Is this too much to ask a saw shop?

newforest

newforest

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I love running saws and always feel blessed to have a year-round career working in the woods.

But I no longer enjoy owning saws, and I am pretty down right now. I feel like all I have been doing for five years is having saws fixed. And the only way I can get a dependable saw for a while is to buy a new one. I can only wonder how much money I could have made. I own 6 saws that got wiped out by the Ethanol disaster; only one is running right now despite pouring hundreds of dollars per year into the total fleet and constantly driving to saw shops wherever I am working.

If a saw has good compression still, I feel like it should be possible to run that saw for a week or three without yet another trip to the shop. Is that too much to expect from an older saw? But I can no longer get a week of work out of any of my older saws.

What I always ask a shop is to replace the entire fuel system. The lines, the boots, the carb seals, the intake, anything that ethanol touched is compromised. The shops generally respond "oh, we'll figure out what's wrong with your saw." And invariably they get my saw running fine, cold from the shop floor. But that's not the same as how things work 6 hours in to an 8 hour day of pure cutting. Nor does it ever address whatever is the next little tiny piece of corroded rubber that is going to let go and randomly let air into the system.

I have seen shops pressure test the fuel line and because it holds pressure fine, they refuse to replace it. In my opinion, I am the customer for their services, and I want to pay them to do what I request. Not what they think is best.

I think they are mostly so buried in destroyed small engines that they don't have much choice, and I understand that. I also realize that many if not most saw shop customers are weekend warriors who need to cut firewood and can tolerate a saw that gets flaky when it is hot. With firewood, there is plenty of other work to do besides cutting. And many customers want the bare minimum done to get their saw running again for the lowest possible repair bill.

The only other tactic I can think of to try is to request a complete re-build over the winter months when they should have the most time available.

Is it really that difficult and time consuming to replace the entire fuel system? Am I out of line with such a request?




Here are some more specific stories if you are up for reading more:

I have a Husqy 55 that I haven't got a straight 4 hours of work out of in four years, let alone a full day. After it stayed at home with my father for a season and was treated to plenty of Ethanol gas, I asked my local shop to put a new carb in it. I was just learning the ins and outs of the Ethanol problems, but I was far ahead of my mechanic on that. I didn't know there were 'carb kits' to replace just the seals, etc. This mechanic kind of refuses to enter the 21st century - no VISA cards accepted, won't sell Auto-Tune saws, still tries to look up parts on a micro-fiche, and seemingly refuses to use the internet. After he put a new carb in, I could never run a second tank of fuel as the first tank would foul out the plug. I told him it was set too rich and needed to be tuned. He told me it was my fault for using that No Ethanol gas. Although I have purchased six saws from the guy over the years, I couldn't take it any more and started shopping at a very high volume shop twice as far away instead.

I have also had the 55 tuned and tweaked by a very famous shop in a neighboring state, tuned by a friend of mine who runs a half-dozen 50cc class Husqy saws, and it has been in my new shop twice already. It still won't run when I need it.

My set of three 335Fx brush saws have been a total disaster. Running those is how I first learned about the Ethanol problems in about 2011. A mechanic near the job-site that year (I travel extensively for esoteric habitat and timber management work) found a pin-hole in a fuel line. He recommended a new line and a new carb. I said get it done, I have a crew that needs to stay busy. I switched to purchasing No Ethanol gas right away as soon as I found someone selling it and haven't used "E gas" in at least four years now. I put new carbs in the other two saws as well.

But I am still experiencing problems with these saws. Last year a very, very good shop discovered that the intake boot had micro holes in it. That explained a lot. Yet even they wouldn't rebuild the whole fuel system. Those saws have had plenty of other things to fix - broken triggers in particular, replaced all the throttle cables, and all the clutch springs. Shaft issues too. I'm OK with wearing out parts of the saw before a piston re-build, that's part of owning a saw and trying to get the 1,500 hours out of it. But that is what makes running smack into yet another fuel system issue so frustrating - they always happen just after fixing up some other mechanical issue. If the whole fuel system had been replaced when I asked, I feel like I would have saved many shop trips and down-time, which I already have plenty of.

Ironically my strongest saw is my oldest brush saw, a 245. I have updated it with a new throttle cable and improved trigger system, and yes, a new carb. It too is idling up constantly and can't be run safely right now. It has the least hours of any of my brush saws as I kept it as a back-up to the 335s as soon as I bought them. I am switching to Stihl FS 560s as soon as I can, but at $1,400 a pop, that's not real easy.

