Monday, January 31, 2011


Pre-Saw Checklist
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

If you are a Pilot...
If you are Truck Driver...
A Motorcyclist...
Or a Sawyer...

There is an important part of the duty that has to happen before the action begins. You have to take the time, before the start, to look over the saw and take it apart. The things we find will keep us safe and make us smart!

Somewhat of an abbreviated version of what we call Preventive Maintenance or Reduced Down Time Maintenance. The Pre-Saw Walk Around or Checklist will make your next chainsaw driving experience a much more enjoyable one.

It's simple, it takes very little time before you begin but it will save time and money in the end! (What's up with all the rhymes...? Hopefully to get your memory to retain this important message).

Check These...

Functional Safety Features
Chain Brake, Throttle Interlock and Chain Catch checked for operation and function.

Breathing and Cooling
Air Filter System, Cylinder Cooling Fins and General Cleaning must happen.

No Cracks, Leaks or Loose Screws
Look over your chainsaw for loose or missing screws and fasteners. Make note of any oil or fuel leaks and make sure they are repaired before use.

The starter rope, grip and starter system is engaging properly and without wear and damage that will keep you safely starting your saw multiple times at the work site.

Saw Chain, Guide Bar and Sprocket
Check for sprocket wear at the drive sprocket and the guide bar tip sprocket. Check for straight bar rails. Clean the rails of any debris buildup. Your saw chain must be sharp. Look for any bent or broken cutter teeth, rivets or tie straps.

Run Check
The chainsaw should start within 7 to 10 pulls if your controls are positioned, your fuel fresh and carburetor settings are proper. Your saw should idle without the chain turning or creeping around the bar. It should idle without dying and in all positions. When you depress the throttle, the engine speed should increase quick and level out at top speed to what is known as flutter.

Before you pull the rope and especially before you approach the wood, put on your PPE. A hardhat, safety glasses, visible protective vest, gloves, leg protection and heavy duty boots are your cheapest insurance. PPE will hopefully reduce an injury should the occurrence of an unplanned event take place.

Your Equipment Owners Manual's will cover this information for your specific Chain Saw. Familiarize yourself with the information it contains, review it often.

More information can be found on our website or contact us by email at There are also detailed explanations of chainsaw related tasks in our Forest Applications eBook, The Complete Guide to Chain Saw Safety and Directional Felling. Links are found on our website for purchase of the eBook from our eStore or from Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

(C) Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Monday, January 24, 2011

To Start...

To Start

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

New operators and seasoned professionals all begin the chain sawing process the same way... they pull the starter cord. Smile! Interestingly though - do they do it the same way?

Everyone knows the chainsaw and many other two-cycle powered engines; all start by pulling on a starter rope and handle. You simply turn the power switch on and pull the rope right?

I've noticed a few things in my training workshops that make a big difference in the results of the pull.

Familiarize yourself with the switches.

Every chainsaw has controls. Operators must familiarize themselves with the controls of the saw brand and even sometimes between models. There are three settings that are on all units, but many times there are two or three ways they design them.

Look for the on/off switch or switch position. You need to know where the specific switch position is located to quickly turn the saw off, to stop the engine. Make sure you check its position before you start to pull the rope. The saw will not start with the switch off. You are saying... Duh, right? Well I can't tell you how many times I have had to tell operators TRYING to start the saw to turn on the switch. Honestly, I've caught myself once... :)

Saws have a fast idle button or a position of the controls that hold the trigger slightly depressed. This opens the carburetor airflow just a bit to make it a little easier to start a cold or a flooded engine. Yes, it does the same thing as holding down the throttle when pulling a rope during an air start. It's possible with this fast idle feature to eliminate a lot of problem starts.

One often overused, but very necessary when the engine is cool, is the choke lever or choke position. This feature closes the flow of air a bit through the carburetor and causes the intake stroke of the piston to pull in a little more fuel. A cold or cool saw needs to be choked but a warm one... Don't choke it.

If you pull a couple times on the starter rope with the choke on a warm saw, you have flooded it, probably requiring many pulls to clean the rich condition and start the engine.

Make sure you have fresh, properly mixed fuel in the tank.

Petrol loses its poof. Gasoline kept too long in a container or saw tank will lose some of its volatility and simply won't go bang properly in the combustion area. Gasoline you have mixed with oil (fuel) for your chainsaw, will sit and separate. This can be very detrimental to your engine parts requiring lubrication. Ethanol fuel will also collect moisture from the air and cause multiple problems with your saws health. I recommend mixing your fuel in the amount you plan to use within a couple weeks and buy gas with as little or no ethanol at the highest octane rating you can pump. Pre-mixed, stabilized, canned two-cycle fuel is a very good way to go! Fresh Mixed Fuel is an important issue with your starting.

Position the saw for stable starting.

I know I'm going to get a lot of you saying I'm not real world and mamby pamby when I say this but here it is…. Grabbing a chainsaw with one hand, the starter rope in the other and slinging a ten-pound or more chainsaw outward, downward or whatever direction you sling it as a safe and stable starting position is WRONG. It not only causes excessive rope wear and starter damage, it is not a safe practice.

