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Chainsaw bar and chain life expectancy and maintenance

 
steward
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I met the county gas inspector guy when filling up my jerry can the other day.  I figured that when you hit the button for ethanol-free gas there is some "normal" gas still in the hose.  So I put half a gallon in my truck's gas tank before filling the can.  The inspector said they have to purge 2 gallons before they test the next grade.  Seems a bit excessive, maybe they're being extra sure, but now I know to maybe put more in my truck before I start filling the gas can.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I like a 18 inch bar and chain because it is a whole lot less teeth to file, and the bar and chain are cheaper to buy. The biggest reason though is, I get far more power. I have 6 inches of less drag on a 18 inch bar over that of a 20 inch bar, (2 inches longer on the top, bottom and nose to make 6 inches) so I get more power to the chain to cut through wood. Again I so seldom cut massive trees so having more power 99% of the time makes up for the few times I have to...wait for it...cross to the other side of the log and finish the cut. Oh the horrors of that! (insert sarcasm here)



A smaller bar results in fuel savings also. I have both an 18 and a 20 inch bar for my saw. The same tank of gas gets me 45 minutes of saw time with the 20" or an hour with the 18." Fifteen extra minutes for giving up two inches of cutting length.

One situation where having a larger bar is nice, though, is if you're doing a lot of thinning (cutting small trees and brush from around and under larger trees). The extra bar length means you don't have to bend over as far, which really saves your back over the course of a long day. In the past, I've been known to slap a 24 inch bar onto an 036 at work if I knew I was going to be out thinning all day. I wouldn't use that setup to cut anything over about twelve inches, though. WAY underpowered. But eight inches was usually the upper limit of our prescriptions, anyway, and it saved my back. Burns more gas. Like always, there's a trade off somewhere.
 
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Will Meginley wrote:

Kate Downham wrote:What is the ideal way to maintain and use a chainsaw for firewood to minimise having to replace parts?



Back to the original question: Having to go get more gas today reminded me of a couple items that hadn't been brought up yet.

Most "gasoline" sold in the United States has 10-15% ethanol content. Leaving out the fact that current technology requires 1.25 gallons of gasoline to produce 1 gallon of ethanol, it's really bad for your saw. It gums up your carburetor and erodes plastic fuel lines. If you're trying to limit repair needs, use only non-ethanol gasoline in chainsaws - and other gas powered equipment. It can be hard to find. The nearest station from me that sells it is 45 minutes away so I always take a jerry can and grab five gallons at a time to limit the amount of driving involved. Often, if a station has it, only the premium grade fuel will be non-ethanol. Near the coast it's often labeled as "boat fuel" or "recreation fuel." If you don't know of a station near you, you can try pure-gas.org. If worst comes to absolute worst, most saw shops sell a product called "TRUFUEL" that's pre-mixed 50:1 non-ethanol gasoline. It's a colossal rip-off though - usually costs about 20 bucks a gallon.

Along the same lines, if you're going to store your chainsaw for more than a handful of days before the next use, purge it of fuel. Pure gasoline will also erode fuel lines over time, just not as fast as ethanol. The less you have gas in the fuel lines, the longer that will take. Gasoline with additives can also evaporate and leave residue in the carburetor. Some of the tubes in a chainsaw carburetor are only the width of a human hair, so they don't take much to gunk up. To purge the saw: use a funnel to empty the contents of the fuel tank into your spare fuel container. Then start the saw and let it run until it dies. This shouldn't take more than a few seconds.



I hadn't heard of this before. I am in Australia, normal car fuel here is 92%, and that's what we use for the chainsaw. There is usually a 95% option too - would this 95% fuel be worth it?

Good tips about bar size and fuel economy too. I think ours is 18", but we're mostly cutting smaller stuff and could try getting a smaller bar for most uses and just putting the larger bar in only when we need it.
 
Will Meginley
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Kate Downham wrote:I hadn't heard of this before. I am in Australia, normal car fuel here is 92%, and that's what we use for the chainsaw. There is usually a 95% option too - would this 95% fuel be worth it?



I honestly don't know how much difference 3% would make. Since it has ethanol in it either way, for sure always store it purged. It's a good habit to be in anyway.
 
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Will Meginley wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:I like a 18 inch bar and chain because it is a whole lot less teeth to file, and the bar and chain are cheaper to buy. The biggest reason though is, I get far more power. I have 6 inches of less drag on a 18 inch bar over that of a 20 inch bar, (2 inches longer on the top, bottom and nose to make 6 inches) so I get more power to the chain to cut through wood. Again I so seldom cut massive trees so having more power 99% of the time makes up for the few times I have to...wait for it...cross to the other side of the log and finish the cut. Oh the horrors of that! (insert sarcasm here)



A smaller bar results in fuel savings also. I have both an 18 and a 20 inch bar for my saw. The same tank of gas gets me 45 minutes of saw time with the 20" or an hour with the 18." Fifteen extra minutes for giving up two inches of cutting length.

One situation where having a larger bar is nice, though, is if you're doing a lot of thinning (cutting small trees and brush from around and under larger trees). The extra bar length means you don't have to bend over as far, which really saves your back over the course of a long day. In the past, I've been known to slap a 24 inch bar onto an 036 at work if I knew I was going to be out thinning all day. I wouldn't use that setup to cut anything over about twelve inches, though. WAY underpowered. But eight inches was usually the upper limit of our prescriptions, anyway, and it saved my back. Burns more gas. Like always, there's a trade off somewhere.



I did not know that about the fuel savings.

