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  1. #1
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    Case-IH DX35

    Default starting a Stihl saw

    I am considering buying a Stihl saw because of all the positive comments I have read on the threads here, and because there is a dealer nearbywho has been in business a long time. However, the salesman mentioned to me that they are a bit finicky when started cold. He indicated that you had to choke them to start, but that you should not take more than two or three pulls with the choke on and should then shut off the choke even if it didn't start. He said if you didn't, you would flood the engine and might have to bring it back to the dealer to get it started again. After all the great comments here and no mention of this, I thought I would ask about everyone's experience with starting these chainsaws. Thanks for your help.

    Steve

  2. #2
    Elite Member Sigarms's Avatar
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    Have a farm boss. Long story short, one time it would not start. Took it to the dealer, he had to take it apart to look at it (he couldn't figure it out as well).

    Picked up the saw a week later, out of wrty, but they fixxed it at no charge.

    Other than that, have never had a problem, completely happy with the saw for all the work I've used it for.

    Just went out to the garage (after reading your post) where it's sitting in some cold weather, haven't used it in about two weeks. Pulled it three times on choke, took it off the choke setting and started right up.

    If your dealer is "good" and takes care of their customer, I'd buy it without hestitation.

    Hate to admit it, one reason why I wouldn't buy a huskey is that the box stores sells them.




  3. #3
    Platinum Member
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    When I got my saw I was told to pull 4-5 on choke and then start it and I ended up flooding it. Put in a new spark plug while old one dried out and it started.

    So, yes they are finicky to start. But once you figure it out they work well.

  4. #4
    Super Star Member
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    I am glad to read your post and what your dealer told you.
    I've had a Stihl 041 since 1975, and it has been the most amazing 'starter' and except for one time, always has started. But choke until it 'hits', then off choke and start on the next pull. The one time, happened to be when I was in a small attic, no room to really pull the starter rope. Worked up quite a sweat and finally in disgust came out of the attic and tried to start it in the garage. No luck --- until I discovered it was out of fuel after thinking it was flooded and pulling the plug to find it was dry. Duuuhhhh!.

    Now, I last year bought a new Stihl MS361. I have not been happy with the way it starts, and will plan to try your suggested 'formula'. But I mostly don't like how the saw re-starts when it is warm. I like mine to start on the first pull on idle. Mine is now in the shop, as I've been told there are some newer ones out that need either a carb kit (they try that first) or a carb replacement (that will be second). The 'hard to start' carbs are due to the whacko's in CA and the 'world' bowing to their ideas of combustion - nuff said. Those regs are making all the saws and engines harder to start and to keep running. Husky is dropping a very popular model (372?) because of the CA rules.

    Will be trying your 'trick' to see if that helps any. Don't think taking it back to the dealer because it floods is needed, but possibly a few minutes to 'dry out' or removing the plug to blow it dry of fuel would be good.

    The other thing, is using premium gas in the mix rather than the 'ethanol added' gas. Runs better on premium.

  5. #5
    Platinum Member JSUnlimited's Avatar
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    SWB,

    My Dad has had Stihl saws for as long as I can remember. I don't ever remember him bitching about them not starting. So, I bought one going on 4 years ago when we were clearing land to build the house. I bought a MS290 "Farm Boss" with a 18" bar. Let me say that it has always run great! After a several month period without running, I topped off the gas and oil and yanked the rope with the choke on 3-4 times and then once with the choke off and she fired right up and went to town.

    Do yourself a favor and buy the Stihl, whatever model you'll be happy!

    FYI, we have them at the fire dept. and they spend a alot of time boucing around in trucks not used, but always manage to start without hassle when needed ASAP.

  6. #6

    Join Date
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    SWB -

    I am a Stihl man from way back and use them almost exclusively in my tree business. In now way would I describe them as "finnicky" - but having said that, they (and probably all chain saws, and anything with an engine for that matter) want to be started in a particular way.

    If the carb is adjusted as it should be and the saw is "right", there is NO WAY any Stihl would have to be brought back to the dealer to be started. (Having said that, immediately after buying my first 066, their second-largest saw, I brought it back to my dealer because I couldn't get the da** thing started. Now if know how it wants to be started, and I have never had a problem since.

    Stihls in general start great, run great and last great. The bigger they get, the more "particular" they are about how they want to be started. In general, assuming a "cold" saw, being started for the first time on a given day: set the choke to "full", depress the compression release button if so equipped, give it a pull or two until it "kicks" (the fuel has ignited in the cylinder but the saw is not yet running), then set the choke to the half-way position, push the compression release button back down (it just got pushed up by the explosion in the cylinder), give it one pull and it will start and run almost every time. As soon as it's running, squeeze the throttle trigger and the choke will come off automatically. Warm her up for a minute or two and ENJOY.

