 06:29:22 PM »
Those 42cc Poulans should work dandy on the 3-4' diameter wood she will likely be cutting.😁
Too many irons in the fire

Offline esteadle

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2018, 07:03:49 PM »
Those 42cc Poulans should work dandy on the 3-4' diameter wood she will likely be cutting.😁
Manuka and Kanuka don't get all that big. 
Kanuka and Manuka - ecological charateristics and values
Kanuka generally has faster growth rates and reaches a larger size so it is commonly seen as trees, 10-15 m tall and more, and 15-40 cm diameter.
Manuka generally stops at about 6-8 m height and 7-10 cm diameter, or less on the poorest soils (e.g. 12 m on the Te Ahumata plateau).

She ain't cutting 3-4' diameters. 
She's trimming and bucking bushes at the landing. 
Timber Harvester 30HT26 (setworks, hydraulic) Stihl 880 (36" bar).

Offline lxskllr

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #33 on: October 05, 2018, 07:53:56 PM »
In any case, I wouldn't want to limb with my 48" log cutter. Makes for a long day. If *one* saw is a hard number, then I'd take the bigger saw and deal with it, but something like a Poulan is good way to shave dollars, and still have a workable saw.

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #34 on: October 09, 2018, 07:44:52 AM »
Matariki, the guys have covered which saw all good advice. Chainsaws are like a trophy wife they like to be doodled over and kept clean. Saw maintenance is the secret to a saws long happy life. Very important to remove the bar and clean the groove and blow out the air filter. Good filing or grinding will add years to the saws life. Good luck on your venture, take it from an old man  be careful and save your back. Frank C.
A man armed with common sense is packing a big piece

Offline Tallest

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Re: Recommend me a chainsaw
« Reply #35 on: October 25, 2018, 01:47:49 PM »
I don't have a whole a lot to add.  A lot of what you decide to go with, and what your success will cause you to stay with, will come down to personal preference.  I also think having a good relationship with your dealer/service location is almost as important, if not more-so, than what brand you choose.

I would also strongly echo (yes, that's foreshadowing ;)) those who have recommended 2 saws.  I would get a light weight one (max 40-45 CC) and a slightly heaver than mid-range one (60-80cc).

I personally like Echos a lot. The CS310 and the CS352 are both solid options. And if you paired one of those the CS620 or CS680 you would have 95% of your bases covered. And even if you don't like or have access to Echos, the principle holds true across whatever brand.

Best of luck!
Matthew


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