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Author Topic: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!  (Read 1142 times)

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Offline Jbizzle

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So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« on: July 12, 2017, 09:40:09 am »
Hello everyone, my name is Jereme and I think I have an addiction. This is my first post so I would like to thank you all for having me. So here's the deal...I need to buy a chainsaw. First, a little background info...I'm in South Florida, not exactly the home of big timber but surely hurricane country, and live on a small piece of property with my wife and 3 kids. Primary use will be trimming overgrown Oak and overgrown fence line. I also like to keep an eye on Craigslist for free wood from time to time. With all that's been said I could probably get away with a Stihl MS170...maybe slightly modified. However, again with the possibility of storm clean up and free firewood from time to time, I don't want to waste money on something that is too small or too poor quality for anything outside of pruning. I do not want more than one saw, at least not now or in the foreseeable future. I'm kind of a buy it once, buy it right kind of guy.

Now let me preface the following...I have read, read, and read some more. I've read all I can find here and elsewhere. I've read to the point that I'm sick of reading. I have plenty of Stihl dealers locally and a Stihl/Husqvarna (huge Stihl selection/not much husqvarna in stock) dealer about an hour away from home but close to work. The latter dealer I have really enjoyed talking with and if I do decide on a Stihl it will be from him. This dealer also offers 18 month 0% financing. So price isn't totally a deciding factor here.

As of now I've been looking at Stihl MS241CM, MS261CM and Dolmar PS421, PS5105...all with 16" bars and 3/8LP for the 40s or 3/8 for the 50s. I am open to any and all suggestions...I started this quest planning on buying an MS170 if that tells you anything. I'm really just looking for the best "all around" saw that will cover my needs but not really hinder me on the occasion that I need a little more. I understand these are all "pro" saws but a "homeowner/farm" level saw is not out of the question. If I had never started reading the various forums I'd probably just bought the MS170 or really "stepped it up" to the MS250 and been none the wiser until it crapped out on me. With my use I'd probably never "wear out" a homeowner saw, but I do appreciate quality and will pay extra for reliability and a sturdier build. With all I've said about my somewhat local Stihl dealer choice I know it probably seems like a no-brainer. I mean great sales person, large selection, competent, 0% financing...how can I go wrong? Wish it was that simple for me. I'm sure the aforementioned saws will probably last at least as long as I'll need them, but I'm very concerned with the M-Tronic system. Now don't get me wrong...I've read great things but, what concerns me is maintenance and repair cost after the warranty period. This is what led me down the Dolmar/Makita path. I have spoke with an online out of state dealer that really impressed me with his knowledge and customer service. I will buy from him if I go with Dolmar. However, just like almost every other person interested in Dolmar, there is zero local dealer support. I do have a Makita Service Center about an hour and a half away...zero dealers. The out of state dealer did offer as an option the ability to ship the saw to them for any possible warranty repairs. So that's an option. If it wasn't for the M-Tronic I'd just buy one of the Stihls and be done with it...maybe I'm crazy for the way I'm thinking but, again, I want this to be a lifetime purchase for the most part.

TL;DR
Long story short, I'm just need some guidance and knowledge from an unbiased source. I have no real brand loyalty, my trimmers and edgers are Echo. I also will be purchasing a new backpack blower but that's a topic for another time (probably a RedMax EBZ7500 or 8500, as I without doubt put the most fuel through my blowers). I just want a saw that will cover my needs plus a little more without going to far overboard. Do I need "pro", no...do I want quality, yes.

So, to wrap this up, I apologize for the long winded post and most likely some rambling. Again, thanks for taking me in as part of the crew. I welcome all comments, opinions, and criticisms...looking forward to hearing what you all think.

Jereme

Offline gspren

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 09:58:47 am »
   Welcome to the FF. Of the saws you named I really like the 261 Stihl. I also don't need a pro saw but like the feel of quality when it comes to tools. Since you already have Echo tools I assume there is a local Echo dealer and they also make some good saws.
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Offline khntr85

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 11:52:23 am »
261 if you want a pro saw....

 I have pro saws and homeowner saws....I still like to use my ol trusty ms250....if you can still get a ms250 it will last you years...:o have used mine way more than a "homeowner" and it's never gave me a single problem....people act like the are junk, I am here to tell you they are not...

Offline mike_belben

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 12:16:52 pm »
Years back i was working at a scrap yard and buying every commercial brand saw that came in from the owner.. Usually $10-25.  I was fixing and selling them, husky dolmar jonsered stihl shindaiwa.  Maybe 45 saws total.

