Stihl Chainsaw MS 260 Pro vs MS 361

tackmanSeptember 21, 2006

I've never had a Stihl chainsaw before and from reading the info on them, I'm trying to decide between a model MS 260 Pro and a model MS 361. There's only about 1-1/2 lb. difference, but besides that is one better than the other? I'll be cutting mostly madrone & oak up to about 17 inches across. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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canguy(British Columbia)

They are both great saws but there is a substantial difference in power. The MS260 is a 50cc, 3.5 hp and uses .325 chain. The MS361 is 59cc with 4.6hp and more aggressive .375 chain. Go with it and a 20 inch bar for your hardwoods.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 11:46PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Those are both very nice saws. Depending on how much cutting you plan on doing they may be overkill for your needs. If you would rather have a little extra cash in your pocket you could look at Stihls or Husky's "consumer" line. Not as good in the power to weight/ratio and not made to run everyday for hours but they will be more than enough for most homeowners.

Having said that, I don't have enough cutting to justify either of these saws, but I sure would like to have a 260.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 10:32PM
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maineman(z5a ME)

Tackman,

I agree with CanGuy about the MS361, which is what I chose. The MS361 cuts faster. A slower saw requires you to use it longer on a given job, which gives you more time to tire out. And it's not a good idea to use a chain saw when you are tired. The extra cost of the MS361 was worth it to me.

On the advice of my Stihl dealer, I went with a 16-inch bar, which is plenty long for 80% of my trees and for the remainder I use modified cutting techniques. The shorter bar makes the saw easier to handle, and the shorter chain takes less time to sharpen.

It's a good idea to "touch up" your chain fairly frequently. Your Stihl dealer can sell you the files and the guide to sharpen your chain manually. Stihl has a good manual on chain sharpening. My dealer specifically recommended against the power sharpeners (like the Dremel attachment) because they can take metal off too fast and the resulting heat can take the temper out of your chain teeth.

MM

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 11:25AM
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fidschainsawkitchen

Howdy,
I own both saws and I agree with a majority of what's been said here, and I'd like to stress that if you have any control of it at all -- don't skimp on a chainsaw. It will only bring you frustration eventually. The 361 still leads the industry in P:W (power to weight ratio), and is in my opinion the #1 most versatile saw on the market -- bar none (no pun intended...OK, yes it was). Of course that's why it costs $600 USD, but unless you run it over or it gets stolen or the like, your kids will be giving it to theirs. I still run a 1970's model 056 3-5X a week...I've never had a problem with it. In fact, I bought an 045 carcass, and rebuilt it for the eventual death of the 056...that was 6 years ago. Good Stihls don't die. I finally sold the rebuild on eBay.

On the other hand....you knew this was coming...the newer "consumer" line that Stihl has out has given me fits. I don't own one but I'm the only CS "mechanic" in town (small town) and I can't tell you how many MS290/029 Farm Boss etc saws I've seen for pretty lame reasons. They aren't throwaways, but if they are not maintained "very well" (read: cleaned thoroughly after every use), they tend to get crankier and crankier. The "pro" lines just don't do that.

The 26 is an awesome saw, but as stated earlier, a bit small. It'll run a 20" bar, a smaller bar will obviously put more power to the chain. If you're cutting oak (and any other hardwood), you'll appreciate the added power of the 361.

In closing, though, you can't go wrong with the choices listed!

Cut safe...

Fid

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 9:57PM
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tackman

Many Thanks for all the great advice. The MS 361 it is!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 12:46PM
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davefr

Get the MS361 given that you'll be cutting 17" hardwoods.

The MS260's sweet spot is a 16" bar. It can do 18" but it's happier at 16" IMHO.

The MS361's sweet spot is 18-20".

I own both saws and usually grab the 260 but I'd definately grab the 361 for the the cutting you describe.

I'd also look at the Dolmar PS5100 unless you really want Stihl.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 7:25PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I previously got some really good advise regarding the MS361 from the above GW members. I am going with that model although with a shorter 18 inch bar as I think I would have more control. Also it seems like any kickback may be less severe due to the shorter bar. (my guess) I'll also go with the "green chain" as previously advised and maybe a spare chain.

I have to figure out the best chain oil to use as I have a bunch of pine to cut and don't want the sap gumming up the chain and bar. Maybe kerosene will clean it up then I can throw the used kero in my burn barrel.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 9:53PM
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maineman(z5a ME)

NewJerseybt,

Please don't use kerosene as chain oil. It's not a substitute for the real thing. I currently use Stihl's brand of chain oil. They make it in a summer weight in an orange jug and in a winter weight in a blue jug.

My Stihl dealer included a gallon of Itasca Bar & Chain Oil with my MS 361. It's quite good too and probably sticks to the chain better than the Stihl oils.

For cutting gummy pine, simply adjust the oil pumping rate of your Stihl saw to a faster setting. I have done that. It uses oil faster, so you should always top off your oil chamber each time you add fuel.

