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Can a chainsaw cut through a car?  RSS feed

 
dani berry
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I have a Stihl "farm boss" chain saw with about 40 hours on it. I keep it sharpened, replaced the plug once, and especially like the auto lube feature so I don't have to think about oiling the chain. The last few times I have cut with it, I've needed to tighten the chain after 10 - 15 minutes of use. The last time I took it apart and saw that there was no more room for adjustment. Is it possible to take out a link to shorten it, or do I just need to break down and get a new chain. Money is tight, and I am cheap, but I do need to get this running again.
Chain saw chains do stretch,
 
Travis Johnson
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Chainsaw chains do not overly stretch under normal use. The reason you are experiencing so much stretch is because you are running your chainsaw while it is dull. This is VERY bad and for a variety of reasons.

When a chain is new, it is normal for them to stretch in the first fifteen minutes or so. For me, after the first cord of wood (a tank full of gas) I have to tighten my chain or it gets loose. That is just because the chain is new, is now under tension and is getting warmed up, and so it stretches more when first used. After that initial tightening, it goes through many tankfuls before having to be tightened.

If a person is tightening their saw chain a lot it is because they are operating it when it is dull. As I said earlier this is really bad.

First, you are wearing yourself out really bad. A chainsaw is a dangerous tool and is extremely fatiguing even when sharp, doing so dull just makes a hard task harder. Stop and sharpening it is just better for you, the saw, and the amount of work accomplished.

Second, a dull chain will shorten the life of the chainsaw by years! A dull saw chain stretches because it is getting hot and metal expands. That heat goes from the chain to the bar, and the bar is bolted to the chassis of the saw. This is bolted at the worst possible spot...right at the bottom of the saw where the crankshaft is. This heat, heats up the crank and can cause seizure, and a seized crank often means buying a new saw is cheaper than repairing it. Keeping the chain sharp eliminates all that heat, and the subsequent problems including dynamiting a chainsaw.

Third, you just get so much more done. Every chainsaw, every saw make operates the same way; by going from point a to point b as fast as possible. It cannot do that without making chips. If the saw is dull, it cannot make those chips and it is not going to be productive. Most people press down harder on the saw to make it cut harder, but it just wears the person out more instead. Stop, sharpen, and get more done.

It is beyond the scope of this reply to explain how to sharpen a chainsaw. It is really easy, really fast, and when done right the saw just self-feeds into the wood. If you are really trying to cut through a car, I hope it is a Stihl Rescue saw.
 
Mike Jay
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The OP does say they keep the chain sharp.  I'm thinking other reasons for excessive chain stretch could be:

The chain lube isn't really lubing the chain enough and it's heating up.

It ran out of chain lube so it can't keep the chain lubricated.

The chain is being over-tightened which leads to stretching and then another round of over-tightening.

I had two chain saws that suggested vastly different amounts of chain tension.  It was hard to remember which was which.

And to answer the title question, I don't think a stock chainsaw can cut through a car.
 
Chris Kott
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I seem to recall that pieces of metal were at times embedded into trees on the edges of forests or stands that anti-forestry protesters wished to protect. They would do this so that the chains on the chainsaws would break on the metal pieces, recoiling back into the operator. This would wreck equipment, and injure or kill operators. This was particularly effective, as it wasn't always possible to know which trees had been boobytrapped in this way, and so the operators wouldn't want to hazard the guess at risk of personal injury.

My guess would be that the chain on the chainsaw would break and recoil on the operator should they attempt to cut through a car. Sounds like a Darwin award in the making to me. Let me know how it turns out.

-CK

P.S.: Just kidding. I would really, really recommend against any such idea. If you want to cut through a car, use a saw intended for the job. It will be cheaper on equipment and consumables, and while I won't make any guarantees, you just might survive it.
 
Roy Hinkley
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Some saws don't have a very well designed oil path. Make sure it isn't clogged with sawdust or other debris and that the oil is actually getting to the chain.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Stihl  makes a chainsaw that can cut through a car. It has carbide teeth and is marketed as a concrete cutter, but also goes through heavy rebar. A steady stream of water must be supplied.

I have hit hundreds of pieces of metal ordinance in wood. It dulls the chain. The idea that metal pegs were hugely dangerous to the operators, was a ploy used by the logging industry during disputes, to make it appear that the protesters were physically attacking loggers, when in fact they were attacking their income. A media thing. That tree would become more difficult to bring down, since it had to be cut higher. This would entail some danger, but leaving it standing did not pose a danger.

If a chain gets hot, and is then tightened, when it cools off it will shrink, and make the chain extremely tight. This can cause further stretching, but much worse, it can pull so hard on the sprocket that it causes internal damage on the saw.
 
