Chainsaw start up problems

nethercarruchanJune 19, 2007

I have had an MS440 Stihl chainsaw for a couple of years. It has always been difficult to start but this seems an increasing problem. Works wonderfully once started and has done great work, though it is used irregularly. It has a compression release button which snaps closed when the engine fires. No priming is required. I follow the manual instructions fairly closely but am generally pretty exhausted by the time I get the saw to start. It often fires once and then refuses to fire again for some time. It sometimes fires once and snatches on the cable - pretty sore on the hand that is doing the pulling. This afternoon I gave up after 10 minutes or so, having taken out the plug to check there was fuel (there was) and to dry it off! On a previous ocassion I took it to the guy I had bought it from and to my embarrassment he started it first go. He was using a drop start technique that I had been advised was dangerous. I have started developing a slightly less radical version of this, but to no effect so far. I suspect physical strength and technique are part of the problem, but I am not a complete weakling and have another (smaller) chainsaw which I can start no problem - also assorted other pullstart machinery has presented no problems. Any advice welcome. I shall now withdraw to recover from my exertions hopeful to return refreshed to this forum and some helpful suggestions. Thanks for listening.

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Any chance that you are using old fuel? Our local stihl guy says max 8 week old fuel. If in doubt, I'd put in a new spark plug (just clean the one you've got if it's not old, and make sure you didn't drop it and screw up the gap) and at least clean the air filter. Empty the fuel that is in it and put in fresh (you don't have a primer bubble?). Try setting it on the floor and put your foot in the handle and hold the loop handle with one hand while starting it with the other.
Full choke and full quick pull. As soon as it even hints at a spark (usually by the second pull) go to half choke and it should start right up. You shouldn't touch the gas trigger until it is started. Otherwise, you'll flood it and wear yourself and three of your buddies out trying to start it. Sounds like that may be part of your problem because, by the time you took it to someone else, it started right up. If that doesn't help and you have a stihl dealer handy (or any good service shop)they'll take care of you. There's no shame in starting a saw on the ground.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 4:03AM
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My starting technique. PULL throttle trigger to full throttle and set on choke. Pull till hear pop of trying to start or 3-4 pulls max (or you will flood saw)usually, set to next position of high speed idle with throttle is still being held at half throttle on its own. Should fire up in a couple pulls and the chain will be turning (so watch out) because of it being on high speed idle, blip the throttle and it takes it off high speed and into normal on position on its own, go cutting and good luck. Let us know if this works for you.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 9:50AM
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canguy(British Columbia)

Also, bring the rope up slowly until you feel resistance then give it a short firm pull. This will help reduce the annoying and painful kickback that jerks the cord out of your fingers.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 11:13AM
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My Stihl was purchased in 1977 or thereabouts and it has become increasingly hard to start. It has electronic ignition and the plug is good.

I put it on full choke, high speed and pull at least 10 times until it wants to kick. Once started, it will run all day.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 11:21AM
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If 8 weeks makes it old fuel, then it's ancient. I can see this as the likely source of the problem, exactly because I use the saw irregularly.

Confusing - from my point of view - is that much older fuel starts my 2-stroke Victa mower with no problem at all - but there again I do use an additive called Fuel Fit, (produced by Briggs and Stratton for the UK market) for my 4 stroke mower, and this has definitly helped with starting problems. Perhaps I should start using the same additive with my 2 stroke mix.

Other start up advice is also helpful, and thanks for those who have provided it. I can't actually go out and start the saw just at the moment, as its dead of night here and the neighbours would't like it. I will report back however: hopefully I'll get a chance to try things out at the weekend. In the meantime, comments on Fuel Fit would be interesting.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 5:50PM
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Well, here's the story. I emptied the saw of old fuel and refilled with fresh mix. It fire well on the first pull and started on the second. I then transferred the "old"fuel to my second saw, a Sthil Woodboss. It started OK, though I would have to say with a bit of a struggle. It is generally an easy starter. It is my intention to use a fuel additive in future as on this evidence, it is well worth the expense for someone like myself who often leaves the saw unused for significant periods. The second conlclusion I would draw however is that old fuel does not present an equal problem to all equipment. It would be interesting to know what makes the difference.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 8:50AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

You have a nice saw in the 440. I would do as you suggest with the stabilizer.

Hopefully someone else will weigh in on this but I believe the chainsaw manufacturers oil (Stihl, Husky, Echo, etc.) has stabilizers in the oil. Towards the end of season I do add some stabilizer when I am not sure if I will get through the current batch of gas/oil. I think this an okay practice but I don't know how effective. If you know that you will be storing it for a long long time, it is generally thought to be best stored dry. However, getting it dry is not as simple as running it until it dies. There is still gas in the bulb and some in the tank.

Glad you got it working.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 1:28PM
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I do use Stihl branded 2-stroke oil, which would suggest that stabilisers are not present in the oil or are not as effective as the additive.

Slightly confusingly, and since my reference to the Briggs and Stratton product "Fuel Fit" earlier in this thread, I have been provided with a sachet of something called "Fresh Start", also a Briggs and Stratton product, which looks the same (blue liquid) and would appear to do the same job.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 4:59PM
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When I bought my brushcutter is when the guy told me about the fuel. I'm always in a hurry, so always buy the little bottle that mixes with 5 liters of gas to make the 50:1 mix. That's when he told me that the fuel went bad (guess I didn't look like the kind of guy to cut that much in 8 weeks). As he was loading me up with goodies, one of them was a little cup with lines that let you measure oil to mix starting at 1 liter.
As for acting different in other equipment, I haven't had the saw or cutter long enough to tell. I have always mixed 5 gallons of gas and used it until it was empty (sometimes a couple of years) and never noticed anything. ????????????????

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 6:39AM
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i own a model 038 chainsaw which has always been hard to start my stihl dealer tells me that they changed air filters as they could not get the choke to seal when closed.i am very dissapointed that stihl did not notify me and replace at the time as they are not a cheap item

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 12:25AM
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