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long term stihl RDR carbide chain review

imagineero

imagineero

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After searching the net I found very little information available on stihls RDR (rapid duro rescue) carbide chain, part number 3944 000 0072. There are a few reviews out there on the standard RD carbide chain, but a few anecdotal posts about the RDR being 10x better thn RD got me wondering. It sure is pricey, list price in Aus is $580, I think list in the states is around $350. I picked mine up for $480, and I think you can get then stateside for around $300 if you look around. It's a lot of money to put down for a single loop of chain so I thought it was worthwhile posting a long term review of this chain for others. I intend to post to this thread throughout the life of the chain.

First, a little background on myself. I run a full time tree business and try to stay as far as I can away from stumps. I really don't enjoy doing them. I ended up buying a grinder this year just because you need to do the stumps to win the tree work and I havent had much luck with sub contracting my stumps out. The guys who have done it have been very hit and miss, cant tie them down for a quote, sometimes dont clean up, damage pipes and wont repair them etc. This ends up hurting my reputation and costing me money. So I bought the grinder and figure I dont mind doing stumps at cost, because trees are where I earn my dollars. I still sub out my larger stumps.

2 or 3 times I year I get a tree with a stump so awful it sends shivers down my spine. You can read about one such episode here;

http://www.arboristsite.com/commercial-tree-care-climbing/168818.htm

There are a couple of pics in that link but you have to click on the links as I didnt know how to embed pics at the time. I've tried most of the tricks that others have tried, plus a few more. Stump grinders, high pressure petrol powered water blasters, axes, sawzalls, circular saws, shovels and picks, blowers, etc etc. It's hard to get hold of dynamite in aus. I've destroyed a hired stump grinder once, and gone through a whole lot of teeth. Did I mention I hate stump removal? It's a filthy thankless task, with unpleasant surprises at every turn. What I also do is save up my old chains for stumping. Usually when they get down to their very last sharpen I throw them in my stumping bucket. They get one go on a stump and then go in the bin. Changing out 10 or 15 chains in a day sure gets dull, and sometimes you do run out of stumping chains and have to use new ones. I was going to give the RD chain a go but kept reading reports of it not being that great, and the cutters snapping off. Then along came RDR.

This chain comes as the standard on the 460R saw pictured below.



I'm not that familiar with the innards of this saw, the adjustable sleeve is pretty obvious, there's extra filtration I think, a screen at the front, and claims of better torque at mid revs. It has a bigger pull start handle, ¾ wrap handle and a scrench holder. The RDR chain as far as I know comes only as a 20” pre-made length in 3/8” .063 gauge. There was no information available on them in aus as nobody had ordered one before, so there may be other options available. I plonked down my hard earned and played the waiting game.

Here's a promo vid of the 460R saw and RDR chain. It doesnt really show a lot of detail

[video=youtube;hbfecKtZHR4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbfecKtZHR4[/video]

More to come soon

Shaun
 
Slamm

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While I look forward to your review of this RDR chain, I might suggest to those that are interested in a heavier duty chain, but don't want to pay such a high cost, that they try .404 Semi-Chisel, as it is extremely durable and the cost is only a few dollars more than a regular 3/8" chain, but the durability is a large percentage higher.

Again, not trying to take away from your review of this RDR chain, but it is a major load on the wallet, and wanted to offer a very good alternative to it for those that get shocked by the cost ...... as I was.

Sam
 

ale

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Looks like a nice start to a great thread. Thanks for sharing. Always wondered about those chains.
 
mlh29

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I wanted to chime in, not trying to crap on your thread.

I own the 460 rescue saw. The depth guard is optional.
Main difference in r versus non rescue is= rescue has the high output oiler, 3/4 wrap handle, bigger clutch cover with chip deflector,
also has a guard over front of muffler to prevent melting stuff.

My saw came with the rdr chain, 20 ich bar 3/8x.063.
I never used the rdr chain/ never will immediately switched over to regular 3/8x.63 full chisel chain.

