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Philbert Meets the STIHL RS3

Discussion in 'Chainsaw' started by Philbert, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    (NOTE: I have tried to replace lost photos in this thread - some may not be the same as the originals)

    Intro / Background

    OK, I can't port a saw like Mastermind and some others, but I can scrounge, save, and rehabilitate some chains that were not loved by their mothers, and restore them to useful life.

    The example in this thread looked like it lost a disagreement with a rock, especially on the left side of the bar. From the size of the right cutters, and some grind marks, it looks like it might have only been sharpened once, before this incident. Tragic loss of chain life. Peening on the bottom of the tie straps suggest that the chain was also run tight, or on a worn drive sprocket.

    I can only guess what I think that the chain is telling me as I received no other information on it. I believe it was run on a STIHL 460 with a 25 inch bar (3/8 pitch, .050 gauge, 84 drive links).

    OREGON Maintenance and Safety Manual - Look in here for some good diagnostic illustrations.

    Receipt / First Impressions

    U-G-L-Y. A lot of the chains I get are in the condition shown in the photo below. I can't see what I am working with until the chain is cleaned. I also don't want to get that junk all over my grinder, etc.

    *This is not the RS3 chain, but it is in similar condition as the RS3 was received, for reference.

    P6223186.jpg

    Cleaning

    From things I learned on this site, my 'standard' cleaning is now a bath in a sodium hydroxide (lye) cleaner, such as 'Super Clean' diluted 50% with water. I wear protective gloves and glasses. Even though this is consumer packaged, it can be nasty stuff, especially if it splashes in your face.

    Skip this step if your chain is fairly clean. A short soak and swish in a cut down jug will clean most average dirty chains. This chain took a couple of soaks, each followed by some light brushing with an old toothbrush. I try to do a few chains at a time so that I can get the most use of the cleaner ($8 - $10 per gallon). Start with the cleanest chains, then work towards the grunge. Soon, the solution will turn dark and stop cleaning so well. Rinse the chains well with a couple of changes of clean water.

    P8213274.jpg

    Note that this stuff will take ALL of the lubrication off of your chain, which can lead to rusting if stored in a damp place. I hit them with compressed air if I want to work on them right away. Otherwise, 15 minutes in a warm (150*F) oven to remove any moisture.

    Inspection

    Still U-G-L-Y, but clean. The results of the carnage are now evident. At this point I can inspect for cracks, broken cutters, tight links, poorly done field repairs, etc. I can read the stampings which identify gauge, etc. I can also break and shorten or lengthen a loop, or replace links or cutters, before sharpening.

    P8143270.jpg

    P8143267.jpg

    You will notice some light rusting around the rivets from the caustic cleaning. This will not be a problem unless left in a damp place or for an extended period of time to progress. No jokes about half the chain being upside down. No comments either about grinders removing too much cutter length. Almost half of those damaged, left side cutters need to be removed for the chisel chain to regain it's leading corner, whether you do it with a file, grinder, carbide cutter, etc. Then, the less damaged right side cutters will need to be ground back to match. A waste of a lot of high quality alloy.

    De-Burring

    This chain did not have burred drive links, but I see these frequently from chains that jump out of the bar groove. This is when I de-burr them using a ScotchBrite wheel on a bench grinder, before I sharpen the cutters. Working on a clean chain means that I can see what I am doing and that none of that gunk will get into my wheel or get thrown around the shop.

    Screen shot 2014-03-14 at 6.57.54 PM.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  2. R DeLawter

    R DeLawter ArboristSite Guru

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    Nice pictures.

    I am always amazed at how many people will throw a dirty chain on a chain grinder.
     
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  3. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Sharpening / Grinding

    I will use a variety of sharpening methods depending upon the situation and what is available. When I have a lot of chains to do, or have one heavily rocked like this one, I use a grinder. I have an Oregon 511a, which has been replaced by the 511AX, and is similar to the Bailey's Speed Sharp grinder.

    I prefer to sharpen outside when I can to keep the noise and dust out of my basement or garage. I have it mounted here on a step ladder (will be the subject of another thread) which is easily portable and height adjustable for standing or sitting.

    As with any grinding, the key thing is to not overheat the cutters. It is not a chop saw. Lots of light taps (all 'dots' and no 'dashes' for your Morse code guys). It takes patience, and when I am in a hurry I will sometimes overheat a cutter and have to go back and take just a little more off to clean the blued portion away on that cutter only. I have not burned a cutter dark in a long time.