The worst news is my beloved 346XP. It also has a second new carb in it after I used it for a month or so just after purchase with E gas. After being the dependable work-horse that saw is known to be for a month or two here and there the last four years (I don't run saws all 12 months of the year, and sometimes have jobs only for the chainsaw or only for the brush saw), this spring it started running really raggedy. I took it into the shop and explained everything, asked for a new plug and fuel filter and a careful tune-up and a check over everything else. I think the intake boot was replaced, I forget which rubber part. After running two tanks through it, it became nearly impossible to start cold. So I gave it to the shop closest to the job-site at the time and asked for help. After 30 days I finally got it back with a carb kit installed. Now it doesn't run at all, 15 minutes in.

I have run 50cc class Husqy saws since the 257XP. My biggest worry used to be theft, which snagged a couple over the years. Now I feel like if I want to keep running saws, I just have to keep buying them.

I currently have a guy waiting to work. I need at least two brush saws or two chain saws so we can both cut. Ideally of course I would have three of each on hand for possible problems. I work anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes away from any shop, maybe even 120 at times. But although I own 7 saws now the only one I think I can count on is my very new 550XP. Two chainsaws not running, three brush saws in the shop and the running one I don't have much faith in to last more than a week. I could go to work on either chainsaw sites or brush-saw sites, I can't put the guy to work until I scrounge up the capital to go buy saw #8. I'm not sure any of my 6 non-2016 saws will even function as back-up saws ever again ... even though the pull on the piston is still strong.
 
newforest

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Oh and I guess another part of what really got me down is reading that the Ethanol can also corrode the aluminum and magnesium parts. So another question I have is - could this make seals, gaskets, etc., never work properly again, because the metal surface they contact gets pitted?
 
HarleyT

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Sounds like you are having a wide variety of problems, and you are looking for something to blame. I think that the fuel can be a problem, but I don't think that is as bad as you think it is. I think a lot could be the quality of the parts your mechanic may be using, as the cheap China crap is as tempting to buy for a guy with a shop, as it is for these tightwad chainsaw nuts here. He may be using that junk Oregon Tygon look alike crap. Also their primer bulbs, carb kits. I would steer clear from as much aftermarket junk as possible.


Also, you may want to look at some of your workers, you may have some brutes using your equipment, like one of my brother-in-laws, he could tear up an anvil.


Not sure what you mean about "carb kits to replace just the seals".


Also, you might step back and take a look at other things, like who runs the equipment that gets broken triggers, torn boots, etc..



Also, talk a bit about the fouling plugs.
What brand do you use?
 
Chainsaw10

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Dude, stop being so paranoid about ethanol, it's not ideal....but definitely not as evil as some make it out to be. You are driving your local saw shops nuts. ....if you know so well what needs to be fixed, then go ahead and do it yourself. Your the expert, right? I run saws every day for over 20 years all day long and I have very few saw failures(or problems at all). #1 thing to do is Stop buying huskys!!! Huskys are fun for these hobby guys here who wanna cut cookies real fast once a week.....but my experience is that's huskys crap out when used hard as a daily work saw. Ive owned 4 of them and they were all headaches. What's that saying?....something like "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results"..... Stop incessantly purchasing the same brand that's constantly giving you headaches!!! I learned this years ago .
My stihl problems are few and far between.
 
HarleyT

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Also, talk about "the ethanol disaster".

What fuel brand, etc. have you used since, and has it cured your problems?
 
cgraham1

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Dude, stop being so paranoid about ethanol, it's not ideal....but definitely not as evil as some make it out to be. You are driving your local saw shops nuts. ....if you know so well what needs to be fixed, then go ahead and do it yourself. Your the expert, right? I run saws every day for over 20 years all day long and I have very few saw failures(or problems at all). #1 thing to do is Stop buying huskys!!! Huskys are fun for these hobby guys here who wanna cut cookies real fast once a week.....but my experience is that's huskys crap out when used hard as a daily work saw. Ive owned 4 of them and they were all headaches. What's that saying?....something like "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results"..... Stop incessantly purchasing the same brand that's constantly giving you headaches!!! I learned this years ago .
My stihl problems are few and far between.
********. I know loggers who run Husqvarnas all day every day, and they do just fine. I'm glad Stihl saws work for you, but there are other saws that will hold up just fine.

@newforest please send me the 346xp. I will make it run and take good care of it...

But seriously, I can't imagine running business that relies on working saws, while having no idea how to maintain (or even tune!) a saw.
 
newforest

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Hmm, sometimes I have employees help me, sometimes I don't. Sure, some people learning saws are hard on them (I take care of sharpening, for example). Some repairs are just part of owning a saw. The trigger systems on brush saws are prone to bad luck - I broke one trigger myself when a small widow-maker hit it, and stretched a throttle cable by snagging it on slash. Designs of those systems are improving steadily to minimize those risks.

