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The well-appointed woodcutter.

Here's a closeup look at the cream of the new crop of chainsaws, pole pruners, and safety wear.

It wasn't long ago that a woodcutter's equipment and apparel were purely utilitarian; except for color, all chainsaws looked pretty much alike and headgear was woolen. But that was then, and this is now; the advancements in both areas are widespread and welcome. The result is a manyfold increase in productivity, reliability, and attention to safety.

Chainsaw research and development departments have been striving to make improvements in various areas simultaneously: anti-vibration devices, power-to-weight ratio, innovative features, and just plain power. Since all manufacturers claim to have made headway in the above-mentioned departments, a closer look is warranted.

Stihl is showcasing two models: the 044C and 066M. The 044C improves on an existing model by adding an automatic choke that is advantageous during periods of intermittent operation. When cold, the 044C is choked as usual, but once warmed, it can sit for two hours and still start reliably without further choking.

Every maker brags about its saws' power-to-weight ratio, but the 044C really impresses me in that department. And Stihl isn't shy about talking-up its grooved chain drive-links for better oil conservation and distribution. One of the things that caught my eye was cleanliness; even after several hours of cutting, only traces of oil and sawdust were inside the sprocket guard. This rascal's housebroke!

At a hair over 70cc, the 044C is a dynamite saw light enough for firewood projects but also capable of handling the occasional large-diameter "homesteaders" found during selective-cut operations.

Consistently big timber calls for a big saw that is capable of handling any size job--enter the 066M. Thirty percent larger than the 044C, Stihl's 066M (Magnum) is wrapped around a 91.6cc cavity setting atop the piston. The 066M shares a number of features with smaller Stihl models. Examples are switch and choke functions combined in one control, a choke that automatically opens when the throttle is touched, and a side-access chain-tension screw that is truly handy.

Lest you think that size is the only characteristic distinguishing the 066M, take a look at this: A light-emitting diode (LED) is located immediately above the carburetor adjustments. High-rpm tuning is critical to the life and performance of any two-cycle engine, and the LED acts as a tachometer, coming on when the high-speed needle is properly adjusted.

Just any old ignition system won't do for a saw of this caliber, so Stihl installed a digital ignition module to constantly adjust spark timing for maximum performance.

Such details as these--and a translucent fuel-tank panel, which allows Stihl operators to see the fuel level at a glance--are indicative of innovative manufacturing.

You'll find an equal attention to detail in equipment made by Echo. This company's CS-8000, its largest at 80.7cc, and the CS-6700, a mid-size 66.7cc unit, share many desirable features with their smaller siblings. The first innovation that caught my eye--or, as it were, my finger--is the throttle-control insert. Made of a soft material, the trigger is the most comfortable I've ever squeezed.

Echo has developed a Pro-Fire Electronic Slope Advance Ignition System that automatically matches ignition timing with engine speed for optimum cutting power. And the Echnos I tested had cutting power in excess of all my tasks.

As with other Echo models, the CS-6700 and CC-8000 have a knob for convenient idle-speed adjustment and an oil-flow adjustment control that doesn't get hidden under sawdust on the bottom of the saw. Both controls can be manipulated without a screwdriver.

The third pair of saws in my test lot were Husqvarna's 272XP and the new 394XP, which has a 94cc power plant tucked under its shroud. Both saws also have Husqvarna's Air Injection system, which precleans and compresses combustion air as it's sent to the carburetor. Simple but efficient, this design allows the 394XP to run up to 20 times longer between air-filter cleanings than saws without a similar system.

The 394XP that Husqvarna submitted for evaluation came with a 32-inch sprocket nose bar. What a package! When my professional logging career ended, I was running an 80cc saw with a 33-inch bar. The 394XP isn't any heavier but affords an additional 10 percent displacement, without interfering with a superb balance that made this saw feel light in my hands.

You know how most chain tension-adjustment screws tend to disappear under oil-soaked sawdust? Husqvarna counters this problem by using an extended screw located between the bar and the oil reservoir. Its unusual slotted head makes chain adjustments easier and safer by making it easier to hold the screwdriver in place and keeping the sawyer's hand away from the bucking spikes.

In addition to expected features, such as chain brake and throttle safety latch, the Husky 394XP features coil-steel anti-vibration mounts that are set vertically in four out of five locations. The finishing touch is a flush-mounted compression release, located near the starter-rope handle.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a chart of chainsaw accidents reported during 1989. Of 37,277 incidents, 15,253 resulted in injury to the left leg and 14,381 were wounds to the left hand. These two areas account for 79.5 percent of all the accidents tallied, followed by the head (3,091), the area around the foot (2,817), and the upper body (1,735).

