How to choose a chainsaw bar replacement

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

What's the best chainsaw bar?


There's not much more frustrating than realizing your chainsaw bar needs replacing. It seems like it's the least likely part of a chainsaw that would break down?

Sure, you could expect the chain itself to break, or maybe the pull start mechanism fails, but stihl, the bar really?

There are some genuine reasons why you need to replace your bar - the sprocket breaks or you damage the bar by dropping it or by getting it caught in a tree  (bending it or damaging the groove lines where the chain passes through).

So that we are on the same page, we should really determine that we both know what we are looking for - that is to say, what is the bar?

Well, it’s not an exam you need to pass so you can call yourself a lawyer, no, the barn guides the chain - obviously, you need the chain to stay in one place for the cutting line, to the bar does exactly that - it allows the chain to …saw.

The ideal bar will guide the saw chain precisely with minimal friction losses. Together with the sprocket and the well-oiled chain, the properly chosen bar will translate the saw’s engine power into cutting performance with as little loss as possible.

A well-designed bar (and one that’s chosen according to how it should be used) will reduce the oil requirements of the chain, saving you money in the long run if you intend to be a regular chainsaw user.

One last feature of a chain bar is that it is symmetrical. In terms of science, these means the load forces can be spread somewhat evenly across the unit when in action but the reality of this is that you can use either side, meaning there’s one less thing to be concerned with when assembling the bar to the unit and tightening the chain.

But if you are just here to find out what the best replacement bar is, there's pretty much two real choices which you really won't regret.

Oregan is the hot name in bars and other chainsaw parts across the world. Many branded saws will come with Oregon bars, such is their renown. If your chainsaw came with an Oregan bar, you should simply replace 'like for like'. It will fit your Husqvarna, Craftsman or Poulan saw with no complaints.

best oregon bar replacement


Perhaps the most famous brand name in the world is Stihl - and facts are facts, they are the only chainsaw brand the still makes their own components in house - in factories they control. From an economic point of view, one could argue this is madness as Stihl could outsource to a reputable company in Japan or China, get their units mass-produced at a cheaper rate.

But no, Stihl as a brand wears this cost because they know they have a quality brand and to protect its integrity, they will make their gear themselves to keep it that way.

Which means you can trust Stihl products to do what you ask of them.

So if you're in the market for a Stihl guide bar, have a look at the options on Amazon.

Stihl bars will work on all kinds of saws - Homelite, Echo and John Deere. Pretty much anything because they set the standard.

Length matters


The first thing to consider when thinking of buying a replacement bar is the length of the bar.

First up, you probably should replace like with like, especially as your engine is usually designed with the bar and the intended use activity around the bar. The bigger your engine, the bigger the bar you can use.

If you place a bar on your engine that is too long, you may find the saw performs so poorly it cannot cut wood.

Electric chainsaws do not have the same kind of power as a gas-powered engine (though they will still cut through your chaps) so most electric saws will only ever have a bar that's 18 inches or less.

And the end of the day, the casual chainsaw user should really replace the bar with one of the same length and shape as the original bar. This way you won't have to worry about efficiency and your machine should perform as it did the day you first used it.

Solid or a laminated chainsaw bar?


Weight also becomes an important factor, the lighter the bar, the more you can lift. The flip side is a heavier blade can endure more stress.

Whether a bar is light or heavy depends on how it is designed and there are several methods to their manufacture

Whereas solid bars are made from one solid piece of steel, laminated bars are made by joining two steel rails with a steel core and a sprocket between them. What solid bars offer in sheer strength, laminated bars offer in higher flexibility.

What is a rollomatic chain bar?


rollomatic stihl bar guide replacementRollomatic is simply a trademark that Stihl has for their 'super guide bar'. A Rollomatic bar is described by still as a 'solid-machined bar made of high-grade steel with the groove milled out and a replaceable sprocket nose assembly riveted in place.'

We know that a sprocket is the secret part of the bar that helps the chain kick around the bar well.

Especially when you really get into the technology and practical design of it - the Rollomatic sprocket allows for the bar's nose to be made considerably narrower than standard bars. This is a great innovation for when the bar's nose will be commonly used for limbing and boring. The narrow nose will also help reduce kickback tendencies.

What is a duromatic chain bar?


Again, duromatic is a trademark for Stihl and is intended for use in extreme conditions such as construction or by rescue services. They do not have sprockets (and thus referred to as 'hard nose') and are made from strong steel - they are thus fairly rugged and perhaps not ideal for regular use chopping trees or limbing.

Duromatic bars will get hotter faster than bars with a sprocket tip and the chain will likely stretch more than it would with a sprocket.


What is the best Oregon bar replacement for a Stihl chainsaw? 

This could not be a more tailored question about the relationship between two brands, could it?

It's probably lost on the average woodcutter but Stihl is the only chainsaw manufacturer to make the saw chains and guide bars in-house as well as the engine units in their own production factories.

This means that all the saw's components work together perfectly which of course translates into good cutting performance.

But when that bar dies, instead of following the brand loyalty (and why should you if you want something else a bit cheaper) the world is your oyster when it comes to replacing the bar. The truth is that Oregon bars, for all their renown worldwide as a quality product and a genuine brand name in their own right, is simply just a little bit cheaper than the OEM replacement part.

So, Stihl users like to buy quality replacement parts for their quality product and that often leads to the Oregon brand.

How do I match my Husqvarna chainsaw to the right bar and chain?


If you are unsure of what you have on your machine, you can match your model name to the right bar length. pitch and gauge by using this handy guide.

How do I fix a seized chain bar sprocket?

worn chain bar sprocket
A worn but useable chainbar / sprocket
Jamming your bar's sprocket can be quite an annoying thing - especially if you are in the middle of a day's work chopping up wood. 

First up, the damage may not be physical, It could we be that there's some wood debris that's become caught and thus is the cause of the jammed sprocket.

In such a case, you should be able to clean the debris out with some pressure by way of something like a screwdriver.

If you have a clamp, you would ideally secure the bar and then you can apply some pressure on the sprocket to try and it get it to turn. You can use a clamp or pliers to pull out chips too. 

Another idea is to soak the tip f the bar in kerosene or mineral spirits to dissolve the old grease, bar oil, and loosen any muck. Regrease the sprocket once you get it moving again.

If you're onsite, you can try and drag the chain on wood to help force the sprocket to spin. 

If the guide rails have been pinched together, this could prevent the sprocket from performing as needed. You may be able to cautiously pry them back into their normal position using a screwdriver or similar tool. 

You can lengthen the life of your sprocket by including it in your maintenance regime. Properly sharpening and maintain the chain and ensuring it is fitted properly will mean it aligns with the spaces between the teeth of the sprocket that will reduce wear.  Correct use of the saw i.e. do not do repeated jerky throttle motions but rather using smooth throttle transitions will also help.

Some bars also have a hole in which you can add grease to the sprocket. Stihl bars do not have such holes.

Get some expert guidance here

If your sprocket is actually damaged, you'll need to consider a replacement bar. 
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