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Author Topic: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice  (Read 7643 times)

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Offline ex-Engineer Wannabe

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MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« on: October 31, 2006, 02:06:04 AM »
Howdy!

I recently bought a new MS361 and, after cutting/bucking a nearly petrified dead oak, it's chain maintenance time.  As I still remember the bad ol' days [back on the farm] of making the long drive to the saw shop for sharpening, I'd like to ask the board -- and perhaps some Stihl owners in particular -- for advice on maintaining chains at home. 

According to the Stihl website, the chain that came with the saw is a 3/8" x 0.050" Oilomatic.  First, are you folks happy with this chain or, conversely, would you recommmend another brand/type?  Second, what are your thoughts on home sharpening? 

As I'm a firm believer in investing in quality tools, I've got nothing against spending more for the long haul.  If, however, investing in a quality chain grinder is totally unnecessary, I've got nothing against keeping my hard-earned in the bank.  As I've got long-term plans to fell a mixture of soft- and hard-woods for a timber frame structure, the saw will see plenty of use.

By the way, I do understand that -- once I learn more about a good choice of chain -- I'll need to have more than one [sharp] loop around ...

Any and all advice welcome


     
"Measure twice, cut once" -- Don't know who coined this one, but he was pretty wise.

Offline DanG

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2006, 02:24:59 AM »
I've always been pleased with the results I get with a simple hand file.  Just be sure to get one that matches the size of your chain.  The trick seems to be to touch it up before it gets really dull.  That way, you only need a couple of strokes per tooth, and the angles are easier to match up.  I'm sure my technique is somewhat less than "proper", but it works for me. ;) :)
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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2006, 04:00:41 AM »
Round file, and a simple guide to help keep the angles right.

If you are REAL good you can freehand file a chain to better than new, I'm not that good, but I can file with a guide and get as good as new.

Get a file and guide set, and keep practising ;) You dont NEED a fancy grinder to keep your chain sharp. Like Dang said, sharpen as soon as you notice the chain is not cutting perfect. At that point it will take a couple of swipes with the file, if you let it get really blunt you have to really grind away to get back to sharp clean chrome on the cutters.

Cheers

Ian

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ga_Boy

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2006, 07:03:31 AM »
I bought an electric chain sharpner.  If you goes this route know that you can not sharpen the cahin by file after you use a bench grinder. 

Well, let me say that this is what I was told.  The bench grinder hardens the chain so that a file can not sharpen it.
10 Acers in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Offline SawTroll

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2006, 08:14:12 AM »
I've always been pleased with the results I get with a simple hand file.  Just be sure to get one that matches the size of your chain.  The trick seems to be to touch it up before it gets really dull.  That way, you only need a couple of strokes per tooth, and the angles are easier to match up.  I'm sure my technique is somewhat less than "proper", but it works for me. ;) :)
Yes, that's my opinion too.... ;D

There is no reason to go to another chain brand than Stihl - you may get cheaper chain some places, but not better. 8)

For dirty wood it is better to use a semi-chisel chain, like RM and RMC, than chisel.

In clean wood chisel chain are better, like  8) RS and RSC - the jury is still out on the new  :-\ RSC3.

If your chain is RM2  >:( either dump it, or set it aside as a last resort reserve, and get one of the types mentioned above.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2006, 08:53:59 AM »
You'll get lots of ideas and will have to pick.

Best thing is to keep the chain outta the dirt.  If tangled in wire, imbedded hardware, etc, then get it to a saw shop for a grind (no problem hand filing after bench grinding).

Then, I hand file (now with this handy file jig from Husky). Keep a sharp file as well.


I always run with two chains for each new sprocket. Turn the bar over when switching chains, and keeping a sharp chain handy if a bench grind is necessary (hit things once in awhile, but don't have the habit of putting the saw tip in the ground on every cut as I've seen some do).

I've the MS361 and run with the RS chain. 
south central Wisconsin
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Offline spencerhenry

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2006, 08:56:41 AM »
i have at last look 39 chains, i have several packs of new files, an oregon rotary file, and a bench grinder. it is absolutely not true that once put on a grinder you cant file it. i use my grinder after i hit rocks or metal, or after the chain has been sharpened so many times that the angles, and tooth lengths are out of whack. the grinder is also wonderful for making all the rakers the same. stihl chain is FAR harder than oregon, but at about 3 times the cost. i have heard that woodsman pro chain is also very good. i run mostly oregon chain becasuse of cost, but it is inferior chain. it sharpens very easy, but dulls the same way. for cutting green material that is soft, an oregon chain will last before it needs sharpening for at least one tank (45 minutes), as long as you dont hit something, it may last half a day. semi-chisel stihl chain is my choice for cutting in the log pile, or when there is potentially dirt that may get hit. the safety chain doesnt dull quite as fast. while a grinder isnt a necessity, it sure is nice to have to save abused chains
 make sure you have good quality SHARP files, especially with stihl chain.

Offline ex-Engineer Wannabe

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2006, 12:43:40 PM »
Thanks for the replies, folks!  ;)

Beenthere, that looks like a handy little jig you've got there.  Where did you get it?  And where do you get the "sharp files" you mentioned?

Please keep the thoughts coming ...
"Measure twice, cut once" -- Don't know who coined this one, but he was pretty wise.

Offline beenthere

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2006, 01:44:38 PM »
B in NOLA
I picked this jig up for $8 from a local Husqvarna dealer. I had to flat file the slots very slightly to get it to fit the Stihl chain. Also use it with a flat file to take down the rakers (depth gauges). 