    Where you start to run into problems is when you deviate from the above procedures, or if the saw gets "flooded" for whatever reason. This was my problem with my new 066. I flooded it, and kept trying to start it with the choke on, or took the choke off but didn't pull it enough times to "dry it out". That's the big key. If it hasn't started by going through the "normal" procedures, it's likely flooded. Take the choke off (put the "master control lever" in the "run" position, and pull, pull, pull, with your finger off the throttle. This will clear out the carb, and she'll most likely eventually give a little "kick" as the air-fuel ratio has gotten back down to a combustible level. At this point, set the choke half-way, give a couple more pulls, and she'll start right up.

    After a while, you'll get a feel for how the saw wants to be started based on how warm it still is from prior use. If you restart it after just a few minutes of being fully warmed up (the time varies based on how cold it is out), no choke is usually necessary. I just set the lever to "run" and drop-start it with the throttle trigger depressed and depending on how warm it is it will usually start with one pull, vroom. If it's cooled off a little, half-choke with a drop-start will usually produce a "kick", then set the lever to "run", give it one more pull with the trigger depressed, and vroom. Choke comes off, go to work. If the saw has cooled off considerably since the last use, the half-choke won't produce a "kick" after one or two pulls. Stop pulling, set the choke to "full", pull until you get a kick, set it to "half-choke", and vroom.

    Just remember that if the saw is equipped with a compression release, push the button back down after every "kick" that doesn't result in a running saw.

    You didn't say what Stihl you're getting, but all of them up to about the 360 start REALLY easily and are more forgiving about how you start them, within reason. From the 460 up, they start like a Harley. Don't flood 'em, and if you do, pull pull pull until you clear them.

    I love Stihls, but Huskies are great too, it's a matter of preference. I see Stihls as Mercedes, and Huskies as Saabs. Both fine automobiles, but there's something about a Mercedes. Huskies, like Saabs, have certain refinements that you won't find on a Stihl or a Mercedes. Huskies have a very advanced air filtration system called "Air Injection", which subjects the incoming air to a cyclone effect that drastically reduces the amount of dust that the filter has to deal with. very nice. Huskies are also (IMHO) less prone to "pulping up" - i.e. having the chain get jammed with chips/shavings, especially when doing stump cuts or cutting with the grain. Cutting with the grain produces long, excelsior-like fibers that seem to jam a Stihl before they'll jam a Husky. But it's a minor issue, and I put up with it as I'd put up with diesel "clatter" on a Mercedes 300-D. I still like Stihls for their rugged, no-nonsense German engineering.

    Lastly, speaking of compression releases: they are found mostly on the "Pro" models - 260, 360, 460, 660. A compression release valve is a GREAT thing to have on a saw, and a "Pro" model is a GREAT saw to own, and it doesn't mean that you have to be a "pro" to warrant buying and owning one. They require the same exact skill levels to operate as a "homeowner" model. What makes a Stihl a "pro" model is generally the inclusion of a compression release valve, but more importantly, lighter and more long-lasting engine components. They cost a little more up front, but will last MUCH longer before they wear out, and you will have enjoyed a lighter saw with a compression release all that time.

    To give you an idea about Stihl longevity, I had an 028 Super that i bought in 1986 and finally wore out (crank seals) after about 10-11 years of professional use, and that's not even technically a "pro" model. The "pro" models are not too much more expensive than the others, and I think they're well worth it. The 260 is a great size for casual firewood use and general use, and wants a 16" bar; if you're more serious about firewood and felling, the 360 is a GREAT saw with some serious "oomph" to it and wants an 18" bar; the 460 is commonly used by loggers who do hand-cutting and don't want to lug around a 660, and wants a 20" bar; and the 660 is my sentimental favorite and is a beast with an attitude. I run a 20" bar on it 70% of the time, a 28" bar 25% of the time, and a 42" bar 5% of the time.

    It's best to use a "semi-skip" chain with a bar longer than say 24". In other words, instead of cutter-driver-cutter-driver as on a regular ("full comp", which I think means it has a "full complement" of cutters), a semi-skip goes cutter-driver-driver-cutter-driver-driver, decreasing the load on the engine while still cutting as well, or better than the full-comp. Fewer cutters to sharpen too, which is VERY nice.

    Lastly, I mentioned "drop starting". This is when you hold the saw in your right hand (you lefties out there are on your own, as usual), hold the pull handle in your left hand, and simultaneously pull with your left hand as you "drop" the saw with your right hand. The absolute safest way to start the saw is flat on the ground with your left foot stuck into the handle, but I use this method only on the 046 and 066, and even then, usually only when they are "cold". After they've "kicked", I usually drop start them because you can squeeze the throttle as you're pulling, which usually makes for easier starting. IF you do the drop start method, MAKE SURE you have engaged the chain brake first by pushing the guard forward. This will keep you from cutting your leg off, and having to sue me.

    Lastly lastly, I have a method of sharpening chains using two simple gizmos that cost 6 bucks and 8 bucks each, and will make your chain cut better, yes BETTER than a brand-new chain. (It's all about the side angles and rakers). My fingers are about to fall off, but if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share the info it took my about 10 years to figure out. Your saw will cut better than half to three-quarters of the PROs out there, never mind the homeowners. It is incredibly simple and VERY satisfying. PLEASE don't waste your time and money having your chains sharpened on a grinder down at the power equipment place. Some of those guys don't even know what a raker is, much less how to properly set one. And if they do, they do it on the same grinding machine, which does NOT set them at the correct angle. Also, a chain that has been sharpened on a grinder usually gets slightly hardened in the process, making it much more difficult to hand-sharpen with a file.