Man wish I would of known someone is looking for the chain. I would sell it cheap.. ship anywhere needed..

Looking forward to a report on it. Good luck
 
JDNicol

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Rapid Duro Rescue (3/8, .063);

16" 3944 000 0060
18" 3944 000 0066
20" 3944 000 0072

25 ft roll; 3944 000 0410
 
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maico490

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I wanted to chime in, not trying to crap on your thread.

I own the 460 rescue saw. The depth guard is optional.
Main difference in r versus non rescue is= rescue has the high output oiler, 3/4 wrap handle, bigger clutch cover with chip deflector,
also has a guard over front of muffler to prevent melting stuff.

My saw came with the rdr chain, 20 ich bar 3/8x.063.
I never used the rdr chain/ never will immediately switched over to regular 3/8x.63 full chisel chain.

Man wish I would of known someone is looking for the chain. I would sell it cheap.. ship anywhere needed..

Looking forward to a report on it. Good luck
Not wishing to be rude but if you didn't need the special chain why did you buy a rescue saw?
 
Slamm

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There is a decent amount of mark up on those RDR chains, I can get them for in the low $200's, but still thats a good chunk of money for one chain, and like I wrote earlier, I think the hot ticket is some .404 semi-chisel, that stuff is super tough and is only a few buck more expensive than 3/8" chains.

Sam
 
Winchester356

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Its terrible that Stihl puts flippy caps on the rescue saw. It would be bad if the rescue saw suddenly quit running because the defective plastic peice of junk flippy cap leaked out all the gas when it was most needed.
 
mlh29

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Not wishing to be rude but if you didn't need the special chain why did you buy a rescue saw?
Well to be 100% honest. I was trying to support a few local businesses. Originally was checking out he local dealers for a 441 or 460 r model saw. 3/4 wrap big clutch cover etc.

At the time had a husky 350 (I had not had a saw in many years and bought a house with a wood burner.. saw was a return at lowes that I got f or 100 and looked like new.. had a repair tag on it that said hard to start and said fixed with new spark) I ran it for about 6 months and was very unhappy with itart( wouldnt oil for ####, was very very hard to start). Was looking to upgrade.. Didnt have any husky dealers near that I could tolerate.. Had had stihls in my youth and worked at a stihl dealer while in high school)
Got set on a 361 or 441//
All local dealers would have to order the 361 or 441( none of any style in stock at the time) and most dont stock any pro or big saws. Walked into a dealer/ kubota shop ( own a kubota and needed a few small parts) that I had never been in before while on a motorcycle outing.. after basically being told by 3 other dealers that it would take forever( a month or more as they just placed their orders etc) to get a saw.

Asked this dealer if he had any bigger stihls with a wrap handle bar as he had a pretty good inventory of dusty saws... From small all the way to a pair of ms660's.
He told me he had one saw with a wrap but it was getting sent back as the customer special ordered it and didnt pay for it( a local volunteer fire dept voulunteer ordered it in with a hand shake to pay, without ever getting purchase approved, they didnt pay and dealer was stuck with it). I asked what it was he said a ms460 with a special chain and other stuff. I said how much $ . He explained to me he didnt want to pay shipping back to his supplier/ restock fees etc and that it was more than I prob wanted.. He brought out the box opened it up, saw the big dawgs, big clutch cover, wrap bar and d ring pull start( cut alot in winter with gloves) Told him I wanted an extra bar, reg chains for it etc.. give me a price.. deal was made and I owned it on the spot. He told me I was the first guy to ask for a 460 with a 16 bar ( told him was just cutting firewood which is true and at the time was cutting beech and ash all under 18") and then made a comment on my vtx 1800 that I was riding.. Something about overkill and he wasnt gonna take the saw back if it were too big..

was a pia riding my mc home that day with a stihl in a backpack with 2 bars hanging out.. 4 chains and a six pack of oil.... But had a smile that renews itself everytime I fire it up. Week later sold the 350 on craigslist and bought a ms361 from another small dealer.. with a 20 inch es bar. Found this site about same timre and a few weeks later bought another nib ms 361 for a spare.. as they were discontinued. Never used it so after 12 months sold it to a local pro that was looking for one. Picked up a like new ms260 pro a day later and now have my 3 saw plan covered.. So that is why I ended up with a rescue saw.
 