    The other key thing is to keep the wheel clean and dressed. As the wheel fills up with dust or dirt it is more likely to overheat the cutter. That is one of the reasons I like to clean my chains before sharpening. I used to think that dressing the wheel was only to maintain the shape, but learned that it 'cleans' the wheel by exposing a fresh layer of abrasive. Anytime I notice a slight change in grinding performance (slower, hotter, fewer sparks, etc.) I lightly dress the wheel with the brick. This might be several times a chain, or once every couple of chains.

    I tried Kool Grind but that only seemed to be adding stuff to the wheel rather than cleaning it. It might help to keep it from filling up, but does not expose the fresh abrasive. We don't have as many choices in wheels (type, grit, etc.) for these grinders as there are for the Silvey grinders. Maybe someday I will be able to justify an ABN or CBN wheel.

    P8213273.jpg

    My 'standard' grinding angles are now 30/55/0. That is the subject of many other threads. I went from 60 degree head tilt to 55 degrees after noting that this seemed to be the default setting for most chains in the current Oregon manual (first post above). It makes a nicer hook. I use the 0 degree vise tilt, even on this chisel chain, due to the added steps in tilting compared to the limited practical benefit I perceive for my types of cutting. Also, some of the other grinders I sometimes use do not have the vise tilt feature, so it it easier to be consistent. If I was sharpening a chain for a friend and they wanted something else, that would be easy to accommodate.

    Originally, since so much material needed to be removed, I was going to grind this chain in two passes: a sizing grind and a finish pass. But the first pass gave me an acceptable edge with some patience. Did the rocked side first for size, then rotated the vise to do the other side.

    If the vise is centered properly the cutters should be of equal size. But I have become more fussy lately and noted that the grinding wheel hits the cutters at different points on the right and left sides. This alignment issue might be part of the advantages that Oregon tries to explain on the 511AX over the 511a (?). I check this after the first cutter on the second side, by holding one of the opposite side cutters up against it. I compare cutter length and depth of cut, and make any small adjustments needed.

    We have had the discussion several times about how deep to grind. A lot of people feel that they need to grind down to the tie straps to 'make it look like the factory grind'. I take the rounded edge of the grinding wheel down as low as the recommended depth for a file in order to get the correct hook shape and side plate cutting edge profile. You can check this with a file or dowel of the right size if it is difficult to visualize.

    Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 8.49.27 PM.png

    Then I go back and clean up the gullets separately, just as you would if sharpening with a file. My current method is to sharpen the cutters on one side (say the left side), then sharpen the cutters on the other side (right side) with minimal adjusting of the chain vise or grind depth settings.

    Then I back the cutter positioning dog on the chain vise off about half a turn, and lower the grinding wheel depth limiting screw about half a turn. Then I run the right side through, tapping the wheel lightly once or twice, followed by the left side to clean the gullets. This part goes very quickly, and you can learn to do it without locking each cutter into place. Obviously, this may take longer if you have a lot of gullet material to remove on a heavily worn chain.
     
  4. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Note on Grinding Angles

    In the photo above, it looks like the head angle on the grinder is set at 60 degrees. That is only due to the angle of the photograph (parallax view). It is actually set at 55 degrees, as per the description.

    Philbert
     
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  5. 7sleeper

    7sleeper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    And I thought it was your special 57,2° grind... ;)

    7
     
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  6. 7sleeper

    7sleeper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have a question. I have my grinder mounted on a small wood board similar like you, as far as I can see. I also tried clamping it down to my colapsible workbench to keep the dirt outside, but I find the setup simply to wobbly. I can't imagine a foldable ladder to be a big improvement over my workbench.

    7
     
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  7. Tzed250

    Tzed250 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Nice thread!!!
     
  8. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    I was going to do this as a separate thread, but since you ask:

    I needed a convenient, portable way to mount the grinder outside, to keep dust and noise out of my basement shop, and to set up for storm clean-up activities. I always had my grinder mounted on a board, because I did not want to dedicate a permanent space on my workbench - I use it for different things. So, normally, I would clamp the grinder base to a picnic table, or something similar.

    I played around with a number of different stands, including a surveyor's tripod, and some portable saw horses, but kept coming back to the step ladder. Finally, I came up with this approach, using a clamping block cut to fit the underside of the steps so that I did not have to drill the ladder, and can use it with other peoples' ladders. It is very convenient. It is light, and very portable. It turned out to be height adjustable as well.

    Again, the grinder clamps to the ladder rung/step, and the weight helps cantilever it in place. For longer chains, I place a board or piece of corrugated cardboard in front to keep the chain cutters from hanging up on the rungs below.

    A piece of plywood. A couple of 5 inch 'J' bolts, washers, and wing nuts. A piece of 2X4 ripped at an angle. A 5 foot aluminum step ladder (that my neighbor threw out!).

    7sleeper - it is very stable as long as the ladder is set up on stable ground.

