Pros: Easy2Start, Value for the $$
Cons: Prices seem to be set by Stihl - no difference between dealers.
Just the sound of it can bring up a wide variety of mental images. The outdoors type of person can see themselves spending a day in the woods, making a LOT of noise, filling the air with sawdust and turning trees into logs for lumber or firewood or just trimming the trees around the house. These people are generally do-it-yoursefers and do not mind dirty hands and wood chips in their hair. On the other hand, there are the folks whose only experience with a CHAINSAW was watching the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and they envision nothing but gruesome bodily injuries. Since I believe the chainsaw is a wonderful tool that is safe when properly used and not a weapon, this Review is directed at those folks who want to trim trees and cut firewood. (The OTHER people need to seek professional help.)
To begin this review, lets start with some of the specifications of the Stihl MS-180-C with Easy2Start and some personal comments on these features.
Owners Manual: This manual is easy to read, understand and covers just about anything and everything that both you and the saw can or should do. Because of the amount of safety information it contains, It is a MUST READ before any assembly, starting or sawing is performed. My only complaint about the Manual is that it lists or shows a few features found on other saws, but not this particular model. I spent about an hour searching for the compression release shown in one diagram, only to find out that my model is no so equipped.
Engine: 31.8 cc (1.95 cu. in.) Stihl makes only 2 other saws with smaller displacement engines, but dont let this dissuade you from considering this model. This little power plant has a top speed of 10,500 RPMs. Power: 1.9 BHP This might not be enough if you cut trees for a living or want a saw to cut a winters worth of firewood in a short time, but it is plenty for the average homeowner needing to trim some trees or a little firewood. This engine is a 2-stroke that requires a 50:1 mixture of 89 octane gasoline and a quality 2-cycle oil (6.4 oz oil to 2.5 gal gas). Now I know that "2-Strokers" have a BAD reputation when it comes to pollution, but this engine (when used according to Stihls recommendations) meets or exceeds the emissions standards set by the EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board). The engine is equipped with anti-vibration mounts which greatly reduce the amount of fatigue that can be experienced when holding an engine in your hands.
Weight: 8.8 Lbs. (power-head only) This lightweight makes this saw a pleasure to handle in any position. Equipped with a 14 inch bar and with the fuel and oil tanks full, this saw checks in at just under 11 pounds.
Automatic Chain Oiling Chainsaw chains need to be oiled to reduce the friction between the individual links and between the chain itself and the guide bar. Older saws and many newer saws use manual oiling systems that require the user to remember to push on a pump bulb or lever on a regular basis to keep things oiled. The Automatic feature on this saw eliminates this thought process, letting the user keep their attention on the job at hand.
Fuel Capacity: 8.5 oz. (250cc) It might not seem like much, but this saw sips gas!
Chain Oil Capacity: 4.9 oz. (145cc) Again, not much but more than enough for a tank of gas. Please note that Stihl offers BioPlus an environmentally friendly, vegetable based chain oil.
Oilomatic Chain: This chain is designed and manufactured by Stihl to pick up and evenly distribute the lubricating oil. Without adequate lubrication, either the chain or guide bar (or BOTH) will suffer damage.
STIHL Quick Chain Adjuster - Maintaining proper chain tension is critical for ensuring a long life for both the chain and guide bar, and SAFETY. An improperly tensioned chain can break, possibly causing severe injury. Anyone who has owned a chainsaw is probably familiar with a tensioning system that required loosening a couple of nuts or bolts, turning an adjust screw, then trying to keep everything in place while tightening the nuts to hold the bar in place. With this new Stihl system, the chain tension can be adjusted with ONE HAND. This is accomplished with by simply twisting the retractable handle to release the tension lock, turning the adjustment knob with your thumb then snapping the tension lock back in place. NO TOOLS ARE NEEDED!!
STIHL ROLLOMATIC? Narrow Kerf Guide Bar The bar has a permanently lubricated nose sprocket so you dont have to grease it! Narrow Kerf means that the actual cut is very narrow. A narrow cutting chain requires less engine power and minimal wood is wasted. Available in lengths of 12, 14 and 16 inches. My saw came equipped with the 14-inch model. While this does not seem very long, a skilled person can easily cut 30-inch diameter logs with it.
