Which saw do I want?

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hometheaterman

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I've been a long time lurker, but I've always been able to find the answer to any questions I've had through a search. I finally decided to join and ask for advice. I'm in need a new saw. I currently have a Stihl MS250 that I've had for probably close to 15-18 years. I recently put a clutch in it along with a few other parts, but running it today the crank broke off at the flywheel. If you'd asked me 2 months ago, I would have told you I wouldn't even consider a saw that wasn't a Stihl. I have 0 complaints about the quality of the saw. I really have been a big fan of the saw. However, my experience getting parts recently has been a nightmare. Enough of one that it honestly makes me never want to buy a Stihl saw again. I don't understand why they can't get with the times and allow their dealers to sell parts online. All of the dealers in our town that I've dealt with are absolutely terrible. Review after review online for them all recommend driving to a dealer over an hour away. Which is a huge pita when you need to go pick up a part. On top of that, these parts I ordered took about 5 weeks to get. That was a long time to have the saw down. Then one of the parts they sent was wrong, and they told me they'd get another one but that it might be another 5-6 weeks. I was fed up enough that I told them to forget it and bought the final hose I needed off of eBay.

I will go with another Stihl if it's significantly better, but I'm also very open and leaning towards as a Husqvarna.

Now with the saw down, I need a saw and I can't wait another 5-6 weeks for a new crank to come in as I offered to help a friend cut limbs off of his fence line in about 2 weeks. As to what I'll use the saw for, I normally just use it to clean up fallen trees around the house, etc. However, I acquired a fair amount of land over the past couple of years. I'm finding I need a saw a lot more now. It's mostly used to cut fallen trees off of the paths, clean up around the fields, drop trees as I cut new trails, etc. While I'd love to continue to get by with one saw, the more I think about this I'm really starting to think that I may need several saws here. I loved my MS250 and it did 85% of what I needed very well. There were quite a few times that I wished I had a bigger saw though. This has me thinking I may need something a bit bigger. The problem I run into then is that it's too big and heavy to cut small limbs around the fences, pond, etc.

I feel like I have several options here and I have no idea which direction to go.

My first thought is that I could get another saw similar in size to my MS250. I even thought about a pro grade saw such as the Husqvarna 550XP MkII, or even a Stihl 261. The biggest problem with those is that I'm not sure that I use it enough to justify spending almost $700 on a saw. I probably use this thing about 3x a year. This makes me think maybe I should get another homeowner grade saw.

I'm leaning away from that option a bit. I'm thinking I may end up buying a crank to toss in my 250, and then I'd have a saw that fit that niche anyway. I'm not sure it makes sense to keep dumping money into this thing, but I'd like to get it going again. It's been a good saw. That leaves me with option 2. Picking up something like a Echo cs-310 or a Stihl MS180. I've ruled out the Husky 135 as the reported weight is almost as much as my 250 just with a lot less power. I know this saw won't do everything I need, but my thought is that it would be great for helping my friend cut limbs in a couple of weeks. Then I can use it for small jobs around the farm. Then later pick up a larger saw in the 60+cc range. I feel like this setup would be ideal as I'd get the best of both worlds. If I end up fixing my 250, I'll really have most of the bases covered. If this is the better option, which saw do you all recommend in this class?

I'm sorry for the long post, but I'm just really unsure which direction to go in here. I feel like there are soo many choices and I don't really know what I need.
 
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For your Stihl ms250 and a broken crank there is the option of buying the engine module. Folks take apart new ones and sell the parts on ebay. There probably is an aftermarket version as well.

I would recomend the Makita 3601 if you want something in the 8 pound range power head only. Not many left at this time.

Is there a John Deere dealer nearby those guys look up parts all the time and likely the ownership has many locations so your wait times likely won't be like you mention.
 

hometheaterman

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Echo CS-4910 would suit your needs nicely. Later on when you need something bigger the CS-620P is a great saw. 550 Mk II is excellent, as is the MS261. Value for money though, nothing comes close to Echo.
I've appreciate you mentioning this. I wasn't really aware of this model, so I've been doing some reading on it today. I like the idea of the extra power over my 250 now, without a lot of extra weight. This definitely isn't off of the table, but the more thought I put into this, the more I'm wondering if I should go with a bigger saw and a smaller saw and have two. I'm seeing many benefits to a two saw setup.
 

hometheaterman

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For your Stihl ms250 and a broken crank there is the option of buying the engine module. Folks take apart new ones and sell the parts on ebay. There probably is an aftermarket version as well.

I would recomend the Makita 3601 if you want something in the 8 pound range power head only. Not many left at this time.

Is there a John Deere dealer nearby those guys look up parts all the time and likely the ownership has many locations so your wait times likely won't be like you mention.
I've been looking online and I can't find any OEM engine modules available right now. That would be a pretty optimal setup. There are lots of aftermarket kits out there though.
No way I'd spend the coin on an oem crankshaft for that MS250 and pay a dealer to replace it either. I'd throw that Stihl in the scrap pile and buy a 4910 Echo.
This is where I'm on the fence. I'm not opposed to tossing the 250 and replacing it with another saw. On the other hand, I just put $120 or so of parts into it. If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn't have done that. However, now that I already have I'm just thinking another $150-200 in parts is certainly a lot cheaper than buying another similar sized saw. I really do see a use for a mid sized saw like this and honestly I'd either like to have it back or I'd like to have something similar.