Proving the proportional accuracy of these figures is simple. Let your arms hang with a chainsaw in both hands: It's obvious that your left thigh is at greater risk than your right. Keeping your elbows at your sides and swinging your forearms up shows that the left shoulder and the head are possible targets for a chainsaw that has kicked back. You'll need to make sure those areas are protected.

So let's start with head protection and work downward. The most effective hats I've examined are called the Advent line by Bullard. These caps are unlike anything I have seen; the impact-absorbing design consists of an ABS inner liner with a fairly thick layer of expanded polystyrene between it and the outer shell. A crown cushion of soft, expanded polyethylene sits directly above the center of the head, and an eight-point suspension features straps that secure a ventilated, leatherette sweat pad resting directly on the head. The cap also has permanently installed chin straps.

If your hand gets cut, it is almost certainly because of an insufficient grip by the left hand that allows the handle to exit the fingers and the saw chain to enter. Interestingly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission chart referenced above indicates no injuries to the right hand. Consequently, chainsaw safety handwear routinely features a greater degree of protection for the left hand than for the right. However, no safety garment is intended to compensate for poor operator technique, so keep that left thumb wrapped at all times.

The handwear you choose will depend on climate and task. For chainsaw work, you'll select either mittens or gloves with anti-sawchain protection. But other tasks, such as brushcutting or pole pruning, will be less tiring if you wear ProFlex or SafetyMates anti-vibration gloves.

Designed by Ergodyne Corporation to provide efficient Sorbothane padding in the palm area, these top-quality, pigskin gloves afford a measurable degree of protection. Comfort is enhanced by a Lycra Spandex inset and a unique anti-bacterial Ultrilure lining that absorbs moisture and wicks it away from the skin.

Knowing firsthand how backbreaking forest work can be, I was eager to test Ergodyne's SafetyMates Back Support. Made of "breathable" oil-boom cloth and reinforced where it's needed, the cummerbund model I have has left and right adjustments for a precise and comfortable tension. Not only did it ease this aching back, but it also reminded me to lift properly.

If I were still logging, I'd opt for Ergodyne's ProFlex HP2100 Utility Back Support, which features a suspender-aided support belt with loops for a utility belt and pouch. I can see how this model would ease the load of my wedge pouch, driving hammer, log tape, etc. while supporting my lower back.

SwedePro and Stihl market shirts that incorporate chainsaw protection for the upper half of the torso with additional padding down the length of the arms.

Environmentally Friendly Oil

Biodegradable chainsaw oil, available in western Europe for more than a year, is now being marketed for foresters in North America. Greenwood chainsaw oil is produced and sold by Green Oil Company (Greenoco), a Philadelphia blender and marketer of fuel additives.

This environmentally friendly oil is an important development, because bar and chain lubricants that spill on the ground eventually drain into groundwater, said Ira N. Pierce, a licensed engineer and CEO of Greenoco. The use of lubricants, such as Greenwood, that biodegrade quickly through reaction with soil organisms "is critical where chainsaw oil is used the most--in our nation's fragile forest lands, which include environmentally sensitive aquifers and wetlands," he said.

Pierce, who researched the use of biodegradable chainsaw oils and other lubricants in Europe, recently spoke with Al Sample, AMERICAN FORESTS' vice president for research and director of its Forest Policy Center. Sample suggested he contact the director of a large privately owned forest in Germany; Director Detlev Kraft there told Pierce that most private foresters in Germany and adjacent Scandinavian countries voluntarily use biodegradable chainsaw oil. In the public sector, Kraft told Pierce, the German National Forest's districts all require that the product be used.

"Conditions in Europe may be worse than they are here in the U.S.," Pierce said, "as we Americans have such wide open, pristine spaces in which to work." But some parts of this nation have special environmental problems, he added.

As an example, he cited "the excellent drainage systems required for logging roads, which serve as ideal conduits for spilled oil to run off into lakes and streams."

The biodegradable oil costs more than conventional oil, but Pierce said he believes the environmental benefits make it worthwhile. Greenwood costs $8 a gallon and is being offered at an introductory rate of $5.80 a gallon in volumes of six gallons per case, prepaid to Greenoco, 1013 Union Meeting Rd., Blue Bell, PA 19422. It is also available in 55-gallon drums for $5.22 per gallon, compared to an average cost of about $3.25 a gallon for conventional oil, Pierce said. Greenoco plans to make Greenwood available through local dealers and stores.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles; chainsaws and wood-cutting accessories
Author:Boness, Ken
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Rainforest at risk.
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