Small Engine Question


#1

From a correspondent: “Do you know what really sucks about firewood gathering in July? Not being able to start the chainsaw easily with a yank to the starter cord. It’s one thing to pull frantically dozens of times when it’s 24 degrees Fahrenheit; it’s quite another at 84. Supposedly Stihl is a good brand of chainsaw, but if my computer were as unreliable as my Stihl is, I would probably be forced to gather firewood for a living.

My first suspicion is poor maintenance. How many things could he be doing wrong? He’s not close enough that I can just toddle over and look at it.


#2

The #1 reason for seasonal equipment not starting is bad fuel.

The question has to be asked how is the equipment/fuel stored when not in use?

Tester


#3

It’s not seasonal, it’s used year round. The gas can, though is another matter. I’ve never had problems with bad gas, but it appears that a lot of people have. He expects it to be as maintenance-free as a computer, I guess based on having similar size.


#4

The pumper carbs used in this type of equipment are very delicate and tricky to “get right”…If the saw is flooding, the diaphragm valve is leaking, allowing fuel to pour into the engine uncontrolled. If it’s starving for gas (try a shot of starting fluid into the air-filter) then the little diaphragm fuel pump is not working…Today, these rubber parts can tolerate E-10 fuel. But older equipment had a lot of trouble when E-10 became common and the fuel pumping and controlling diaphragms would just fall apart. Also, check the fuel filter inside the tank on the end of the fuel-line…


#5

I don’t know about Stihl specifically, but I was looking at the starting instructions for a Homelite and it calls for about a dozen pulls for a cold start. I was at Home Depot yesterday and happened to look at some chainsaws. the starting sequence for the Homelite is clearly illustrated on the chainsaw itself. So much for one pull starting.


#6

I’ve had experience with Homelite, Poulan and Husqvarna chainsaws.
Every one of them called for 1-3 pulls on full choke until it sputters.
Then 1-2 pulls on half-choke and it starts up.

I wonder what the correspondent means exactly by “unreliable”.
Does that include care for the chain and bar?


#7

Half choke? On todays models, it seems to be all or nothing. Check out the Homelite, I’m not recommending it or anything, just look at the new instructions.


#8

I worked at a Sears lawn and garden department a few years back. One of the number one complaints I’ve had for non-starting, especially on newer saws dealt with user error (not assuming it’s you, but this is just a trouble shoot kind of answer)

Although you CAN start a chainsaw by pulling the cord like He-Man 2 or 3 times, 2-stroke chainsaws usually start by the speed with which the cord is pulled, rather than the distance. Try this starting at full choke: Place the saw on the ground with your foot in the handle (where your right hand would go when you’re actually cutting with it.) Pull the cord only as far as you can by bending your elbow. You shouldn’t need to get a bend in your shoulder at all. Repeat this quickly until it sputters, then repeat at half-choke until it starts.

As I’ve said, it’s troubleshooting just to make sure you’re doing it right. A TON of my former customers basically held the cord in their right hands while “throwing” the saw as far as their wingspan would let them. This will work (usually), but it’s not the right way to do it. Otherwise, I’m not a mechanic - I just used to sell them. :slight_smile:


#9

I have an Earthquake rototiller which has a 2 stroke engine that is essentially a chain saw engine. It almost seems as though I have to look at it just right if it is going to start. Sometimes, when cold, it starts on the first or second pull. It did this for me at the beginning of the season. Sometimes, using the same technique as I used when it started with two pulls, it refuses to start and I go through more priming, choking and half choking, until it finally fires. On the other hand, I have a 2 stroke snowblower that always starts reliably. I maintain my equipment and always use a fresh gasoline/oil mixture.


#10

I wonder if he actually follows directions on the engine.

I have found that if you follow what they prescribe printed to a tee they start fine. Deviate a bit then its a nightmare sometimes.

My equipment (2 stroke) includes a 25 year old mini rototiller and 10 year old Stihl.


#11

A couple of local people who operate small engine shops here say they’re seeing a lot more problems due to gasoline than they used to. They state they feel much of this has to do with Ethanol and I tend to agree with them.

I try not to allow gasoline to remain in any of my small engine stuff (Lawn tractor, weedeater, chain saws, etc) because every single time I have allowed something to sit for 4 or 5 months it becomes a nightmare to sort it all out again.


#12

“A couple of local people who operate small engine shops here say they’re seeing a lot more problems due to gasoline than they used to. They state they feel much of this has to do with Ethanol and I tend to agree with them.”

Maybe it’s due to the hotter weather…but shops here in NH aren’t seeing that problem…I’ve never experienced that problem…


#13

I’ll have to admit that I went for “cheap” when I bought the Earthquake rototiller. It starts fine after it has been running. Most of the time, it starts up on the first or second pull when I get it out. However, every so often, it gives me fits. The last time I went to use it, the tiller apparently wasn’t in a good mood. I pulled about a dozen times–no luck. I replaced the spark plug with a new one–did no good. I did check for spark and the spark was a nice, fat blue spark. Finally, I gave the carburetor a shot of Gumout. It fired up, ran roughly for about a minute and then evened out. When I would start and stop it after that, it did just fine. I’ll find out tomorrow if the Gumout medicine helped it get well.


#14

@keith: true, only my 15 y.o. Homelite has a half-choke setting, the others are two position.

I got an electric Homelite just for cutting up palettes and scraps in my back yard and I love it.

I’ve got a 25 y.o. Husqvarna that started dieing when hot a couple years ago.
Mechanic says the crankshaft seals are bad.
With that and so many other marginal parts on it it sits in limbo.


#15

My Stihl has never started first pull. It always takes 5 - 6 pulls but then runs fine. Supposedly the Stihl oil has fuel stabelizer in it. I would never use generic 2 stroke oil. The big box chain saws all seem to be disasters that work about 2 tanks and then start to fall apart.


#16

Dump the gas chain saw and get an electric chain saw. Plug it in, pull the trigger; motor starts every time. I have used mine at the end of well over 100 ft of ext. cord. For work away from an outlet, a cheap genset will do. I have owned both electric and gas chain saws; know all about the hard and impossible starts with stale gas-oil mix, dirty carburetor and oil fouled spark plug.

150 bucks for a new gas chain saw every three years would be no problem for me but I simply like the electric version better. It’s much quieter too.


#17

I have had to replace the gas pickup tube on occasion!


#18

I wonder what the correspondent means exactly by “unreliable”.
Does that include care for the chain and bar?

He’s expecting it to start on the first pull. I shudder to think about how the bar and chain have been [not] maintained.

"I wonder if he actually follows directions on the engine.

I have found that if you follow what they prescribe printed to a tee they start fine. Deviate a bit then its a nightmare sometimes."

Directions? I strongly suspect not.


#19

Computers are reliable??? I was ready to use my .44 magnum on my computer until I got my imac.


#20

Isn’t that special?