I've got about 45 hours on my saw so far, of some surprisingly heavy use for a home-owner type chainsaw to survive. I bought it expecting to use it for general property maintenance and cutting down a couple small trees or limbs after a storm. I didn't want to spend $500 to get the top of the line, and I figured I'd use it a only a few hours a year, so why spend the money on something to sit in the garage. Once I bought it, I seem to have a never-ending list of things that need cutting up or cutting down, including several trees > 25" diameter. I was honestly expecting this saw to blow up or fail once I got into the first big job with it, and figured when it did I'd have a good reason to go buy a pro saw. But to my surprise this one keeps plugging away. It's not the most powerful and it does stall sometimes when I cut too fast, but if I stay within its limits it just keeps cutting. All it's needed so far is gas, oil, and chain tensioning / sharpening. Chain tensioning was required VERY frequently at first, but now that it's stretched in it rarely needs adjustment. My motivation to write this review is because I just finished cutting down a 32" diameter oak tree with it, then sawing the entire tree up into 16" logs for firewood. I ran it for probably 15 hours this weekend without a hiccup, and it finished the tree as well as it started. It's definitely not the recommended saw for logging since it's so lightweight and has only an 18" bar, but it did the job even on the thickest parts of the tree if I cut from both sides to get the full width. The good:
- Durable, works well, improves with use.
- The chain stays sharp and is easy to sharpen when needed.
- The bar oil lasts through a full tank of gas, so it doesn't need constant checking. When you gas it up, fill up the bar oil too and you're covered.
- After a good break-in, it starts easy, even when hot or after extended duration running.
- Lightweight! This is very nice for limbing and trimming branches etc. Try a 58cc saw in that role and your forearms will burn, but this one is very manageable even while up in the tree in awkward positions.
- Good safety features. They work when they're supposed to, but don't get in the way otherwise. The bar's nose shape is very resistant to kickback, but if you somehow manage to get it to kickback on you then the guard works and prevents serious bloody injury. The bad:
- The chain stretches like crazy for the first 3-5 hours of use (?? seems like forever), requiring constant attention and adjustment every 5-10 minutes. Don't be afraid to run a new chain "too tight" as it will ease out on its own. Once it's done stretching, the chain is stable and runs for hours without needing additional adjustment.
- When the chain stretches it's prone to jumping out of it's track, and damaging the chain. After it jumps out, the guide part of the chain that fits in the bar slot is dinged up and "peaned" so it won't slide in the bar any more. I had this happen to me a few times, and it was frustrating. Easily fixed with a flat file to take off any of the raised surface of the chain guide so it fits back in the bar again, but it's extremely annoying to have this happen. This chain-jumping problem is common to all saws with a lightweight bar, not just Poulan, but this saw's stretchy chain seems to make it more obvious since it's more likely to happen if the chain gets loose. Disregard the manual's recommendations in this case, and run the chain TIGHT through break-in if you want to get a useful amount of cutting done before you have to tighten it again. If you run with the 1/8" chain sag the manual recommends you'll be re-adjusting every 5 minutes until the chain is done stretching, or you'll have it jump out of it's track if it gets too loose.
- You have to have a clue about 2-stroke engines to get the most out of this saw. Use fresh gas mix, drain the gas when you're going to store it, choke it properly, let it heat up, no ethanol in the fuel if possible. It won't tolerate neglect.
- It takes a while to break in, and can be tempermental about starting when it's new. Especially when it's hot. After it's run for a few hours of use this cleared up on my saw, and it starts on 2nd or 3rd pull every time now, hot or cold.
- It's not very powerful like the bigger saw's I've used. I may still buy a pro grade chainsaw just to get something stronger. It will get through the job, but if you push it the saw will bog down and remind you it's just a baby chainsaw. Overall recommendation: Buy it for home use, learn how to treat a 2-stroke engine, break it in good, and it will last a long time. I give it a 4/5 stars because of the chain stretch problems while it's breaking in, and because I'd like it to have a bit more power. Both are manageable faults, and both are common to all chainsaws in this price range. To correct them you'd have to step up to a thicker bar and a bigger motor, and basically double the price of this chainsaw.
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