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Looking Like Death On a Cracker....

High humidity and sweltering temps in Central Texas are to be expected in late June. That is just the way it is. A chain saw is a punishing piece of equipment that will just wear you out and then amputate a limb or digit when you aren’t watching. The two items should never be combined. Trust me on this.

One of the things we have had to do on this Calvert, TX job is clear some pretty dense mature forest — mostly oak and cedar. The owner decided he wanted to keep the ‘saw’ logs and mill them himself. He is buying a one man sawmill to accomplish this.

Logs stacked for hauling

So we have been doing extra duty. Knock the trees down, pull them out to a clear area, cut the stumps and the tops off and then pull the logs to a central location. It is just plain brutal and none of us are getting any younger.

A key factor in this operation is a good chainsaw.  A bad one is not even worth bringing to the party.   We have one of each and both of them are Stihls.  The new Stihl is a 270 which is a nice little package with a 20″ bar.  Once we got it broken in a little bit, it has started easily and proven to be a solid performer.  The other Stihl is a different story.

The Stihl 026 is 1980’s something vintage and it is getting a little long in the tooth — just like the rest of us.   Sometime over the years the STOP switch stopped working so we take a little green wire that sorta flops around next to the handle and touch it to a piece of metal on the saw to stop the engine.  What can I say?  It works.

Workin' too hard

The other thing is starting the saw. Starting a chain saw is an odd ballet to start with. You grasp the pull handle in one hand and the saw in the other. Then you pull the handle and sorta throw the saw with the other hand. It is an odd contortion to say the least and it just wears my ass out. The 026 is a hard startin’ rascal. You have to go through this certain ritual to get the 026 started that would rival a Masonic initiation. Start switch in a certain position, trigger squeezed just so, and a certain velocity to the throw. If everything is not just exactly right, you have to go through it all over again.

The Possessed Stihl Saw

The Possessed Stihl Saw

I hate that. Here it is eleventy hundred degrees outside and the sweat is running off the brim of my Stetson like rain out of a gutter during a spring rain and I am so soaking wet with rivers of perspiration I have sweated through my leather Redwing boots and I am thinking “I don’t have time for this” alternating with ” I wonder how far I could throw this hunk of worn out German steel?” … and the contrary rascal won’t start. Eventually, the stars align or you hold your mouth just right and it fires off. Once the 026 gets warmed up it behaves like a real trooper. It will chew through the toughest old Blackjack Oak or hard old Bois D’Arc ( Bodark to the locals) with snarling ease. It will start on the first pull without a thought of mysterious incantations or holding your mouth just right.

I can bitch and complain about the hardships of physical labor in harsh conditions but  you pay it no mind.  Any tough day here in that Calvert is better than the best day I ever spent in an office.  It is what it is.

End Note: Somebody to Love You by Delbert McClinton from the One of the Fortunate Few album.  Sometimes I just need me some of that Delbert.  It goes down like single barrel Kentucky bourbon.  Be getting you some.

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1 comment to Lookin’ Like Death On a Cracker….

  • I’m an Echo man, and I have a POS Poulan bought at Tractor Supply before I knew better. My starting routine is
    a) turn the switch on
    b) pull the choke
    c) put the saw on the ground
    d) stick my right boot through the handle
    e) nudge the trigger up a bit
    f) left hand on the handle
    and the fun part
    g) yank, yank, yank, yank, yank

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