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  1. #1
    Veteran Member
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    Dec 2004
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    2,273
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    western NC
    Tractor
    JD 2320; 4520

    Default Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    As you may recall, I was looking into a Stihl 441 saw to be my "larger" saw around my property (I currently have a 290 Farm Boss). I have a number of larger diameter hard wood trees and felt this would better be able to handle that type cutting. I use my saws about two or three full afternoon's a month but am by no means a professional cutter. I wanted to pass on (at the risk of personal embarrassment) a bit of information which might be helpful to others when buying a new Stihl of this type (or perhaps other models also) as I did buy the saw about two weeks ago. I brought my saw home from the dealer and thought about using it to cut down a medium sized dead tree in my back area. I had some debris to blow off my driveway and decided to start the 441 to let it idle while doing that to "warm up" (there were no children, pets or other bystanders around). I started the saw with the chainbrake on (I usually do this) and clicked the brake lever back once it started. The chain spun with throttle and I set the saw down and started to blow the driveway (with my Stihl backpack blower). When I returned about 10 minutes later I found the saw smoking and the chain slack on the bar and not moving. I turned the saw off, disassembled the cover and clutch cover, and found a suspected burnt clutch. My suspicion is that the chain brake did not fully disengage when I clicked the lever back and on further investigation I found this chainbrake lever to be "sticky" v. my 290 (it had two detents). I suspect the combination of the stiff chain brake and my doing something atypical in my normal use combined to cause this to happen. I do not know if this represents a change in design or simply operator error but I wanted to caution those looking for this saw from Stihl that the chainbrake does not seem to behave as it does in their other saws (at least in this one) and special attention may be required to avoid an expensive repair. Just passing this along to make sure folks pull the chainbrake lever ALL the way back. If one doesn't, I found that the clutch will burn out in about 10-15 minutes, even at idle. I have learned my lesson and do not want others to suffer a similar fate. And I hadn't even used the saw yet! As an aside, I am not sure my dealer started the saw (they may have) prior to my picking it up so I am unsure if they noticed this as well.

    John M

  2. #2
    Bronze Member stihlman's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
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    Southern Illinois
    Tractor
    Kubota L3830 HST

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Sorry to hear of your problem with your 441, I have had two and they are great saws. On my 441 as well as all my other Stihl saws the chain brake engages and disengages with a distinctive snap. I am curious as to why the clutch burned with the saw idling to warm up. Usually a clutch burns when someone continues to cut with a saw after they forgot to release the brake. I would think a dealer would make a top priority to check the operation of the chain brake prior to delivery of any saw as it is a vital safety device. I hope it all works out for you

    Steve
    Stihlman

    Kubota L3830 HST with LA723 loader
    ZD326P

    Stihl Chainsaws:
    MS660
    056 Mag II
    MS441R M-Tronic
    MS362R M-Tronic
    MS361
    MS261
    MS260
    MS211
    015 L
    HT 131

    Lots of other antique saws:
    Certified "gold level chainsaw nut"

    Lincoln SA200 ( 1966 Redface )
    Lincoln IdealArc 250 (1975)

  3. #3
    Veteran Member
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    Jun 2006
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    2,392
    Location
    West Cascades, Washington State USA
    Tractor
    PT 422

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    My saw has a definite snap as well, but i also give it a good yank. I imagine if the brake was partially on when at idle, the chain could move. At idle the clutch wouldn't likely be fully engaged so it would slip and heat the drum. As far as that goes, at idle even without the brake on, the clutch would likely slip, not to mention pumping bar oil as the chain goes around.

    So two lessons, one don't let your saw sit idling, and make sure your saw brake is completely disengaged when your cutting.

    Thank you so much for posting your experience so we can learn from your experience.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    JD 2320; 4520

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Steve, thanks for the response. I was also surprised by this. I cannot attest to whether the saw was checked before I took it as it was ready for me when I picked it up. The saw absolutely burned the clutch with 10 minutes of idling and no more with the chain brake apparently on. I told my dealer that my behavior and lack of checking the saw as I would usually do and should have done (i.e., being lazy) was a contributing factor and I would shoulder the financial responsibility of this repair if need be, I just mainly wanted folks to know that at least in one case, a 441 saw had a sticky brake and would burn a clutch at idle if it is engaged. It is my assumption that my pulling of the brake lever did not disengage the brake as it should have. Having owned three other smaller Stihls over the years this is the first issue I have had. Good product, excited to use it if I ever get to!! How much lighter in the wallet am I going to be for this event? Thanks.