MM

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 12:16AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

MM,

I think NJBT was saying that he would clean his chain with kerosene, not use it as chain oil.

The Stihl oil is well regarded. The winter grade is a little more viscous (flows easier). There are some other oils that were well liked, Itasca I think was one. You can't do much better than the Stihl oil.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 8:51AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

Hi MM:

I was thinking kero for sap cleaning purposes only. I know that pine sap from pine cones is very tough to get off your hands. I will go with the Stihl oil and maybe get the Winter grade for those 10 degree F. temps.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 11:50AM
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maineman(z5a ME)

Newjerseybt,

In my experience a relatively high oil rate gives the chain a protective coating of oil that the pine gum doesn't stick to. I did misunderstand that you intended to use the kerosene to clean the chain.

I have felled, limbed, and bucked several gummy pine trees, but with my oil rate adjusted high, the only cleaning I have had to do is to get the pine gum off of my hands and work clothes. That stuff is sticky.

MM

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 11:15PM
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HerringboneD28(z7 Central AR)

Just curious......what's the price difference between the Stihl 260 Pro and 361?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 3:38PM
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fjuzswik

Hello all, I'm a newbe here. Not to get side tracked on the issue being disscussed, however I was curious, I recently purchased an ms390 w/ 25" bar and yellow chain off E-Bay for $430.00, it literally looks and runs like new. How does the 390 compare to the ms361 being discussed here. The 390 is not in the "Pro" series, does this mean I should expect issues with it as described earlier in this thread by Fid ("cleaned thoroughly after every use, or they'll tend to get crankier and crankier"). I just want to protect my investment. I take pride in and take care of all of my tools. Does this one need extra attention not being in the "Pro" series? Thanks in advance for any input! Frank

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 3:00PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

The 361 is faster and lighter than the 390 even though the latter is larger by 5cc. The 390 is designed for the farmer, rancher, or serious weekend warrior where the 361 is a pro saw for all day use. The only possible issue with the 390 might be lack of chain oil, especially with the 25" bar.
Here there is a hundred fifty dollars between the 260 and 361 at the moment.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 10:53PM
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dlackey

I bought a 260 pro as a companion to my 460 and use the 260 about 70-80 percent of the time on my farm. I became a stihl owner after cutting with my neighbor after a tornado went through who's ms 361 made me realize that poulan products are best for cleaning fence rows. His 361 cuts black walnut very well. The 260 has a 16 inch bar and will fall through 10 inch oak as long as you keep the R's up and don't force it. Both are great saws but the 361 is a better one only saw if you cut larger harder stuff. But as a companion saw or for limbing and pruning I'd go with the 260.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:26PM
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adrianmuir

Having read this chain I have decided to get an MS260 Pro. I live in the UK but come to the US a lot can you tell me is the version sold in the US the same as in the UK ie made in Germany? Also please can you tell me where is the best place to get a machine are there any websites which supply them at good prices?

many thanks

Adrian

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:40PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Stihl does not do internet sales. I'd buy a used one if you know what to look for to save a little cash on it. The only difference between the Pro and non-Pro is that the Pro has a decompression valve and an adjustable oiler. I have the Pro and I don't think I have ever used the decomp. The adjustable oiler is nice but I have set fairly high and don't touch it. You can get an adjustable oiler kit and install it on a non-adjusting 260.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 5:00PM
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zen_man

I always use the decompression for starting my MS 361. That makes it much easier for me to start it.

Although Stihl would never sell over the Internet or in a big box store, I don't think they could prevent someone from listing a Stihl chainsaw on eBay.

ZM

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:05PM
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ladylake(minnesota)

A lot of the trouble with home owner saws is that sit around too much letting the carb get gunked up, that doesn't happen when saws are used evet day. Try and get gas without ethonal, use Stabil or Sea Foam and try and run them at least once a month. I don't know if runnung them dry helps, I don't think that gets all of the gas out of the carb. Over here I like the lighter wieght of a 50cc saw, can use one for a long tome without wearing out, grab the 044 and it gets heavy fast. Steve

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 5:30AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

You can easily find a saw on ebay or other online garage sale site. But I don't think you will be able to get the warranty, even if the saw is NIB.

I agree with ladylake. I have done a few jobs for friends and they see how much fun a saw is. They will ask me what kind of saw they should get and the answer is almost always an electric or a decent handsaw. Most people in the suburbs I live in won't use a saw often enough to keep it in good shape (fuel system wise).

