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Author Topic: 20", .325 Narrow Kerf Bar & Chain vs. Standard .063" Set-up on Stihl MS 261  (Read 1145 times)

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Offline RFK

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Good evening, a new poster here but not a stranger to chainsaws, but not an expert for sure. I have a 2 year old MS261 that I love (non m-tronic), which is my only saw at this time. I have a need to drop a number of dead ash trees (Emerald Ash Borer) with a few leaning pretty hard. Due to the propensity of these ash to split or barber chair I would prefer to bore cut them and want the longest practical bar on my saw. My question is, is there any advantage to getting a .325 NK set-up as compared to a standard .325, 063" bar and chain combination for my saw? I have searched the forum and have found some helpful advice (like narrow kerf bars may bend easier etc.), but nothing related specifically to narrow kerf and the MS261.  Thanks
Rick 

Offline HotRail

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Welcome to the forum....can't comment on .325 NK but can say a few things on 3/8 picco or low profile.  I ran picco to try on a ported 261cm.  Really smooth, sharp cuts.  Would be great for tree branch trimming...all around use there is better options imo. I think you would be fine with regular .325 even with a 20" bar for those ash trees.

Offline HolmenTree

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Stihl never made a NK (narrow kerf) .325 b/c. That's a Husqvarna thing and their bars won't fit the MS261.

If you're bore cutting dead ash you'll need a stronger chain then NK or a Picco b/c.
20" Stihl ES light bar max with a .325 sprocket nose and 23RM chain is what I would use for bigger hardwood, As long as you can find a .325 ES sprocket  nose....

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Offline RFK

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Thanks guys for your comments. Yeah I was pretty sure Stihl didn't offer a NK bar. I was possibly thinking of Bailey's Woodland Pro combo with a semi-chisel chain to reduce some power loss going to the 20" bar. I'm running 18" Rollomatic Standard, .063, .325 with either RS or RM chain now. I'm pretty sure my local dealer doesn't even stock ES bars due to cost, but of course could order them. I'll look into that option. It sounds that you both feel that I would not gain much if anything with a NK set-up and possibly end up with a more fragile bar/chain combo.
Rick

Offline HotRail

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I wouldn't overthink it...run that .325 RS or RM chain on a standard 20" E bar.  I prefer RS, I believe its worth the extra maintenance fwiw.

Offline RFK

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Yeah, thanks HotRail, while I really respect Holman's knowledge and experience I think your suggestion is the way I am leaning for the overall best value vs. performance ratio. I have a friend with larger saws and more experience than I have if needed. I've always preferred RS chain to RM or RM3 also.
Rick

Offline HolmenTree

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Stihl never made a NK (narrow kerf) .325 b/c. That's a Husqvarna thing and their bars won't fit the MS261.

If you're bore cutting dead ash you'll need a stronger chain then NK or a Picco b/c.
20" Stihl ES light bar max with a .325 sprocket nose and 23RM chain is what I would use for bigger hardwood, As long as you can find a .325 ES sprocket  nose....
I had to go back and edit my last post, auto correct didn't recognize my "I'd run" and said "I run".  Reason why I said if you could find a .325 ES nose for the 20" ES Light bar.
I guess  Stihl only sells .325 in cheaper E bars.

These .325 Windsor/Carlton Speed Tip and Oregon PowerMatch
DoubleGuard noses are what I run after the cheap E bars quickly wear out. The small radius Oregon bores really smooth and quick.
As pictured I run .325 RM chain, not as much as RS but for bore cutting dead hard wood it holds a better edge longer and I feel it's alot smoother then the RS.
Beautiful little chain.
Another reason why I recommended it to the OP.


 
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Offline HolmenTree

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Forgot I also run the Windsor Mini pro in .325
Tough little bar for heavy duty use.
Also run Cannon bars with the .325 Windsor Mini.Pro nose on my 562XP.



 

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Offline HolmenTree

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If your MS261 is bore cutting dead hardwood all day the semi chisel .325 RM is the way to go. Excellent stay sharp and smooooooth.
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline realzed

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I haven't been using my 261 - .325/RS/.050 - 20" combo for cutting standing trees at all, but I have been playing around with it when cutting a lot of the bigger pieces of Hard Maple in my firewood log pile when bucking it all up, practicing bore cutting and it seems to work very well.
Granted there is somewhat a difference between in the angle of attack when boring a standing tree verses a horizontal 20" or more hard log - but I've found in my experimenting that the combo I presently have does bore quite well and I would have no qualms attacking any standing tree with it at this point.
I do keep my chain sharp and learned to keep my chain speed up when doing so - as I've found by trial and error the main secret is to keep the tooth speed high to prevent any kickback..
As for durability - I can't comment but after 30 cords with occasional experimental boring along the way, everything seems normal and no obvious wear of the tip of my Rollomatic E bar has shown itself due to my playing around..  

Offline HolmenTree

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Randy, yes no need to over think it .
But bore cutting dead ash is another animal. That stuff is tough when green. :D
Just my humble opinion running the little .325 RM in that wood.
Same with dead jack pine that is grown common on sandy soil. Nothing beats the RM for holding a sharp edge longer .
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline HolmenTree

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A worn rail spread laminated E bar may still cut with a newer chain but you'll never get it to cut right when you got the cutters filed back small near the end of their life.
I like how a chain cuts when the cutters are ready to break off. :)
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline HotRail

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If your MS261 is bore cutting dead hardwood all day the semi chisel .325 RM is the way to go. Excellent stay sharp and smooooooth.
Good info Holmentree, you would know better.  I prefer RS for my all around utting but the OP is bore cutting dead ash specifically.

Offline RFK

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Thanks again to all who replied for the helpful advice. I have one other question. While looking at the different 20", .325 bar options, I see that the nose sprockets on different 20" bars range from 10 to 12 teeth depending on manufacturer. The standard Stihl bars are 11 tooth sprockets. Am I correct in assuming that the number of nose sprocket teeth is a function of the bar nose radius and has nothing to do with the pitch dimension?
Rick

Online lxskllr

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That /sounds/ right, but I'm just a dummy. >radius=>kickback potential. >radius also means it should be easier to make bore cuts if that interests you. I would also expect >radius is easier on the machine. Generally speaking, the more gradual you can make transitions, the easier it is.

Offline HolmenTree

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Am I correct in assuming that the number of nose sprocket teeth is a function of the bar nose radius and has nothing to do with the pitch dimension?
Rick
Rick, the teeth are spaced for .325 pitch.
How can the chain mesh with the sprocket nose teeth if it wasn't?
Less or more teeth change radius size.
Making a living with a saw since age 16.

Offline RFK

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Am I correct in assuming that the number of nose sprocket teeth is a function of the bar nose radius and has nothing to do with the pitch dimension?
Rick
Rick, the teeth are spaced for .325 pitch.
How can the chain mesh with the sprocket nose teeth if it wasn't?
Less or more teeth change radius size.
Got it. Thanks.

Offline RFK

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Just to let you know, I took HomanTree's recomendation and did not choose a narrow kerf bar and chain. Ended up buying a Tsumura 20", .063 bar (not light bar version), w/replaceable nose, and 3 loops of Stihl .325 RM semi-chisel (yellow) chain. The Tsumura was only $7.00 more than the standard E bar, but only half the price of a Stihl ES or Light bar. Seemed like a no-brainer. Not familiar with Oregon bars and chain. Probably won't get to the ash until late summer or early fall but will play with it a bit before then.
Rick


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