I had no bias when i started but i do now.  Stihl farmboss type chassis (odd number, 027/270, 029/290) are a pain to put back together if you have ever experienced a husky/jonsered to see what easy looks like.  Someone else will say no theyre not but i personally have never wanted 3 tiny hands so much.. Or asked why did they have to build it this way.. Than fixing farmbosses.  Theyre great runners, sell like hotcakes and all parts are easy to get but are aggravating to work on.  Clamshell base leaks are pretty common mode of failure.  Im not saying they break more than any other at all.  For tophandles i md only buy a stihl.  But... Theyre always gonna be german.


For light weight high speed limbing and bucking id recommend a husky 346xp or any of its similars.  350, 351, jonsered 2155 etc.  Light, fast, easy assembly, every part available and tons of swapability.    On the bigger end my favorite cheapo saw is the old husky 61.  Its like a small block chevy.. Parts from that crankcase bolted in for the next 20 years.  I put chinese 72cc jugs on them with a little cover trimming.


If you are obsessed with reading, hit up madsens saw shop site and read those articles, especially the tuning one.  Keeping the saw tuned is critical to longevity.  I always advise a muffler mod just to get the jug temps down a little.  Saws are way over muffled nowadays

Offline derhntr

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 02:43:06 pm »
I would think any of the 50 cc saws would work good for you. Big enough to handle occasional big stuff and light enough to limb and use all day.
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Offline JJinAK

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 04:28:54 pm »
Welcome to the forum!

It sort of sounds like money really isn't an issue, so I would lean towards where I'm going to get the best support.  I have no problem paying an appropriate amount for an item, but with higher costs I have higher expectations for customer service.  I have owned Stihl saws exclusively, and I have always had outstanding service from them.  The same may be true for Husky or other brands, but I can't speak to them as I've never owned them.  I'm sure they are also very reputable.  The proximity of Stihl support would factor in heavily if I were in your shoes.

Another thing to consider is to see which saw "feels" right to you.  I'm always amazed at how saws that are similar in size can feel different with balance and even ergonomics.  When your 4 hours into a day of cutting, those things make a difference.

I think the 241/261 are both great choices, and if maintained properly they will last forever.  Don't let the m-tronic issue scare you. 

Good luck in your choice, and keep us posted.

JaJ
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Offline Jbizzle

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2017, 05:23:57 pm »
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment...I look forward to and hope for more to come.

As far as a local Echo dealer, I no longer have one. There used to be a local Stihl/Echo shop but they dropped the Echo line. The easiest way to acquire Echo products in my neck of the woods is Home Depot.

The Stihl MS250 is still on my radar and would consider it as the saw I would most likely default to if I decide to not go "pro". My biggest reservation with the MS250 is price...as in the price in comparison to an MS261CM. The MS250 is $350 and the MS261CM is $550. I will be purchasing my new backpack blower at the same time as the saw to take advantage of the 18 month 0% financing. So, the $200 difference wouldn't be all that noticeable over the 18 months. Now I know that line of thinking could land me a Stihl Magnum lol but $550 give or take a few dollars will need to be the cutoff point. However, the MS250 would solve the M-Tronic delemma for me.

I don't mean to make this out to be a case of "I want and will be buying or bought brand/model XYZ saw...now everyone come on and tell me how I made the right or wrong choice". I hope to not come across that way. I appreciate everyone's time and input. I am not dead set on anything yet.

I would actually love a Husqvarna/Jonsered. The issue with them is even though my dealer of choice is a Husqvarna dealer he doesn't keep much on hand. He also doesn't push selling them due to his experience with warranty. More specifically how long he usually has to keep a customers equipment due to long wait time for parts. He pretty much keeps an arsenal of Stihl parts in stock and the rest he can have within a day. In stock he currently has a few 545 and a few 562XP. I do very much like the look/feel of them though! I'd love to grab one of the 545 but I'm apprehensive for the above mentioned reasons...plus then I'd have to worry about AutoTune after the warranty is over. With Jonsered I'll have to take a ride over to TSC and take a look as that's the only way other than online for me to purchase.

To wrap up, there are pros/cons to each saw I'm looking at. Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself to buy the end all be all saw for my needs. Possibly I'm thinking too long term. Here's a little thing my wife said to me when I started looking..."You're buying a new saw? Great! Just don't do what you always do..." What would that be? "Don't start with a $100 one and then come home with a $1000 one". Lol. She's knows me better than I know myself.

Ultimately I want a quality piece of equipment that will meet slightly above my needs with minimal bells and whistles. Should long term reliability of the M-Tronic or AutoTune system even be a concern to me?

Thanks again guys...I'll try to do a better job of editing my posts down in the future.

Jereme

Offline Jbizzle

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2017, 05:29:52 pm »
JJinAK, I didn't see your post until after I made my last post. Thank you for the words of wisdom and your outlook on the M-Tronic system.

