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Prepper Complacency, by Wood Tamer

In this writing I will be referencing Hurricane Michael [1]. This is not just a narrative about my experiences with this hurricane but rather a reflection on my life experiences as a prepared individual, family, and neighborhood.

Throughout my life I could probably be defined as an individual more prepared for unexpected events than most others. That was not necessarily by design but rather necessity and lifestyle. I was raised in a large family and we always needed to make ends meet.

As an adult I have been blessed with an abundant life without much adversity or concern until I heard about the Y2K threat. Most everyone considered me a fool for my concerns about what could have happened at that time but fortunately nothing did happen. I felt it was a call to action to prepare for what could come to be.

Complacency Had Set It

Since 2000 I have been actively preparing for anything I could possibly imagine to happen. Not necessarily the end of the world, but for a reasonably major disaster.

After nearly 20 years of actively fulfilling lists of required items to ride out most anything I could conceive I can only describe my attitude as complacent. Most items I had tested and learned to use then had safely stored and tried to properly rotate. I even felt I knew where everything was even if not really well labeled and organized.

Early in 2018 I began to feel there was not much point in continuing to procure more supplies but felt it was still prudent to develop my knowledge and skills. To an extent I was struggling with how much “stuff” was really necessary to acquire and store. Consequently, when shopping, I less frequently purchased extra food, batteries, ammo, and medical supplies. And actually I nearly stopped researching and looking for gaps in my preparedness supplies. It was not that I had decided it wasn’t important to be prepared but more that I felt I was probably prepared enough.

Then suddenly Hurricane Michael was upon us. And I do mean suddenly. During hurricane season I watch tropical storms closely. What I discovered was that on weekends I spend less time in my office and therefore hadn’t been watching closely enough. Now I see more complacency. Monday morning October 8th, my wife came into my office and asked what I thought we should do about the approaching hurricane. My response was “what hurricane?” And at the time it looked like a Cat 2 storm, problematic but not catastrophic. Complacency? Being a building contractor I spent Monday and Tuesday securing my job sites which any contractor should do for even a tropical storm. That left me just Wednesday morning to prepare our homestead.

Last-Minute Rush

All of a sudden my instincts kicked in. We battened down the hatches, made a last minute run to fill gas tanks and pick up some fresh food. Thank God I pulled my primary generator out of the shed, tested it’s operation and decided to put it in the barn. The shed was later crushed by several large trees and the generator would have been lost.

My wife and I have decided that we will not leave our home regardless of the intensity of any disaster we encounter. The primary reason is I don’t want to be separated from my preps and my community. Those that left were unable to get back home to protect their property and make immediate repairs. Before dark we were able to make initial repairs, connect the generator and basically hold down the fort and the neighborhood. By Thursday, the day after, we were able to dry in roofs and care for the neighborhood animals that had been left behind.

We have learned and are still learning many lessons from Hurricane Michael. First and foremost is being prepared is every bit as important as we can possibly imagine. And by this I mean not merely storing supplies, equipment and skills but living a prepared lifestyle. A little over four years ago we purchased our property and built our home, but it is more a homestead. It is not finished, and probably never will be in my lifetime. Very many decisions were based on sustainable qualities.

Many neighbors and friends felt I was unreasonable with the extent, money, and effort designed and built into our home and property. However, we survived winds reported to be consistent (not gusts) of 187 miles per hour, with higher gusts and some tornado activity. This house was designed and built to withstand intense and severe conditions by choice. Just hours after the storm we were able to cook, had clean water, refrigeration, and hot showers. The point is, it is very difficult to react to an emergency if you don’t live, use and practice what will be required before a disaster hits. In some ways, the night after the storm was just another day.

Redundancy Fatigue

I had reached the point of being fatigued with the concept of redundancy. That is no longer true and redundancy is extremely if not the most important practice to have in place to becoming and staying prepared. The day after the storm a neighbor and I spent hours in sweltering heat cutting trees in order to clear about 450 feet of road just to get up to the next neighbor. I have no idea how many trees we cut at least 45 and they were all large oaks and pine. Most of them had to be cut in foot long lengths to be able to move them.