The frustration has been from taking a saw in for the same problem more than once - too much air in the mix leading to the saw idling up. Brush saws don't have a chain brake and though you have to try hard to touch the blade, it can be done and they aren't safe to run with the blade constantly spinning. Replace one bit of the fuel system, six months or a year later later go replace another one.

One question I had is - even aside from having Ethanol in them a long time ago, (run dry and stored empty always), does fuel line and the other parts in contact with fuel last forever? Is it normal to consider replacing fuel line, etc., before having the engine completely torn down?

I'm not running every day like loggers who expect to just replace a saw every two years, I do non-saw jobs quite often as well. That does make it difficult to estimate how much use I have on some saws. There were years where I couldn't win a bid for anything for the brush saws so I wonder how fuel components age. I rotate the brush saws through steady use the best I can, though any more I can just use whichever one is working. (Wouldn't it be nice if saws had an hour meter like heavy equipment?) In June I had two brush saws working. I picked them up in August and both were down within an hour. One of the pair that was down in June seems OK with just a fresh tune-up. We'll see.

I haven't had any intake boots torn physically, just corrosion issues with them.

I use NGK plugs. On the 55, with the new carb the plug was completely black in one hour of use. Gave it back to the shop, went back in the woods, same result again. I got it tuned back from being so rich, but it has never made an 8 hour day since.

I don't know what to think about the 346 that now won't run at all. Two shops in two months.

I am switching to Stihl for brush saws when I can, probably buying my first in a month or so. The 335s were $950 out the door and it isn't as simple to just switch once you own them. Before 2011, I rarely needed any help for my Husqy chainsaws. I would like to work on them myself but don't really have any shop space aside from the truck tailgate. I can do the basics, wash the filters, etc. and am slowly learning to tweak the jets beyond just turning the T 1/8 either way, but as things get more complex I feel like I could probably earn more money running saws and paying a professional to do it right than I could by taking a lot of time to learn how to take a carb or trigger assembly apart and maybe not getting it put back together right.

I buy No Ethanol gas always, now, and have for some time. I run full synthetic 50:1. I have to wonder how much I damaged the fuel systems before I knew; I guess one part of why I wrote that up. I have a friend who runs aviation gas and he says he has never had as many issues with mostly the same models of saws that I run.

I get along fine with my shop where I go now. I defer to their experience on not needing to replace entire fuel systems. I don't get a sense they can re-build saws - they have saws to fix arriving by the pallet load. Another shop I like reports a four month wait for anything dropped off.
 
KennyPete

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As a shop owner/operator, I run in to the opposite problem. People want to put as little money as possible in to their equipment - bare minimum fixes, Chinese parts, etc - and expect it to be problem free forever.

I always try to steer them in to proper overhauls - new OEM fuel/impulse lines, intake boots, air filters, etc. I prefer it when stuff goes out the door and doesn't come back for years.
 
gunnusmc03

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Am I alone in thinking that if you rely on a particular device/tool/machine to earn your paycheck that you should be more vested in the understanding of how to maintain said tool?

I understand you're busy but replacing fuel components and tuning is like saws 101.

Think of all the $ and grief you'd save if you'd learn to perform these tasks on your own?
 
HarleyT

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I have a few local guys that run Husqvarna trimmers{or brush saws}, and some have some hard serious hours, and they all have a bunch of throttle system problems, most because they are just plain worn out,
and parts are hard to get, slow to get, and expensive, and a shop is reluctant to replace everything that could go out, because the cost would approach or exceed the cost of a new unit.

Go and buy you an fs90 Stihl, give it a try. Build up a fleet of those, your problems will slack off.
If you have trouble, just buy a new one and keep going, use the older ones for parts, the parts can be swapped out in a few minutes sitting on your truck tailgate, your guys can keep working.
Something to think about on your next 120 mi. drive to a dealer.
 
Full Chisel

Full Chisel

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I wouldn't even bother with an FS90 for that kind of work...go big or go home with an FS130. Way more power with little increase in weight. One thing about the 4 mix machines is that they will need valve adjustments with that many hours put on them.

Learn to tune a saw at the minimum. I have a hard time believing ethanol is behind all your problems when the equipment gets used regularly. You should be turning over your fuel supply quickly enough to avoid 99% of issues stemming from ethanol.
 
lone wolf

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I love running saws and always feel blessed to have a year-round career working in the woods.

