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General Forestry => Chainsaws => Topic started by: summerboy1958 on June 19, 2015, 11:11:35 PM

Title: Looking for some input
Post by: summerboy1958 on June 19, 2015, 11:11:35 PM
Hi Folks,

New to the forum and I'm looking for some advice from those with experience.

About me.  I have collecting firewood off and on for 30 years.  I am mostly an opportunistic wood cutter.  I find wood that is down, for the most part either by seeing it driving around or via Craigslist.  Where I live, there isn't really anywhere to just go out and drop trees.  Because of that, I need a saw that very few problems, starts easily every time and doesn't take a bunch of maintenance.  Durable chains is another must have because I really don't want to be chaining chains in the middle of cutting wood.  I cut about 4 to 6 cords a year for myself and my son.

My first saw was a Stihl 015LAVEQ that I got back in the early 80's.  Don't remember the bar size but it worked great for at least 10 years.  When it died I bought a Sears something, as it was all I could afford.  Not very exciting.  Chain dulled at the drop of a hat.  It bogged down in anything bigger that 16" dia.   The bar had a lot of flex and mad cutting a chore.  I still have it, but haven't used it in a while.  About 6 years ago, I saved up enough money and bought a Farm Boss (029).  Nice step up from the Sears.  The chain seemed durable, I was told that it should only need periodic filing to remove burrs.  But lately it started to struggled in the 24" to 27" oak that most recently cut.  Oiler stopped working well.  Had it in the shop 3 times over the last month.  Finally, a week ago, as I was running the last of the gas out to store it, it seized up.  Piston frozen in the cylinder.  The service folks said I must have run it without oil mix.  Well, that didn't happen.  I know because I don't have any regular gas.  To be ready at any time, I make up mix and then run it in my beat up old lawn mower if I don't cut wood.  When it is gone, I make some more.

OK, so can anybody give me a reason why it would seize up like that?  I have read a number of threads about running lean.  I assume that means less mix to air ratio?  If that is the case, shouldn't the dealer noticed that when they were running it to fix the oiler?  I am asking mostly for my own knowledge.  I certainly won't get the dealer to do anything.

So now I need a saw.  I have been a Stihl fan ever since I worked for 2 summers oh so many years ago in their warehouse in Virginia Beach.  But, I will admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by the 029.  It worked well, but not great.  Cutting through oak or maple would throw as much dust as chips.  A new chain would throw chips for the first 15 minutes, but then the dust started.  I was very careful not to hit the dirt.  I would cut from the top, then roll the wood and clean any of the dirt off to finish the cut.  It always seemed that I should be sharpening it, but the dealer still said that I shouldn't need to do that.

So, I can get my dead saw fixed, but that will cost me $350 if I use OME.  I can save $100 if I use aftermarket.  That doesn't make sense.  I can buy a MS271 (the new farm boss) for $420, a new MS291 for $520 (Haven't really looked at Husqvarna).  But I would really like to get something a little better, knowing that the 271 is smaller than my old 029 and the 291 is about the same (but of course, $'s are tight).  I have seen the ads for the ECHO CS590 and was intrigued.  Threads on this forum seem to indicate that it is a reasonably good saw.  The price seems to be good and 5 years warranty is great.  For those of you who own them, how has this saw performed over time?  Anyone have any issues?  I understand that the bar is cheap and it has a spur gear (same as my 029).  Also the chain adjust is under the side case??  That seems awkward.

I saw some threads talking about the need to adjust the carb over time.  My Stihl dealer never did that, nor did they suggest that it needed it.  He claims all he has to do is put on the bar and chain and away we go.  I called some local ECHO dealers (no one carries the 590, all have to order it).  When I asked the same questions, I got the same answer.  "You don't need to adjust the carb".  So, again looking for some input.  What do you need to do when you get a new saw (regardless of brand)?  Is it any different between a Stihl or ECHO?

Any other info would be appreciated.



Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: mad murdock on June 20, 2015, 12:09:39 AM
Welcome Bruce. I have not owned an Echo, but they are great saws, and for the money one of the hest values in a new saw, IMO. Any saw unless it has a computer controlled carb, will change over time as the engine dynamics change, or any myriad of reasons. Read up on this forum about tuning a saw, there are tons of threads on it. Basically, if all else is correct with a saw, it should be optimized at least st the beginning of each cutting season by seeing that it is tuned reasonably well. A well tuned saw should start easy, warm or cold, should idle trouble free, and should "blubber" or "four stroke" (the sound of the saw) ag wide open throttle (WOT) out of the cut, or "unloaded", and the sound should clean up to a crisp sounding clear "note" when in the wood, or "under load". If it does not conform to this basic description, the saw is not in proper tune, and while though it may run and cut OK, any one accustomed to using a well tuned saw, will correct the issue before further use.  Another key component to proper tuning is of course properly sharpened and dressed chain AND bar. Again using the forum search tool read up on sharpening a chainsaw. Tons of info there also. Don't get stuck on the "brand" thing, but if you are not able or willing to work on a saw, stick with a brand that is serviced by a reputable saw shop of your choice.  Any shop that says that you never need to tune a saw, is not a competent shop, IMO.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: JohnG28 on June 20, 2015, 12:27:03 AM
X2. It sounds like your chain was dulling fast. Oak is dense and hard, and dry dead oak is hard as hell! When you see chips turn to dust, your chain is now dull and requires filing. Also, you said your saw seized when running it dry. When you run a saw out of gas, as the last drops of fuel are used up the saw keeps running, but leans out due to no more fuel. It keeps running from the fumes or last bits of fuel for a moment, but the fuel/air ratio will change drastically. If you're running it WOT you'll hear it speed up and scream right before it dies. If you're lucky, the gas is just gone. If you're not, you have a fried top end.   >:( Let the saw idle to dry, you can rev it a little bit but if it speeds up stop! Some saws will idle for 10 mins but they will eventually run out.  I'd skip rebuilding the 029, lot of money for an old, just ok saw. The Echo 590 is supposedly a heck of a saw for the money. I haven't run one, but have seen one run with a Stihl 361. I love my 361, it's a perfect all around saw. If money is an issue that's likely your best route. If not, then there are a number of choices that are great!  ;) Good luck and welcome!
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: thecfarm on June 20, 2015, 06:03:42 AM
summerboy1958,welcome to the forum.
 X2 on what JohnG28 said about running it out of gas. I try not to run my saw out of fuel. But I use mine alot. If concerned about leaving gas in the tank,you could buy that fuel in a metal can by the quart. I forgot the name of it,but goes by many brands. It does not have the added junk in the fuel. Shelf life is long too.Kinda pricey,but could use it on the last fill up each time. Many posts about fuel,I get the highest octane I can buy at the local gas station for all my small motors. Find a dealer you like and buy what they sell. I had a Stihl,then went to a Husky for dealer support,they got bought out and I don't really like the dealer. Found a real good Stihl dealer,a few years back,just about a one man shop,but he knows his stuff but has some age to him.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: luvmexfood on June 20, 2015, 06:38:44 AM
John G. I bought a 590 last fall to replace my aging 029. Just couldn't depend on the 029 since my main income comes from small scale logging. Wish I had bought it or a something bigger than the 029 when I started logging.

Have no qualms with the 590 and would buy another in a heartbeat. The chain adjustment you mentioned is located on the side cover you take off when you remove the chain. It does require that you sometimes have to get down and look to make sure the adjustment pawl is going in the bar when you put the cover back on. Usually its just a given to back the screw off a tad till you get it back on then adjust chain. No big deal. Other than that the off switch is a simple toggle switch and I have occasion hit it cutting the saw off. Mainly occured when I have on gloves that are a little large for my smaller hands.