Kyle Neath
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40 hours is pretty new, did you buy it from a chainsaw shop you can go visit? My shop is SUPER helpful with stuff like this. They're happy to sit down with you and go through the saw adjustments with you. Chainsaws can seem finnicky if you're new to them, and having someone experienced physically show you the difference between a dirty plug and a poorly adjusted carb can help a ton. It may be something simple you're missing that they can spot in a couple of seconds (a missing nut, a poorly adjusted screw).
 
Travis Johnson
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Chris Kott wrote:My guess would be that the chain on the chainsaw would break and recoil on the operator should they attempt to cut through a car. Sounds like a Darwin award in the making to me. Let me know how it turns out.


Sorry everyone, I did miss the statement where the OP said he kept it sharp.

Actually chainsaw have a safety feature on them that prevents this from happening. If you look at a saw, underneath the rear of the bar, but just forward of where it bolts to the saw blade, a piece of aluminum is bolted to the saw. When the saw chain breaks (very rare) or comes off the bar due to looseness (common), this catches the chain and keeps it from whipping back far enough to strike the operator.

This is a sacrificial safety device, so after a few collisions it should be replaced for safety reasons. Of course it should never be removed. Even on my chainsaw I keep this in place, and in good shape. It can save a nasty hand injury.

As for cutting through a car, Stihl sells a normal looking chainsaw for Firefighters. It has a carbide chainsaw chain that can cut through nails, steel and other debris in an emergency. They typically use these when cutting vent holes for a roof.

 
John Weiland
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So I just had to add this as a recent example of what NOT to do with your nice Stihl chainsaw.  After felling a couple of dead elm on a cool morning this past weekend, I placed the saw, tow straps, and other items in the loader bucket of my tractor.  By the time I parked it under a tree, it was getting pretty warm and went indoors for a break.  Soon I was snoozing on the shaded deck and awoke to the noise of my tractor being started.  My wife likes to use it to move buckets of animal food and in my lazy haze decided that's what she would be doing.  As soon as the memory hit that I had placed my saw in that front loader, I was awake and bumbling for the driveway

....only to see her plow the front-loader into a pile full of class-5 gravel and sand! 

Screaming loudly enough to alert those in the neighboring county, she stopped with the loader in mid-air....from which I promptly extracted the sand-covered Stihl.  I removed the blade and chain and both shook and blew off any residual sand that I could see, then carefully gave the cord some gentle tugs.  It seems okay.....but....thoughts?  I've already purchased a replacement chain and bar....both had a fair amount of grit that I will clean out when I have the time and resources.  Can the body be hosed off or is that inviting disaster with water to run past any seals?  Thanks!

(....there's a moral here somewhere... :-/ )
 
Kyle Neath
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John: (Good) chainsaws are built to take a beating. It's not good for them, but they're built to be used in harsh environments (think about smoke jumpers). If you have an air compressor, take it apart and blast everything clean. Oil it up and you should be good to go. Maybe think about getting a new air filter. Air + oil are your friends when cleaning out saws.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oh John, don't be too hard on her. Last year in the same week I dropped a tree on my main felling saw and had it smash up so bad I had to replace it. Of course I would have used my back up chainsaw, but in that same week I backed over it with my bulldozer.

My new saw is already busted when it got stuck in a tree and I pushed it over with my skidder. It still runs though...leaks gas now...but runs!

 
John Weiland
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Travis Johnson wrote:.....Of course I would have used my back up chainsaw, but in that same week I backed over it with my bulldozer.  My new saw is already busted when it got stuck in a tree and I pushed it over with my skidder. It still runs though...leaks gas now...but runs!


Thanks, Kyle and Travis.....I feel much better now!   The saw is about 20 years old, but still kicking good.  So I could justify getting a new one, but would not wish to....thanks for the cleaning tips and moral support.  After all...she could have gone for the wet manure pile!  ;o/
 
Chris Kott
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Thanks for clearing that up for me, Dale. I have family who actually did such things in their younger days. Still a nasty thing to do to a good chainsaw, even if there are appropriate safety mechanisms in place. Makes me think of hitting a rock with a nicely honed sickle. Ouch.

-CK
 
Travis Johnson
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I was cutting wood today and since it is a mindless exercise I got to thinking about this problem...

I was thinking analytically on this, and the ONLY thing that would cause a chain to stretch beyond the adjuster would be too much heat of the chain.

A few things could cause that.

The chainsaw has a defect and the oiler just plain is not working
For whatever reason the amount of oil going to the chain has been adjusted way too low. To fix this issue on a Stihl chainsaw, flip the saw so the bottom is up and use a screwdriver to increase the oil flow. Turn to the right)
The oil area around the cover is covered with junk. Clean this off and make sure the tiny orifice going to the bar is clear. This is now a blind hole and while it does save on oil, it makes it easier to plug up too.
The chain grove in the bar is filled with junk. To fix this, run a thin flat screwdriver down the groove to rid this grove of junk. (In short, clean the entire area inside the cover of the saw)

A few other issues that it could be are long shots, but include:

The bar is not secured to the adjuster even when the cover is put on. The adjuster would crank and crank until it stopped, but never actually advance the bar forward. (On my saw, this is physically impossible to do)
The chain is on backwards causing it to heat up far too quickly since it is not cutting. (Install chain properly)
Cutting dirty wood. (No cure)
Cutting into the ground and dulling the saw. (Use techniques to keep the saw of the ground)
Improper filing of the saw chain when attempting to sharpen it. (Do not file at a hard angle, or too shallow of an angle. The first will give you a super sharp saw...for about 5 minutes then dull quickly. Filing it too straight across is just makes it dull).
 
