Chainsaw Maintenance Tips: Keep That Saw Running Right

Chainsaw owners can do their equipment a world of good by taking the time to perform a dozen or so basic checks at regular intervals.

| September/October 1983

If you're a chainsaw owner, you're probably well aware of your machine's enormous potential for chewing through raw timber. But perhaps because modern saws are so efficient, and tend to mesmerize their operators into believing that everything's hunky-dory as they drone away, many people tend to take such tools for granted, and eventually pay the penalty for neglect in the form of a hefty bill at the repair shop.

The majority of today's chainsaw users are occasional " lumberjacks"—cutting and bucking logs only when fuel is needed for the family woodstove—and therefore tend to forget how much punishment a saw can suffer over the course of just one season. Furthermore, some owners may feel intimidated by what appears to be an intricate piece of machinery, and perhaps don't realize that most maintenance chores need not involve intruding on the "delicate" parts of the tool at all.

The fact of the matter is, though, that many chainsaw owners could do their equipment a world of good if they only took the time to perform a dozen or so basic checks at regular intervals. Of course, the precision work—that involving the innards of the power plant and its accessories—is best left to the experienced, but a machine that's been routinely inspected and serviced is much less likely to need major repairs than is one that's been neglected or abused.

Preventive Maintenance for Chainsaws

As the term suggests, preventive maintenance requires that a small investment of time and money be made periodically to avoid a greater expense down the road. This is especially true of high-revving, alloy-construction chainsaws. Because they're air-cooled, usually are used under deplorable conditions, and are often asked to perform beyond their limits, the gasoline-powered cutters demand more than just token attention.

Ideally, you should service your saw before it starts to act up, but, short of that, you can at least be receptive to the warning signs that'll let you know your machine's ready for a going-over. Difficult starting is probably the most common (and unmistakable) problem, and this can be attributed to anything from stale fuel to a bad spark plug On the other hand, a loss of power at full throttle could indicate a dirty air filter or a clogged exhaust chamber. And even with the engine running perfectly, you may find yourself really laying into a log to get it cut, with only a chattering chain and an overheated bar to show for your efforts. If this is the case, it's time to sharpen the tool's teeth, before their dullness can cause further complications.

Follow the Chainsaw Operator’s Manual

Whether you've had a good deal of mechanical experience or are a neophyte in the nuts-and-bolts department, you'll find the chainsaw operator's manual to be an invaluable aid. Besides telling you how to prepare and use the tool safely, it should identify the basic owner-serviceable parts and give the critical specifications for each maintenance step. If your manual doesn't include this data, see if a local dealer can provide some information on your particular unit, and when you're ready for a new saw, consider the quality of the literature as well as that of the machine!

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