Normally I would have used my tractor to move them but it was blocked in the barn by many large fallen trees. The tractor didn’t see daylight for nearly two weeks. That first day I burned up all three of my chainsaws. I had a fourth one, but its bar was bent. I certainly thought three chainsaw was adequate but they weren’t enough for that task. I would have told everyone I had least two of every essential item. I would have said that I could quickly find them and put them to use. That was somewhat true. I had two generators, but one failed a few days in. Fortunately it was my small 2,000 watt genset and not the large 8,500 watt model.

Those Naysayers

Very many people told me it was unwise to store so much gasoline, chainsaw fuel and oil, propane and kerosene. We were without power for 16 days. Fortunately we were able to supply water, cooking capabilities, ice, fuel and oil, freezer space, lanterns, and hot showers to many of our neighbors during that time. I had five different types of cooking stoves. Some of those ended up being used by neighbors who only had electric ranges. I thought I had at least two radios of any type I would need. I hadn’t checked well enough. We were fine with weather radios but the local National Weather Service broadcast was off for many days.

What we really needed was a simple AM FM radio so we could hear the outside world. I thought I had three working radios, but only had one. And that one used an odd battery that could only be charged by using a crank on the side. It worked, but that was a real pain. A few days later when were finally able to get the road cleared enough to get out to the highway we went on a run to resupply the neighborhood and found that difficult. Even after going 45 miles west where there was little or no destruction we were unable to find a simple little battery-powered AM/FM radio.

Organization and Practice

Prior to Hurricane Michael I had begun to think we would never need or use most of our preps. Due to this my “stuff” was not really organized but I felt I would have time to get it all out and check everything and fill any gaps before any catastrophe arrived. I just didn’t have time. So my advice is to keep everything organized, ready and practice using it. I found myself digging through storage bins looking for funnels to pour gas into the generator and to find a solar shower to lend to a friend.

I also found that it really isn’t a good idea to keep everything in one spot. I used to have a decent metal shed out back where I kept very nearly all our fuel, oil, pumps, generators, kerosene, grease guns etc. Well that shed was buried behind or under five huge trees. It took three weeks to recover what I could from under those trees and now after 10 weeks much that couldn’t be saved has yet to be replaced because everything local is in short supply.

It is interesting that we didn’t touch a single bit of our long-term stored food. Instead, we were all trying to make use of what we had in our refrigerators and freezers. Once again our primary refrigerator failed but we did have a backup and a little 12-volt cooler that got us through.

From all of this I have learned that in a way I was perhaps overly focused on thinking I was preparing for the end of the world and not adequately being really correct in preparing for the most likely disaster to hit us. Yes, we live in hurricane territory and Hurricane Michael was about as bad as it can get. The eye of the storm traveled directly overhead so we were hammered by the storm both coming and going. All I am saying is that  would have gladly traded some freeze dried food for a cheap little radio. That showed poor planning.

True Community?

Another observation is on the lack of true community. Prior to the storm we all felt we were friends and neighbors and we would work together to pull through any difficulties. For the first few days that was somewhat true, at least for the ones that stayed home and even fewer that returned to stay as soon as they were allowed. But within a few days everyone’s patience wore thin and rifts have developed with some folks that will never be the resolved. With few exceptions each of us were on our own. That is troubling because we were providing goods and services with very little return other than hostility. So just consider that those you may be counting on may not be very accountable or even civil.

We have just passed six full months since Hurricane Michael and I have not written for at least two to three months. Every day is filled by trying to restore people’s homes and lives. There are homes I have not even been able to start repairing yet. Yesterday I cut down trees that have threatened or house due to wind damage but that I had not sufficient time to take care of.

It is very apparent that it will take years for our county and surrounding areas to recover. There is no housing, insufficient labor, material sources, grocery stores, restaurants, and support systems. Our hospitals are compromised and hardly operational.

Don’t Be Complacent!

It cannot be stressed adequately enough that we that understand the need to be truly prepared and not drop our guard. If we should be blessed enough to not need what we have set aside then at least we will be able to help others who are less fortunate. Please do not drop your guard and become complacent!

44 Comments (Open | Close)

44 Comments To "Prepper Complacency, by Wood Tamer"

#1 Comment By Ted On May 3, 2019 @ 9:41 am

A great cautionary tale. Thank you. Not quite sure what happened to your saws but I would mention rapco industries carbide tooth chain saw chains. Not cheap but very tough and they keep on cutting.