For most general work around here, a 50cc saw is perfect. It is a little heavy for the small stuff and a little small for dedicated firewood. But if you can only have one and you don't need to cut alot of 17" or bigger wood, a 16" bar on a 50cc is about the best compromise. If you live in bigger wood, then a 60-70cc saw would be better to get you through the day.

ladylake, I'm surprised you have an 044 :). I would think you would have the CS670 or something.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:14AM
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ladylake(minnesota)

I have a few
Stihl MS170 2- 044's
Echo CS440 2- CS510's CS5500 CS6700 CS8000
Husky Rancher 55 385xp
Solo 690 640
Cub Cadet (Efco) 5720
Dolmar 143
and yes I like the Echo's and the rest aren't bad either except the MS170 and small Solo which are gutless but then they're on 30cc

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 4:51PM
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dwheat9003

I recently bought the MS 260 and I really think I could use it all day without fatigue. I have a Polan 38cc 16 " bar and was tired of using it for the bigger stuff while maintaining my property, I was really beating myself up plus the saw. The anti vibration system is bar none out of this world comfortable! I got the 260 with the 20" bar, I figure the chain with last a little longer, in theory. If you want a saw that is not bulky, starts easy, cuts fast, then I think you would be well pleased with it for certain. I only wish I would have bought it sooner, to be perfectly honest. Oh and, I never had to even adjust the chain yet, love that! I guess itÂs the Stihl bar oil and/or quality Stihl chain?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 3:18AM
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boltonranger

Actually the Huskys have less vibe but - (and I've run both)
I actually prefer the feedback on the 026/260.
It's not a harsh vibe but you don't have to look to know it's pulling through the wood.

-br

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 11:51AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

The Stihl chain is supposedly a little harder than others. The primary reason that the chain wouldn't need "adjustment" yet is that you are taking care of it by not getting the chain into the dirt, keeping it properly oiled, not overworking the saw, etc. Chains seem to do best if they are touched up after each tank of gas. If you don't know how to sharpen a chain, it is not too difficult to learn. It takes a few times to get the hang of it, and even more times to get really good at it, but it is worth the effort in the end.

Congrats on the saw. It is a nice reliable saw.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 11:51AM
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dwheat9003

Posted by masiman z7 VA (My Page) on Mon, Feb 23, 09 at 11:51

The Stihl chain is supposedly a little harder than others. The primary reason that the chain wouldn't need "adjustment" yet is that you are taking care of it by not getting the chain into the dirt, keeping it properly oiled, not overworking the saw, etc. Chains seem to do best if they are touched up after each tank of gas. If you don't know how to sharpen a chain, it is not too difficult to learn. It takes a few times to get the hang of it, and even more times to get really good at it, but it is worth the effort in the end.
Congrats on the saw. It is a nice reliable saw.

************************************************************

YouÂre right on masiman.

I guess it's something that I learned quickly enough after carelessness early in my chain saw days, and then relearned the hard way over and over again. I look at the weak 34cc Craftsman/Polan I owned, my first saw,I look back at it as a practice saw for dummies, still their is nothing exciting about wrecking a nice sharp chain. On my second, a 38cc Polan it was nice and sharp and my son dulled it up mostly for me, so bad you could have called it a true safety chain. I have treated the MS 260 Pro very well, this saves much unneeded troubles along the way, and I appreciate the saw more and appreciate what experience has taught me even more.

D. W.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 4:09PM
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schultzms260

I recently traded my Stihl 025 for a new MS260. A local dealer made the trade and of course I had to pony up a few more dollars. I was also considering the MS361 but decided to stay with a smaller saw as most of my cutting is on singletrack bike and hiking trails. I always have to carry the saw into the woods up steep grades and for significant distances. Therefore, light weight and good power are my most important characteristics to me when looking for a saw. The MS260 is about 1.75 lbs lighter than the MS361 and about $150 dollars cheaper. Those two traits helped me make my decision. This past Monday I used the saw to cut a large Oak that was blocking a trail. It was twice the diameter of my 18" bar but the little 260 kept cutting til the big Oak let go, even with the factory safety chain. I'll probably step up to a chipper or full skip chain once the factory chain gets too old to sharpen. I'm only noticing minimal gain in power between my old 025 and the MS260 but the 260 has a more solid feel and bogs down less often. Unless you're cutting big hardwoods all the time the MS361 might be more than most of us really need. By the way, another guy was cutting with his us and his Husky kept bogging down so much that the 260 had step in a time or two to finish the work. Not familiar with Husky's but it was a 400? series model and was much larger than my Stihl.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 3:39PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I posted a couple of years ago regarding Stihl pro models (MS361). Someone back then said the pro models have a much better constructed engine than consumer models. I guess the MS 260 pro proves that is not always true.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:37PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I don't get why you are saying that newjerseybt. Why do you think the 260 proves it wrong?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:51PM
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den69rs96(z6CT)

The MS260 is a pro saw. However it only has about 1/4 more hp than the ms250 so you won't see much of a difference in performance over the ms250 just as schultzm stated. The engines from my understanding are different. I know the ms250 uses a forged crank and needle caged bearings like the pro saw does. I do know that the pro saws are designed to be serviced easier and a have stronger crankcase. I'm sure there are other features that they have as well.

