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Top Handle Recommendation?

Firewood Bandit

Firewood Bandit

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Hey guys, I have been a ground guy for a while and the climbers I work with have started teaching me how to spur climb. I have got all my own equipment (including PPE) at this point except a climbing saw. I have been using 200T’s and like everyone find them excellent. I have also used some husky battery saws and appreciate not having a pull cord in a tree. With that said I’m open to any reputable brand and any fuel source.

Context; I’m on Vancouver Island and most of what we do are removals of douglas fir, cedar, and maples.

Are there any top handle saws you would recommend or avoid?

P.S. I am registered for climber training.
 
JimBear

JimBear

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Echo CS2511t seems to get a lot of good press. I don’t do much climbing but do own one. I like the adjustable oiler & it runs well. A lot of folks seem to like putting 1/4” chain on them but I prefer the 3/8”LP.
 
Firewood Bandit

Firewood Bandit

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Echo CS2511t seems to get a lot of good press. I don’t do much climbing but do own one. I like the adjustable oiler & it runs well. A lot of folks seem to like putting 1/4” chain on them but I prefer the 3/8”LP.
Thanks Jim, having a saw as light as the 2511 would be a real plus and I agree with you about 3/8"
 
greengreer

greengreer

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The 2511 is great, but too small to be your only top handle for production tree work. For new, I prefer the t540 over the 201tc but the echo 355 is about half the cost of the other two. Simple and really a runner with a few easy mods.
 
IyaMan

IyaMan

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I use the Hitachi clone of an Echo 355 (essentially the same saw, just rebranded). No complaints and I've beaten the crud out of it (I have 2 actually). On one of them I swaped out the 16" bar that came with it to a 12" (safer/easier when up a tree). Actually, I recently wrote about the solid performance despite how badly I treat them here:
https://www.arboristsite.com/commun...o-professional-tree-work.341069/#post-7230960

However, I do some removals but mostly pruning, and it does get heavy after a while in the tree (I prune mainly cedar and cyprus, doing about 4 to 10 meters of pruning per tree with about 4 to 10 branches per meter, so it can be a lot of long load on the arms). Accordingly, I'm thinking of getting a CS2511 (or the Hitachi clone of it) for the smaller size/weight.

But I would say having the extra power of the 355 could be good on removals, especially when going farther down the tree where it gets fatter. But with Doug Fir and Cedar, the 25cc engine on the smaller saw would probably be fine.

One other consideration for when pruning would maybe getting a tip guard. Echo makes them but I just fashioned up my own with some metal plate. Over the years I've had a couple close calls where I was particularly happy to have it when rigged in high up in a tree....
 
flushcut

flushcut

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I have been using a modded 2511 in oak, hickory, and sugar maple removals. My 200t has been run once in many months and that was because the 2511 ran out of gas and I didn't want to wait for a refuel. Once I have the tree brushed out using the 2511 I swap out for a rear handle either 550 or 372 depending.
 
NeSurfcaster

NeSurfcaster

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2511t for sure, I run 201t's at work. I use 3/8ths on my 2511t, I keep it sharp. I don't bring up a rear handle till the wood is 12" or bigger 95% of the time. The extra power of the 201t isn't necessary for 80% of the cuts. So I'll take the 3+lb lighter saw everytime. 2511t w/ MM w/ proper tuning and a sharp stihl full chisel chain is the best T/H in my book.
 
Firewood Bandit

Firewood Bandit

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I picked up a 2511 used it on a couple jobs and love it. Running the 3/8 chain and it does well. A couple times I thought I dropped it because I could not feel it when I let it hang on my saw lanyard. The light weght makes it a breeze. Very happy with it.
 
The Singing Arborist

The Singing Arborist

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What size of wood do you find yourself cutting the most with your top handle? My 2511 gets through 9" softwood quite happily. If I'm cutting larger than that, I'd prefer to have the 355t or a larger rear handle saw.
 
