Just got the report from the local small engine repair shop: estimate to fix Stihl 290 Farm Boss chain saw – $385 plus tax. This is for a saw that is about two years old and has had a total of five tanks of gas run through it, no more than a couple of hours of cutting pine logs. It has always been hard to start, went through a new plug about every tank of gas and was always particular about gas – it had to absolutely fresh and contain no additives, usually drove 20 miles round trip to the closed Union 76 to buy gas as it was supposed to be the most additive free.
The verdict from the repair folks was that the cylinder and piston were trashed. Said possibly that not enough oil in the gas. However, I was extremely careful to use one small package of Echo 2 cycle oil per exactly one gallon of gas from the Union 76 station. Most of the gas from each batch was run through my Echo 14″ saw or my Echo string trimers, which (as yet anyway) have shown no ill effects from the gas/oil mixture. Plus, the reason that I had to change the plugs was that they appeared to be oiling up. (I figured I should go to a hotter plug, but never bothered to find the next hotter one that fit.)
I figure it was a lemon – I guess no one has perfect quality control. However, no more Stihl equipment for me. I will stick with Echo as I have two string trimmers, a hedge trimmer, and pruner from Echo was well as my 14″ saw; and they all start easily and run great with no problems even with old gasoline. So I just bought a Echo 440 for $299.
Now, if I can just get my Husquavarna 394 to start without pulling my arm out its socket…
My Stihl saws require a 1:40 mixture of oil to gas when using Stihl 2 cycle oil. They recommend 1:25 when using anyone else's oil. I have several other types of 2 cycle engines that use 1:50 mixes.
There is obviously a huge difference between a 1:25 mix and a 1:50 mix. You could easily have ruined your saw by not using the right mixture, especially if it was tuned on the lean side and ran at high rpm's.
I just looked up the Stihl MS290 Operator's Manual on-line and it calls for a 50:1 mixture, just as I had remembered. I was sure that I had purchased the Stihl "one bottle/one gallon" 2 stroke oil and that they were the same size as the Echo "one gallon" bottles. Having once done some technical writing, I almost always feel compelled to read the operator's manual - and I occasionally even follow the advice given... I was pretty sure that all of my current 2 strokes use the same 50:1 mix. I do have an ancient McCullough chain saw that I inherited from my dad that probably needs about a 10:1 (only a slight exaggeration) mix, but I haven't used that in probably 30 years.
Ha, I remember those old McCullough saws from my Dad's early days in the logging industry. My brother and I used to make Go-Kart engines out of them.
They weighed about 50# without the bar and chain!
I must tell you that our family probably has owned over fifty Stihl saws and have never had trouble with them other than they are very hard to start first thing in the morning.
I usually use 1:40 in everything just so I don't have lots of different mix gas cans laying around. My wife is totally confused by the whole thing, so I just tell her you can burn the chain saw gas in anything and she is happy.
Edited 4/17/2007 7:55 pm ET by BoJangles
Strange! I have the same saw. Bought it in the Spring of 2000. I have used it heavily, probably 500 hours total, and it is running fine, just like my Stihl trimmer and my Stihl cultivator.
I use a straight 50:1 mixture for all my Stihl equipment and have used only Poulan chain oil, because of the significant price difference.
Just great. I was ready to go with the Stihl and now here I am back at the Husq/Stihl battle again.
Parolee # 53804
never mind him. go with the stihl.
Well there was something wrong with it right from the beginning if it was fouling a plug every tank of gas. I don't think I have fouled a plug in 10 or 20 years.
We have some older Stihl's that are maintained and running strong, a 034, a 038, and the monster 090. Your 290 is just about equal to our 034, same engine size and the 290 is rated just a little less HP.
Is your 290 one of the newer ones with the smart carb? If it is I would wonder if something with the carb was not right, also reason for fouling plugs. Or if the winter/summer shutter was in the wrong position.
That's a bummer. I've put hundreds of hours on stihls with no problems, sounds like you got a lemon.
"When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone." --John Ruskin
"so it goes"
Have you had any experience with Stihls leaking an excessive amount of bar oil?
I have an 026 that leaks a lot when stored. Two dealers say they can't find anything wrong.
