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Seeking advice regarding thinning chainsaw

Clark10

Clark10

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Hello folks,

I've been here for a while on the forums reading and enjoying the community over the years but this is my first real post.

I have done my research and think I know what I would like to purchase. However, I would like to poll my helpful forum friends here at ArboristSite to see if I may have missed some good options. So, if you are willing please offer up any suggestions you have for a new saw purchase.

Here is some info:
  • Working 40+ hours a month.
  • Mainly thinning Doug Fir with diameter of 6"-20"
  • Rarely cut anything over 24"
  • NW Oregon (rain, 200'-1000' elevation, more rain)
  • For all intents and purposes this will be my only saw
  • I'm over 45 years old and in fair condition
Considerations:
  • Willing to purchase a "Pro" quality saw that can be repaired and maintained
  • I'm not a rank beginner (I've been lucky and have learned from my mistakes) and have done rebuilds and repairs. However, I would rather spend time working in the woods instead of doing mods and repairs.
  • Have a Rancher 55 that is 15 plus years old right now but the new saw will essentially be my only saw
  • I would be fine with an "AutoTune" or "M-Tronic" technology, or not
  • I have tried the Husqvarna and Stihl dealers and associated service departments in my area over the years and none stand above the others
  • Willing to buy from web store or folks on ArboristSite :)
  • I have found that I like the feel and performance of the Husqvarna products but I'm willing to try other brands
There you have it. Thanks in advance for all your suggestions.
 
Full Chisel

Full Chisel

Slingin' Stihls and runnin' Huskies
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If you are getting into 20" trees occasionally a 60cc would be a better choice. Husky 562 and Stihl 362 are the current top of the heap "pro grade" saws. An 18" and 24" bar would pretty well cover the bases.
 
7sleeper

7sleeper

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Since the wood mentioned is mainly fir trees I would not worry one second about a 50cc saw. What I am suprised about is that you are not using your Rancher 55. It would be an ideal tool for your requirements. Personally I would simply replace the carb membranes and run it with a sharp chain and a max. 18 inch bar.

If it needs to be a new 50-60cc saw I would consider the Husqvarna 545/555/550/562 or the Jonsered(we have a great dealer here) aquivalent, Dolmar 5105, Echo 590 (just a little muffler mod to run great, by far the best buy out there at the moment!), Stihl 271/291/261 or Hitachi CS51EAP.

7
 
Ryan'smilling

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I think the model numbers that folks have recommended pretty well cover the bases. Personally, I'd be looking hard at a Dolmar 5105 or 6100, a Stihl 261, a Husky 550, or a Jonsered 2260.

I think you should ideally run a 60cc and a 50cc to get a feel for each. There will be a big difference in weight and power. In fir, I think a 50cc will handle everything you need to do. It will be much less fatiguing to use for longer time periods. The 60cc, though will be a good amount faster in the larger wood you mention.

Of course, you could alternatively go buy a Dolmar 421 (lightweight zippy little 42cc saw that doesn't cost much) and a 60cc Dolmar or Echo. You'll spend a little more than one 60cc pro saw from Husky or Stihl, but you'll have a backup saw and two saws that are each better suited to the different jobs you want to do. That's what I'd do personally. If you're thinning for 40 hours a month, it's only a matter of time before one saw isn't enough. A pinched bar, wrecked chain, lost bar nuts, whatever, can stop you cold if you don't have a backup.
 
big hank

big hank

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Use the lightest saw you can get away with. I.e. around 50cc -60cc.

Have a backup saw for when you anger the timber Gods.

The ease of an internal clutch when changing a sprocket is greatly understated by the folks on AS.

My recommendation would be to buy a new 261 or 362. Or maybe a good used 260/361, if you are dead set on a saw. However, a brush cutter is undeniably more efficient in the 0"-6" range. There's a reason the Mexicans use them
 
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earlthegoat2

earlthegoat2

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I just acquired a Husky 346xp w/ 18" bar and can say I am impressed. I am a Stihl guy from way back and have never really given pro Huskys a fair shake. I was turned off to Huskys because of the 450 and 455. The 346 is great though. I would suggest a 550xp myself because I think they are more common than the 346 if you want a Husky that it. My 361 Stihl w/ 20" bar is very nice as well and I do a lot of what you would be doing. Thinning Southern pine on my property. It is a little denser and heavier than Doug Fir but I do believe it cuts near the same.
 
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Ryan'smilling

Ryan'smilling

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Use the lightest saw you can get away with. I.e. around 50cc -60cc.

Have a backup saw for when you anger the timber Gods.

The ease of an internal clutch when changing a sprocket is greatly understated by the folks on AS.

My recommendation would be to buy a new 261 or 362. Or maybe a good used 260/361, if you are dead set on a saw. However, a brush cutter is undeniably more efficient in the 0"-6" range. There's a reason the Mexicans use them
Brush saws are great tools. The OP did say he's primarily going to be working in 6"-20" material, though. I think that's chainsaw territory for sure.
 
Clark10

Clark10

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful and helpful replies. Keep them coming if you have things to add or would like to second anyones comments for emphasis.
I will still have the 55 around as a second saw. Out of the saws mentioned which do you all think currently has the best quality build and maintenance record overall? When I purchase tools I don't hesitate to spend the money on quality as I know one usually gets what they pay for. after all, I hope to have this saw for many years to come.

Thanks again for your help.
 
Ryan'smilling

Ryan'smilling

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The autotune huskies are supposed to be all figured out. That is to say that they had serval issues in the first few years. Apparently all better now, but i suppose that still detracts from "overall service record". Personally, it wouldn't keep me from buying one (the price tag does, though).

Stihl has had some issues with their m-tronic also, but I've mostly heard about it in the 661.

Build quality is pretty similar across the board. You're talking about pro quality saws built for commerical duty by the biggest makers of O P E (if you don't put a space between the letters, AS censors it). They're all magnesium split case saws.

Honestly if you want service record and reliability, I'd be fairly inclined towards the Echo 590/600/620 or the Dolmar 5105 or 6100 (probably the 5105, though because it's a traditional two stroke, not strato charged). To me, having a manual carb seems more bulletproof. Some (well mostly just one guy) say the Echo stuff seems cheap and poorly built, but their equipment gets run hard and put away wet by landscaping crews all over the world every day. They know a thing or two about making tough stuff.
 
jakethesnake

jakethesnake

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550 is way in front on 50cc saws buy it it's light and nasty I've never ran one but they'll eat a 346 ass I have a 346 if you could find a gently used 346 I'd recommend it husqy owns 50cc saws hands down lighter more nimble that's what I'd buy 50 cc is plenty of saw for fir no doubt 60cc will get heavy lugging around when honestly you don't need the extra power
 
7sleeper

7sleeper

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What clearly must be stated is the contrary to the generall spreaded opinion, the differences between the top models of the different brands is rather minor and definately nothing a hobby firewooder really has to worry about! Correct sharpening techniques, correct maintenance, correct cutting techniques, etc. are by far superiorer to any here mentioned technical differences!

7
 
Big Block

Big Block

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550 is way in front on 50cc saws buy it it's light and nasty I've never ran one but they'll eat a 346 ass I have a 346 if you could find a gently used 346 I'd recommend it husqy owns 50cc saws hands down lighter more nimble that's what I'd buy 50 cc is plenty of saw for fir no doubt 60cc will get heavy lugging around when honestly you don't need the extra power
I don't know about that. Brad has a video of a 346 ne stock handing a stock 550 it's ass in a paper bag
 
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