Tools of the Trade – Stihl MS 661 C Chainsaw

Hello folks! Nobody ever said being an arborist would be cheap. I have added a new piece of equipment in the Thirsty Water Enterprises lineup – a chainsaw.

“But you already have a chainsaw, right?”

Yes, I sure do. It’s an Ego 56V electric chainsaw, and it works very well. The battery lasts a long time, it doesn’t spew noxious exhaust, and it’s relatively quiet for a chainsaw. It is light and quite manoeuvrable hanging from my hip while climbing a tree. The bar, however, is only 16″ long, and if I’m going to tackle the big jobs then I’m going to need a bigger saw. Enter my new Stihl.

Stihl is probably the biggest name in chainsaws. If I’m going to get a larger gas chainsaw, I want it to be one trusted by arborists the world over. The model I selected was the MS 661 C powered by a beefy 91cc 2-stroke engine. The largest bar the 661 can handle is 36″; naturally that was the bar I selected with it. This saw is so powerful that the smallest bar it can handle is 20″ without over-revving due to insufficient load.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet, though I am removing a pair of rather large trees this week and will be putting it through its paces.

Here is my first start video. I’m not sure why I had such a hard time saying “inaugural” when recording this. 🙂

My new Stihl MS 661 C chainsaw

Tools of the Trade – wood chipper

Hello all, and welcome to the first installment of “Tools of the Trade”. Every now and then, I’ll write up a blog post and/or create a video about one of the many tools of the trade that I use in my day to day life as an arborist (and snow clearer during these winter months).

A wood chipper was definitely not my first purchase in my journey of being an arborist, but it is certainly the most costly to date. I had been making do with my little 4×6 utility trailer to haul brush away to the Brady Road 4R Depot for composting, but brush is very inefficient. As much as I stomped and jumped and crammed in the brush, my trailer loads still consisted mostly of air. Larger jobs saw me making one, two, or even three trips to Brady Road for a single job. That’s not at all sustainable!

Enter the wood chipper. By chipping down the brush into coin sized wood chips, the load is compacted tremendously. Virtually all the wasted space taken up by air in the brush is removed as the chips compact down very densely. How much depends on the type of brush and how efficiently it was stacked, but I’d say it is easily a 10x reduction in volume based on my experience. Perhaps one day after a pruning job I’ll make a video comparing the before and after.

Keeping in mind I am growing my business slowly and steadily without taking on tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for equipment (which is very easy to do!), I decided to get the largest commercially rated wood chipper I could find that is *not* towed behind a vehicle. This ended up being the Dosko 4″ Wood Chipper, model 13-21T-13H. I have had excellent experiences with Dosko equipment before having rented a Dosko stump grinder on several occasions. (Fun fact – the stump grinder I’m using in the photos in the media gallery is indeed a Dosko stump grinder.) I had also previously rented a 4″ tow-behind wood chipper made by SplitFire, and I was quite impressed with what a 4″ chipper can do. Anything larger than that, and I’d rather the logs be put to use as firewood anyway.

Why don’t I want to tow my chipper? Since my truck is a full size SUV and not a pickup, I’d rather not chip directly into the hatch! 😉 That’s why I don’t want to tow the chipper; I’d have nothing to chip into. By stowing the chipper in the trailer, I can easily bring both to the jobsite.

The Dosko chipper is powered by a 13HP Honda GX390 commercial engine. It is a very highly rated 4 stroke engine. It starts easily, and it is very fuel efficient. The fuel tank is 6 litres, and though I always bring a Jerry can of gasoline just in case, I’ve never needed it mid-job. My largest single chipping job to date was a giant pile of brush (about 7 feet tall, 7 feet wide at the base, and about 15 feet long) that I had accumulated on a large trimming and removal job. Even then, I only used about half a tank of gas.

Giant pile of brush about 7' tall at the peak, 7' wide at the base, and 15' long
Giant pile of brush about 7′ tall at the peak, 7′ wide at the base, and 15′ long

I also created a video of the first time I ran my chipper after setting it up. It works quite well, although as you’ll see the first run wasn’t without its hiccups… Enjoy!

2018-10-13 First run of new Dosko 4″ wood chipper