Xmas Hols...

Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Xmas and New Year - I'll be back with more chainsaw related articles, and the continuation of the Dealing With Stihl Chains series.
But that's going to be it for this year - I was going to post a couple more articles but as my Nan died yesterday afternoon, just a couple of hours after seeing her, I'm not much in the mood for it.
Anyway, I wish you all well for the festive period. See you in 2013.

The New CS30

You may be aware that there are changes afoot with the qualification structure around all the Certificates of Competence. So, in this quick post I'll just try to set out the main points of (what used to be) the CS30 ticket.

As from May 2013, the CS30 will be no more. It'll now be called the rather snappily titled City & Guilds NPTC Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross-Cutting (QCF) 0020-03. It's still made up of 2 units, just as CS30 was made up of CS30.1 (maintenance) and CS30.2 (cross-cutting) these have become Unit 201 and 202 respectively.

So much for the renaming, what about the content? It's largely the same; there are a few subtle changes but nothing that will radically alter the underlying and underpinning knowledge. There is now a requirement to show some very superficial knowledge regarding health and safety legislation such as HASAWA (Health And Safety At Work Act), PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) and the AFAG guides (Arboriculture & Forestry Advisory Group). You'll need to explain why maintenance should be undertaken, and what to do with a faulty chainsaw. There are some very minor changes to the chain elements - there is no longer a need to identify the individual components of the chain and state their function, and they've limited the cutter types to just chisel and semi-chisel; although there is still definite merit in knowing this information... if someone tells you to read the model number off of the drive link, but you don't know what a drive link is, then...

Within the crosscutting section, you will now need to explain how to grade timber and present logs for extraction and describe how to move timber safely by hand, with aid tools or using some form of mechanical assistance.

To be honest, it really doesn't appear to be any kind of radical departure from what I would normally cover in one of my courses, mind you trying to fit it all in in 2 days of tuition can be a bit difficult at times!

CS30 is dead, long live CS30! Or at least long live the City & Guilds NPTC Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross-Cutting (QCF) 0020-03.

Health and Safety: Fine of £111,000...

I was just flicking through the latest (January 2013) copy of hsw magazine, dealing with health and safety at work when I came across this mention of a wildlife park owner was fined £111,000 after a Beech tree fell on a visitor. The site had had trees assessed by an expert, but seemingly had not actioned any recommendations.

To find out more information on this ruling and the events leading up to it, visit http://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/hsw/risk-assessment/manor-house

Dealing With Stihl Chains: Part 2

In the last post, we saw that it, perhaps, wasn't all that obvious how Stihl derive their model numbers - which you need to understand to be able to read a Stihl filing table. Last time, we saw that the first character of the model designator was based on the pitch of the chain. But what about the second character?

To decipher the model number we also need to recognise that the second number relates to the gauge of the chain. Just as there are industry standard sizes for chain pitch, there are recognised sizes for chain (and bar) gauge.

Starting from the narrowest, these are 1.1mm, 1.3mm, 1.5mm, 1.6mm and 2.0mm. Here, Stihl just take the number after the decimal point and stamp that on to the drivelink, thereby indicating the gauge of the chain. Therefore, a chain with a "3" stamped on to the drivelink is a 1.3mm gauge chain. Easy.

The second character of the Stihl model number is just this single gauge reference number. This means then, that with the knowledge gained from the last post and this one, if we have a chain stamped with a "2" on the depth gauge, and a "6" on the drivelink, then we can deduce that it's a 0.325" pitch chain with a gauge of 1.6mm; furthermore the model number (so far) is "26".

With the slightly older chains, the pitch was marked up differently, so a "3/8" on the depth gauge and a "6" on the drivelink would have told us that it was a model "36" chain.

We have now looked at how the model number is formed, but if you look at a filing table, you'll see a whole bunch of letters after this number - they gotta mean something. Surely? Well, yes, of course - and that's the subject of the next post.

Dealing With Stihl Chains: Part 1

When it comes to sharpening, identifying Oregon chains to get the requisite filing information is a relatively simple affair - look up the model number on the drive link, check the profile and consult the filing table.

Stihl, on the other hand, isn't quite as easy... or is it? Stihl have 'relatively recently' changed how they mark their chains, so I'm thinking it might be worth spending a few posts looking at how we can identify the various Stihl chains; starting with the most complex way and arriving at the simplest in a post or two (or more!) time.

The initial problem is that Stihl do not mark their chains with a model number, although the Stihl boxes that you buy a chain in do display model number. So first off, how can we correlate the model numbers on the box, with the markings on the chain? Well, I could just tell you the quick way, but as this is designed to be an educational site, we'll consider Stihl chains in a slightly wider context first of all, and then bring all the information together to identify our chain.

Pitch. There are a number of commonly available, industry standard pitch sizes - 1/4", 0.325", 3/8", 0.404" and 1/2" (unlikely to see that last though). On Stihl chains the pitch is stamped into the depth gauge, and you'll see "1/4", "325", "3/8", "404" or "1/2" (or at least you would have done before Stihl changed their markings!). You might also see the letter "P" stamped into the depth gauge too, and that denotes a Picco™ chain.

However, this has changed and now you'll see a number from 1 to 7 instead. So, "1" relates to a 1/4"; "2" relates to 0.325"; "3" is a 3/8" chain, "4" is a 0.404" pitch chain, "5" is a 1/2", "6" is the 3/8" (Picco™) and "7" is a 1/4" (Picco™) chain.

Remember those numbers, as the first character of the model number for the Stihl chain relates to the pitch; so a model 26 chain is a 0.325" pitch chain (as the "2" denotes a 0.325" pitch).

Let's leave that sink in first, and in the next post we'll get to grips with how the second character of the model number is derived.

Sharpening The Chain (HD Video)

The latest in a line of DriveLink videos brings you sharpening an Oregon chain. The video is really designed to be for those undertaking the chainsaw maintenance and crosscutting assessment, as a reminder of the stages to go through when sharpening the chain on your chainsaw.

And... if you're about to take your CS30, or the new CS0960 (which is CS30!), then the very best of luck to you!