But I no longer enjoy owning saws, and I am pretty down right now. I feel like all I have been doing for five years is having saws fixed. And the only way I can get a dependable saw for a while is to buy a new one. I can only wonder how much money I could have made. I own 6 saws that got wiped out by the Ethanol disaster; only one is running right now despite pouring hundreds of dollars per year into the total fleet and constantly driving to saw shops wherever I am working.

If a saw has good compression still, I feel like it should be possible to run that saw for a week or three without yet another trip to the shop. Is that too much to expect from an older saw? But I can no longer get a week of work out of any of my older saws.

What I always ask a shop is to replace the entire fuel system. The lines, the boots, the carb seals, the intake, anything that ethanol touched is compromised. The shops generally respond "oh, we'll figure out what's wrong with your saw." And invariably they get my saw running fine, cold from the shop floor. But that's not the same as how things work 6 hours in to an 8 hour day of pure cutting. Nor does it ever address whatever is the next little tiny piece of corroded rubber that is going to let go and randomly let air into the system.

I have seen shops pressure test the fuel line and because it holds pressure fine, they refuse to replace it. In my opinion, I am the customer for their services, and I want to pay them to do what I request. Not what they think is best.

I think they are mostly so buried in destroyed small engines that they don't have much choice, and I understand that. I also realize that many if not most saw shop customers are weekend warriors who need to cut firewood and can tolerate a saw that gets flaky when it is hot. With firewood, there is plenty of other work to do besides cutting. And many customers want the bare minimum done to get their saw running again for the lowest possible repair bill.

The only other tactic I can think of to try is to request a complete re-build over the winter months when they should have the most time available.

Is it really that difficult and time consuming to replace the entire fuel system? Am I out of line with such a request?




Here are some more specific stories if you are up for reading more:

I have a Husqy 55 that I haven't got a straight 4 hours of work out of in four years, let alone a full day. After it stayed at home with my father for a season and was treated to plenty of Ethanol gas, I asked my local shop to put a new carb in it. I was just learning the ins and outs of the Ethanol problems, but I was far ahead of my mechanic on that. I didn't know there were 'carb kits' to replace just the seals, etc. This mechanic kind of refuses to enter the 21st century - no VISA cards accepted, won't sell Auto-Tune saws, still tries to look up parts on a micro-fiche, and seemingly refuses to use the internet. After he put a new carb in, I could never run a second tank of fuel as the first tank would foul out the plug. I told him it was set too rich and needed to be tuned. He told me it was my fault for using that No Ethanol gas. Although I have purchased six saws from the guy over the years, I couldn't take it any more and started shopping at a very high volume shop twice as far away instead.

I have also had the 55 tuned and tweaked by a very famous shop in a neighboring state, tuned by a friend of mine who runs a half-dozen 50cc class Husqy saws, and it has been in my new shop twice already. It still won't run when I need it.

My set of three 335Fx brush saws have been a total disaster. Running those is how I first learned about the Ethanol problems in about 2011. A mechanic near the job-site that year (I travel extensively for esoteric habitat and timber management work) found a pin-hole in a fuel line. He recommended a new line and a new carb. I said get it done, I have a crew that needs to stay busy. I switched to purchasing No Ethanol gas right away as soon as I found someone selling it and haven't used "E gas" in at least four years now. I put new carbs in the other two saws as well.

But I am still experiencing problems with these saws. Last year a very, very good shop discovered that the intake boot had micro holes in it. That explained a lot. Yet even they wouldn't rebuild the whole fuel system. Those saws have had plenty of other things to fix - broken triggers in particular, replaced all the throttle cables, and all the clutch springs. Shaft issues too. I'm OK with wearing out parts of the saw before a piston re-build, that's part of owning a saw and trying to get the 1,500 hours out of it. But that is what makes running smack into yet another fuel system issue so frustrating - they always happen just after fixing up some other mechanical issue. If the whole fuel system had been replaced when I asked, I feel like I would have saved many shop trips and down-time, which I already have plenty of.

Ironically my strongest saw is my oldest brush saw, a 245. I have updated it with a new throttle cable and improved trigger system, and yes, a new carb. It too is idling up constantly and can't be run safely right now. It has the least hours of any of my brush saws as I kept it as a back-up to the 335s as soon as I bought them. I am switching to Stihl FS 560s as soon as I can, but at $1,400 a pop, that's not real easy.