Chain getting dull will be the same on any manufacture. It depends on cutting conditions such as hitting dirt, type of wood etc. Again, unless it is an autotune saw carb adjustment requirements will be the same for any manufacture. They will all require an occasional tune. Just make it clear whatever you purchase that they give it an occasional tune free of charge for either the first year or a couple of times in the first year.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: gfadvm on June 20, 2015, 09:07:28 PM
I love my Echo cs400 with 18" bar. It is the lightest weight, easiest starting 18" saw I have ever used. I think I've had it for 6 trouble free years. And a bargain at $300 new.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: kellysguy on June 20, 2015, 09:16:38 PM
No 590? You live that far away from a Home Depot? They will ship it to your house.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: dougand3 on June 20, 2015, 11:17:36 PM
Agree with all above. If I was buying new, it's be a CS-590. I wouldn't pay a shop to rebuild the 029. If you want to learn chainsaw repair, this would be an ideal time. AM parts are cheap for the 029.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: beenthere on June 21, 2015, 12:30:30 AM
Who or what are "AM parts" ??
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: joe_indi on June 21, 2015, 04:13:12 AM
It would not be a carb re-adjustment issue. It could be a blocked pick up body which would cause the fuel to lean out drastically, enough to cause a piston seizure.
All the more chances because you mentioned it struggling to cut bigger wood.Probably fuel starvation under load from a partially blocked pickup body.
Even if you were to run an oil fuel ratio of 1:20, with a blocked pickup body causing a leanout, it would look like there was no oil in the fuel.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: joe_indi on June 21, 2015, 04:15:03 AM
Who or what are "AM parts" ??
After Market parts?
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: Spike60 on June 21, 2015, 06:33:02 AM
Welcome to the site Bruce. Please don't take offence, but some of the conclusions you have drawn from your saw experiences are not sound. Particularly your desire for more durable chains. If the chain dulls in 15 minutes, or 30 minutes, or on the very first cut, it's on you. Stihl chain is among the best there is, so that is certainly not the problem. Chains do not dull "at the drop of a hat". They dull because you hit something.

Forcing a dull saw through the wood, especially some larger wood that you have been cutting, is a sure way to fry a saw. You stated that you don't want to have to stop and deal with a dulling chain, but that is part of the drill when cutting wood. IMO it is far more annoying to continue to cut wth a dull chain than to take a couple minutes to correct the problem.

So, rather than debate whether Echo or Stihl might better address your frustrations, you need to change your approach a little bit. If you don't you will have the same experience regardless of what saw you buy.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: thecfarm on June 21, 2015, 07:26:26 AM
On the sharp chain,a good,sharp chain should draw itself into the wood just about all by itself.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: summerboy1958 on June 21, 2015, 09:45:26 PM
Thanks to all for your input!

Since learning my current employment is a bit questionable, I've decided to wait a bit and see how things go.  I most certainly won't rebuild and will likely go with the Echo.  Hard to beat the price.  For what It's worth, seems like Consumer Reports liked it, too.

Spike60, no offense taken.  Like I said, the more I think I know the less I seem to.  I didn't know that a dull chain caused more than just frustration.  So, extra hard wood or touching the dirt, I understand now that I should pause and get the file out.  Could also be from embedded dirt in the bark.  I try to clean that up, but certainly can miss some.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: DDDfarmer on June 21, 2015, 10:08:14 PM
I can't help with the echo saw but sounds like lots of the guys on here like them. 

How often are you/were you sharpening your chain?  I've been cutting softwoods( poplar/balsam) compared to your woods and they are clean, I have to sharpen the chain at half tank and every fill-up.  Sometimes I can start into a cut everything is fine and then gets tough, chain is dull again.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: Spike60 on June 21, 2015, 11:07:55 PM
Spike60, no offense taken.  Like I said, the more I think I know the less I seem to.  I didn't know that a dull chain caused more than just frustration.  So, extra hard wood or touching the dirt, I understand now that I should pause and get the file out.  Could also be from embedded dirt in the bark.  I try to clean that up, but certainly can miss some.
We all do it Bruce.  :)  You can't cut wood without occasionally wrecking a nice sharp chain.

