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Chainsaw chain in Maintenance

Updated: 2011-08-09 10:03:08


Most chainsaws require two sources of lubrication. Like most two-stroke engines, the engine is lubricated by its fuel, which contains about 2–5% oil (depending on the oil used) dissolved in the fuel. Separate chain oil or bar oil is used for the external lubrication of the bar and chain. The chain oil is depleted quickly because it tends to be thrown off the chain by centrifugal force, and it is soaked up by sawdust. The chain oil reservoir is usually topped up at the same time as refuelling, and the reservoir is large enough so that the saw runs out of fuel and stops before the chain oil runs dry. Failing to keep the chain oil topped up, or using an oil of incorrect viscosity, is a common source of damage to saws, and tends to lead to rapid wear of the bar, or the chain jamming or coming off the bar.
In addition to being quite thick, chain oil is particularly sticky (due to "tackifier" additives) to reduce the amount thrown off the chain. Although motor oil is a common emergency substitute, it is lost even faster and so leaves the chain underlubricated.
Chains must be kept sharp to perform well. They become blunt rapidly if they touch soil, metal or stones. When blunt, they tend to produce powdery sawdust, rather than the longer, clean shavings characteristic of a sharp chain; a sharp saw also needs very little force from the operator to push it into the cut. Special hardened chains (made with tungsten carbide) are used for applications where soil is likely to contaminate the cut, such as for cutting through roots.
The air intake filter tends to clog up with sawdust. This must be cleaned from time to time, but is not a problem during normal operation.