The worst news is my beloved 346XP. It also has a second new carb in it after I used it for a month or so just after purchase with E gas. After being the dependable work-horse that saw is known to be for a month or two here and there the last four years (I don't run saws all 12 months of the year, and sometimes have jobs only for the chainsaw or only for the brush saw), this spring it started running really raggedy. I took it into the shop and explained everything, asked for a new plug and fuel filter and a careful tune-up and a check over everything else. I think the intake boot was replaced, I forget which rubber part. After running two tanks through it, it became nearly impossible to start cold. So I gave it to the shop closest to the job-site at the time and asked for help. After 30 days I finally got it back with a carb kit installed. Now it doesn't run at all, 15 minutes in.

I have run 50cc class Husqy saws since the 257XP. My biggest worry used to be theft, which snagged a couple over the years. Now I feel like if I want to keep running saws, I just have to keep buying them.

I currently have a guy waiting to work. I need at least two brush saws or two chain saws so we can both cut. Ideally of course I would have three of each on hand for possible problems. I work anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes away from any shop, maybe even 120 at times. But although I own 7 saws now the only one I think I can count on is my very new 550XP. Two chainsaws not running, three brush saws in the shop and the running one I don't have much faith in to last more than a week. I could go to work on either chainsaw sites or brush-saw sites, I can't put the guy to work until I scrounge up the capital to go buy saw #8. I'm not sure any of my 6 non-2016 saws will even function as back-up saws ever again ... even though the pull on the piston is still strong.
Buy some VP canned gas!
 
HarleyT

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I wouldn't even bother with an FS90 for that kind of work...go big or go home with an FS130. Way more power with little increase in weight. One thing about the 4 mix machines is that they will need valve adjustments with that many hours put on them.

Learn to tune a saw at the minimum. I have a hard time believing ethanol is behind all your problems when the equipment gets used regularly. You should be turning over your fuel supply quickly enough to avoid 99% of issues stemming from ethanol.
Sure, pretty much the same trimmer, except for the piston size. But the same philosophy.
I think that the fs90 is a great trimmer on it's own, has plenty of power. Runs the chainsaw head just fine too.
 
7sleeper

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I am quite uncertain, but are fellows here really recomending trimmers for bruschcutting work? Sorry guys but they wouldn't last a week in serious bruschcutting scenarios! Bruschcutter = ~40cc or larger, full antivib, high diametre shaft with heavy duty gear head. The micky mouse toys you can leave at home for the casual user.

@newforest ,

I see a few problems existing.

First, the ethanol problem is totally blown out of reality. Yes it can cause problems, especially after changeover of non ethanol fuel to ethanol fuel, when the material is > a decade old, when leaving the fuel mix in your equiment over half a year and when storing your fuel in non certified fuel containers or exposed to high temperature changes (f.e. leaving the fuel containers rolling around in the sun...).

Second, ALL rubber components can be expected to deteriorate after at least a decade if not even sooner, irrespective of fuel quality.

Third, emptying the fuel tank on your equipement leaves fuel in the system. What is recomended is to empty the fuel tank and let your engine IDLE dry. That way the fuel system should be empty as far as possible.

7
 
HarleyT

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I am quite uncertain, but are fellows here really recomending trimmers for bruschcutting work? Sorry guys but they wouldn't last a week in serious bruschcutting scenarios! Bruschcutter = ~40cc or larger, full antivib, high diametre shaft with heavy duty gear head. The micky mouse toys you can leave at home for the casual user.

@newforest ,

I see a few problems existing.

First, the ethanol problem is totally blown out of reality. Yes it can cause problems, especially after changeover of non ethanol fuel to ethanol fuel, when the material is > a decade old, when leaving the fuel mix in your equiment over half a year and when storing your fuel in non certified fuel containers or exposed to high temperature changes (f.e. leaving the fuel containers rolling around in the sun...).

Second, ALL rubber components can be expected to deteriorate after at least a decade if not even sooner, irrespective of fuel quality.

Third, emptying the fuel tank on your equipement leaves fuel in the system. What is recomended is to empty the fuel tank and let your engine IDLE dry. That way the fuel system should be empty as far as possible.

7
Bull..
My set of three 335Fx brush saws have been a total disaster

For the price of 1 of these Husqvarnas, he could have 3 FS90s.
Why wouldn't he at least be willing to try one. It would cost about as much as 1 120 mi. trip to his dealer,

or buy 3 and he won't have to go to his dealer for a year or two....
 
HarleyT

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If you break one, buy another, put the old one in the back of the truck for parts, which can be swapped out on the jobsite.

Sounds like a thing to try.
 
computeruser

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I leave my saws wet, never had a problem even with long term storage. Might dump and refill before subsequent use, though.

If you cannot tune your own equipment, that is an issue, but should be easy to solve.

Otherwise, if things are honestly breaking that often, I would look to the operator side of things first.
 

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