Any opinions on the aftermarket crank kits, bearings, and seals available? It seems like they are pretty affordable, but my experience with aftermarket car parts makes me hesitant. I've never rebuilt a saw engine but watching videos of it looks pretty simple. I'm thinking I'd do it myself and it would be a fun learning experience. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, I'm just used to working on cars instead of small engines.
 

hometheaterman

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In the 60cc range, the Echo CS590 is probably the best value on the market.
It's interesting that you mention this. A relative bought one a couple of months ago and he's been showing it to me, and keeps talking about how much he likes it. I'm seriously considering the CS-590 as it seems like a lot of saw for the money. I just think it's going to be a bit too big for small stuff. So if I go this route, I'll need something smaller as well.

The MS261 I'd initially considered is seeming less appealing to me with the more thought I put into it. I get that I need a saw more now than I have in the past, but if my 250 lasted me 15-18 years, I just can't see the 261 lasting all that much longer than that, even if it is a better saw. Stuff just breaks down over time. I just can't see how I'd get my moneys worth. I could also end up with two saws for the same price which seems a lot more appealing.

I'm really strongly considering the CS-590, then picking up a smaller saw such as a Stihl MS180 or an Echo CS-310. These are the two top contenders. As much as I want to avoid Stihl this go around, I'm really liking the MS180. It seems like the combo would cost me slightly less than a single MS261, but do a lot more. Plus I'd have two saws that I could use if I got one stuck, one was down, or I have a friend helping me cut stuff. It just seems like a big advantage, so it's the way I'm leaning right now. Any opinions? Do you all think this is the way to go, or am I better off to forgo this idea and just spend the money on a single saw? Any opinions on which is the better choice of the two small saws? The only reason I wouldn't want to go this route is if I'm buying a saw that is going to be junk, or dead in 3 years versus getting a saw that will last me the next 15-20 years.

I'm thinking if I do end of fixing my MS250 at some point in addition to the other two, I'd really have a saw for pretty much any job I'd encounter.
 

Bubster

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A homeowner version Husky such as a 445 is around $400.A little higher than a Stihl 251.But the Husky parts are everywhere.I have the Husky 545 MK II and it is by far my go to saw.It is a pro model with a pro price though of about $639-659.I have used a 445 a lot and found it to be quite a saw for the money.Some great deals on the Stihl 250/251 on feebay too.Saw one today lightly used I think was $239 + $20 shipping.Good luck.
 

landfakers

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If you like Stihls then the 261 with a few different bars seems like the logical route to me for your needs. I’m not sure about you but getting 15-18 years out of a +/- $700 saw is a pretty good deal and well worth your coin
 

hometheaterman

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What size wood are you cutting, and what species?
It's hard to say, because it really varies. Over the last couple of years I acquired a decent sized farm which mostly consists of wooded land. While I'm far from an expert on tree identification, a lot of it is various hardwood such as oak, poplar, etc. The most recent need for a saw was having 6 trees fall across the road in. They were in the 12-16" diameter. I got about half of these done, when my MS250 started giving me the issues that prompted the initial repairs. I still need to get these up, along with two more slightly larger that fell in a field.

Other times, I'm just cutting soft pines, or other small trees or branches that are just a couple of inches in diameter as I'm cutting trails, clearing branches that hang over fence lines, etc. It's all been fairly new to me, as the last 15 years that I used the saw, I just used it for branches in the yard, small trees in the yard, occasionally helping a friend cut firewood, etc. I'm finding that I need it a lot more these days and it's a lot bigger variety of what I'm cutting.
 

Lionsfan

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I've been looking online and I can't find any OEM engine modules available right now. That would be a pretty optimal setup. There are lots of aftermarket kits out there though.

This is where I'm on the fence. I'm not opposed to tossing the 250 and replacing it with another saw. On the other hand, I just put $120 or so of parts into it. If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn't have done that. However, now that I already have I'm just thinking another $150-200 in parts is certainly a lot cheaper than buying another similar sized saw. I really do see a use for a mid sized saw like this and honestly I'd either like to have it back or I'd like to have something similar.

Any opinions on the aftermarket crank kits, bearings, and seals available? It seems like they are pretty affordable, but my experience with aftermarket car parts makes me hesitant. I've never rebuilt a saw engine but watching videos of it looks pretty simple. I'm thinking I'd do it myself and it would be a fun learning experience. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, I'm just used to working on cars instead of small engines.

If you like Stihls then the 261 with a few different bars seems like the logical route to me for your needs. I’m not sure about you but getting 15-18 years out of a +/- $700 saw is a pretty good deal and well worth your coin
I tend to agree with this. Guys are spending $50,000-$60,000 on bass boats every day and another $50,000-$60,000 on a half ton pickup truck to haul it. If you wear out a $700 saw in 15 years, and it keeps you entertained on weekends, that's pretty cheap entertainment.
 

hometheaterman

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Thank you for this link. I'm not sure how I didn't find this in my search. I'm thinking this might be the way to go to fix my current saw. I'm just hoping I don't end up with someone trying to pass off aftermarket stuff as OEM, which has happened to me on eBay before.

Since the bottom cover has to be pulled off to get it out of the saw, do you all think having pulled them off of the crank seals, then putting it back together to put it in my saw is an okay process? Or is it better to change the crank seals again since it's been apart?

I'm just wondering if it's better to do this, versus getting a crank, new bearings, new seals, etc. and then trying to use my same piston and cylinder.
 
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