David (saltas)

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seen them in the wishbook

I did a job the other day and the stump was dirty, was not told it was a stump. Blunted a good chain and I was being as economical as I know how, Wished I had gone home and gotten a smaller saw (cheaper chain) with a worn out chain........

I cannot ever imagine paying for a RDR


I'm interested in how this works out for you.
 
imagineero

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So the chain arrived a few days back. I guess I was a little disapointed, at the price I was envisioning a bejewelled hand crafted black walnut case lined with crushed velvet, but it came in a standard stihl chain box.



The box did have some instructions on the back specific to RDR sharpening though



and a lot of warnings about the dangers of chains and chainsaws



The dealer was kind of hesitant to sell me the chain though I do a lot of business there. They said that stihl australia had given them very strict instructions that they could only be fitted to rescue saws, and could not be used on standard chainsaws. I think in the end they were kind of curious to see what one looked like themselves so they went ahead and ordered it.

The cutters look pretty industrial. As you can see from the box the sharpening angles are pretty far out from those of most other chains; 85 degrees on the head, and 15 on the vice. Raker depth is very minimal. Having a close look at the cutter, you can see where the money was spent. The steel cutter has been milled down, and a carbide top milled to mate it. There's a fair bit of machining in this as the surface is curved. It gives an enormous amount of surface area for the soldered joint, you'd have a hard time snapping one of these carbide tips off. Take a look at the join between the two.

 
imagineero

imagineero

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This is quite a bit different from the standard RD chain which you can see pictured below. I dont have an RD chain so I pilfered these pics off the net. You can see that the soldered surface is a lot smaller, and the carbide portion is really more of an insert that doesnt run the full length of the cutter. Snapped off teeth is the most common complaint I've seen for the RD chain, and the second image shows a chain with the tooth snapped off. I got this image from AS. You can see that the way the tooth is attached is completely different from the RDR. Instead of a machined 'top surface' of a cutter, they've put a little rebate in the side plate, and a backstop on the original cutter. It's not much surface area, so I guess teeth snapping off is pretty predictable if you're going to expose them to hard wear




Shown below are a couple pics of the chain with a 3/8” .063 carlton A3 chain for comparison. Not very different in dimension though the RDR is a little wider in the tooth. It's not much taller though. There doesnt look to be anything too special about the drive links and tie straps etc though I'm kind of curious to know what base chassis they mounted the carbide tooth on. You can see though that quite a lot of time and machining has gone into the construction of this chain. The carbide cutter itself has a similar profile to a semi chisel chain – so it has been machined on the top and bottom. Machining carbide doesnt come cheap. The standard RD chain is more square profiled.



 
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imagineero

imagineero

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About 10% of the cutters on my loop had soldering defects, as show in the picture below. Welding carbides and chromium carbides to mild steels is a tricky business and generally involves a 'butter weld'; welding a face on the chromium carbide, then welding the mild steel to the butter weld. This type of technique is common when fitting up wear packages of carbide teeth to 1000 tonne face shovels and big diggers. When soldering/brazing you dont have the same issues because the parent metals aren't actually melted. The soldered joint pictured shows porosity which was most likely caused by contamination of the soldered joint. This type of defect is usually a result of getting oil, dirt, or some other contaminant in the joint, or not using enough flux if the joint requires flux. Its hard to say what caused it because there is no information on the process used to join the carbide to the metal portion of the cutter but I would hazard a guess that it's not a fully automated process in an oxygen deprived environment. My guess would be that it's a semi manual process with someone actually using a torch and a rod with a jig to manually solder the bits in place. I don't think it's a serious concern, but it wouldn't be hard to get better joints.
 
imagineero

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Well, with a short gap between christmas and new years I've managed to find an hour to sit down, pull some pics off the camera and do a bit of typing.