#2 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 3:39 pm

Ted, We ran the saws very hard for several hours. My neighbor was not careful about getting bars bound and actually just threw them on the ground. My new saws are working very well. I am loving an Echo cordless 58 volt. Very surprising. When I have a lot to cut I go back to my big Husky. That you for telling me about the carbide chains. I will definately check them out.

#3 Comment By Vagus On May 3, 2019 @ 4:17 pm

The Appalachian Trail Conversation group has actually banned electric chainsaws for fear that the higher torque would defeat the Kevlar in chainsaw chaps. I don’t know enough about their durability but to me that speaks volumes about their utility. I have seen a dewalt model carve up some fallen oak with no difficulty, for people with strong wind/solar resources they may be a sounder bet for long term sustainability.

#4 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 9:07 pm

Vagus,
Unless I am going out to cut more than three or four trees and work for several hours I grab my Echo cordless saw. Last weekend I cut down and bucked up three good sized oaks with the cordless saw on a single charge. I am electrically challenged but someone with electrical ability could certainly make these viable with a solar system.

#5 Comment By CORD7 On May 3, 2019 @ 1:00 pm

Mankind has the human tendency to believe, “…all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4) Denying the truth of God’s Word and the fact the world was once destroyed by water. We are called to be watchful, readying and preparing ~ the thief/ destroyer will not announce himself – EVER!

#6 Comment By Michael Haas On May 3, 2019 @ 5:24 pm

Chainsaw ‘chaps’?? Did you mean to type ‘traps’?? Thanks, Mike

#7 Comment By CharlieFoxtrot On May 3, 2019 @ 7:06 pm

I’m pretty sure he meant ‘chaps.’ Protective leggings designed so you don’t get cut too seriously if something goes wrong. I never cut without them. Amazon has a bunch of different ones.

#8 Comment By Vagus On May 3, 2019 @ 9:46 pm

CharlieFoxtrot has the right of it. They are chaps made of layers of Kevlar, if a saw hits them the fibers tear loose and gum up the sprocket and choke out the saw. They will quite literally save your a** if you take a kickback to the legs.

#9 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 10:08 pm

CORD7

I agree, we will never see what is coming if we are not vigilante.

#10 Comment By Roadkill On May 3, 2019 @ 1:20 pm

Great article. On the chainsaws. I own a tree business. The only saws I would recommend are Husqvarna and Stihl. But, only buy the pro models. For the Huskies this means any model with an XP. I’m not sure on the Stihls. They do have homeowner models, there is a difference. I use the Huskies. I blew up my 395XP 3 times before someone told me to quit burning gas with 10% ethanol. Now I only run recreational 100% gasoline through them and haven’t had a problem. The ethanol wrecks the seals and will seize up your motors. I recommend rec gas for all of your small engines, including 4 stroke lawnmowers and such. If you are storing gas do not store the 10% ethanol gas. Still use whatever stabilizer fits your fancy.

#11 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 3:44 pm

Roadkill,
I appreciate your input. The Huskie I had was a homeowner model. My new Huskie is an XP and is doing very well. I am very careful about gas. Always store non ethanol.

#12 Comment By Chris On May 3, 2019 @ 1:20 pm

Complacency is a temptation for the most of us. Thanks for sharing your experience.

#13 Comment By Butch On May 3, 2019 @ 1:36 pm

I was drifting into a false sense of security about our preparation until reading this. Thank you!

#14 Comment By KB On May 3, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

Sympathize with your ordeal. Would appreciate any other suggestions for a good gas chain saw that has metal gears. We are still dealing with fallen trees from a December tornado and our 3 chain saws all broke down. Bought a Husqvarna 435 16 inch that wouldn’t even work at all. Suggestions?