Easy2Start For those of you who have worn out your arm and expanded your vocabulary of profanities when trying to start a gas powered tool, THIS IS FOR YOU! With the Easy2Start feature, you can literally start this saw with 2 fingers, pulling as slow as you want to! How it works When you pull on the starting rope, you are actually winding a spring. When that spring reaches its maximum tension, it releases and catches a gear that turns the motor over. It does not matter if you pull the rope fast or slow; the result is the same the engine turns over. The most number of times that I have had to pull the rope is 4 after I ran completely out of gas. This saw usually starts on the 1st or 2nd pull.
Front Hand Guard This feature helps to protect your left hand from possible injury. The Hand Guard also activates the .
STIHL Quickstop? Chain Brake System This feature STOPS the movement of the saw chain. The operator can trip the brake manually for safe engine starting or to aid in the sharpening of the chain, by simply pushing the Front Hand Guard forward. However, the main reason for Brake is to stop the chain in the event of kickback and prevent a serious or even deadly injury. What is Kickback? The chain travels out of the saw and away from the user, along the top of the bar, around the nose and then along the bottom of the bar, backs to the saw. When sawing with downward pressure, using the bottom of the bar, the saw will pull itself away from the user. However, when sawing with upward pressure, using the TOP of the bar, the saw pushes itself towards the user. Kickback generally occurs when making an upward cut and the NOSE of the guide bar pushes out of the wood, and UPWARD and BACK at the operator. When this happens, the business end of the saw rotates upward, causing the Front Hand Guard to hit the hand or wrist of the operator. This slight pressure is enough to engage the Chain Brake and stop the chain. To reset the Chain Brake, simply push the Front Hand Guard towards the rear of the saw until a click is heard or felt.
Maintenance: The Owners Manual has a great little maintenance chart that is easy to follow. Cleaning the saw can be as easy as blowing it with an air hose. OR, if you have been cutting wood that is heavy with sap/resin as I had, you may want to wipe down the outside with a rag soaked in mineral spirits. I know it isn't safe, but I used a rag and a little gas out of the can It was all I had. As always, use caution because that chain is SHARP and can cause bodily injury. The air filter is easily accessible for cleaning. The Manual recommends changing the in-tank fuel filter once per year. It too is easy to access.
Recommended Accessories: 1st, you will need Gloves & Safety Glasses - self explanatory. Ear Plugs - Like all other chainsaws, this puppy is loud. Gas Can - I advise the purchase of one that holds 2.5 or 3 gallons. Although you will have to cut a LOT of wood to use that much gas with this saw, you won't have to spend time measuring engine oil if you purchase the 6.4 oz bottles. Spare Cutting Chain Its better to have and not need than to need and not have. Highly recommended for those folks who do not purchase . Chain Sharpening Kit If you are not mechanically inclined or dont mind spending the $$ to have someone else sharpen your saw, you can skip this one. Stihl offers many different options and styles, from simple files to bench-mounted gizmos. They even have a power rotary file that runs off of your car battery. The kit that I purchased included both a round and a flat file, depth gauge, file guide (for maintaining the proper angle), 2 wooden file handles and a carrying pouch. Extra Bar & Chain Oil and 2-Cycle oil just because. Carrying Case This is for those folks who prefer one. If one came with the saw, I would probably not use it too much because of the extra room it would take up in the trucks toolbox. However, if you plan on transporting your saw inside the cab of your truck or car, you may want to consider the case just to keep everything else clean.
My Story ..
OK, So I was in the market for a new chainsaw and I had not owned one in almost 20 years. I had previously owned Stilh saws and had no problems with them even after what I would call severe use and abuse, so I thought I would give them another try. Since the new saw would see only occasional usage trimming a couple of trees here in Vegas and cutting a little firewood for the cabin in the mountains of southwest Utah, I decided that I did not need a large or overly powerful saw. Admittedly, I was somewhat biased towards Stihl, but to be fair, I visited the websites of several different chainsaw manufacturers and was highly disappointed. They either didnt have what I was looking for, didnt give enough information to make a knowledgeable purchase or did not have a local dealer that provided onsite service. Then I visited the Stilh website www.stihlusa.com to see what they had to offer now. I compared several models and decided that the MS-180-C with Easy2Start was about what I needed. After making a few phone calls to find a local dealer (5, all of which provide onsite Factory Authorized service) with this model in stock, I was off to make my purchase. The dealer, being a salesman, tried to talk me into a larger (and more expensive) model. But, after seeing that I had already done my homework and knew the limitations of such a small saw, the salesman backed off and processed my purchase. The salesman even had his service technician fill the saw with gas and oil, and make sure that the saw was in proper running order.
