Intro and Tuning Help

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ArboristSite Lurker
May 10, 2020
Firstly, I'd like to introduce myself. I live in CA. Grew up in the mountains near Mt. Shasta. My dad taught me a lot growing up about chainsaws and milling but I didn't pay attention as much as I should have because for a 13 years old on their 8th hour of slabbing out a cedar, it got old quick. We always joked that my dad loved his chainsaws more then his dogs because his old Mcculloch had a defined place near the woodstove in the winter but the dog wasn't allowed inside unless there was 6 feet of snow. That saw was a pain to start cold.

But now I'm kicking myself because my father lives far away now and I have about 10 acres of interior live oak, CA black, oak, ponderosa and gray pine, and incense cedar woodland that needs thinning. Mostly live oak; did I mention I don't have a splitter. I will be cutting all into firewood, some for home use, some I'm selling. All by myself. I've been doing about 2 cords a week working before and after work the last few weeks, but plenty more to go. I've always heated with wood and used to sell firewood in high school but now I need to step up my knowledge as far as maintaining, tuning and fixing saws goes.

I have two saws:
Stihl MS 461 (standard carb)
Echo 2511T

Saws I want:
Stihl MS 261 (I have no in between saw)
Stihl MS 880 (milling is in my near future)

The Stihl dealer is a 25 minute drive and charge money for services so I've been trying to learn as much as a can to properly tune the saw and I'm having trouble because it doesn't sound or act like the 30 year old saws I learned on. I wouldn't say I'm extremely mechanically inclined but I get by and I can change parts and I like to learn. I also hate paying for services I can do myself.

My 461 was to lean from the factory. I pulled the limiter caps and filed the tab off and replaced. Right now I'm experimenting with tuning it properly so I can understand its capacity without any mods. Once I get the saw dialed I plan to put a dual port cover on it and drill out the exhaust port a bit more. By that point I'll hopefully have a better understanding of tuning and will be equipped to retune after the additions.

Right now I think I'm running a bit rich and I'm hesitant to lean out. I know what 4 stroking is and can hear it out of the cut but it's pretty subtle difference once in the cut and tuning in the cut is about impossible for me since I don't have a third hand and lack experience (also paying attention to safety and the cut makes it distracting). And no mentors in my area that I know to help out. Bright side is it cuts good, bucked up 36" live oak today, they are hell on chain though, especially with how dirty this one is.

I suppose my ask is:

1) I've been hesitant to lean it out any and over rev, how long do you have before damage occurs if you turn it a bit to far clockwise? I'm not saying I'm going to hold it there but I've seen these videos with guys adjusting while WOT and they do it so quick which I obviously don't have the ear for yet.

2) If I video my tuning procedure and run the saw in some wood can you all tell me if I'm doing it right, if it's sounding good, and what adjustments to start with?

Thanks all.