Pros: Durable, starts easily, easy chain adjustments
Despite the fact the I live in Texas, my Poulan chain saw has never been used in a massacre (Tobe Hooper doesn't live anywhere nearby, I guess - nor does Leatherface). Well, I take that back: a couple of years ago, it did get a few night's workout at a local haunted house (without a chain, I must admit). And that brings up one of the reasons why I happen to like using the little green guy: it's dependable, and starts on the first pull almost every time Besides, it sounds like a chain saw, something you sure can't say about an electric model. Both attributes are absolute necessities when used as a scary prop, and the dependability goes a long way toward satisfaction the other eleven and a half months of the year!
Why a Chain Saw? Why Gas?
This is the second house we've owned with a lot of mature trees. In fact, lots of them are so mature they've decided to die on us (the past few years have been quite dry). That has meant one of two things: either I dig out the axe and pretend I'm Paul Bunyan, or I buy myself a chain saw and do it the easy way. Two guesses what path I took! Now I know there is such a thing as an electric chain saw, but, frankly, having to tow around 200 feet or so of extension cord doesn't cut it for me. Besides, I plan to keep this baby for a while, and that'll eventually mean cutting firewood in the middle of nowhere, without an outlet in sight.
Using My Saw
With its relatively small 16-inch bar, the Poulan 2150 will definitely never be mistaken for one of those monster Husqvarnas felling 120-foot Douglas firs in the Pacific Northwest. But it does serve well for cutting limbs, taking down trees up to about eighteen inches in diameter and then cutting them into usable lengths.
As I said before, the Poulan is dependable when it comes to starting. With its priming bulb and three-position choke switch, it's rare for the saw to require more than two or three pulls to roar into life. This is true even when it's been sitting for a month or so unused (which means that the gas-oil mixture isn't optimum any longer). The saw is designed so that you hold the unit down with your foot for a pull-start. When warm, the saw almost always starts with just one pull. The trigger has a handy fast-idle lock-down, which keeps the engine from dying when you're not cutting.
Having an automatic bar oiler means that the chain stays oiled even when you're not paying attention -- all that's necessary is to keep the oil reservoir full. I follow the owner's manual suggestion and top off the oil reservoir every time I fill the fuel tank. Unlike old chain saws, there's no need to squeeze an oiling trigger for manual lubrication.
The saw cuts well through both hard and soft wood (recent drought victims have included elm, hackberry, and a bunch of soapberry; I've also had to trim some big limbs off a post oak by the house). I've had no problems with kickback, both because the owner's manual contains some pretty strong warnings against improper use, and because the bar and chain are designed to reduce the possibility of kickback.
Like all chain saws, the Poulan 2150 is pretty loud. "Huh?" Oh, yeah, wear hearing protection (this may be the chief advantage of an electric model).
After some pretty heavy use recently, my chain is due for sharpening or replacement. The chain is simple adjust, but a little more complex to remove and replace. Sharpening's pretty much out of the question for your average homeowner... Periodic maintenance is pretty basic - keep the housing clean, especially around the oily part of the chain; replace the spark plug once in a while; and clean the air filter after heavy use. Otherwise, it's been pretty much maintenance-free. I like that!
A minor nit-pick is that the two-cycle engine requires a different gas:oil ratio from the other two-cycle engine in my garage (string trimmer), which forces me to keep two (well-marked) cans of mixed fuel. It also means that the mixture go stale faster and -- though the chain saw is pretty forgiving -- my trimmer is very finicky.
My saw came in a kit that included cans of chain and motor oil, a multi-tool for adjusting chain tension (you can do a complete chain replacement if need be with this one tool), and a hard-shell case. More recent versions also include a pair of work gloves. Pshaw, just something else for the dog to chew on! Oh, and it has an owner's manual -- or it did. I recently replaced the manual by downloading a pdf from Poulan's website; a very friendly customer service option. I did learn (by accident) that Poulan is a division of Electrolux. Or maybe it's vice versa?
This is a handy saw for the homeowner who needs to take down a tree or two every season. It's also sufficient for keeping you in firewood, especially softwoods; unless, that is, a fireplace is your main source of heat. Sure, if you're a professional lumberjack this is basically a toothpick, but only Tim Taylor gets hung up one "more power"! It's dependable and pretty tough, and it passes one of my most important tests: it stands up well to benign neglect.