Skip Chains Increase Your Chain Saw's Performance

I like skip chains but I quickly learned that if I wanted one in my hometown in Kansas I'd have to special order it.Introductory PhotoI was visiting my mother in Kansas when she remarked that it would cost about a thousand dollars to remove a dead tree in her yard. I'm not a logger or professional arborist but I've cut down a lot of trees so I took a gander at the one she pointed out. It didn't appear to be too risky (the city's "No Parking" sign was shaking nervously but there were no power lines, mail boxes or buildings nearby), so I told her that if we could come up with a big enough saw I could take it down.

My Stihl was lounging at home 1600 miles away and renting a saw proved impractical (none were available on short notice) so I did a little checking around. I found a new Poulan Pro with a 20 inch bar that would get the job done. It was priced at $199.99 plus tax.

I mixed up a gallon of fuel, filled the oil reservoir with bar oil and began cutting. Just to get used to the saw I first cut down a small tree that had died. The saw had a nice feel and cut cleanly and quickly through the wood. Once I had the tree down I began cutting it into stove length. The core of the tree was rotted out and about the third cut I hit a golf ball size chunk of cement that a squirrel (or one of the neighborhood children?) had dropped in the hollow interior. The chain was nearly ruined so I made a trip to the local farm store to purchase another chain. We looked up the number for the manufacturer's recommended chain but they were out of that one so the clerk recommended one that was a little more aggressive. I looked at it then asked if they had any skip chains. He looked at me somewhat surprised and said they'd have to order it. (I guess they don't sell many of those!) Then he said something that surprised me. He remarked that a skip chain was about the only way to get by with a 20 inch bar on a underpowered saw like mine.

Now, aside from insulting my saw (not a cool thing to do if you want to keep your customers coming back) he was a bit out-of-touch with the advantages of skip chains. He was correct in pointing out that under-powered saws use skip chains to make up for their lack of lack of muscle. However, he was incorrect that they wouldn't improve the performance of larger, more powerful saws.

In case you're wondering what a skip chain is look at the two photos below. In the top photo you'll see a "conventional" chain with a cutting tooth on every, other link. The chain in the second photo is a skip chain with a cutting tooth on every third link. 

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