A Mule on Wheels And a Balky Chainsaw

by admin | November 17, 2022 10:08 am

[1]Now that mowing and bushhogging season has largely ceased — likely one more round of bushhogging around the fence line in the back 50 acres — I have turned my attention to cutting up and burning fallen tree limbs. This task ought to keep me occupied until it is time to start mowing again. Every thunderstorm or afternoon of brisk winds seem to send another bevy of limbs crashing to the ground, landing on the fence, blocking the tractor’s paths. Or that of the newly semi-acquired Kawasaki Mule.

I say semi-acquired since it belongs to my brother-in-law, Jim. The Mule, what is known as a side-by-side, has not been running for a couple of years because of an electrical problem. After vainly waiting more than two years for his shade-tree mechanic to get around to fixing it, he brought it to us, since he knew my little brother Gregg is adept at fixing motorized vehicles. Sure enough, Gregg got it running in about an hour. It will share time between our place and Jim’s, depending on when he needs it and vice-versa. The Mule will come in handy for both of us.

This clean-up project, however, required using the tractor bucket to carry the trimmed limbs to the burn pile. I started on the far side of the shop, using a pair of lops and the chain saw to cut the limbs to manageable lengths. Once the burn pile was about five feet high, I sprayed it with charcoal lighter fluid and set it on fire. There is a water hose close by, though the ground is well saturated.

 I seem to have finally mastered the chain saw. As usual, a YouTube video provided detailed instruction on how to sharpen the blade. I finally have mastered the knack of getting it started. Before using it, I tightened the chain by loosening the main nut holding the case over the chain and bar, using the adjustment screw to get the chain snug, then retightening the main nut. I was feeling darned good as the saw smoothly cut through the limbs.

Then, ka blam! The saw blew apart in my hands. It was still running, but the cover fell off, and the bar and chain plunged to the ground. I was holding the base with the engine still running. It took a few seconds for me to recover and shut it off. This could have been ugly. Apparently, I didn’t adequately tighten down the nut holding the bar/chain assembly. The vibration shook it loose. So much for mastering the chain saw.

I couldn’t find the nut, and a piece of metal inside the casing seemed jagged. The next day, I headed to the outdoor power shop. The two brothers who own it understand they are dealing with a rank amateur when it comes to power equipment. But I am a good customer, having purchased a zero-turn mower, commercial grass trimmer, and chain saw from them, along with numerous accessories. As soon as the trimmer ran out of its first batch of string, I had to return to get a lesson on restringing that beast. That lesson did not take. Rather than shamefacedly return, I found a good ol’ boy on YouTube with the same type of trimmer and watched his video.

Then, when I bought the chainsaw, I could not get it started. I took it back, and they cranked it immediately. I took it home. Again, it refused to start. My brother-in-law Jim came over and cranked it right up. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong – flooding it — and now can crank it with ease.

I walked into the outdoor power shop, the heart of the saw in my hand, the bar and chain in a plastic bag, and explained what happened. One of the brothers shook his head. H straightened the bent metal piece and said I would have to get a new chain. While I waited, he put the new chain on and tightened, making it look easy. The new chain is a better brand than what came with the saw, so maybe I will not have to sharpen it as often.

Weather permitting, I will be back out there this weekend, cutting up fallen limbs and creating a new burn pile. Perhaps I can get through an entire weekend without a chainsaw mishap.

But I am not betting on it.

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