When I was looking for a saw a few years back, I felt I didn't need the pro saw for my needs. I was not willing to pay for given my limited usage. It will be a long time before my saw needs a new piston so ease of disassembling the engine wasn't a concern for me and neither is a stronger crankcase. I don't drop my saw or use it in any situations they I would need a stronger case. I felt I wouldn't benefit from the features of a pro saw, but that is just me. Other folks probably need those features so it makes sense.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:07AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I can tell you from personal experience that there is a very noticeable difference in their performance. I sold my neighbor/buddy my 250. We never pick up the 250 unless we don't have a choice.

I think the 250 is a fine saw but many don't like it. For the money there are better saws out there. For a little more money you can alot more saw. The 250 is a little odd in that it tries to fill the gap between the small HO saws and the mid-range saws. You get the best of nothing with them. It's not quite a small saw and not quite a medium sized saw.

It has a clamshell (difficult to work on) vs. a vertically split crankcase. If it needs any work in that area, you're best off junking it and getting a new saw.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:36AM
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ladylake(minnesota)

I think Stihl overrates thier home owner saw hp quite a bit to help sales on saws that have a good profit margins. Maybe some day some one will explain why the 3.2 hp MS260 cuts just as fast as the 3.8 hp MS290. Steve

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 8:47PM
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den69rs96(z6CT)

I agree with you that the 260 offers more performance. I'm sure some of that extra performance advantage comes from a better chain that its equiped with.

From my perspective I don't think it offers $200 more performance. I use my saw maybe 10-15 times a year for basically yard clean up and to cut some wood for our fire pit. I'd most likely never realize the advantage of the pro saw, so I kept the$200 and put it towards a new moser 12 bolt rearend my my 69 camaro.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 9:08AM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I agree, for that level of work, you would not get much from a pro level saw. For my driving needs, I don't want anything more than my Asian 4 cylinder except when I need a truck :).

The extra performance is not from the chain I can assure you. I run my saws with basically the same chains and quality of bar. It is a basic power difference. There is a small weight difference that I can feel when I pick up one next to the other.

I try to encourage folks to get something appropriate to what they are doing. Balance in price, reliability and a few other things and you can often get down to a few products that will fit the need.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:20AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I don't get why you are saying that newjerseybt. Why do you think the 260 proves it wrong?
-----------------------------------

Den said:
The MS260 is a pro saw. However it only has about 1/4 more hp than the ms250 so you won't see much of a difference in performance over the ms250 just as schultzm stated. The engines from my understanding are different. I know the ms250 uses a forged crank and needle caged bearings like the pro saw does. I do know that the pro saws are designed to be serviced easier and a have stronger crankcase. I'm sure there are other features that they have as well.

MM said in part regarding the MS260 Pro and 260 non pro:
.......The only difference between the Pro and non-Pro is that the Pro has a decompression valve and an adjustable oiler....

---------------
OK...I first assumed that pro saws ALL had better engines than mid-range Stihl homeowner's saws. Based on the above 2 posts...are we now saying all mid-range saws have the same engine quality as pro saws?

The MS260 pro engine = MS260 non pro engine? I am confused. The Stihl brochure implies both saw engines are exactly the same (mid-range) which support MM's post. The only difference is the saw's oiler and decompression valve.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 4:43PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I see what you were getting at.

The 260, in both versions, is a pro-grade saw. The 260Pro differs from the 260 only in the decomp valve and adjustable oiler. Everything else about the saws is the same. The decomp is pretty much useless on the 260Pro. In fact, I found it to be a problem in my particular case. My 026Pro (older 260) was running erratically and unreliably. I thought my crank seals were going. After a pressure/vac test I could not find the leak at the seals I expected. When I pressurized and dunked the body into a tub of water, I found both my decomp valve and spark plug were leaking. I replaced both and the saw is running fine. If my cylinder ever needs replacement, I will replace it with the non-decomp 260 version. Adjustable oiler is nice, but I have not touched it since I set it 2 years ago. The non-Pro 260 oils just fine.

I don't know what the difference is in the engines between the mid and pro range. But I can say that you do get additional power at a lower weight for the pro Stihl saws. Stihl charges a premium cost for that power gain/weight savings. If a user can say that they cut frequently enough and will properly maintain the saw they are a good buy. Otherwise, HO or mid range saws are more cost effective.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 5:52PM
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ladylake(minnesota)

Far as the decompression vale goes I start my 385 Husky most times without it, it srarts better but takes a firm pull. Anyone that thinks a Ms250 is close to the power of a MS260 should run both side by side. With the same bar and chain. Steve

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 6:46PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

Thanks masiman..good info to know Steve.

The latest Stihl catalog does not show the MS260. I assume that this model has been discontinued. Online still shows a price for the MS260 to be available for $469.95. The MS260 pro price by a dealer located by me is $529 and the MS361 is $609 with 1.7 more pounds in weight, 1.2 more HP, a different filtering system and some type of antivibration system which the MS260 pro may not have. Seems like you get a lot for $80 but prices are all the same at every dealer here in Honesdale, PA.

I'll try to get the $20 coupon if I can one from Stihl as I purchased other products from them. They used to send me one but not lately.