    Philbert

    P4302968.jpg

    P4302972.jpg

    P4302974.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
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  9. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Depth Gauges (a.k.a. 'rakers, 'drags', etc.)

    I set the depth gauges using a basic Oregon type gauging tool. I like the model with the hole in the middle, so that it measures off both the cutter before and after the depth gauge, rather than just those cutters following it. This style also has a wider opening which lets it straddle a variety of low kickback tie straps or drive links. I like the idea of the progressive Carlton File-O-Plate (FOP), but I don't like that I need a different one for each type/style/size of chain. Might be O.K. if you mostly use the same chain all of the time. If the chain does not cut well after sharpening, or if the cutter is really filed back, I can always take an extra pass or two with the file.

    depth gauges.jpg

    I tried using the grinder to lower the depth gauges, but still find a file to be faster and easier. Others prefer the grinder - maybe I will change my mind over time (?):

    http://www.arboristsite.com/chainsaw/200410.htm

    I scrounged 'scrap' .050 and .063 bars and drove out the nose sprockets so that they would accommodate any pitch chains. I clamp these in a machinist's vice on my workbench and file there. They do not hold the chains steady enough to file the cutters, but are fine for the depth gauges. File from the inside to the outside, and brush off filings with a cut-off chip brush. This chain is much easier to file than the low kickback styles, and needed surprisingly little filing of the depth gauges despite how much of the cutters had to be removed.

    I round off the leading edge of the depth gauge with the file. If I have taken off a lot of the depth gauge, or if it is very wide (front to back), I may profile it with the ScotchBrite wheel noted in the first post.
     
  10. SawTroll

    SawTroll Information Collector

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    Each to his own, but I dislike that kind of raker guide, as they are not progrssive (as the cutter is filed back), and because they don't relate the individual raker to the corresponding cutter.

    This is a case of a simple tool is too simple, and only works properly on basically new chain.
     
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  11. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    I hear what you are saying Nikko. I commented on the progressive issue above: it makes sense, but you either need the right FOP for each chain, or you need to get pretty technical with a digital angle finder, like Bob L. -------- http://www.arboristsite.com/chain-sharpening/114624.htm.

    I also agree that these tools are pretty simple, but see that in a good way. They provide a starting reference and I can choose to to take some additional passes with the file as the cutter is ground back.

    As for individual depth gauges and corresponding cutters, you could argue that this other style (upper in photo) is better, measuring the difference at the end of the gauge:

    Screen shot 2014-03-14 at 7.13.35 PM.png

    However, I don't feel that this type sits on the chain as stable as the center style gauge does, and it can be influenced by a high cutter several links back. If you view a chain as a series of links, rather than as individual cutters, then I prefer to gauge this height by the two adjacent cutters for a smoother flow between links.

    As a practical matter, the differences are probably very small. My bottom line has always been that people need to find a method that works for them. It's pretty easy to take off a little more depth gauge in the field - pretty tricky to add more back on.

    Philbert
     
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  12. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Final Steps

    Re-Lube

    The caustic cleaning takes off all of the chain lubrication, as noted above, which can lead to rusting. I don't soak my chains overnight in bar and chain oil, like some of the older guidelines suggested, but I certainly want some lubrication between the links and around the rivets during storage. So I heavily spray both sides of the chain with WD-40, which displaces moisture, and is more likely to penetrate into tight spaces.

    I use the spray trigger style (not aerosol) can and an old baking pan lined with paper shop towels which soak up any overspray and hold it next to the chain. A light brushing with an old toothbrush after spraying removes the light surface rust noted in the first post. While it is still wet, I pull the loop a few times around a dowel rod to move the rivets, check for any tight links, and give the WD-40 a chance to work in around the moving parts.

    P8243299.jpg

    Not perfect, and does not look new enough to return to the dealer, but a big improvement over how it was received, and ready to go back to work.

    P8243304.jpg

    Lots of threads on storing chains - I return the chains however the end user wants them (zip-lock bags, original chain boxes, zip-tied into bundles, hanging loops, etc.).

    Philbert
     
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  13. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Another Example Why I Like to Clean Chains

    Found this one in a pile of scrounged chains. Could not see the details until I cleaned the gunk off.

    "The Upside Down Tie Strap"
    Also, sharp eyes will notice the links of Oregon full-chisel chain. Too bad this was a loop of Windsor semi-chisel chain.

    P2203521.jpg

    "If I Had a Hammer"
    Maybe OK for an 'emergency' field repair (?), but not for a permanent job.

    P2203525.jpg

    "A Little Bit of Everything"
    Used whatever tie straps were around. Didn't bother peening or spinning them over all the way. Could lead to a surprise!

