Friday, August 13, 2010

Stihl Life

If you live in bush Alaska, you must go with the seasons. In spite of my fireweed poll, summer will soon be over and it it is time (and past time) to attend to the woodpile. The trouble with doing this in the fall is that it is too late for the wood to dry out during the summer. Thus you will be plagued with wet wood all winter. The ideal time to get you firewood in is the spring, but unfortunately this year there were a number of obstacles, not the least of which is that Lysander's battery went kaput and it's a long way into Anchorage.

Anyway, I did collect a lot of Road Kill. This is my name for wood that falls across the road in winter, and is cut up by snowplow crews and left lying by the side of the road.
Parsifal, the small chain saw, stands next to the sawbuck on which reposes my almost new Stihl safety helmet/earmuff/face guard, a yard sale find at $20. Behind sawbuck is roadkill tree.

It is not the chainsawing that is hard. It is muscling the victim up on the sawbuck. The road crews cut it into arbitrary lengths, say a meter and a half; these logs weigh 20-30 Kg each, and you muscle it twice, once up on the sawbuck, and then again to heave it into a pile. At the end of the program, I figure I moved half a ton of wood. The photo was taken during one of my save-my-back breaks. The official Chalupy droob is 45cm long, because the aperture on my stove is 50cm (it is a Canadian stove and hence thankfully metric), so the sawing isn't arbitrary. If you do not know what a droob might be, I must refer you to the celebrated comic strip BC.

All chainsaws are not alike. If all you're doing is cutting wood for fun, as in "suburban use," why any mass-market chainsaw will serve your needs, and remember that you have to sharpen the chain. Frequently. But if you are doing big sawing, there are but two names: Stihl and Husqvarna. There's not much to choose between them, but I happen to have two Stihls, big Siegfried and small Parsifal. Siegfried is running again, after I replaced his whole fuel line. He is older, and hence more temperamental, but much more powerful. So for really big cuts, Siegfried gets the nod. But no matter how big the chainsaw, you still (Stihl?)
have to sharpen the chain.

One of these days I will do a post on chainsaw sharpening. Just so you don't think I'm bigoted, I also own a McCullough electric chainsaw. I use it all the time, in fact I use it by preference. It is lighter than the Stihls, and starts every time. Unfortunately there are very few power outlets in the woods, so Black Mac's range is limited.

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