Travis Johnson
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Just a note on this, I forgot that it takes more than sharpening to make a chainsaw sharp, a person has to file down the rakers as well as the clearance between the rakers and the tooth diminishes as the tooth is filed back. I file my rakers every third time I sharpen my saw.
 
Travis Johnson
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John Weiland wrote:So I just had to add this as a recent example of what NOT to do with your nice Stihl chainsaw.


Well my friend, I think you cursed me (joking of course). In case you were just wondering just what a Stihl MS 461 chainsaw looks like after it has been run over by a skidder, I can show you. It not pretty, and no there was no damage to the 12,000 pound skidder at all, but the chainsaw...now that is a different story. Keep in mind this is  $1100 chainsaw.

I think the repair costs will be around $450, but the new chainsaw to act as its replacement until it is fixed was $750; a new Husqvarna 562. I am not a huge fan of Husky saws, but they are cheap.

DSCN5324.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN5324.JPG]
 
David Livingston
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It can if it's a Morgan as they have Ash wood frames https://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/

David
 
Travis Johnson
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That was how Kingsford Charcoal got started. Back in the day Henry Ford built his Model T bodies out of wood, and wanting to do something with the scrap wood, he started producing charcoal. Kingsford was his nephew if memory serves me correctly.

 
Fred King
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One other thought one chain streching. Not all oils will work as bar oil infact most oil won't. If youdip your finger in the oil and can't pull strings between your finger and the oil it will be thrown of as the chain goes around the bar tip giving almost no lubrication for the part that does most of the cutting. The only reason for chain to strech more than the adjustment on most saws can deal with is oil that isn't right for the job. If the oiler stops working or runs out the chain will get very hot and so tight the saw will have a hard time turning it. You can take out a link but then the drive links don't match the sprockets that drive the chain and guide it around the tip of the bar so they wear out much sooner and replacing them is more expensive than using good oil.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have not found that to be true though.

I say this because I cut quite a bit of wood and NEVER use bar and chain oil. For me, it just does not make sense. A gallon of bar and chain oil costs $10 here and yet a bar is only $40. I might go through more bars because of less than ideal oiling, BUT I can still get over two hundred cord of wood per chainsaw bar.

I use on average 1/4 gallon of oil per day for the bar. That means every 4 days I would use $10 worth of oil, and in 10 days would use enough oil to pay for a new bar. Since that does not happen, to me the extra cost of bar and chain oil just is NOT worth it. With real bar and chain oil, I am still going to wear out chainsaw bars.

I always have extra oil kicking around, whether it be used engine oil, used hydraulic oil, used vegetable oil, or whatever. I'll use that instead.

But despite using any old oil, I have never had a problem with the chain going past what the adjuster can tighten. The only time I have ever run into this issue is when I run the chainsaw really dull.I used to get this when I made stump-tables as the dirt played havoc with the chain.
 
Travis Johnson
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One thing that absolutely makes me irate is how a new chainsaw chain is dull right from the factory.

Stihl have their rakers a touch too low so the saw tends to be "grabby", but their teeth are still dullish. However Husqvarna/Jonsered/Oregon tend to good on the rakers, but dull out of the box. The reason all three are like this is because Husqvarna and Jonsered are built by the same parent company Electrolux and have interchangeable parts. BUT up until this year Electrolux never had their own chainsaw chain factory, they bought their chains from Oregon. That has now changed so it will be interesting to see how their chains are coming out of their 25 million dollar new factory.

But the reasons the chainsaw chains are dull is because with electric automatic sharpeners, the teeth are cut too low. With the first sharpening, a person has to physically hold the saw file up a bit and not drop it down in the tooth gullet. If that happens the tooth gets a pretty good hook to it, but that hook gets dulled QUICKLY. I mean dull on the first cut! It is not too bad at first, but as the tooth gets filed back it gets worse. A person can tell if this happening when they are having a hard time getting a super sharp saw chain past the halfway point on a chain. But this is hardly anyone's fault, out of the box it is a natural tendency, a person has to hold the saw file up so that the gullet is not quite as pointed...counterintuitive as that seems.

As I said, there is a lot to properly filing a chainsaw chain. Sadly I have never learned to square file a saw, but do believe it is even sharper than what I can achieve with a round file.

 
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