First, let me state that this saw came out-of-the-box pre-assembled. If you purchase a boxed model, assembly will be required. Included: Power-head, chain, bar, Owners Manual, combination sparkplug wrench/screwdriver and a scabbard to keep the bar and chain safe when not in use. Unfortunately, a carrying case is considered an accessory and is not included. The dealer tossed in a liter of Stihl BioPlus Bar & Chain Oil, and 6-pack of Stihl HP 2-cycle oil (6.4 oz each). According to Stihls website, the Chain oil contains additives to help keep sap and pitch from sticking to and clogging the chain and bar. Is it any different than the cheapest 30W oil I used to use many years ago? I really do not know yet.
When I got the saw home from the store, I put the saw through Stihls recommended break-in, which consists of running the saw at ? throttle for about 3 minutes, letting the chain and bar cool off and re-tensioning the chain. My first actual usage of the saw was to be at the cabin in southwest Utah, removing a few trees that fell victim to this past winters record snowfall. The night before I left, it occurred to me that there might be a problem .The cabin sits at an elevation of over 8000 feet ASL. I once again went to Stihls website and posted a question to their technical department would the saw have any operational problems at that altitude? In less than 6 hours, Stihl replied that I *may* have to have a high altitude carburetor jet installed, but to try the saw before making the modification. Well, as it turns out, this is what I had to do since none of the local dealers had the jet in stock. As it turned out, I did not really need the part anyway.
Performance Even at a little over 8000 feet, the saw performed beautifully. The engine started on pull #2 and ran without any hesitation. The 3 trees that I had to remove were quickly downed, limbed and cut to fireplace size. Now, the largest of these trees was only about 9 inches in diameter at the base. How would the saw work on larger trees? I had ample opportunity to find out. A week before I made the purchase, a gal had posted a note on an internet message board, requesting help She said that some of the trees on her property had sustained major winter damage and she told anybody that wanted firewood to please help themselves. Since her property was only about 8 miles from the cabin, I decided to drive over and see what I could do. When I finally found her place, I glanced at my GPS and found out that I was now over 9100 feet in altitude. (I also found out that major winter damage was a gross understatement of the facts trees were stacked one upon another, over 15 feet high!) Would the saw work? YES! The only problem at this height was that the saw did not want to idle very well and seemed to have lost a bit of its power. (Admittedly, I was feeling the same way.) I also had the chance to try it on larger trees up to 30 inches in diameter. On both green, freshly fallen trees and dry, dead wood, the saw cut like the proverbial hot knife through butter, but to be honest, just a little slower than a more powerful unit would have done. During the weekend, I cut enough firewood to make 3 stacks that were 12 feet long and 4 feet high. The cutting chain only required re-tensioning once, and I used less than ? gallon of gas. I never felt the need to sharpen the chain.
When I returned home to Vega$ where the elevation is a little lower about 2100 feet, I had the opportunity to trim a couple of trees for a neighbor and I found that the engine ran flawlessly. The idle problem and degradation of power had disappeared. Later that night, curiosity got the best of me and I examined the chains cutting teeth with a magnifying glass. I compared the teeth against the teeth of a new chain. (I had purchased an additional/spare chain because I learned long ago that $%^& happens when you are farthest from home.) Amazingly, there was very little difference between the 2 chains. I must admit however, that I was careful and I didnt hit the ground, rocks or any hidden nails while cutting. ALL of these can severely dull or damage a saw chain in a heartbeat!
Am I happy with the Stihl MS-180-C with Easy2Start? YES. Naturally, the desire for a larger saw with MORE POWER is hard to ignore. But, as I stated earlier, I really do not need a larger saw and cannot justify the added expense at this time. Stihl is highly devoted to customer service and has dealers in over 42 different countries. They have a fantastic website with a ton of information about a variety of products and accessories, not just chainsaws. Their comparison chart allows you to see the differences between 30 different saws, including 3 electric models. If you lose or destroy your Owners Manual, you can find it online in PDF format. While their FAQ needs a lot of work, there is an online form that allows you to ask questions. I have used this form twice and received rapid responses on both occasions. The only things not found on the website are prices. Stihl prefers to support their dealers and does not offer online sales. However, I found that the price I paid at the dealer I went to, was the same price quoted by each of the dealers that I called.