jeudi 26 juin 2008

Calling Kiloutou

14" Stihl chainsaw
(from hell)

I can barely move.

OK, I am exaggerating just a little bit. I can move, but it hurts like hell. From the first yank on the starter cord, I knew I was going to be in big trouble, and I nearly got into worse than physical and mental pain and strain; it nearly ruined me financially.

I couldn't believe hard how it could be to start this thing. Once it got going, it cut beautifully, but there was next to no idle, so it stopped repeatedly. It got so bad, trying to get it going again each time, that I went for the instruction booklet in the plastic pouch dangling from the blade sheath.

It looked like it was printed on a dying printer in the cyrillic alphabet. Only the section headings were legible French. No help.

I went to the Internet and Googled Stihl. That got me to a site where I could search for the 14"
chainsaw, which brought me to over an hour of video, thankfully divided most helpfully into several bite-sized segments. I watched all 20+ minutes on the one entitled something like "Using your chainsaw", from which I learned all sorts of useful things -- including that I should fill the chain oil compartment every time I refuel. I went and looked. It was empty. What it didn't tell me -- the one thing I absolutely needed to know, and that the harried young woman behind the counter didn't think to point out -- was that you can't use pure unleaded gasoline. You have to use a 5% gas and synthetic oil mix. I nearly ruined the motor.

I found that out when I took the chainsaw to them this morning, losing precious time on my 24-hour rental at 60 euros, including the fee to resharpen the chain.

"I hope the motor isn't fried," said the young man.

"If it is, I am sincerely sorry, but shouldn't someone have told me?" He asked for the receipt an
d showed me where it said "5% mélange" in the middle of the description of the equipment rented.

"Well, certainly, it is there, but shouldn't someone have said something?" He said he would go empty the gas out, refill it with the proper gas and oil mixture and see.

The young woman from the previous day had been listening all along, not unsympathetically, "You said you had used one before, that's why I didn't tell you."

"Yes, an electric one. I said it was electric."

"Oh." She looked apologetic, and then a roar came from the back room. She nodded, "It's okay."

Thank God in heaven because the thing can't be 200 euros to purchase, but the security deposit is 450 euros! I had been getting ready to start the negotiations. The young guy came back out.

"It was iffy. Real close."

He showed me how to start it, violating every one of Stihl's safety measures, and went to get a little container of the gas and synthetic oil mixture. "This is 8.50 euros. If you decide at home to mix your own and don't break the seal, we won't charge you for it." He started it again. It required several pulls I sort of doubted I still had the courage to effectuate before it kicked in. He revved it, stopped, and it sputtered.

"It doesn't idle. The cylinder has to... " something or another.

I thanked him and headed back, Viva la Vida turned up high and feeling hopeful. It would roar to life for me, too, once that cylinder did whatever it was going to do with a few starts.


I ended up sitting on the grass almost crying several tens of pulls later. Oh, to be sure, I was able to get it going, cut a few things and get all but the last of the yews down before it sputtered one too many times, and I failed to find the courage to try again.

I am about to take a quick shower, head back to return it (on time), and just smile broadly, "Thanks! It worked just great!"

I suspect that for all that it helps you out in a pinch, rental material just isn't as reliable as your own. Audouin says I can't have a 14" chainsaw because we don't need it; his is perfectly good for the use we have of it. Not true! It's not strong enough to do most of what I need to do, and I am the one who does it, so I should know and have the right to choose my own equipment. Two rentals is 2/3 of the purchase price!

Well, in the end, what matters is that I was able to get 8 of the 9 yews, along with some scrawny mystery trees, down -- the ninth and last one is in the corner and doesn't bother me that much -- and most of the wood cut to a length that will fit into the trailer for the runs to the dump with all the wood and debris. The two of the scrappy, scrawny trees that remain are small enough that I can get them with the electric chainsaw.

Now, to attack the stumps and the roots. Where's my pickax?

Should be a breeze, right?


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