Been using a little Stihl 020 for years on Appalachian Trail maintainence. Can't kill it.
sounds funny too me. . . all the stihls I used kept their bar oil inside until the chain was moving, for the most part. I would have a very oily shoulder if the bar oil was leaking out all the time.
If you're running the saw pretty steadily, does it use a tank of oil in about the same time it uses a tank of gas? you should still have a little oil when you run out of gas, that's what I was taught anyway. I believe it's pretty easy to adjust the oiler, but I can't remember ever having to do it.zak
"When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone." --John Ruskin
"so it goes"
No, the oil outlasts the gas. It seeps out a lot while it's stored. Has to be a leak somewhere but haven't found it yet. I've tried cracking the oil fill cap after shutting it down to relieve any pressure.
So far I've just used it for "yard work' and not carrying around. I haven't put the time in to really work on the problem. Bought it for building bog bridges but haven't used it for that yet. A lot of guys here shoulder their saws. I got lazy and built a shelf and bungie cord rig for my freighter frame for my other saw.
I've had the 029 farm boss since 2000. I can't tell you how many hours are on it, somewhere over 500 I suppose; hundreds of trees of all sizes. It sounds like you got a lemon. I put a new spark plug in it 2 years ago, and a new bar at some but that's it. Every now and then it gets a good cleaning. I always run 50:1.
You may, as others have suggested, just got a lemon.
But one thing to bear in mind, the better saws (Stihl, Husky, etc.), and small engine equipment in general, has branded mix oil formulated for their equipment.
Each mfgr dyes their oil and, if an engine failure occurs during warrantee and you have an offbrand oil in the fuel they can deny the warrantee.
Several years ago, our local county road crew bought about a dozen top-of-the-line Stihl weedeaters, then mixed some cheap-a$$ oil in the gas. Burned up every one of them in a matter of days.
The dealer wouldn't honor the warrantee.
I learned many years ago that proper lubrication is the cheapest maintenance there is.
I've got 2 Stihl saws, a Stihl weedeater and a Stihl hedge trimmer. All four have countless hours on them and, aside from a new plug now and then and cleaning the air filter, they've been easy to start and 100% reliable.
I have a friend with similar Husky equipment and he's had the same success with his equipment. We both use the proprietary mixing oil.
I'm not familiar with your saw model, but both Husky and stihl have commercial models (heavier crank bearings, etc) and "homeowner models ( little lighter duty in the guts).
You might check that aspect out.
I've heard this before - Stihl saw, no Stihl oil. Result - dead saw.
You HAVE to use the Stihl oil in the proper ratio. Don't ask me why; I don't know. What I do know is that they don't run very well on someone else's oil. I have a Stihl MS390 and an older 025, and they have both run many dozens of tanks of gas/oil mix without a hiccup. (50:1) I don't worry about the gasoline (I use regular plain old 87 octane from the local Mobil station) nearly as much as I do the oil. The $385 plus tax to fix your saw adds up to an awful lot of Stihl-branded lubricant, especially when you consider you're only paying the difference between the Stihl oil and the Echo oil.
FWIW, though, the Echo saws are pretty decent. I have owned several Echo small engines and they have all been very reliable.
I have used Stihl products for about 30 years, and have never used the Stihl oil except for maybe a sample they gave me with a new saw.
Stihl products we currently have are 034, 038, and 090 chainsaws, a TS350 cutoff saw, and FS80, FS90 4max, FS130 4max trimmer/brushcutters. Also have 2 Shindaiwa 300's for small stuff and limbing. All use the same oil/gas mix.
why did you use echo oil in a stihl?
I mean....drive all that distance to buy additive free gasoline and then skimp on the oil?
Edited 4/18/2007 5:07 pm by intrepidcat
Why use Echo oil in a Stihl saw. Because I had five pieces of Echo equipment and only one Stihl. I figured the Echo oil was reasonable quality, certainly as good as the Poulan stuff or the non-name from the local garden store. The Stihl manual says, as do all such manuals, to use their branded oil but they also say to use any oil that meets the listed specs.
When I worked in a shop we used Castrol 2 cycle oil and none of the manufacturers said anything to us about using their oil. We were also a distributor for several other shops. We sold the particular brand name oils but never used them in the shop. In the shop, we worked on several different names of saws and small engines.