The MS260 Pro also has something called Intellicarb. The MS260 does not advertise this. Is this Intellicarb a gimmick?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:41PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

The Intellicarb adjusts itself to atmospheric conditions the way I understand it. The chainsaw junkies seem to prefer adjustable jet carbs, preferably High, Low and Idle adjustments. For the 260, the preferred carbs are the Walbro 194 and 427.

Ya, don't expect any deals on the Stihls. Hopefully you can get that coupon.

The 361 is a super very nice saw, super smooth. I just had a chance to run one a couple weeks ago. The antivibe on the 260 is not as nice as the 361 but it is still good. If I just had some small jobs to do it would be too big. If you need to regularly buck up firewood, this would be an awesome saw to have. The 290, though heavier is a super reliable saw that many firewood cutters use.

If you are not married to a dealer or Stihl, there are some other very fine saws to consider. The Husky 346xp is a great saw. The Dolmar 5100 (51cc) is on par with the 260 for something over $400. They reportedly had some problems where they believe they were set lean from the factory/dealer. I haven't heard much about that lately though. Dolmar just does not have many dealers around though. You can get their parts mailorder from a number of good stores. I have 2 Dolmar/Makitas that I easily get parts for. Speaking of Dolmar/Makitas, probably one of the best deals out there is for used Makita 6401's (64cc) from Home Depot Tool Rental dept's. You have to check with them occasionally because they only sell them after so many rentals and depending on your area can go fairly quickly. I have had good luck with the stores in this area in that they have been in good shape. I and my buddy liked mine so much that we bought him one too. Someone must have done something to the one I got for my buddy because before they sold it to me, they wanted to replace the piston and cylinder. A nice thing about these saws is that you can upgrade them to a 79cc saw with a ~$200 P&C. They are one of the best 80cc saws around.

I think the 260 will be replaced by the 261 because of the EPA standards. That is a driver behind alot of the 4mix engines.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 12:23AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I think the 260 will be replaced by the 261 because of the EPA standards. That is a driver behind alot of the 4mix engines.
----
I have a Stihl FS90R 4mix trimmer. I noticed it takes a split second longer to reach hi revs compared to my old 2 cycle but it runs more smooth, idles nice, has more power and starts very quickly compared to my Homelite.

I suspect a 4 mix saw will have the same rev characteristics so I am not sure if pro arborists will take a liking to them unless they have no choice. :'(

I am going to try to weasel that $20 rebate directly from Stihl but I heard the pro saws are German made which may be a problem due to the dollar exchange. :')

The price really isn't as much an issue as the model I purchase. I would hate to limit myself with too small a saw for future use such as helping clean up after a wind storm. I wouldn't tackle serious or dangerous jobs (leave them for the pros as I am 57) but I MIGHT do simple downed trees for a very reasonable price since many seniors here cannot find reasonable, reliable help in a pinch. Many might do it for free but all the support equipment and safety devices (insurance?) are not cheap. Since I am retired, the money might come in handy. Just thinking out loud of the possibilities.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 5:50PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I am not sure that the pro saws are necessarily made in Germany. Stihl has a large factory in Virginia Beach. I think they also have something in NC but I am not sure. There does seem to be a preponderance of German/Swedish heritage in quality saws (Germany - Stihl, Dolmar .... Sweden - Husky).

I was not trying to say that chainsaws will get 4mix engines, only pointing out that tighter emissions requirements are causing changes to many small engines. Non-adjustable carbs are one method. Setting engines lean helps ensure that all fuel is burned which can significantly affect emissions. However getting to that fine line has lead to some engines being set too lean. With carbs that can only be adjusted by dealers (unless you know the secret for your carb), alot of gearheads are left crying foul and/or finding ways to circumvent the restrictions. Some are advocating stocking up pre-2010 hardware.

This Washington Post article talks a little more about the new standards. This Google Answer is a pretty good discussion of the specifics. I couldn't find the specs on the EPA site (mostly because the site was responding so slow and I didn't have the patience).

If you know how to take care of equipment, are comfortable with small engines, need to cut 20" diameter wood enough that having to cut from both sides would annoy and make you wish you bought something bigger, my list would be, in no particular order (~60cc):

- Used HD Makita 6401 or a new one (price somewhat of an object)
- Stihl MS361 (price no object, local dealer is good and want the support)
- Stihl MS290-310 (I like chainsaws, but I really don't need a pro quality saw)

The I don't really need a 20" bar list (50cc):
- Dolmar 5100s (price somewhat an object)
- Stihl 260 (price no object, local dealer is good and want the support)
- Husky 346xp (price no object, local dealer is good and want the support)

Who am I kidding, I'll probably just putter around with this thing (- MS180 (price no object, I need dealer support)
- RedMax 3800 (I can support myself)
- Shindaiwa 377 (I can support myself and appreciate a well built saw)
- Ryobi 10532 (supposedly a steal for what you can get)
(Good small saw discussion

Unfortunately I do not know the Husky line very well at all. Others could add in info there if you are leaning that way.