Firewood Bandit

Firewood Bandit

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What size of wood do you find yourself cutting the most with your top handle? My 2511 gets through 9" softwood quite happily. If I'm cutting larger than that, I'd prefer to have the 355t or a larger rear handle saw.
I have used it on a couple of cedar removals and agree with you. For branches its fantastic and taking the top out its good. When I’m chunking out the stem and get into cuts wider than 10 inches it really shows its low cc. So I’m switching to a midsize rear handle saw earlier with this little saw vs a 200t because of the echo's limited power. Modification and running lighter chain would help obviously. The trade-off for me is worth it unless you’re in large trees with large dia branches in which case the Echo does not make sense vs a larger top handle. In my mind it’s like running a 562 vs a 572. I will use a smaller lighter saw unless the power requirements of the situation dictate the use of a heavier saw. The 562 can do most of what a 572 can do but at a certain point you’re just better off using the heavier more powerful saw.
 
Harmon

Harmon

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Some years ago I went to work for myself and the only saw I had was my ms 361. So I put on a short bar and climbed with it, mostly medium size cottonwoods and sitka spruce and hemlock. Fun for a while but some mornings my arms did not work - hard to make coffee that way. So i bought a new in box ms 201t, having used any number of other climbing saws - eager beavers, husqvarna 335, thrashed tree service 200t s, ms 191t (almost as heavy as my 361) ms 192t, some homelite lookin thing, - and that 201t set me back $800 and this in 2013 and was worth every dollar. Recently I got a rebuilt 200t for half as much - and it screams - its fun, and in nice shape, and also worth every dollar.

All that being fine and good when i did work for a tree service I sure as heck did not bring any of my personal chainsaws to work. We were required to furnish our own climbing gear, but all the saws and rigging etc were company owned - seemed like a new climbing saw had a five year lifespan, then it went in the pile with the other parts saws. Furthermore I have no experience with Echo nor have i ever actually seen one, but should one ever cross my path, i bet curiosity will win.
 
KLynwoodS

KLynwoodS

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Dec 22, 2017
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I use the Hitachi clone of an Echo 355 (essentially the same saw, just rebranded). No complaints and I've beaten the crud out of it (I have 2 actually). On one of them I swaped out the 16" bar that came with it to a 12" (safer/easier when up a tree). Actually, I recently wrote about the solid performance despite how badly I treat them here:
https://www.arboristsite.com/commun...o-professional-tree-work.341069/#post-7230960

However, I do some removals but mostly pruning, and it does get heavy after a while in the tree (I prune mainly cedar and cyprus, doing about 4 to 10 meters of pruning per tree with about 4 to 10 branches per meter, so it can be a lot of long load on the arms). Accordingly, I'm thinking of getting a CS2511 (or the Hitachi clone of it) for the smaller size/weight.

But I would say having the extra power of the 355 could be good on removals, especially when going farther down the tree where it gets fatter. But with Doug Fir and Cedar, the 25cc engine on the smaller saw would probably be fine.

One other consideration for when pruning would maybe getting a tip guard. Echo makes them but I just fashioned up my own with some metal plate. Over the years I've had a couple close calls where I was particularly happy to have it when rigged in high up in a tree....
Just to clear the air, the hitachi saws are the same as Tanaka. They are nowhere close to an echo in design. If you want an echo in a different color look at shindaiwa. The 355t is called the 358ts in shindaiwa red. They also have a red cs600
 
EchoRomeoCharlie

EchoRomeoCharlie

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IMO - Beginner climber, the 2511 is not enough to be your only top handle for production. I would go 201t OR 355t if you want to spend less money. I think the 355t with some mods is a fantastic climbing saw at a great price. Which is why it hangs from my lanyard while I'm in the tree.

Once you have one of those, and some experience under your belt, get a 2511 and use it on jobs that it will work for.
 
tek9tim

tek9tim

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Dec 12, 2005
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682
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Entiat, WA
I've done a lot of falling for a lot of years, and run ported saws, primarily Stihls. I started getting into climbing in the last year and needed a top handle. Looked around, and decided that the price tag of the 355T combined with hands-on experience of folks I trust made it a good choice. No regrets, it pulls the chain no problem. I did open up the muffler before I ever even put fuel in it, but I haven't ported it yet. It cuts well enough for a 35cc saw.

There may be enough logic in the idea of running a 2511, then switching to a rear handle once the wood gets bigger than 10".
 
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