Saturday, February 28, 2015

Husqvarna 450 Rancher

I have been cutting with the 450 Rancher for a couple years now. This winter I started cutting significantly more as I'm cutting firewood to heat with. I'm generally happy with the saw with a couple caveats.

The saw does start easily. Follow the guidelines on the saw and it will start in a couple pulls. Let it warm up before cutting and there shouldn't be any issues.

The original chain (the Husqvarna H30, a low kickback narrow kerf, semi chisel or round chisel/tooth chain) lasted me for close to two years with limited cutting (cleaned up a large silver maple, old dirty oak, and other minor work). The H30 is an okay chain. I finally replaced this chain after it was pinched and damaged.

I'm glad I did. The saw struggled through maple. It left burn marks. From all the reviews I read prior to purchase, I just felt it couldn't be Husqvarna nor the 450. Perhaps people praised our Swedish friends too highly but I had faith.

Then I hit a snag. I was shopping for chains online. Hmm... What's that? Oregon says it takes a 78 drive link chain? Um, okay sure. But wait, Husqvarna says 80. Crap. Then I checked the manual and finally the bar on the saw. Apparently, there's a lot of confusion out there about chains for this saw. So this is what I learned. You need to look for a

-20" chain with
-80 drive links (worry about this more than the length but they will correspond)
-0.325 pitch (3/8" is much more common, it is NOT correct)
-0.050 gauge (likewise, there's 0.058 and 0.063, you need 0.050)

To be sure, check the bar on your saw. It will tell you the exact specs you require. Your bar should work with the drive sprocket inside the saw (both will be 0.325 or whatever size your saw takes). Husqvarna has responded to another reviewer by stating there is a removable nose/sprocket version of this saw that takes the 78 drive link (78 dl) chain. I've never seen this beast but I'm sure it exists.

I replaced my Husqvarna semi chisel chain with a full chisel round grind chain (coincidentally named after a state -- OREGON 20LPX080G 80 Drive Link Super 20 Chain, 0.325-Inch). Suddenly, the saw came alive. It knew it had the proper chain. It pulled through oak with no struggle. It threw large chips. It cut my time in half. Now, I'm not saying that you have to buy an aftermarket chain. Husqvarna sells a comparable H22x full chisel square tooth chain.

So here's my take. This is a great saw for a serious homeowner that heats with wood but it comes with a chain that dampers its abilities. Buy the saw, try the chain (if you like it, great), scrap the chain, replace with a different chain.