The first job for the chain was a pretty awful stump. I get maybe 3 or 4 jobs a year like this and I dont look forward to them. Big stumps I refer to guys with big stump grinders. My machine is just a 20hp stump humper – self propelled and great for stumps up to 2', but not a big machine by anyones standards.

You know the site is going to be bad news when there's a 25 foot ladder involved. This particular site had a stump about 20' down from ground level next to a house. The photo doesn't really show that the stump is on a small ledge which then drops off sharply and becomes a slope that goes all the way down to the river. The ledge is bedrock. The owner had tried a lot of companies to get them to remove the stump so he could do a building extension, everybody had said no. There was no access for a crane, and even if there was the ledge was too precarious to drop a stump grinder down there. Everything would have to be taken away. Tree companies had looked at it and said no. In the end, the owner spent 6 weeks excavating it by hand down to the bedrock (dug out about 3' of sandy rock filled soil) and bucketed it down to the slope below, then hired a chainsaw for a few days and blunted a lot of chains and got nowhere. The entire stump shown in the photo was originally underground to the height of the retaining wall beside it.



The only good news for us was that he'd spent all those weeks excavating by hand. The sandy rock filled soil sitting on top of bedrock was bad news, and the stump itself was full of sand and rocks. It's hard to put a figure on a removal like this, but it's pretty easy to start at $1,000 and work up from there. In the past I've used upwards of 20 chains trying to cut out stumps like this.



We put the chain on an 044 with a fresh engine and plenty of pulling power and set to work. Started making cuts in the roots, some as little as 2”, the bigger ones about 18”x14”. Some were submerged in sand, some had grown over rocks. Most were sitting on top of the bedrock, and I ended up digging a few trenches right through the rock with the chain.

The chain cuts in a very different way from normal chain. It doesn't throw chip, it grinds. The biggest surprise is that you cant dross cut with it in the normal sense. If you lay it across a log and try to start cutting it will just start smoking and throw nothing, not even dust. If you lean on the digs it grabs and stalls. I thought the 044 might have been not enough saw, so we put it onto a snellerised 660 with a 7 pin rim. Same story. You have to use the chain pretty much the way they do in the rescue vids – the tip 5” of the bar only. I think this is a result of the weird geometry of the chain. You have to use that top few inches, and 'saw' across the cut in bigger cuts. When you use it this way, it's very aggressive! It really wants to pull the saw right out of your hands. And it does cut reasonably fast. It's more like trying to cut through a log with a grinding disk on an angle grinder than a normal chainsaw chain though....



I got used to the technique after a while though it's a bit disconcerting. We ended up making 25-30 cuts through roots, in the sand, and cutting through rocks as well. Then we had to rip the barrel up. The carbide chain was tedious here, so we used it to cut through all the rock/sand encrusted outer layers of the barrel then switched to another saw with a normal chain. It saved a lot of chains and time that way.



The we ran out of camera battery because I forgot to charge the camera the night before. The whole job took 4 hours including setup, cleanup, and getting all the gear up and down the ladder. Total saw time was about 45 minutes. The truck could not be parked close to the cliff. We ripped the stump into about 10 pieces. The whole stump and roots were lifted up with ropes by hand, there was nothing to rig mechanical advantage off. For reference, the stump/roots weight in at 950kg (about 200lbs) when dumped. Very dense hard awful wood. My initial impressions of the chain were a bit disappointing. I was really surprised that you couldnt cross cut with it at all but had to use a sort of continuous bore cut technique. Will look at changing the cutter geometry. The toughness of the chain was impressive though....



No discernable wear. We cut through lots of sand and rock impregnated wood as well as cutting sand and cutting rocks. The chain stretched quite a lot during use. I guess I adjusted it 8-10 times. Each time it was hanging about 1/2” off the bar. That's a lot of stretch! If it keeps up I might have to take a link out of it. It's already beyond the half way point of the adjuster on the saw on the first use.

Shaun
 
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