#15 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 3:57 pm

KB, I have been cutting trees my whole life, about 55 years now. When I was a kid my dad would rent them. I have never cut timber for a living which means if I have trouble with a saw I have time to deal with repairs. They are fickle pieces of equipment. The pros seem to favor Stihl, Husqvarna, and Echo somewhat in that order. The Huskies are great when they are running but can be hard to start. If you go through the exact sequence in your manual they will start and run well. It seems to be unique to Huskies that you need to engage the brake lever prior to starting then release it once running.
The finest saw I have owned was a Makita. Just wore it out after years of use.
This may sound odd but currently my go to saw is an Echo cordless 58 volt. What I love is it is quiet and when I pull the trigger it starts, when I set it down it stops. It can handle very large trees. by the time the battery runs down so have I. The only problem I have had is occasionally when cutting the saw will stop. I then pull the battery and put it back in then off we go.
Review your starting sequence for your Huskie but if in the market for a new saw consider the Echo.

#16 Comment By KB On May 3, 2019 @ 9:07 pm

Thanks!

#17 Comment By Wheatley Fisher On May 3, 2019 @ 2:05 pm

Thank you for including your comments about fuel. It reminds me I have an empty barrel to fill, and a few containers to use in rotation. Gasoline price jumped up 20 percent here in the past 60 days, and is going higher this month we are told.

I appreciate your sharing of your observations. If you are burning up saws, it sounds like you are cutting those big live oak trees. The ones they were making freshwater gunboats out of for the Civil War. It’s a good reminder to have two spare chains for your chainsaw.

I used to do my own chainsaw sharpening and maintenance, but found it is far better to have a good saw repair shop sharpen the saws and do the full tuneup. A hundred bucks spent on that meant many hours I could devote to wood cutting instead of mediocre saw maintenance with resultant mediocre, frustrating cutting. It’s a great feeling to have high productivity cutting wood.

Best wishes

#18 Comment By Animal House On May 3, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

What a great article! I always like to hear these true life survival stories because they expose real weaknesses in our best laid plans. We also live by the adage “two is one; one is none”. I understand not being able to find things in a hurry; my spreadsheet is out of date and you gave me the encouragement I need to redo/update it. We keep our stored fuel in an under ground steel-frame storm shelter. Every year I have the big trees around the house trimmed and thinned out to let the wind pass through. Trimmers have to climb the trees and inch out on the larger branches to thin them out because a bucket truck cannot reach them. It is expensive and dangerous but I it hope it keeps the 100 year old oaks upright and in the ground.

#19 Comment By Seawind On May 3, 2019 @ 2:44 pm

How much of your equipment that you lent out was returned? In what shape? You can count on those who returned things dirty and/or trashed will expect you to clean/repair and have them available next time they need them.

#20 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 4:12 pm

Seawind,
Interesting comment. I found three scenarios. Some borrowed equipment, were reluctant to return it, but it was clean and in good repair. Others never used what was lent I believe because it was too much work and they preffered to come here and use what we had working. The rest used and abused what was loaned and never returned what they consumed or ruined. This has been a real learning experience in human nature.

#21 Comment By Frank On May 3, 2019 @ 3:52 pm

The most disturbing part of the article, for me, was this: “That is troubling because we were providing goods and services with very little return other than hostility.” Let this be a lesson to all of us: DON’T loan out ANYTHING, especially important tools and equipment, and expect that it will be returned. It may be returned. It may not be. NEVER put yourself in the position of having to beg to get something back, especially if it’s something you and your own family/group are depending on for future survival.

#22 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 9:23 pm

Frank,
I agree to an extent. Nothing against my parents but I was raised to believe in taking care of our “own”. This community has taught me that if we are able, it is best if we can set enough aside to help others either less fortunate or less insightful to take care of themselves. In reality during normal times what we need is in relative abundance. During a crisis simple things become so important and unavaialable. So I believe we should try to store enough to help as many others as we can without compromising ourselves.

#23 Comment By The Wild Hare On May 3, 2019 @ 5:32 pm

Again we come back to the one nut I have never been able to crack. Dealing with strangers and looters is at least simple if not easy. Dealing with neighbors is not in the same league, given the fair chance you will be still be living next to them years after the emergency passes.

I often wonder how the 1800s wagon trains handled this problem, as you just know every group had to include the ill-prepared, the moochers.

#24 Comment By Capt Nemo On May 3, 2019 @ 6:04 pm

We had a storm that brought down four good sized maples. My old Stihl 009 ran well, but went through chains fast. I bought 5 chains to clean up that mess. Keep at least 10 chains per saw. I’m about to retire my 009 and 011 and buy two new ones with longer bars. I plan to buy identical saws to keep spare parts stockage to a minimum.