Offline JJinAK

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2017, 05:41:41 pm »
If I read between the lines with what your wife is saying, it sounds like there's a budget of about $999 to work with.  That opens up a few doors don't you think?

For what it's worth, I just purchased a new MS 461 and I went through a similar process to yours.  Truth be told my wife basically said the same thing.....
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Offline Jbizzle

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2017, 06:25:23 pm »
You know JJ I think you may be on to something...I may need to broaden the search spectrum. Eh, better yet maybe not...that would just mean countless more hours of my time lost to research and indecision lol. Honestly, she doesn't ask too much about my purchases. She's usually just like "Oh my goodness, would you just buy *insert item here* already! How much is there possibly to read about *said item*?" I'm the one that drives myself nuts lol. I don't want to be the guy out in his $1000+ gear pruning branches lol. I try to keep things realistic.

Offline John Mc

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2017, 07:24:41 pm »
I would think any of the 50 cc saws would work good for you. Big enough to handle occasional big stuff and light enough to limb and use all day.

I agree with this. If you are only going to get one saw, I'd be looking in the 50 or 60 cc range. If the bigger stuff is occasional use, or if you aren't worried so much about speed, I'd lean toward the 50cc and a 16" bar. If you get one of decent quality (mid-range or pro, not the $100 homeowner saws), you'll have something light enough to use for your trimming and limbing, but with enough power to get you through some of the larger stuff (especially if you keep the chain sharp - well worth learning to hand-file yourself, if you don't know already).
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Offline teakwood

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 08:57:49 am »
Buy the 261, they are a very good saws and will serve you for years.

Offline runmca

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 11:20:57 am »
I've owned my Dolmar 5105 for about 3 years (the only saw I've owned). Using it mostly for firewood, but also felled about 20 trees and put a ripping chain on to make some slabs with an Alaskan mill. So far no issues. I like the weight and have used it for several hours at a time without much fatigue. I would consider Dolmar/Makita again when I'm ready for my next saw. Good luck!
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Offline upnut

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2017, 12:03:41 pm »
Jereme- First of all, welcome to the forum! Lots of great info here....Secondly, I have a biased opinion having recently purchased a Stihl MS241CM, very happy with it! You can read more here: http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,96320.0.html
Concerning M-Tronics, my guess is way more saws have been ruined by amateurs with little screwdrivers than M-Tronic failures by a wide margin. I am not a mechanic and don't like to tinker so M-Tronics is a great feature for me. I exclusively cut firewood, dead and down, logging tops, storm clean-up,etc. The 241 really shines at this, in my opinion. I did drop a bone dry, dead red elm just to test out the new saw's boring and felling ability. No problems. Pretty sure I am going to run out of talent/ambition before I run out of saw... :D



Good luck on your quest!
Scott B.



 

Offline DelawhereJoe

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2017, 01:48:53 pm »
Going with only 1 saw for all my needs, I could get away with a 261 c-m. If you don't want to mess with the m-tronic/autotune, go Dolmar then Echo. If on a budget and you want 2 saws I'd go Echo, cs-590 timberwolf and cs-352.
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Offline Jbizzle

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2017, 02:04:11 pm »
Thanks again to everyone for the input and advice.

Scott, glad to hear you're enjoying your new MS241CM. My first impression of the 241 was definitely WOW!! It felt like a very high quality MS170 to me...very light, maneuverable, and it just plain felt good in my hands. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from buying it on the spot was the fact that the MS261CM with 16" bar was only like $20 or so more.

At this point I guess it just comes down to me making my decision. If anyone has any input to add I'll definitely take it into consideration. Otherwise, I'll just update you guys when a new saw finds its way home with me.

Thanks again
Jereme

Offline mike_belben

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2017, 11:28:56 am »
170 is a clamshell, 261 is a crankcase.  IMO thats homeowner vs pro and the 261 is a no brainer.  The 261 likely has real transfer ports while the 170 probably just has vertical channels.  Id expect much more torque from the 261 but i have no experience. 
The guys at the co-op sawshop have been to stihls school for mtronic and swear by it.  I agree most homeowners cant tune a saw.

Jonsered is jonsered, theres no high or low end like husky with lowes saws vs XP models.  Jonsereds are husky saws. They have real transfer ports and agressive timing..  perform great but the achilles heel is a plastic case.  If the muffler bolts loosen up the exhaust gas leakage will blow down from the flange and melt the oil tank.  Ive bought 3 that way.

Offline khntr85

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Re: So many choices...Someone make my mind up!!
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2017, 02:05:40 pm »
You should still be able to buy a 261 in a standard arb...