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OT when to replace chainsaw guide bar?

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  • OT when to replace chainsaw guide bar?

    Pretty much any store that sells chainsaw chains also has a selection of replacement guide bars. So, when does one know it is time to replace the guide bar? What are the symptoms to look for. I tried a quick online search but I can't seem to find that info; just info on how to replace it and where to buy a replacement guide bar. And a number of you have posted in the past about using chainsaws. TIA
    Metro Detroit

  • #2
    When the chain falls off. Or the groove gets so wide the chain cocks one way or the other and won't cut well.

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    • #3
      Don't wait for it to "fail". 'You are supposed to true up the bar so both side are even (use a stationary disk sander), and the grooves are then closed with a special tool to spec. Quality bars can be reworked many times, even regrooved; homeowner types should be tossed.

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      • #4
        Look at page 16.... https://m.stihlusa.com/WebContent/CM...Guide-Bars.pdf
        SE MI, USA

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        • #5
          Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
          Don't wait for it to "fail". 'You are supposed to true up the bar so both side are even (use a stationary disk sander), and the grooves are then closed with a special tool to spec. Quality bars can be reworked many times, even regrooved; homeowner types should be tossed.
          This!!!

          Also don't forget, you can also turn the bar over in most cases and get a new edge unless you've already used this option.
          Amazing how many bars I've seen that have only been used on one side, which is usually badly worn while the top is almost pristine.
          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

          Location: British Columbia

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          • #6
            From some manuals:

            Click image for larger version

Name:	Screenshot_2021-03-06 Troubleshooting Guide; Guide Bar - Parker PCS-6200 Owner's Manual [Page 15] ManualsLib.png
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            Click image for larger version

Name:	Screenshot_2021-03-06 Sharp Advice for Chainsaw Owners - Saw Chain Guide Bars Maintenance Guide STIHL - STIHL-Sharp-Advice-[...].png
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ID:	1932273
            http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
            Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
            USA Maryland 21030

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            • #7
              Yeah go for the flip first --- also keep in mind to judge with a new chain as they wear in the same spots and can make even a new bar seem lose,,, I ran my first one and re-gapped till it was so done I was looking foreword to new chain and bar kit and that's what I did... was so nice till I hit my first nail :-(

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              • #8
                Bars are cheap enough that I've always just flipped it once, then replaced. Never bothered to take the time to reestablish a flared out groove. Sometimes there's an "oops" and the bar gets bent beyond repair before it needs replacing.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the reminder. Glad this came up since I got my 18" Stihl MS 270 pinched a few times and now it doesn't cut straight. Time for a new bar. Wrong saw, it is the MS 180 that has an 18" bar The 270's bar is 20"
                  Last edited by Dave C; 03-07-2021, 02:07 PM. Reason: switched saws
                  “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

                  Lewis Grizzard

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tom_d View Post
                    Bars are cheap enough that I've always just flipped it once, then replaced. Never bothered to take the time to reestablish a flared out groove. Sometimes there's an "oops" and the bar gets bent beyond repair before it needs replacing.
                    LOL.. you are why I have about 30 bars in the garage. I fix them and send them down the line.

                    Many of my bars are 20 years old, and they have been flipped every chain change (make sure you clean out the oiler hole), ground, re-gapped, and occasionally new tips. But these aren't homeowner bars. Even then, homeowner type bars can take many grinds and adjustments. Cutting is night and day between a worn bar and one with square shoulders for the chain to rest on. Your chains last longer too on a true bar.

                    BTW, my comment above about homeowner bars getting "tossed" was about when when they needed regrooving.. not practical or cost effective. On a 40 to 60 inch pro bar... you don't toss them just cos you wear out the groove... $$$

                    BTW. the pro Stihl bars are solid (not laminated) 1090 or 1095 and induction hardened edges. Make great machetes if you are into such things.
                    Last edited by lakeside53; 03-06-2021, 08:58 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Thank you all for your responses.