We run a Generac backup generator. I don’t worry too much about a spare parts problem, as the plant that made it is across town. A Kohler generator would be a 60 mile trip to get spares. So I’m in a pretty nice situation there for home generators. At the bunker, I’m closer to the Kohler plant, so I went with their generators.

#25 Comment By James Wesley Rawles On May 3, 2019 @ 6:43 pm

You might consider buying a spare “short” bar for one of those new saws, so that you can put your old chains to use, in a pinch.

#26 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 9:28 pm

JWR
Good thought. Flexablity is always a good idea. I may be able to get some of my saws usable.

#27 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 10:05 pm

Capt Nemo,
I get your point but just one thought. After Michael it took us about a week to be able to get more than a few miles from our home. During that time we had generator power but if it had failed life would have been very difficult. Redundancy! I am just saying don’t assume you can drive a few miles for required parts.

#28 Comment By Veritas On May 3, 2019 @ 6:08 pm

Very nice write up! I noticed the prepper community likes to look down on those “sheeple” that are not prepared yet fail to be self-aware enough to realize they too may be far less prepared than they think despite their best efforts. I think in addition to complacency there is a sense of superiority that will be the downfall of some. I have this, I realize I think many of my neighbors are stupid for now owning a chainsaw because I have the foresight to own one after all….yes one and now I hear FOUR almost wasn’t enough for you! Thanks for sharing an honest self assessment, it helped me for sure!

#29 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 4, 2019 @ 12:55 am

Veritas,
I understand much of what you feel. It is very hard for me to tolerate those that will not help themselves. By the same token we all have our own understanding of what is appropriate. Somehow balance seems to be the key. But how do we achieve that? To me I am trying to follow the rule of giving to the extent of my ability and taking to the extent of my need. There is no way I can possibly anticipate or be capable of being prepared for everything that can happen, nor can anyone else. That is why we need to help each other. That is the only way. That sounds socialistic which I don’t endorse. We all need to take care of ourselves but also help others as much as we are able.

#30 Comment By WIHunter On May 3, 2019 @ 6:11 pm

Be sure to keep your saws filled with lubricant, the chains will last much longer. (I know, a fairly obvious point). Another “tip” I heard at a local Stihl retailer….for large trees, pour used motor oil in notch of the tree. This continues the lubricate the chain as well, prolonging chain life and speeding up cutting the tree. (Not a recommended environmental practice though)

#31 Comment By Susie On May 3, 2019 @ 7:26 pm

What a great article. It is very practical and objective. It has prompted us to order another simple radio and do a thorough review and reorganization. Also to learn how to use a few things while it is easy. The neighbor “thing” seems to be universal now. People are so disappointing in how selfish and entitled they are. If there is a next time around, I’m sure they will be at your front door and your new best friends. I don’t know the answer to that, but it may be one of the biggest problems of all. Our neighbors are also rebuilding their second home down there and they were 35th on some contractor’s list! They said the schools are now short 5000 students and 350 teachers will be let go! Who knew?

#32 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 3, 2019 @ 10:32 pm

Susie,
Not sure where you are but you seem to understand what is happening here. Yes please supply all you may need while it is in fact easy. It is incomprensible how difficult things can become overnight.
It is difficult to understand each other’s pain and difficulty. We are in construction and understand the frustration of not being able to restore people’s homes, but yet it is difficult to comprehend what is going on in the education, medical, and food service industries. Progress is being made but very slowly. I have to say we are a small community clawing for our very existence. To an extent we feel abandoned.

#33 Comment By Once a Marine… On May 4, 2019 @ 2:19 am

Susie,

In reading the back to the land classic, Living the Good Life, you might note the authors observe the same sloppy behavior among their neighbors. Their neighbors were folks who had lived in that part of Vermont for many years.

So, here too, we must be careful of complacency. Assuming someone who has “lived on the land” for a couple decades will be skilled and capable is its own form of complacency.

Carry on

#34 Comment By Anonymous On May 4, 2019 @ 2:52 am

Excellent, thank you for sharing.