I pick up new files from either Stihl or Oregon. About 10 filings and I switch to a new one. Over the years I've found I hang on to my files much too long. Now I grit my teeth and toss them out, go get a good one. Much less filing effort.  :) (that be a grin).
south central Wisconsin
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Offline SawTroll

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2006, 04:04:36 PM »
... Then, I hand file (now with this handy file jig from Husky). Keep a sharp file as well.
(Image hidden from quote, click to view.) ...
Those are good, but they are made for Oregon chain,

For use on Stihl chain, you first have to pick the right one, then modify it, for best results.
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2006, 11:30:58 AM »
I think it depends on how much you use your saw and how many cutters it has. I bought a grinder to save time, especially on "stoned" chains that hit stuff in the tree.

I can go through 4-8 chains in a day easy because I change them when they start to dull. In urban trees this can be in the middle of the face cut  :D

I started to use a lot of 93 DL chain, especially full comp ripping chain, so a grinder saved a lot of time. I have to say, I got the chains sharper by hand, it just took too long to do it. Buy the highest and hardest quality file you can!

FWIW: I think of all chain, the Stihl comes out of the box the sharpest and stays the sharpest with hand filing.

I think my $150 Speedmaster grinder is the cat's meow  8), enough that I am on my second or third wheel in less then a year. That is a lot of filing.

Offline KENROD

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2006, 01:55:21 PM »
I prefer to hand file. Sharpen the chain after every tank of gas or sooner.
It only takes a couple strokes per tooth this way. Don't forget to maintain proper raker height, you can get a raker gauge at any saw shop.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2006, 09:09:42 PM »
Make sure you use a marker to mark the chain so you know where you started.Count your swipes on the chain.If you take 2 swipes,do that each time.I have a hard time when the motor is by my left hand.I take 2 swipes when the motor is on my right and 3 when it's on my left.It will cut almost like a new chain.I can even get a chain back after I hit a rock.If I take the same amount on both sides,pretty soon I am cutting off at an angle.Works for me.My Father could shapen anything.Guess you learn or work your butt off.He came from the old cross cut era.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79

Offline ex-Engineer Wannabe

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2006, 11:54:25 PM »
Quote
For dirty wood it is better to use a semi-chisel chain, like RM and RMC, than chisel.

In clean wood chisel chain are better, like   RS and RSC - Da jury is still out on Da new   RSC3.

If your chain is RM2   either dump it, or set it aside as a last resort reserve, and get one of Da types mentioned above.

Thanks again for all the information, folks.  :) 

SawTroll, I "borrowed" the excerpt from your post to clarify my question(s):

Do you run either the RS, RSC or RSC3 on your MS 361?  The Stihl website recommends the RS chain for for higher power chain saws.  Would the MS 361 fit this vague description?  The same site also states that the RS chain is easily sharpened with a round file and file holder or with electric chain grinders.  As I'm NOT a great chain sharpener by any means, I have to admit to liking the sound of that.  Another interesting note about the RS chain is that it doesn't come in the 3/8" x 0.050" x 72 link type; it comes in 0.325" pitch for the 0.050" gauge only.  The RSC chain, on the other hand, does come in the 3/8" x 0.050" x 72 link type.  An added benefit of this chain, according to Stihl, is that the RSC offers the same cutting characteristics to STIHL RAPID Super with much lower vibration levels. Having written all that, I'd like to know if I'm giving up the ability to easily sharpen the chain if I go for the lower vibration characteristics of the RSC?

By the way, although it may be obvious by now, my MS 361 came with a 20" Rollomatic E bar [0.050" gauge].

Please keep the posts coming ... :)
"Measure twice, cut once" -- Don't know who coined this one, but he was pretty wise.

Offline Raphael

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2006, 01:39:42 AM »
I haven't used the RSC but I can't imagine it's any more or less difficult to sharpen than the RS.
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and the truth hit him like a man with no parachute.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2006, 01:46:22 AM »
I have the RS chain (3/8 x .050 x 72), but since it will no longer be sold as you described (in 3/8), I will switch to the RSC. It looks to sharpen just as easy, but runs smoother (less vibration) so I hear. The next two chains with new sprocket will be the RSC.  I doubt they went backwards on the development of the improved chain, and I expect the cutting will be better.
I'll keep my ears up for info on the new RSC3 before buying the RSC, just in case.  Especially how it does with plunge cutting.
south central Wisconsin
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Offline SawTroll

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2006, 02:14:29 PM »
I haven't used the RSC but I can't imagine it's any more or less difficult to sharpen than the RS.
Exactly the same regarding charpening.... :)

...   Having written all that, I'd like to know if I'm giving up the ability to easily sharpen the chain if I go for the lower vibration characteristics of the RSC? ...

There is no difference, if you use the inside of your head..... 8) 8)
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Offline SawTroll

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2006, 02:17:08 PM »
Quote
Do you run either the RS, RSC or RSC3 on your MS 361?  The Stihl website recommends the RS chain for for higher power chain saws.  Would the MS 361 fit this vague description?  The same site also states that the RS chain is easily sharpened with a round file and file holder or with electric chain grinders. .....

Yep, I use RSC, as that's what they want to sell here - best chain I have ever used.....
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Offline fishhuntcutwood

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Re: MS361 Owner Needs Chain Advice
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2006, 04:08:20 PM »
No need to buy a grinde IMO.  I cut alot, and I still hand file.  I've got a Granberg  File Guide, and it works very well.

And as far as chain, I run 3/8", .050 on everything I run, except the 200T.  Full skip or full comp depends on bar length and what I'm cutting.

Jeff
MS 200T
MS 361
044
440 Mag
460 Mag
056 MII
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