If you can't really decide on one saw you can go to the 3 saw plan :).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 7:44PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

Thanks for the link. I read the entire thread.

I also received a reply from Stihl regarding my request for a $20 rebate check towards my next pro saw purchase and they responded as follows:

Bill,

Your local STIHL dealer is the one who decides if he wants to pay to have these checks mailed. You would have to check with them to see if they are participating in the Fall Precision STIHL Program.

Rick

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 12:57PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I bought the MS361. The dealer threw in $5 bar oil and a $40 saw case which sealed the deal. (Please don't tell me the case always comes with the saw) lol

The saw is overkill for now but I don't want to be be short of power if I need to cut 2' hardwood in the future. Plus I just like the feel. A real smooth running saw.

Now I need kevlar boots with steel toes and kevlar chaps and something for the head/eyes/ears.
Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 6:03PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

You bought a super nice saw. Probably the one saw about everyone could agree on is the perfect saw if you only had one saw. Take care of it, and I'm serious about that. They need almost as much care as weapons. If you don't take care of it, it will fail you and you will mistakenly blame the saw when it really will be your maintenance. Keep the chain sharp, keep it snug, keep it oiled and use a good oil and gas mix. I always buy premium and full synthetic mixed at the recommended 50:1. You can get into all kinds of discussions about oil. I can only recommend that you not try to save $1/gallon and spend $100+ in repairs. Use good bar oil. I have always used Stihl, but I understand the Poulan red bar oil at Walmart is not bad. If your bar and chain are running hot, stop and fix it. Maybe your oiling holes are plugged or your out of bar oil. Don't continue to run it, burning up your bar and chain. You are just making more work and expense for yourself. Get some handfiles and a spare chain. If the saw came with a yellow chain (yellow link, safety chain). Use it but get green chain in the future. Stihl chain is great but expensive. I find Oregon ok but a little soft. I have been happy with Woodland Pro from Baileys. Keep your air filter clean. Blow it out (from the inside) with your compressor after each use. Blow the saw off too.

Labonville makes some of the best chaps out there. For $70 (full wrap), you can't go wrong. I'd recommend the 6-ply. The competition ones are 10 ply I think. Very stiff, great protection, very hot and a little harder to work in. Made in USA too. Labonville also sells chainsaw boots. Stihl does also and so do others. You'd be okay if you only had steel toes.

If you don't already have it, get hearing protection. The forestry helmets are nice in that they have the helmet, face and hearing protection all in one unit. It is actually one of my favorite pieces of equipment. I mostly wear yellow glasses (brightens the environment quite a bit) with the hearing and helmet is a bonus. I have not yet been hit on the head, but I'm glad to be wearing it. Speaking of that, look up frequently when cutting. Many deaths and injuries occur from what gets knocked loose while cutting and felling. Check up during the cut and after as you are walking away. Make sure your egress path is clear so you don't trip and fall trying to get out of the way.

So many other things that you may already know, so I'll only suggest reading. Stay safe out there with our new toy. Give it the respect it deserves with 36 finely sharpened knives spinning at 10k+ rpm about 2' from your face and vital organs.

Enjoy that particular saw. They say it cures cancer :).

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 2:06AM
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ladylake(minnesota)

And try to get gas without ethonal, use Stabil or Sea Foam when you plan on storing your saw for a while. If it runs bad after storage clean the carb or have it done instead of burning it up. Steve

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 5:34AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

masiman, ladylake

Thanks for more good advice. I read my Stihl manual twice.

I just bought Stihl chainsaw pants and have already have steel-toed Carolina timber boots. I may go for Matterhorns with Kevlar which also have steel toes just in case. I found a Kevlar Shell Helmet by Pacific that has slots that can accomodate Peltor eye and ear protection (Baileys). One 35' pine I am felling is completely dead so I expect falling branches

The Labonville boots are nice but I need 14s with Kevlar and they only go to 13. Kevlar gloves will also be considered.

The green chain is already on the saw. I assume the green link = green chain. I have to find the right files and guide as I will need to touch it up.

The fuel has to be at least 89 octane. My gas cans already contain 89 octane as my truck demands it. I thought all 87 octane gas has some ethyl in it. The Stihl 2 cycle oil says it has a stabilizer in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Kevlar

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 2:36PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I have one of the forestry helmets, but climb with a Petzl Helmet. Pacific makes some nice helmets.

I wouldn't worry too much about the chainsaw gloves, but don't let me talk you out of them if you want to try them. They also make arm chaps and jackets if you desire. In the end you could end up looking something like this:

The europeans make some very nice chainsaw protective clothing that just has not made it to the US. The stuff looks like motorcycle suits and looks to be easy to move and work in. Of course, all the videos I have seen of them are in cooler european weather :).