Firsthand information from situations such as this is far more valuable than the endless speculation that is all too common in today’s society.

Nothing will expose weaknesses like a real world event, but at least you have survived and can now make corrections.

Your observation on the lack of true community should be a reality check to the many who blindly believe that all mankind will band together in the aftermath of a catastrophic event, join hands and rebuild the world with peace and love. Pure fantasy. The longer people go without water, food, life-sustaining medications, etc., the more desperate they become, and past friendships will be meaningless. This has been proven countless times throughout history. Will there be good people who help each other? Of course. Will there be evil people who commit horrific acts? Of course. Will there be lifelong friends and even family members who are driven to commit previously unthinkable acts? Of course. Such is the duality of human nature.

It sounds as though you are making a real difference in your community, and I commend you for it. I wish you and yours all the best going forward.

#35 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 4, 2019 @ 1:38 pm

Anonymous,
Thank you. Yes this storm took us by surprise. Mostly how quickly and strongly it developed, then by realizing I was not as prepared as I had hoped, but I was most surprised by how the community I had counted on failed rather immediately.
A year ago today we had a neighborhood all of us could only dream of. We were close to every neighbor in all directions. This consisted of six other families. Each family would host fantastic celebrations on a given holiday and we held regular progressive dinners which were as enjoyable as you can believe. It is so much fun to only have to prepare one course of a seven course meal and then stroll through the woods to your next neighbor for the next course. (back then we had woods, now we call it the prairie). We helped each other, shared equipment and resources and supported the whole community all the time. I felt safe and secure.
Well May 31st 2018 my next door neighbor who had become my best friend suddenly past away. That loss to myself and our community was devastating. When Michael hit two of the remaining six left. Now we are down to three. Two of those three banded together and would accept assistance from us but refused anything to us. So down to one. The day after the storm that one helped me use my equipment to clear the road. That evening he retired to his RV and enjoyed AC, showers and four TVs. Yet he did not have enough to share. Now it was down to my wife and I plus the widow next door which is a very kind soul but needed assistance. So essentially down to none.
I had hoped to rebuild our community. So my next door neighbor has passed so hopefully five. The two that banded together still have and will help if it is a dire emergency but ask my assistance constantly. So now down to three. One of those three had left during the storm and upon his return won’t even work on his own property and will side with any faction that puts pressure on him. Down to two. These two have united and are trying to make our life a living hell. They have threatened litgation three times and now we are going to have to litigate due to their willful and spiteful encroachment on our land. We are alone.
I can handle being a lone wolf, I just don’t like it.
Please be careful trusting in communities.
I have tried to live by the approach of “love people and use things rather than love things and use people”
Hurricane Michael has been a terrible experience, but it is nothing like what could happen. If we have an EMP, war, financial collapse it is going to be far worse than the fiction novels portray.

#36 Comment By Bird Friend On May 5, 2019 @ 11:10 am

Wood Tamer,

I’m also in Florida (central) and had to deal with hurricanes, but not nearly to the extent that Michael zapped you folks.

The saddest part of the situation, to me, is how things worked out long-term with your neighbors. How do people go from the level of friendliness you describe to threatening litigation where you finally have to respond with litigation also? (Probably a rhetorical question. ) From the prepper standpoint, maybe it’s best to assume things will go south with the neighbors and prepare accordingly, and if they don’t, consider oneself blessed?? Anyway, I feel very sad that you’ve experienced this, and sad for the rest of us who hope our communities in which we live will be a support system in the event of a major crisis.

Thanks for sharing.

#37 Comment By Linda S On May 4, 2019 @ 12:04 pm

A much needed wake-up call. Thank you.

