Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hedging the Trails

OK, Been busy, kinda forgot about this place. But I'm back, sorta.

   Southeastern Connecticut's Chapter of New England Mt Biking Assoc. started up in February and we quickly applied and received a grant to purchase 2, 40 volt, 4ah battery powered, extended reach hedge trimmers to be use for trail cleaning and brush/briar control on the trails in the area. These are the Greenworks brand and the largest battery they can come with. (I don't think anyone else makes an extended reach hedge trimmer?) We received a regular gas powered one from the Town of Lyme a couple years back and it worked well, but bending over to get the close to the ground stuff was kinda a pain in the back. The extended reach and the pivoting heads of the battery powered units seemed like a great idea. And, I have to say, they are!

   I've used them a good amount now and have to say they are better than I even expected.  We used one at the "Trails Day" with the CFPA at Cockoponsett Connecticut State Park for a bit, as well as I took them to Rocky Neck State Park and used them to clear the "Nature Trail"  for the camp sites Nature Center. The maintenance guys at Rocky Neck started with standard weedwackers but quickly went through a good bit of string and even with blades on them the hardy brush and briars would just wind up around the heads of anything that rotated. I came back with the 2 Hedge trimmers and we finished the last 3/4's of the trail in about 20 minutes. Took us longer to clean up the debris after than to clear it.
The Batteries on these things are much longer lasting than you'd expect. I have yet to run it long enough to kill a battery which is really good. But estimating time of use from the amount I have used one and how far down the meter on the battery is I'd say you'd get 2+ hours out of the smaller 2ah battery and 3-4 out of the 4ah battery, I'm sure over time the tool will wear and batteries will fade but honestly, they will just come to what I realistically expected at that point. There is plenty of power to cut right through anything 1/2 inch or smaller and on more than one occasion it bit right through 3/4 inch stuff with little effort.
   They're not perfect, but really the only bad thing is they are a tad heavy and/or awkward. With the motor head and all down at the bottom of the pole they can be a bit heavy if swung around for a long period of time. Not terrible as the battery is balancing a bit by being up top and behind your hands but I wouldn't want to use them all day. Honestly, the amount of time the batteries will last is about the time it'll take for the average person to become a little fatigued from using them.  I do wish the upper handle loop was turned 90ยบ for easier swinging or even better if it were pivotable would be awesome. But I'm kinda nit picking now and I have yet to find anything that will come close to the ease and speed for trimming back trails of the over growth, particularly the New England briars around here that these things buzz right through with ease.

I'm gunna try and find a way to mount my cam to the handle so I can record them in use so you can get a real feel of what they are truly capable of as well as I need to take before and after shots of trails they have helped clear.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Southeastern CT NEMBA tee's are here!!

The Southeastern Connecticut chapter of New England Mt Biking Assoc has some really nice Tee's for sale... $15

help the newest chapter get up and going,.. buy a sweet SECT NEMBA tee!

about 1/2 are gone already so supplies are limited,... Email for sizes and/or more info

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Prepping for the MTB Summit this weekend on the Cape..


nice to be outside.. weather is so awesome I brought the bike out into the driveway to do a quick swipe cleaning and check it over after the winter's riding..

Friday, January 24, 2014

And GREAT service Too!

   OK,  I so wanted to scream, after writing the great first impression reviews (which you can read below) and going out and using it more I was really loving the saw.. till.... it broke, motor runs, chain doesn't spin!!   figured the chain slipped off the drive gear or something. took off the cover, nope. Pull the trigger and the drive doesn't even turn.Well got back home, and called their service number. The person I talked to was very nice and asked if I'd be willing to bring it to a local service store which they found on their listings. Sure I say, probably be faster that way. Well about a dozen tries on the phone and then a drive over to the "store" come to find out it was an old guy who did service out of his garage and, well he didn't anymore.
   Of coarse it was too late Friday and I had to stew all weekend before I could call Greenworks back on Monday.  Again I got a very nice person. After a quick talk and a little description of what happened and the issue of it sorta skipping even when new (which you can see in a few of the videos), she put me on hold as she wanted to talk with a technician about it. Not a minute later she was back on the line and asked for my mailing address. "oh, what is it a simple part I can replace myself?" I asked. She stated that they really weren't sure but had never heard of the issue and it most likely from the description of the issue when right out of the box it may well have been a manufacturing defect and that they were just going to send me a new one for my troubles instead of trying to fix it. Cool... It came today.. and whats better,.. it's everything, not just the saw, but a charger and battery too, Ok it's the smaller battery but still, the batteries cost more than the actual saw does!  So now I have 2.  That's what I call a company that strives for customer satisfaction!

The one on the right is the broken one.. but the battery and charger are still good!