Quick story: Couple years ago went to help a buddy cut some wood on a cold, (single digit), morning in Jan. Just had himself a log load delivered. I pull in the driveway and he's filing his chain on the tailgate of his truck. That was an omen. Logs had ice and mud on them and his 346 and 365 were both hopelessly dull. I brought a 359 and a 272. Started with the 359; 3rd cut and I wiped the chain! About 20 minutes with the 272 and that chain goes. So, now we're both filing on the tailgate and freezing our..........chains off. The heck with this! Only about 10 minutes from the shop so we take all 4 saws there, put on a pot of coffee and put a nice edge on all of them. Our luck changed and we cut for about 3 hours without dulling another chain.

But the point here is that it was well worth it to address the chain issue rather than driving ourselves nuts running saws with dull chains. I really hate filing in the field. I can get myself through a jam, but I don't come close to the edge I get in the shop. Would rather swap chains or just grab another saw, as I always take more than one.

Good luck with the Echo and let us know how it turns out for you.  8)
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: HolmenTree on June 22, 2015, 12:06:36 AM
I always think the reverse philosophy. ....
"The  best accessory for a sharp well maintained sawchain is a reliable powerhead."
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: Oliver1655 on June 22, 2015, 07:20:56 AM
Sounds like you may be cutting in dirty wood.  Dragging logs imbeds all kind of debris in the bark/logs.  If you live in a windy area, the wind can really load the bark up with dirt/sand/grit from erosion & you may not be able to see much of it.

- Keep your chain sharp - Speeds cutting & reduces bar wear because you are not trying to force the chain into the wood.
- Use semi-chisel chain instead of full chisel with dirty wood.  It will hold an edge better, but will still need to be sharpened regularly.
- One of the simplest filing systems to use is the Pferd cs-x or Stihl 2-n-1.  They are the same just different colors. The handles are angled at 30 degrees to encourage the right angle for filing, there are guide bars to keep the file the right height, & it will adjust the raker depth at the same time.  *** Note - Just like with any chain you have to match the file size to your chain. (3/8 lo-pro/picco, 3/8", .404)
- Having extra chains & a spare saw on hand is real handy as well.
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: summerboy1958 on June 26, 2015, 11:50:31 AM
This have changed in just a few days.  Employment picture looking up and I came into a bit of a windfall.  Also, the recent storm dropped a buch of trees near me, so I am back in the market.

Here is some data on Stihl and the 590 that I think is accurate:

Model       Bar      cost              weight      bore               HP   
MS271      20      419.95      12.3 #      50.2cc      3.49
MS291      20      519.95      12.3 #      55.5cc      3.76
MS311      20      549.95      13.7 #      59cc              4.2
MS362      20      759.95      12.8 #      59cc             4.69   
MS391      20      569.95      13.7 #      64.1cc      4.4
CS590      20      399.99      13.7 #      59.8cc      3.89

This shows me that the ECHO is a little light in the HP, though the cost is right.  I am willing to go a bit more for a better saw (durable).  Anybody have experience with the 311 or 391? (sorry, I can't seem to get the columns to line up!)
Title: Re: Looking for some input
Post by: Ianab on June 26, 2015, 09:12:01 PM
The 291 / 311 / 39 1 are all basically the same saw, just with a different sized piston. They aren't professional grade saws. Good reliable firewood saws, but a lot of plastic in their construction.

The MS362 is a pro grade saw, and one of the best there is. That's why it's the most expensive.

The CS590 is a good saw, especially at that price. It's not in the same league as the 362, but for the money, it's a great deal.

Best saw, the 362. If you don't want to spend that much, the Echo would be my 2nd choice.