#38 Comment By Big Mike On May 4, 2019 @ 2:43 pm

The comment of “burning up” chain saws caught my eye. This is a real problem. The topics of proper gas type and the correct oil added to the gas in proper quantities is important. All these things are extremely important. However, the main thing not mentioned here is what a saw dealer calls “running lean”. This occurs when a dull chain or worn out chain is used to try and cut. The saw operator has to use a chain saw revved up to extremely high rpm and to take “bites” as they try to make a cut. This is because the chain is extremely dull. Inspect you chain for sharpness before you cut. If you smell your saw “getting hot” or it starts smoking in a place that it has not smoked before, you are in a “running lean” condition. STOP and sharpen or change the chain. I’ve burned up two saws in this manner in the previous 45 years of sawing. The latest was a small Stihl, 3 years ago. You can buy modestly priced sharpeners at Harbor Freight and Tractor Supply that do a reasonably good job of sharpening. You have to pay CAREFUL attention to the angles and sharpening depth of the teeth. The are not really sturdy, but the do work and only cost $45 verses $450. Also keep your air filter and cooling fins clean. Or you can keep 5 chains on hand for each saw.
As far as the problem of loaning saws, don’t. Go and do the cutting, or go and supervise. Otherwise don’t loan. Or if you are weak kneed and can’t help it, require the person to give you the cash money price in hand to replace your saw with a new one. Problem solved. They don’t want it. As a guy said to me 30 years ago, “I always wondered why my grandpa would not loan me his chain saw, until I got my own and understood how much it cost”.
You could buy some of the “cheapo” saws for $100 and then your loss would not be much.

#39 Comment By Joe On May 4, 2019 @ 3:36 pm

The ethanol in the gas problem is a constant irritant and I have to say that the manufactures of chain saws are not helping. I can speak to this for Stihl’s The carburetor diaphrams go out regularly on mine. I keep a bunch around and many will fit several models. I have taken to running the saws and generators out of gas before storing them to help ease this problem. They could easily change the rubber compounds but they would not sell as many parts. I have repaired a bunch generators that had clogged carburators due to the fuel lines desolving and coating the innards with a black rubber coating and plugging the jets. Hint, to remove this coating forget scraping, Alcohol is the problem so just soak the carb parts in alcohol over night and ick comes right off, then replace all fuel lines with the yellow tubing available at most chain saw shops, I keep about 5 different sizes on hand for all the gas operated tools. And to quote the bard ” Neither a borrower nor lender be, for a loan doth oft lose its self and friend.”

#40 Comment By BDN On May 5, 2019 @ 10:54 am

We live 3 hours from where Hurricane Michael hit. Trust me, our area is well aware of all that you are describing, as we experienced it in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan nailed us. Michael was far worse! Your area is not forgotten by the rest of NW Florida!

#41 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 6, 2019 @ 4:12 pm

BDN,
Thank you. My wife and I have always tried to support disaster victims. Mostly financially because we have been far away. During and after Katrina we took a month off from our business in order to help refugees get their feet on the ground. Honestly we thought we understood and provided help. In all reality we did not truly understand. When your home, your family, your community, your county, your very existence is nearly or totally destroyed life changes.
The outside world does not get it but it is not their fault. Hopefully they will never have to find out the harsh reality first hand.

#42 Comment By Gary Pressler On May 6, 2019 @ 2:28 am

Nice article! Got my attention. I need to shape up. I have had a Stihl MS361 saw for several years and loved the power it provided – that is a pro model. Recently I have had trouble starting it- I cranked on the damn thing for half an hour-no start. This has happened several times. Took it to the dealer & one or two pulls and it was running! Finally a nice young fellow at McDowell & Walker (the dealer) suggested that I was not cranking it over fast enough- has to be +600 rpm for the ignition to work. He was kindly suggesting that I lacked the strength needed to start it. I’M 78 and have been slowing down quite a bit so that made a lot of sense. I traded the MS361 for an Easy Start MS251C- problem solved. I didn’t realize the electrics were that robust so I will have to check them out. Lesson- you need to constantly re-evaluate your preps

#43 Comment By Wood Tamer On May 6, 2019 @ 4:36 pm

Gary,
I really appreciate your comments. Younger people can’t begin to understand the issues that older preppers have. I am impressed that you are running a chain saw at 78. I am 65 and I have definitely slowed down. Thank you for the chain saw input.
Also I totally agree we need to constantly review what we are doing to prepare for who knows what.

#44 Comment By Big Mike On May 6, 2019 @ 1:27 pm

I was told by our local Stihl dealer that there was a place to buy super no lead non-ethanol gas in our town. He said you have to ask for it because the dealer does not advertise the fact. I suppose this is for all the lawn service businesses and loggers. So ask in your location. I still add the fuel stabilizers and anti-ethanol products to my fuel, just in case.