As is the case with any task, the key to success lies in the preparation, and getting your STIHL ready for the upcoming season is no different. In previous editions of the STIHL PROLINE, articles have been written discussing equipment storage; following the recommended storage techniques will really simplify putting your STIHL back into service.
The first task to be completed when preparing for the season is to re-familiarize yourself with the information in your owner’s/operating manual. Instructions pertaining to most of the routine/regular maintenance procedures can be found in the manual. The second task to complete is to make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment on hand (hearing protection, eye protection, safety pants, proper footwear, gloves, etc.). It is also a good idea to have some shop rags available for clean-up. You should also make sure that you have a clean work area, to accomplish minor tasks like cleaning, sharpening, draining fuel and oil, etc.
There are two areas of your STIHL to focus on: the engine/motor and the attachment or cutting tool. It is important that both the engine and the attachment are in good working condition in order to get the maximum performance out of your STIHL power tool.
If you followed the recommended storage procedure outlined in the owner’s manual, you will simply need to refill your fuel tank with fresh fuel. Depending on how long your equipment has been in storage, you may find that during the initial start-up and running process, the equipment may not idle or accelerate properly; this is usually attributed to stiff carburetor diaphragms. Carburetor diaphragms may “loosen” up on their own over a short period of time. However, if the engine performance does not improve, take your equipment into your STIHL Dealer for service.
...drain any remaining fuel from the fuel tank...
If your STIHL was not prepared for a long storage period, then a number of steps must be taken before attempting to operate the equipment. The first thing to take care of is to check to make sure that all of the safety devices on your STIHL are in place and working properly. Throttle interlocks, chain catchers, chain breaks, guards, deflectors, limit stops, anti-vibration components and the on/off switch need to be in good working condition before attempting to use your STIHL. Take the time to check that all the outer covers are securely fastened and that any screws and fasteners are tight.
Remove the air filter cover and check the condition of the filter. Air filter maintenance varies depending on the model. Generally speaking the air filter can be cleaned by removing and lightly tapping the edge of the filter to remove any dirt, or by using a soft bristle brush to clean the surface. Before removing the air filter, make sure that you engage the choke mechanism to prevent any dirt from entering the carburetor. When you have removed the filter, closely inspect the air filter housing for signs of dirt ingestion, any signs of dirt or debris inside the filter box indicates that the filter should be replaced. If in doubt about the type of filter your equipment uses and whether or not it can be serviced, consult your owner’s manual or local STIHL Dealer.
Remove the spark plug, and either clean or replace it. The condition of the spark plug is a great indicator on how the engine is operating; mechanics use the appearance and condition of the spark plug as a diagnostic tool. A spark plug that is heavily fouled with oil or soot indicates that there is a problem with the engine that needs to be addressed. Under normal conditions, the electrode of a spark plug should have a light tan or brown colour. If your spark plug is heavily fouled, take your STIHL to your local dealer for inspection, adjustment or repair. Otherwise, clean the electrode with a stiff wire brush, reset the electrode gap to .020” or .005 mm and re-install. If you decide to replace the spark plug, be sure to purchase and install the correct type. Spark plugs have different characteristics (heat ranges, electrode reach, thread size, etc.). Installing the wrong type of spark plug in your STIHL can have catastrophic consequences. If in doubt; consult your local STIHL Dealer for more information.
The next step involved in getting your STIHL ready for the season, is to drain any remaining fuel from the fuel tank and to dispose of any fuel left in your portable fuel container. The fact of the matter is that today’s fuel has a relatively short shelf life. As fuel ages, the chemical properties change and the fuel becomes corrosive. Old fuel will not only damage fuel system components, but will also cause piston and cylinder failure. STIHL equipment utilizes high performance engine technology that requires a minimum of an 89 octane rated fuel. As fuel ages, the octane rating of the fuel drops. Low octane fuel causes pre-ignition and detonation, which will destroy these high performance engines in relatively short order. Drain the fuel tank and replace it with an 89 octane fuel mixed with your STIHL 2-cycle oil at a 50:1 ratio.
The various attachments incorporated into your STIHL will require your attention, and may need to be serviced. Chain saws for example, have a guide bar and cutting chain that need to be serviced on a regular basis. The guide bar should be cleaned and rotated routinely, and the chain should be kept sharp at all times. Tools to accomplish these tasks are available at your servicing dealer. Remember your STIHL is designed to make your job easier. If you find that you are forcing your STIHL to cut, then the blade/chain needs to be checked and either sharpened or replaced. STIHL brushcutters often use a line head for cutting. The line head should be disassembled and cleaned and re-spooled with the appropriate line.
...if you are forcing your STIHL to cut, then the blade/chain needs to be checked...
The condition of the cutting attachment is as important as the condition of the engine. Always make sure that you take the time to properly maintain and sharpen your STIHL attachment. Detailed instruction on preventative maintenance for your STIHL can be found in the owner’s/operating manual.
Some people are not comfortable with performing maintenance on their equipment. Others just do not have the time, space or inclination to take the necessary steps to ensure that their STIHL is kept in good working condition. The Canadian STIHL Servicing Dealer network is over a thousand strong and is at your disposal for professional service and advice. If you have any trouble putting your STIHL back into service this upcoming season, come visit us at www.stihl.ca and use our dealer locator to find a STIHL Servicing Dealer in your area.