    Really lastly, I've always wanted to recommend full-chisel saw chain that has no anti-kickback provisions whatsoever since they are much easier to sharpen and generally cut better, and that kickback, while very real, is not to be feared but rather respected and anticipated, but I can't, because then someone might sue me.

    Hope this helps,

    John D.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    John,

    Awsome post [img]/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]........I enjoyed really reading that one....

    I have one complaint though [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]... You left us hanging, I'll be waiting on chapter two on how to sharpen a chain [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]... I've got a Husky and have nothing but good to say about it, one of my best investments to date. A 55 Rancher with the 18" bar. I have thought of changing to the anti kickback or the carbide chain to make it cut faster(from what I hear) but when it was new it cut like a hot knife through butter as it was. I have hit it with the file a couple of times, but not ike new. If you have a secret, I'm all ears. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Thanks for the post, very well done.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member gmsssi's Avatar
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( I am glad to read your post and what your dealer told you.
    I've had a Stihl 041 since 1975, and it has been the most amazing 'starter' and except for one time, always has started. But choke until it 'hits', then off choke and start on the next pull. The one time, happened to be when I was in a small attic, no room to really pull the starter rope. Worked up quite a sweat and finally in disgust came out of the attic and tried to start it in the garage. No luck --- until I discovered it was out of fuel after thinking it was flooded and pulling the plug to find it was dry. Duuuhhhh!.

    Now, I last year bought a new Stihl MS361. I have not been happy with the way it starts, and will plan to try your suggested 'formula'. But I mostly don't like how the saw re-starts when it is warm. I like mine to start on the first pull on idle. Mine is now in the shop, as I've been told there are some newer ones out that need either a carb kit (they try that first) or a carb replacement (that will be second). The 'hard to start' carbs are due to the whacko's in CA and the 'world' bowing to their ideas of combustion - nuff said. Those regs are making all the saws and engines harder to start and to keep running. Husky is dropping a very popular model (372?) because of the CA rules.

    Will be trying your 'trick' to see if that helps any. Don't think taking it back to the dealer because it floods is needed, but possibly a few minutes to 'dry out' or removing the plug to blow it dry of fuel would be good.

    The other thing, is using premium gas in the mix rather than the 'ethanol added' gas. Runs better on premium. )</font>

    choke until it 'hits', then off choke and start on the next pull.

    This is all you need to know, other than to be sure the compression release is engaged before you pull the first time! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    Silver Member
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    Case-IH DX35

    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    Thanks for the great post and to all the others for their comments. I do intend to get a Stihl. Haven't decided on the model yet, but my needs are not heavy duty use.

    I guess the salesman's comments were accurate and you have to be careful in the procedure you use to start them. Once started and warm, do they generally restart easily? I am guessing the answer to that is yes, but if there any tips I would appreciate it.

    I don't want to spend any more money than necessary for a saw so I would be interested in suggestions for the least expensive model that will do light duty work but still be sufficient for more serious tasks. The dealer suggested an MS210. Any feedback to help me decide will be appreciated.
    I have about an acre of trees between my cleared land and the marsh with live oak, cedars, pines and gums mainly. I have had a few cedars blow over (10-12") that I need to clear up and a lot of large limbs on the oaks that are broken and need to be trimmed off. I also have two oaks (about 18"-20") that are dead, but I probably will hire someone to take them down. Thanks again for you input.

  10. #10
    Super Member 5030's Avatar
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    Default Re: starting a Stihl saw

    John:

    We won't get into my .404 scar on my leg at this juncture.

    I started through your post and figured that you didn't thumb the compression release on the '66, but I thought that you'd have digit trouble after you left your epidermis on the recoil. My '75 needs to be prodded...gently ( a few pulls with no fire) to loosen things up before switching the ignition on. If I remember correctly, my '90 needed a pony motor to start it and Arnold to heft it around.

    My old '28 which is all I have left (as you know), is a kick saw...full choke until it pops and then no choke with the throttle lock on and wot until it cleans out, something you have to do with any small 2 stroke.

    I hand file all my chains...always have. Tried a few contraptions including the carbide burr in the block jig but I always revert to hand filing and I set the rakers by "feel"

    I'd advise anybody against taking a chain on or off the saw to a dealer with a grinder. As you said, most shop jockey's haven't the faintest idea how to file a raker but they knbow how to grind a tooth so you have to buy a new chain pronto....from the grinding dealer of course. With me, I run 2 chains and flip the bar between every chain. When 2 chains are shot (a long time), I change the drive sprocket, get 2 more chains and a new bar. I always use good bar oil not used motor oil, UDT, SUDT, HyTrans or anything else out of a tractor.

    I think I am going to trade in my relic '28 for a new '28 after Christmas. Just can't get the handgrip heater anymore.

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