I had heard the argument about longer bars helping on a persons back as they do not have to stoop over as far, but it also goes the other way because doing limbing of trees, a person has to lift a saw an extra two inches every time they lift the saw when they go from the bottom of the tree, to the top. If you do the math upon that, it is an insane amount of extra lifting.

For instance, lets say a tree is 60 feet tall, the limbs start at the 16 foot level, and about every 16 inches there is a set of branches. This would be about average for a spruce or fir tree. So that would mean, to limb that tree out, you would have to lift your saw from bottom to top of that tree about 33 times. Lifting it an extra two inches every time means just the difference alone between having a 20 inch bar instead of a 18 inch bar, means on that one tree, you are lifting that saw nearly six extra feet.

That is a lot of extra work when 99% of the time it is not needed to get the job done.

But that is only one tree. I average 70 trees per day. (7-8 trees equal 1 cord of wood, and I cut 10 cords per day). So at the end of the day, if I run a 20 inch bar instead of a 18 inch bar, I have to lift my saw an additional...a staggering...385 feet. The math only backed up what my body was proving; I was a lot more exhausted at the end of the day running a 20 inch bar then I was an 18 inch bar.

The truth is I would run a 16 inch bar, but my saws are designed for longer length, and so the balance of my chainsaw gets screwed up. But again, I am running pretty big chainsaws. For a Firewooder with a 52 cc saw, by all means put a 16 inch bar on; I am advocate of running shorter bars, not a staunch support of an 18 inch bar only.

Now granted some of this is preference. I could run a big saw for felling and bucking, and then run a smaller saw for limbing, and that makes sense and I would never chide anyone for doing that. With me though, I am kind of a person that likes an all around saw, so I have found the 72 cc class of saws can fell, limb and buck without changing saws. But that is just a preference thing.
 
Travis Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:Thanks again Travis!  I just have two white pines that I need to cut down.



I read this before and meant to get back to you on this, but somehow I got caught up on the Jonny Holmes of Chainsaw Bar Lengths and failed to address this.

I never had a problem sawing White Pine with my homemade chainsaw sawmill, but White Pine is THE reason I am getting rid of the Norwood Bandsaw Sawmill. It does really good sawing eastern Hemlock, and does pretty good with green Spruce, Fir and Cedar, but White Pine gives it fits.

What happens is, the bandsaw blade gunks up with resin from the White Pine and coats the blade. This makes the blade chatter when it goes over the guide wheels and bandsaw wheels...driven and idler. A Bandsaw blade is designed to be held in tension...incredible tension...but it can take no verticle flexing because it cracks, then breaks the blade. This sawmill is so worn out that it causes that. I can only saw a thousand or so feet of lumber before I snap a blade. It is no big deal, a blade is $20, and there is no way I could buy 1000 BF of lumber from a lumberyard for $20, so it works. But is frutrating.

I have tried all kinds of methods of getting rid of the pine pitch on the blade, but nothing really works. I have had success in using gasoline/diesel fuel mixture, wiping the resin off the blade, then drying the blade with a cloth, but I must do that on every log. THAT SUCKS! If I just spray the blade, before I am even done, in seconds...BANG...the blade slips off the guides and kinks the blade to uselessness. It is to the point now where I just do not cut White Pine on this saw anymore.

There are other problems with the Norwood Bandsaw Sawmill anyway, so to me it is just not worth rebuilding. These peoblems are not simple fixes, but inherient problems that make me swear AT and not BY the Norwood Sawmill. There is a guy on Youtube that bought one, and had that ponies to say in a post that it was a junk sawmill. Norwood pays Youtubers with their sawmills to say nice things about them by giving them free upgrades, but it is a real scam. They are cheap sawmills, and you get less than what you pay for.

I will admit though, that the olde Norwood could take a pretty big log. This one was 26 inches in diameter. The only reason I could cut it on this 24 inch sized mill was because I cut the butt swell of the log off with a chainsaw so it would fit. Interestingly enough, it is a White Pine! :-(



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Mike Jay
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It's good to know that white pine is easier on the chainsaw mill.  

My buddy has a sawmill and when he cuts white pine he puts dishwashing soap along with water in the blade lube drip system.  He cut 1200 board feet of pine for me and I didn't see any big pitch problems.  That was on winter cut pine and we were sawing in mid summer (if it matters).
 
Travis Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:It's good to know that white pine is easier on the chainsaw mill.  

My buddy has a sawmill and when he cuts white pine he puts dishwashing soap along with water in the blade lube drip system.  He cut 1200 board feet of pine for me and I didn't see any big pitch problems.  That was on winter cut pine and we were sawing in mid summer (if it matters).



I like White Pine.

I do not have a lot on my land  despite living in the "Pine Tree State", but what I do have is fairly big in size.

The first part of my life I had a deep hatred for paint, and so I stained everything, but overtime came to realize that paint has its place, ...whitewash to be specific...and so I really appreciate White Pine more. It planes easy, is stable, does not need to be predrilled in comes in wide, long boards. Throw some whitewash on it, and it really looks good.

We have not really started the finishing touches in this Tiny House, but Katie and I talked about just ripping out all the drywall and installing shiplap. We did that on a half-bathroom in our other house and really liked it. It was all salvaged lumber from a sawmill nearby that saws only white pine. The pine was 6 inches wide and 14 feet long, but the entire lift had got blue-stain, and so they had to throw it out. Well maybe for them, but you never see the blue stain under whitewash, so that "useless wood", looks good to me.
 
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