                      I already flipped the bar recently but the saw did not cut any better. Interesting seeing the info on narrowing the groove in a bar - I would never have thought of that. I did run a feeler gage in the groove, expecting to find variation in groove thickness but the variation was only a few thou - I did not pay attention to see if the groove was bell mouthed .

                      A bit of history on why I am asking the question. I've owned an Echo chainsaw with 16 inch bar for 25+ yrs, used it a fair amount, don't think I have ever flipped the bar. Cuts well with a non safety semi-chisel chain. About 5 yrs ago I had an 80 ft tall Silver Maple taken down at one of my rentals. Tree was planted on the edge of the property line and by the time I bought the property, the tree had grown into a chain link fence. A couple of tree removal companies would only cut the tree above the fence, leaving a 5 ft tall stump. One company quoted taking the tree down to above the fence and a separate quote for removing the tall stump and said that I could have them cut the stump at a later date - quote was good for a year - sounded great to me in that I could spread out the financial pain. They got the job, I kept all firewood (excluding the trunk from ground to about 14 ft up - just too big for me to handle). As it was, even the sections of the trunk above 14 ft in height were still too heavy for my wife and I to lift into my PU and my existing chainsaw was too small (a large number of the rounds were over 3 ft in dia) so I bought an Echo with a 20 inch bar. This saw with the as supplied chain just cut well - almost all shavings, very little dust. I cut to lifting size, several PU loads of the Silver Maple, did the same with a Chinese Elm a few years later and this January an oak; still on the first chain without ever sharping. Half a year after having the Silver Maple cut down I contacted the tree service to have them remove the tall stump but they ghosted me. So this winter I took it upon my self to cut apart the stump. Working with 3 chains, and at the end with 4 chains per trip to the stump, I mangled my way thru the stump, frequently hitting metal. Even with a new or freshly sharpened chain, before hitting metal, the cut produced much more sawdust than shavings.

                      Hence my question about when is it time to replace the guide bar. I'll have a close look at the guide bar and to see how a new chain fits the groove. Thanks again to all who responded.
                      Metro Detroit

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                      • #12
                        Make sure you have the correct gauge chain tang for the bar... Common sizes are 0.043, 0.050, 0.063.

                        And... it's not just groove wear, but tang wear. Put your figure on the mounted chain and push it laterally. A good bar/chain will have little side-to-side movement.

                        More sawdust than shavings indicates to me the chain is incorrectly sharpened. Did you lower the rakers after sharpening the cutter? There is a simple gauge for that.
                        Last edited by lakeside53; 03-07-2021, 11:59 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Buckin' will set you on the right path.

                          Cheers,
                          Jon

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                          • #14
                            I know what a chainsaw bar is.
                            What the heck is a guide bar ? ? ? ?

                            -Doozer

                            Edit: I see the posted instructions from a chain saw manual.
                            The orange coloring makes me think Stihl or Husqvarna.
                            So these are German or Swedish of origin.
                            Many European languages reverse their words in relation
                            to how English sentences are composed.
                            They are bar guides, not guide bars. It was the German or Swedish
                            translation, and they did not fix the format for the English language.
                            I have ran into this a lot when I have translated manuals.
                            I did one last week. A manual that was origionally in Chinese, and
                            then translated into Swedish, and then into English.
                            I had the task of translating it into American English. I ran into lots
                            of those situations where filter-oil really needed to say oil-filter.
                            Things like that. So you are really talking about BAR GUIDES,
                            chain guides that are part of the bar. Not guide bars.

                            -D
                            Last edited by Doozer; 03-08-2021, 09:25 AM.
                            DZER

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                            • #15
                              I feel your pain in much of what you say, especially when wording has traversed multiple languages. Very important when instructions must be succinct.

                              However in this case the term guide bar is more descriptive in it's usage in reference to what it's purpose is when used on a chainsaw. It is a bar that guides the chain and hence the cut. Just like the term guide dog is more meaningful than if we were to use dog guide.
                              Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                              Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                              Location: British Columbia

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