    P2203523.jpg

    The chain was essentially 'free', and still has a lot of life left in it: either as a slightly shorter loop, or as a 'donor' loop for other, identical chains.
    But cleaning it first lets me know what I am dealing with.

    Philbert
     
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  14. 7sleeper

    7sleeper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Can't rep you now("spread around first":bang:) but at least I can "like".

    Always enjoy your informational aspects! Now where do you get the donor stuff from? I think i will have to begin looking too.

    7
     
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  15. galde

    galde Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Ditto on the need to clean the chain first. I used to do the soak and brush thing but now run the really nasty ones through the USC, then brush if needed, then a rinse and blot on a thick towell. I finish the cleaning with a spin-dry cycle-- I step outside and twirl the chain forcefully for ten seconds or so on a bungee cord. This drying routine put an end to all rusting around the rivets. If the chain is just oily but not rusty or pitch crusted, I just wipe the outside of the tooth and floss the inside with a length of old starter rope before filing or grinding. I re-oil the washed chains. I always inspect all components of the chain to note everything that needs attention, such as bent or boogered drive links, cracked ties, bad rivets, etc... I mark the splice link with a durable white enamel that I label with the link count of the chain. If the chain is going to go into my inventory of used-but-ready-to-go chains I attach a strip of tape to the chain that I label with pitch, gauge, tooth type, link count, and estimated % of life remaining for the chain. I have a hanging location for each type of chain so I can go directly to the chain I am looking for. When I sell a flipped saw I include three or four good sharp chains in the deal.
     
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  16. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Thanks 7! I am an equal opportunity scrounger - I will accept anything for free. Only slightly pickier at garage sales, etc. A few generous souls here on A.S. have offered low-kickback chains that they did not want for the cost of postage. I have no problem running them. I hate to see anything wasted, and I guess that I am willing to go a bit farther than some to save a chain that others might chuck.

    Getting a spinner and breaker was very 'empowering' for me (as good tools are). It allowed me to accept any chain that was the right pitch and gauge, then re-size the loops to fit my saws, saws of friends, etc. It also allowed me to repair chains like those in the post above. When I have received chains that are too far gone, or where the cutters are really worn to an end-of-life stage, they simply go into my metals recycling bin.

    - http://www.arboristsite.com/chainsaw/144859.htm (and a few other threads)

    Thanks for sharing your 'secrets'!

    I have a small, HF USC, but the caustic stuff is so fast. My 'old' method was to place a nail or screw in an old board, stretch the loop out full length, spray it with WD-40, and hit it with a stiff brush. Still would do this as a 'field cleaning'. We need video of the bungee cord spin!. If I am not going to get to the chains quckly, I have found that putting them on an old cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes does the trick. Might have to try the spin method sometime if the wife is home.

    Sounds like we are of similar minds. I place finished chains in zip-lock plastic bags with all of the information on a paper label. I need to come up with a better way to sort the 'in-process' or donor chains - pitch and gauge are fairly easy, but if you start getting picky about brand, full/semi-chisel, full comp/skip, low-kickback, etc., there can be a lot of variations and a lot of nails!

    Philbert
     
  17. eiklj

    eiklj ArboristSite Guru

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    Where'd you get all those unwanted chains?
    :laugh:
    Anyway, great thread and alot of good info. Thanks.

    je
     
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  18. morewood

    morewood ArboristSite Guru

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    Between you and galde (super nice guy BTW) there is enough awesome chain care retentiveness to go around. I run my nasty chains through the USC and then rinse and inspect/sharpen right then. I do one thing you don't. Before I store my chains I put them in an old butter tub filled with bar oil. I pull them out the next day and hang them over the tub to get the excess oil off. I then store them in small plastic sandwich containers for each saw. I don't have a grinder......yet. Was led to believe that one might be here for Christmas, guess I'll have to get one myself. Thanks again for all the info.

    Shea

    PS-It's nice to see someone else actually references that little Oregon handbook, good info in there.
     
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  19. Philbert

    Philbert Chainsaw Enthusiast

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    Any chance you are/were a dentist in civilian life?

    Philbert
     
  20. misterfreindly

    misterfreindly ArboristSite Operative

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    Nice pics, Philbert. Good info, too.
    I picked up a Windsor Model136 at an auction this spring with of few boxes of Oregon chisel chain. Reversing motor.
    I haven't looked back since, although I do keep files handy for touch ups when carving.
    I will try that 55 degree instead of the 60 degree.
    Keeping the rakers set at the right depth is the secret .... so to say. I go by feel on a 6 in. grinder. Will need to modify the Windsor grinder for setting the height of the raker. Should be simple enough ......... for me at least.
    Thanks again.
     
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