Now let's see if I can break this one too! and I my just tear the other apart and see if I can fix it.  Win Win!


OK, being, well, Me. I had to take the old one apart and see just how the whole thing works and what the actual issue was with the saw... not to hard to find.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Battery Powered Chainsaws for trail work,...?

Part 1 - What you get & 1st impressions...

SO, been looking at these battery powered chainsaws for some time now. My main reason was personal. I have had like 6 or 7 gas chainsaws since the early 80's. They get used maybe one or two times a year and almost every time I went to use one of them there was always an issue getting the thing up and running after sitting for so long. Yes I did the whole drain the fuel, or use gas saver,  and clean the plug, check the fuel tank.. carburetor bla bla bla... I've done it all so many times I can't count, and it's all just plan annoying when you NEED IT! And not one of them ever really ran right after the first yr or so.  I started just buying the cheapest POS saw I could find and just tossing it after a storm, or giving it away .. just wasn't worth the cost and effort to keep one around for the little we used it.
   But, Battery powered? well of course everyone's first response is going to be "its a toy"  or "there is no way it's got enough power to really cut anything" Well, after almost a year of research I finally decided to get one and try it out. Now I'm not looking for a 20 inch monster saw for clearing property all day long. I'm just looking for something that I can cut up the mid to large sized, dead fall branches or the mid sized trees that fall all the time here on the Connecticut coast after high winds and the fequent summer storm. My second reason was also to be able to carry it reasonably easily out onto trails to do minor to mid level trail clean up. No gas, no starting issues, low noise are all great bonuses for the minor power loss or speed of cutting trade off.

   What I chose was the Greenworks 40 volt 4ah (the newer G-max battery version) 12 inch chainsaw. Retails for right around $200.  There is a 40 volt unit with the 2ah battery which is the exact same saw with a smaller battery for around $170 but I felt it would be rather short run time even for me.

**(caution if you go looking for this, there are still an older 40 volt unit that looks exactly the same for less money out that doesn't use the G-max battery, not a biggy other than it won't work with other items like the pole saw that are G-max and I hear the battery life isn't as good..? and well this is the newer model )**

   There are others out there including some nice Oregon and Stihl units but the price of those are MUCH higher (more than 2x in some cases) and they all have 2ah or 2.5ah batteries and for the extra money I think I'd rather just buy this saw and an extra battery, or I'm actually thinking of getting the 8 inch pole saw with the matching battery, still less or the same money than either of those two.  The many little 18 volt units you can get at the big box stores are fine for pruning, but any real work I find they just don't have the battery power or length of life to deal with what I need, and they aren't that much cheaper in general than this was. Greenworks also make a 16 inch blade saw. It uses the same battery pack and has a newer brushless motor. It costs $100 more which is really the main reason I didn't just get it as I thought an extra battery for the money would be more useful to me and the smaller saw would be easier to hike around in the woods.

   Ok, well what you get for your $200 bucks is the unit, a charger, battery and a chain protector sleeve. Only thing you need to add is Bar and chain oil. Now one of the biggest complaints about the unit I came across while reading all the reviews scattered across the internet was oil leaking out of the oil cap. there is a small breather hole so if you turn it completely upside down the oil can drip out. It's super tiny so I can't see much getting out through it. But what I think they were actually talking about was it dripping from the cap threads, which it looks like it could do. A simple 12 cent o-ring from the hardware store took care of that without a second thought. The whole thing weighs in at a tad over 9lbs which is less than I remember my gas ones being, though don't quote me on that as I'm sure there are some lighter, But this is very well balanced with the battery weight stuck right dead center of the front handle making it pretty easy and comfortable to handle. it's self oiling chain and a simple tool less chain tensioning system. No wrench needed,  which is one more thing you don't need to carry with you when out on a trail. (note read the directions!!! You need to loosen the chain cover before adjusting the chain tension as it helps clamp the bar from sliding and will make the adjustment knob feel like it's not doing anything.)

   Now when it comes to actual use I've gotten out to use it twice now. The first time was just in the yard. I have a short trail along side my driveway that's about 1/4 mile long. I cleared a mess of fallen branches and cut back some brush for about an hour. Mostly 1 inch stuff but a few larger branches and one rather large 6+ inch one that I cut up into many pieces. Then went and cut a large, well, for the saw, 8-9 inch diameter tree that a storm had snapped about 8 feet off the ground leaving a monolithic truck standing there. I had started cutting it with my last gas saw which of course died midway through the stump never to run again, and the monolith has been standing there ever since.