Yes, you are correct, green chain has a green link and yellow chain has a yellow link. The safety chain has an extra bumper between the cutters that keep the chain from biting too much. It helps prevent (but does not stop) kickback, it also slows cutting. The worst part for kick back is the upper quadrant of your tip. That will walk the saw up and back to your head shoulder in a heartbeat so don't stand in line with your bar. Be careful cutting up the stuff once it is on the ground. There is all sorts of energy stored in the branches and log that cutting will release.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:29PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I forgot to mention that it has been said that although the better oils will have stabilizers in them, they may not have enough for longer term storage. I.e. given that Sta-bil recommends using 1oz/2.5gal (.4oz/gal) and many synthetic oils are mixed at 50:1 (2.6oz/gal), many don't think there is enough stabilizer for longer term storage. That 2.2oz oil + .4oz stabilizer makes the fuel/oil ratio about 60:1. If you are going to keep your fuel for awhile, add some stabilizer. Better yet, throw it into your car (on a full tank) and use it before it goes bad.

You can get into all sort of discussions about how to store your saw long term (filled with gas or run dry) but that is a different issue.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 11:48PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

This guy wasn't cutting but it demonstrates the dangers of falling limbs.

Central Park Tree Limb Falls on Man

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 1:42PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I had to scrap the Pacific Kevlar helmet idea as I found an arborist site with multiple complaints of cracks. I went with Bullard and separate wrap around eye protection.
Ear plugs are cooler for the Summer.

My green chain gave out and I forgot the 3/8 file kit. I had one final cut to make and was throwing sawdust instead of chips. One 35 foot pine was all the chain was good for without sharpening. No kickback with this chain. Ran engine at 80% as breakin is required per Stihl.

You are predicting all of my misfortunes. I had 50/1 mix that I had for a while and it worked fine in my trimmer but the Ms 361 lost some power. Drained and replaced and everything was fine.

Ten years ago I was walking in Brookdale Park in NJ and heard a thud behind me. A huge oak dropped a branch. Just a matter of timing.

The MS361 is a great saw. If I was in the business, 30 years younger and felled much larger trees (4 foot) I would need more power such as the MS660. I'll have to admit...I lost most of my muscle power and glad I did not go heavier than the MS361. I am beat after cutting, limbing and bucking one little 35' pine. I am out of shape...but I can't wait to cut my next tree.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 9:54PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

:). I'm not predicting anything, only sharing my experiences to warn you about what your experiences might be, lol.

That's a shame about those Pacific helmets. I think alot of people picked those up. I really like my integrated Petzl. If you get tired of the separate pieces, check out the Petzl.

Your stamina will probably pick up. I know I was extremely slow on my first outings. Technique and strength will come. The technique will help you cut more efficiently and let you spot and avoid dangers. Experience, watching and reading are about the only ways to pick up the technique. Hopefully you won't have any bad experiences.

Some folks like to hit their chain after every tank with a few strokes of the file. Not a bad practice. I have been running my chains until they need a sharpening then change to a new one. I am typically in suburbia so I'm not trekking tons of equipment deep into the woods and can take 3 or 4 spare chains with me. Otherwise I would be field sharpening.

If you have not been there, check out the chainsaw forum on Arboristsite

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:40AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I think my new green chain is shot.

I did not cut anything but wood but when I placed a machinist ruler on the flat top of the cutting tooth after filing with a 13/64 Stihl file, I can see daylight between the ruler and the very begining of the saw tooth. The slope is about 1/16 inch long. I would have to remove quite a bit of metal to get that cutting link as flat as new. If I can't make it flat, I really don't expect it to cut well.

I never forced the saw to avoid removing the temper. I wonder if when I was cutting close to the ground (removing stump) some dirt got in to cause the damage.

I tried to cut after filing and it isn't much better for the reasons I am guessing.

There is a carbide chain but it needs to be sharpened with a diamond wheel and the store owner doesn't want to spend $300 for the diamond wheel.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:46PM
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ladylake(minnesota)

It takes about 2 seconds to dull a chain when you hit dirt, either take it in to get sharpened or get a sharpener . Once you hit dirt it will take quite a while with a file to get it back in shape. Steve

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 7:05PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

Hi steve

The leading edge of the cutting link is very sharp after sharpening with the correct file but it still has a slope for 1/8" of about .005". I checked the stump and placed the saw in position and found I was not close to any dirt.

I did not expect the chrome cutter to wear so quickly. I am used to carbide edges in most of my tools. I do not have the required depth gauge tool for my MS361 3/8 chain which is what I will buy next. If the cut depth is increased by .005 the chain may come to life again.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 8:24PM
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ladylake(minnesota)

Laying a straight edge from one tooth to the next you should have at least 25 thousands clearance down to the rakers, I like to run mine a little more on saws with good torque. On safety chains you'll need to file the safety links also. Steve

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 9:03PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

I am not quite sure what you are saying NJBT with respect to the chain. The top of the cutter is supposed to be sloped. The raker, that little bump right in front of each cutter that is not sharp, needs to be lower than the cutter when the chain is sitting flat in the bar channel. The rocker serves to control the depth of the cut by controlling how far the cutter rocks. The cutter hits the wood and drives the link raker into the wood. If the raker is too low, the cutter runs through the wood at too steep of an angle and will grab and chatter. If the raker is too high, the cutter can't bite into the wood and kind of skids along the wood surface.