I was skeptical about using only Stihl oil in Stihl machines and finally called the manufacturer. They expalined that there are several subtle changes they make to their oil, one being that is it much lower in sulphur than typical 2 cycle engine oils. I have several Stihl machines and have always used the Stihl oil mix. And yes I have other machines including a Mantis tiller and I can get away with WalMart 2 cycle oil in them - I once tried the Stihl mix in the Mantis and almost ruined it.
Yes manufacturers do like to "tie-in" their accessories so that the sold product still provides a cash stream. But one must be prudent in deciding what accessories are really generic and which ones are legitimate. Certainly you would ignore a manufacturer's pleadings to use only their drill bits in thier power drill, but using their gear grease might be very important. Everyone that I know who either owns or sells Stihl all are aware that they use only Stihl oil.
In my fire fighting days our local fire cache had dozens of stihl saws that were used and abused in all sorts of ways.
Any saw not running well was taken to the local saw shop. He would do a compression test and if that wasn't good he'd throw out a repair cost equal to new head and cylinder, regardless of what's really wrong.
My crew would take the saws that were "too expensive to fix" and take them down to see what was really wrong. We put together 4 saws that way with little more than new rings and a glaze breaker hone. All those saws ran for years.
I have doubts a new saw would run lean enough to have cylinder/piston problems. They're just too tamper proof to even get them lean enough to run at top hp.
I also have doubts about oil brands making a significant enough change in lubrication. Our saws would be tuned for max hp, a bit on the lean side, and we never mixed richer than 50:1 with any brand of oil, even in the dirtiest conditions.
If you are 100% sure the saw has never seen straight gas in your hands, my guess is the saw was returned by someone who screwed it up, or the saw shop's nephew screwed it up prior to the sale.
Beer was created so carpenters wouldn't rule the world.
Stihl makes some very excellent saws. In my younger years I worked on saws and other small engines in a shop. Never once had I seen a scored cylinder wall unless there was a broken ring or lack of oil. When someone takes the engine apart it will be obvious if too much or too little oil was used. t would also be obvious if a ring was broken. If the plug was getting dirty then most likely something else was wrong. I have seen plugs look poor when there is low compression. Sometimes another problem happens in small engines when people use high octane gas. That would appear as a white colored mineral looking substance on top of the piston.
I would suggest that you write to Stihl and explain the problem. I owned a piece of machinery for six years and used it very little. The company told me it was out of warranty. I told them the workmanship was bad. When I told them that, they agreed to replace the motor. I sent it in and got a new motor. Companies do not want bad publicity. When I worked in a shop it was not uncommon for us to replace something if we felt the customer was not negligent even though the warranty expired. Never once did the manufacturer not honor our choice.
When you write the company present them with a reasonable suggestion. Tell them exactly what you expect. If you just complain it does little good. Companies need to know when they have a bad product. If they have had several complaints about a particular saw they will take notice. The dealer may not know anything about those complaints.
There was one time when I was working in a shop and told the company that if the manufacturer would warranty it then we would fix it free of charge. What I saw looked very questionable and was reluctant to warranty it because of what I saw. It appeared that the person had run the engine out of oil and then put new oil in the crankcase. That is quite obvious. The manufacturer agreed with me but still decided to warranty the engine.
Give Stihl an opportunity to make it right with you.
On one occasion a company would not warranty a product I was sure was defective. I sent the tool to the manufacturer and received a new tool back within a few days along with a letter of apology. The company I bought the tool from is no longer in business. The manufacturer has been in business since 1834.
I also have a farm boss, that I've probably put 50 or so tankfulls through with no problem. It will light off quickly even if it's been sitting for 6 months without use.
I suspect it's either a lemon or the oil.
Me again won't waffle on about it but a saw thats done that little work get sthil to make it better
I agree...it must have been a lemon. I have the 390 and it is a WORKHORSE!! been using it for over a year as a homeowner with dozens of hours. No service needed thusfar. sorry you got one built on Monday/Friday...if you know what Imean.
"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a governmental program" -Ronald Reagan
., wer ist jetzt der Idiot ?