I have started small engines and handheld tools for over 35 yrs. and I have done it without dropping or air starting. There are thousands of others who start without the drop!

Place the saw on the ground if possible. Make sure though to hold the front handle down and your foot in the rear handle, or your knee on the rear handle, to stabilize the saw before you pull the rope. I feel that's the reason many operators drop start. The bending and pulling is tough sometimes.

A very controlled alternative is the clamp start method. Chain brake on, set controls, clamp the rear handle between your knees and hold the front handle with your left hand, reach through and grab the starter grip with your right hand and pull the rope. You can see illustrations and videos on our website. This is one of the best-controlled and safe ways to start a chainsaw in my opinion.

Pulling too much.

If you pull a chainsaw or other small engine rope more than 7 to 10 pulls and it's not running, something's wrong! Go back and check controls, fuel, etc., don't just keep pulling….

Starting with the chain brake engaged.

I've heard all kinds of opinions but the best one I am of aware of is why not? Engaging the chain brake reduces the chance of the chain spinning at start up and you lose control of it and an accident occurs. Yes, the start may be at fast idle and the clutch will heat up quickly, but if you recognize that, you can just twitch the throttle and the saw should idle down and the clutch will disengage. The pros greatly out weight the cons of this technique.

Wear your PPE

Stop! Don't pull the rope until your Personal Protective Equipment is in place. Don't take the chance that you are without accident potential. Anyone can miss something in his or her plan or an outside influence can take place and you will experience a 100% of the consequences. PPE can lessen injury severity potential greatly.

Read your operator's manual.

Read, familiarize yourself and review often the material and information your equipment manufacturer has supplied to you. They do this for a reason- Your Satisfaction and Safety.

Good Sawing!

Tim Ard is President and Lead Instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. For more information on our training and services visit or email

(C) Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Old Gas...

Old Gas…

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Questions keep coming up on fuel related issues by email and during training presentations. The issues involving gasoline and gasoline with ethanol are on everyone’s topic list and most have experienced some form of negative from it.

Shops are full of equipment that have been stored several months with ethanol fuel in the tank or operators are pouring in fuel from their gas can not thinking about how “dead” the old fuel is and how much moisture has collected while sitting around.

With 10% or more ethanol fuel being the norm now at the station pump, it is affecting us more this year than ever. In years past the stations were here and there with ethanol fuel, now just about every station is selling only ethanol-enriched fuel. Luckily the 15% and more ratios are not in place yet or we would really be feeling the effects.

I’ve mentioned before how ethanol fuels, of more than about 12%, will not adjust in your small equipment, especially two-cycle chainsaws and trimmers. It collects moisture that works to separate the oil in your mixture and when it sits around, erodes fuel lines, aluminum/magnesium parts in your carburetor and engine crankcase. It also causes the combustion process to detonate when it looses volatility, pounding on your internal engine parts of piston, rod and bearings and it leans out the carburetor adjustments. Even in its in-between stages it causes over speeding concerns too that can end in seizure of your piston and cylinder.

You need to seek fuel without ethanol. If not, use some type of stabilizer or enzyme formula that will help to deal with some of these problems. Be careful however, that you read directions carefully and mix everything as it’s meant to be or you can create other problems. I feel one of the greatest and easiest ways to deal with the two-cycle fuel issue is to use a premixed fuel such as TruSouth Oil’s 50Fuel or TruFuel products.

I have a saw that was used during our train the trainer workshop the middle of last April (2010). I put the saw up in the shop with a tank half full of 50Fuel. I took it to Florida to use at the Amsler’s Saw Safety Day. I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t start so I made sure I loaded a working backup. I was a little skeptical to say the least.

I decided for my confidence to put 50Fuel on the spot, to start the saw for the first time at the demo in Brooksville in front of the crowd. I remind you this saw has been sitting with 50Fuel in the tank for over 8 months without ever being started.

I pulled the rope on the saw three times. It started and ran like it has always! TruSouth Oil’s 50Fuel is an awesome product! I highly recommend you use it as many companies and individual saw operators are today. You will find you can afford it!

Good Sawing!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Ice and snow take down limbs and trees on regular occurrence. The weight takes it's toll on limbs and root systems with any weakness... They topple. When this storm situation takes place it's a job for the chainsaw, and possibly new skills for the operator.

Make sure when you approach these fallen debris piles that you form a comprehensive plan before starting the saw. Some considerations:

1. A sharp chain, you don't want to be pushing on the debris while cutting.

2. Back up and observe the area. Look for overhead hazards- hanging limbs and or power lines than may be down and around.

3. Observe any potential roll or side pressures that might be released when you make a cut.

4. Is it possible up or down movement of the limb or log could take place? Are there pivot limbs or ground/terrain issues that may cause up or down movement.

5. What is the potential for back pressures. Are the limb tips up against another object causing back pressure? Can the log or tree slide up or down an incline? Are the roots bent back user pressure that can cause lift?

6. With these info/plan areas observed put on all your PPE of head, eye, ear, hand, leg and foot protection BEFORE you make a cut.

Remember that wedges can be used in bucking and limbing, not just in felling...

Good Sawing!

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