Pros: Cheap Price. Bright green color.
Cons: Hard starting. Doesn't peel potatoes.
Theyre called loblolly pines, but to me they are scrub or junk pines shedding and spreading those nuisance needles all over expansive Spud Acres. Theres a stand of about fifty of these ugly abominations along our property line bordering the road. Theyre bunched closely together and none is much taller than twenty feet, small enough for Mr. Homeowner to take down himself. However, theyre too far away from the house for even two hundred feet of extension cord to reach. And so reluctantly I decided to buy a gas-powered chain saw for this task and for a few other trees needing trimming at the far reaches of the property.
I decided to buy my usual, something small and cheap. My 14-inch electric chain saw had been adequate for most applications and owning a smaller saw keeps me within my modest limits. A few trips to the usual places had prepared me to be ready to spend something in the $150 dollar neighborhood. Then while grazing in Sears a bit on my way to the vacuum department I chanced upon the Poulan P3314, a 14-inch gas powered chain saw going for a hundred dollars. I also had in my possession a coupon for another ten dollars off. Ninety dollars was very tempting. I read the writing on the box.
Automatic gear driven oiler (My electric has a manual oiler. Sounds good.)
Wide handle space (I like my space)
Inertia activated chain brake (Not sure what this means but it sounds good)
Fully assembled (The magic words)
Also on the box to persuade the hesitant:
Super Clean engine performance system
15 % more power than previous 30-40cc engine range
Americas Choice in consumer chain saws
From the Electrolux Group. The Worlds no. 1 choice.
I could appreciate the deft used of connotation and glittering generalities splattered on all sides of the packaging and could probably steel myself to resist their hollow appeal, but that 90 dollar opportunity was too much for me to pass up. I decided to buy this bargain basement saw and let the chips fall where they may. I was kind of taken aback when the sales clerk offered me a two year extended warranty for 66 dollars. After asking him to repeat the amount, I noted that for a few dollars more I could just buy a second chain saw. He then offered me a one year extension for 33 dollars, an offer I confidently declined . Later I would have second thoughts about my abrupt and cavalier decline.
Several days later I took my Poulan out of the box and liked what I saw. At 12 plus pounds its much heavier than my Remington electric, but no onerously so. The substantial feeling front handle wraps over the top extending to the side for comfortable horizontal and vertical grips. I noticed that this saw comes with a handy chain adjustment tool, handy if I dont lose it. The chain adjusting screw is large, prominently placed and easily accessed. Out of the box the chain was already tightened and all I needed to do was read the instruction manual thoroughly (wink wink), add the fuel mixture, and put on my Paul Bunyan outfit.
Had these directions for starting the saw been printed on the boxs exterior, I most likely would have looked for another saw. These directions are printed inside the owners guide and also on the exterior of the saw near the rear handle. Here they are:
1. Move ON/STOP switch to the ON position.
2. Slowly press primer bulb 6 times.
3. Pull choke/fast idle lever out to the full extent.
4. Pull the starter rope sharply 5 times with your right hand. Then, proceed to the next step.
5. Push the choke/fast idle lever in to the Half Choke position.
6. 6. Pull the starter rope sharply with your right hand until the engine starts.
7. 7. Allow the engine to run for approximately 30 seconds. Then, squeeze and release the throttle trigger to allow engine to return to idle speed.
Got all that? Again these directions are so convoluted that they are printed on the exterior of the saw.
The directions go on to state that the engine may be flooded if it has not started after ten pulls. Ten is a very conservative number actually. Buy one of these saws and youll soon realize why its called a Poulan. Youll be Poulan on that starter rope until your arm aches or the saw actually starts, whichever comes first. I spent the better part of two hours just trying to get this thing started. On the few occasions it did start it stalled shortly afterwards. Finally I got it to run long enough to make a couple cuts and to wish Id bought that additional warranty. I noticed that the chain spun around the bar while in the idle mode. Not supposed to be happening, I thought.
I called Poulan when I went inside and quickly was connected to a live person who astutely deducted something was not right with this saw. He gave me the name and address of a local dealer who would fix this saw under the warranty. Relieved and somewhat pacified I visited the dealership early the next morning. The girl at the counter looked at me as if I had three heads. Were no longer an authorized Poulan dealer, she explained. We havent been one for years.
That evening I visited the Poulan web site and found a local authorized dealer on my own. I made a confirmation phone call to be sure and dropped the saw off the next morning before work. As luck would have it, the man at the counter said the saw needed an adjustment and he would do it as I waited. Fifteen minutes and several derogatory comments about Sears later I had my saw back. Its fixed, the man said.
He also said that Poulan wouldnt reimburse them, but there was no charge to me.
I will say there has been improvement since the fix. My Poulan usually starts in under twenty pulls and stays running for as long as ten minutes. It has more power and cuts much faster and easier than the instant starting electric Remington of the same size. Ive had to tighten the chain several times, but thats an easy task. The heavier weight of this gas-powered saw takes some getting used to, but the weight is well balanced and seems to improve the cutting efficiency of the machine.
The spark plug should be replaced each year. To access the spark plug on must loosen three screws and remove the cylinder cover. To replace the fuel filter the user should run the saw dry of fuel, remove the fuel cap and its connected retainer from the tank, and pull the filter from the tank and remove it from line.
Ive only used this devil saw a few times and have already experienced kickback more than once. Unless the engine is revving fast and loud, the chain has a tendency to stop in mid stroke and jam. The so-called safety brake takes several seconds to stop the chain, seconds critical to the users safety. Even after the fix the chain still occasionally moves during idle, another dangerous situation. Once I finish the task for which I purchased this saw, it will take up a spot in my shed and stay there, seldom to see the light of day.
My recommendation? Avoid this turkey at all costs, even at ninety dollars. Pay a little more for some safety and peace of mind.
Thanks for reading this review.
Update 11/9/2006. I still hate this saw, but use it occasionally and wonder what I was thinking when I bought it.