Rural Survival


Fire Wood

Fire wood logs

The easy to get firewood are pretty much gone and I'm forced to go deeper into the woods. I've been using a 30' chain to skid the logs out with my truck but that's getting more and more difficult. The terrain is too steep for a tractor so I've been looking at winches. The typical electric winch one sees on truck bumpers are inadequate for this application. The retrieval rate is too slow, about 10' per minute at best and the truck needs to be running to keep the batteries from draining down.

A capstan winch appear to be the solution. The one I have been looking at use a nylon rope of any length with a retrieval rate from 40' - 60' per minute. Pulling power is over a ton and double that with a snatch block. It's powered by a Honda gas engine mated to the unit and is easily portable weighing in at about 35 lb.

Portable Winch Gas-Powered Capstan Winch - 50cc Honda GHX-50 Engine, 1-Ton Capacity, Model# PCW-5000
Portable Winch Gas-Powered Capstan Winch

My 89 Chev. farm and wood truck

The two most popular saws around here are Stihl and Husqvarna. I prefer Stihls, they seem to start easier and built a tad better. I bought a Stihl 041Super in 1976 and it still starts and runs good. The model has been discontinued for a while now and parts are no longer available except on Ebay. That being too much hassle I bought a new MS361 model for $609 in 2009 from a Stihl dealer. It's better built and more powerful than the consumer brands sold at big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot. The saw has very good power to weight ratio and so far it has been dependable, no problems. The only thing to note is that for me the engine flooded easily and made it tricky to start cold, however it's predictable and easy to figure out.

Stihl 361 chain saw
Stihl 361 chain saw
Shindawa electric chain saw
Shindawa electric chain saw

I also have an electric chain saw as an emergency backup saw. Can't use it in the woods but very convenient around the house. The electric motor provides instant high torque and with a sharp chain cuts better than you would expect. I knew a old time mill operator who used it for trimming the three sided logs he cut for cabin building. He said that was the way to go.

The key to cutting wood is the sharpness of the chain. I've seen people file chains razor sharp free hand but I've been terrible at it all these years. I've had moderate success using a manual chain sharpener but for me they tended to move around on the bar enough to make it difficult to be consistent. Perhaps I lacked patience and I ended up procrastinating and putting off sharpening till the chains become nearly useless. I ended up buying two or three new chains online each year so I wouldn't have to sharpen.

After accumulating over a dozen chains I did some research and bought an electric chain sharpener from Northern Tool for about a $100. It's a Chinese copy of an Oregon machine branded by Northern Tool. It's built well and works good, a big step up for my wood cutting.

Manual chain saw sharpener
Manual chain sharpener

Northern Tool electric chain sharpener

Fire wood logs
Fire wood logs

I keep in shape during the winter by chopping wood and I enjoy it. I find it very fulfilling but I can see that perhaps in about ten years it may become too arduous to chop significant amounts quickly. I've been thinking about getting a wood splitter. From my experience hydraulic splitters are too slow and overly complicated. I've recently discovered the mechanical splitter that works by a rack and pinion mechanism.

This guy has a great idea an electric powered mechanical (rack and pinion) wood splitter that run off a solar panel. This is something I would like to put together.

Then there are the big flywheel machines with the splitting blades welded or bolted right on the flywheel like the one in the video below.

"World's Fastest Wood Splitter" YouTube video. It's fast alright but looks dangerous.



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