    John M

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    cqaigy, I think you summarized my opinion of what happened exactly. I hope I was adequately clear that I feel this was in part an operator issue, but that such errors are not well tolerated by this particular saw (maybe not by any saw) and that when using this saw, especially a new one, taking extra care to double-pull back the chain brake is likely a good practice and not starting the saw until actually ready to cut. My two lessons from this experience.

    John

  6. #6
    Bronze Member stihlman's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
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    Southern Illinois
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    Kubota L3830 HST

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    A clutch and a drum should not be that expensive to replace, especially if you look at EBay or Bailey's. Just make it a learning experience and you are a stand up guy for telling your dealer what you did, many these days have no sense of personal accountability. The only people that don't make mistakes are those that don't do anything, an old saying that is very true. I am curious John, did you get the MS441C model with the M-Tronic fuel system? I traded my old 441 last fall for one and I am amazed at the performance

    Steve
    Stihlman

    Kubota L3830 HST with LA723 loader
    ZD326P

    Stihl Chainsaws:
    MS660
    056 Mag II
    MS441R M-Tronic
    MS362R M-Tronic
    MS361
    MS261
    MS260
    MS211
    015 L
    HT 131

    Lots of other antique saws:
    Certified "gold level chainsaw nut"

    Lincoln SA200 ( 1966 Redface )
    Lincoln IdealArc 250 (1975)

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Treemonkey1000's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
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    1,894
    Location
    Renton, Washington
    Tractor
    Kubota L3750

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Make sure your idle is not set too high. That saw should be able to set with the brake on idling without heating up the clutch to badly. The chain shouldn't be moving if it is idling without the brake on typically. Or it might be a little movement.
    1st Peter 1:6-9

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
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    Dec 2004
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    western NC
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    JD 2320; 4520

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Steve, I did get the M-Tronic. Haven't been able to use it yet, but it sure sounded good (until it started smoking).

    John

  9. #9
    Bronze Member stihlman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    84
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Tractor
    Kubota L3830 HST

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Glad to hear you got the M-Tronic John, they are amazing. I have been running a 28" bar on my 441 and it will hang with my MS660 running a 36" bar. You can actually hear the M-Tronic system adjusting the carb in the cut to keep it at peak performance. I took the muffler off mine and took a carbide burr on my Dremel tool to the opening to let it flow better, it is a very aggressive cutting saw now

    Steve
    Stihlman

    Kubota L3830 HST with LA723 loader
    ZD326P

    Stihl Chainsaws:
    MS660
    056 Mag II
    MS441R M-Tronic
    MS362R M-Tronic
    MS361
    MS261
    MS260
    MS211
    015 L
    HT 131

    Lots of other antique saws:
    Certified "gold level chainsaw nut"

    Lincoln SA200 ( 1966 Redface )
    Lincoln IdealArc 250 (1975)

  10. #10
    Elite Member Chilly807's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    3,256
    Location
    Nova Scotia
    Tractor
    Kubota L3400DT

    Default Re: Stihl 441 Clutch/Chainbrake issue

    Quote Originally Posted by Treemonkey1000 View Post
    Make sure your idle is not set too high. That saw should be able to set with the brake on idling without heating up the clutch to badly. The chain shouldn't be moving if it is idling without the brake on typically. Or it might be a little movement.
    This is my opinion as well. In fact, I'd be inclined to suggest to the dealer that they might want to consider paying for parts, since the idle wasn't set right to begin with. I know a few people that trip the brake whenever they set the saw down while it's running, for safety reasons. You may want to check the saw manual, if I remember correctly one of the saw makers actually recommends this.

    Anyone that climbs with a running saw will do the same thing, although I don't climb with a saw, period.

    I don't know how much manual speed adjustment there is with the M-tronic system, if any.

    Sean

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