Take a look through this chainsaw sharpening thread. There's alot of good info in here and other threads.

The Carlton File O Plate is pretty handy template to speed up checking your angles and heights.

There are dozens of different filing guides and devices. Don't spend too much on them. Try a simple inexpensive one that attaches to your file. Something like the ones from Oregon are a good place to start. After you get some experience then you can decide if you want something different.

Hit the chain as soon as you start seeing sawdust, it will make for easier sharpening. Files are ~$1 a pop. Change files when they aren't cutting well. You'll know, they just won't remove as much material.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 12:19AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

Yes the cutters all have a natural slope to them by design but all my chain cutters had two slopes. I removed the chain as nothing seemed to work to get the chips to fly. I showed the chain to the guys who sold me my saw. They said I would never get the chain to cut as the "second" slope was due to a rock. They reground the chain and it works fine. Yeah...I know...I swore I never hit anything. After my chain was ground I washed it in kero to remove any fine grains of metal that could wear out my bar prematurally. I dried and dunked it in bar oil before replacing.

The rakes are supposed to set a cut depth of .026". I ordered a depth gauge along with a guide and plenty of files both flat and round for my chain.
I also bought a second chain (yellow) cause I need a backup the way things are going.

Upon further examination of the stump I was cutting close to the ground I noticed weeds growing out of the side of the stump. Digging with a screwdriver revealed dirt and rocks in a 2 inch hole. Chalk it up to inexperience.

I placed my 13/64 file in the cutter of my new chain to see how it fit. Now I can see what I have to aim for when touching up a chain. I would need a bar or bench jig to get it that perfect.

I also realized that it is important to check the automatic oiler on the MS361 once in a while. Packed sawdust causes the oiler to put out only a minimum amount of oil. Cleaning make a huge difference in oil output.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 9:04PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

Hitting rocks, dirt etc, happens to the best of us. We were doing a job today to take out three trees. I ended gaffing myself in my ankle (the point part of climbing spurs went into my ankle). Maybe it was a good thing because I was on the verge of heat exhaustion. On the ground I couldn't cool down enough which makes me nauseous and gives me a headache. So I could walk okay in blood soaked boot, with a headache feeling like having lunch come back on me. I got my bar bound up a few times. Thankfully I did not strike anything, but overall it was not a good day cutting. I'll get em next week and hopefully my ankle will heal okay.

Forget about the carbide chain. Not worth the time or money. They use those for rescue saws I think.

Don't cut stumps too low to the ground, you'll find rocks as you can tell. Sometimes they will grow into the tree if it was damaged long ago and the tree has grown around it. The dirt down low that splashes from rain is a bear on chains too.

Keep practicing the sharpening, you'll get it.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 10:59PM
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schultzms260

I've had my MS260 for over a year now and have cut quite a few snags and fell a few trees. It seems to be gaining more power with each use. At first, I couldn't tell much of a difference between the MS260 and the 250 which it replaced. I used to bog down the 250 quite often this rarely ever (if ever)happens with the 260. It seems to run much smoother and is overall much tighter than my old 250. My buddy owns a new 290 Farm Boss. He and I do a lot od trail work together and he has asked to use my saw on more than one occasion. He has commented that my 260 just cuts smoother than his Farm Boss.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:30PM
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masiman(z7 VA)

That's good info to hear. It means more when more than one person has the same experience.

Be careful lending out your saw though. I have to say no to anyone that asks to borrow mine. I only have two cutting buddies that I will let borrow my saws and then it is only if we are cutting together. For anyone else it's "I don't know you like that".

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:35PM
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bearstwice

Hi all,

I have worked with chainsaws now for 40 years. My first Stihl was 1978, 041AV Farm Boss. I loved it. I sold it for drugs. It was the last thing I sold. Clean and sober since 1984...first thing I saved up for was another 041AV. Love it ...!! Still have it...it fell 40 ft with me and was broke all to hell 10 feet from me while I waited for helicopter. It was still running ! I'll never forget. First thing I fixed beside myself.

Anyway..I now have a 250, 260, the 041AV, 361 and 066Mag. I am a pro. If I had to bug out, the one I'd grab would be the 361. Power to weight ratio is the best ..period IMHO. The diff between the 260 and 361 is a lot mainly because the 361 is so fast !! It slides through wood while the 260, although a good saw, can be bumpy and buck around. you won't notice that unless you've pulled the trigger on a 361, but if you do, you'll never go back. I think I paid more for it than usual around $760 or so but at the time I didn't care because I wanted it.

One thing for sure... buy the 361 and you will NEVER regret it. If it's a pissing contest at community work, and you have a sharp chain, you'll leave the competition in the dust. Its FAST !! and smooth, and light and it feels like it is part of you. It's like a light saber.

Jim G

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:11PM
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