The Cordless finished it off nicely and cut the trunk into a few manageable pieces pretty easy. After all this time there was still 1/2 the battery power left by the gauge. Much better battery life than I really expected. I was pretty impressed for a first time user. The next time I used it was at Hartman Park in Lyme CT. After getting approval from the town's land manager I headed over to the park. It fit in my pack rather easy as well as a bunch of stuff like cameras, food and drink, though it is a large mountain hiking backpack. A "day pack" would probably be OK but the blade would have to stick out. Weight wise it was fine and I probably could have hiked most of the day with it back there. If I had to just carry it in my hand, I really don't see it as being a problem either, it's just not that heavy and it is really well balanced. I hiked it out for about a mile or so to a tree that, well, is probably larger around than the saw was really designed to cut. I almost didn't attempt it because of the size.


But I went for it anyway. I cut the very large tree in 2 places and again after I finished there was still a good 1/2 charge left. I set up my Contour Cam in a tree and filmed it.. don't laugh to hard, I never claimed to be an expert tree cutter. but the thumbnail before starting the video kinda gives you a good idea of the size of the tree.

Now It's no gas saw for sure. but it did pretty well considering what I was doing with it. All in all I'm pretty impressed with this little saw.

  OK, there are a few minor issue I'll point out at this time.
  1.  First off the above mentioned oil leak which the O-ring fixed rather easy.
  2. Oil fill cap and hole are kinda small, use a funnel or have a rag ready when filling, thought that's the same with gas saws soooo...
  3. It seems to consume chain oil rapidly, (self lube chain) It doesn't hold much either, guessing like 1/4 cup if that. You'll need to refill it at least once if not two or even three times before you'll kill the battery. Keep chain oil handy and keep an eye on the level in the window.
  4. The kick back or gripper teeth on the body are plastic instead of metal. Surprisingly I found they do hold on the tree when rolling into the cut, but I don't think they will for long as they will round off over time, and smoother barked trees I don't see them holding at all.
   One of the bigger issues I thought at first was it kinda would grab and stop the clutch. It really didn't take much and it wasn't binding, just seemed like it was either fighting or was just plan taking too big a bite. It didn't seem to hurt it, just would stop and you'd have to pull it out a hair to get it spinning again. There were more than a few reviews I read that claimed the chain was a total POS and they went out and got a new Oregon chain and the cutting improved greatly. Funny thing is if you watch the movie it stopped doing it about half way through the first cut and never did it again finishing that cut or on the second half of the tree. I'm guessing from the sound of the motor, smoothness, and the speed it cut that either the chain was too tight, not in tension but the actual links binding, or the tip wheel or some other thing that just needed break in time as it's running better and cutting much faster (which you can see as I start the second cut in the video) I'll still probably order the other chain and save this one for a spare.

So all things considered I still think this saw is a really good buy.  Again it's not a gas powered saw, it doesn't cut as fast, but really that's it, it's lighter, quieter, costs less over time with no gas and oil mixture to buy plus little or no cost to upkeep unlike a gas saw. It's more than a pruning saw for sure, but it's not for all day use either. I will say it's probably going to be the perfect trail maintenance saw. great for those limbs that you "could" cut with a hand saw, but just don't want to!!  If you use it for what it's intended for, then I think anyone getting it will like it. Those that don't like it are most likely  using it for more than it was designed to do.

I'll write again after I've used it a bit more and post on how well it's lasting. I'll probably get a better chain and see if that makes it even better also.

now for a little after work reward to take a bite out of the chilly air... that ain't no sugar brandy, that's the real stuff :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Real World Cycling's Shock Bearing install,...

OK, this is kinda a 2 parter, why? well because under normal conditions this would be a rather easy install, but, do my Voodoo Canzo's unusually wide rocker arm setup and rather small mounting screw, there was a bit of customizing needed to install it properly.
Real World Cycling has a pretty extensive list of frames that they have direct fits for, and Chris is really helpful with fittings to unlisted frames so if you're bike isn't there, just e-mail him and ask.. he'll help you get it set up.!
(link to list of frames and kits needed..

1st off I was going to do both upper and lower bearings but actually after a quick chat with Chris it was determined that the lower joint moved so little during the suspensions arch that it really wouldn't add that much improvement.  Being that it's not a standard listed frame I measured the spacing of the shock mount and ordered the bearing and tools needed to remove the old bushing and install the shock bearing kit.
Measured old mount width and                     bearing along with pressing tools

I didn't take a picture but the kit includes a roller bearing, the bearing race tube and 2 end caps with dust seals, basically everything to replace the mounting hardware and bushing of a standard setup.
Take shock off frame

In normal cases you just remove your shock from the frame and taking the tools (ordered separately) you push the old bushing out and press the new bearing in. Along with the specialty tools you'll need a 5/16" (or metric equivalent)  bolt around 5 inches long with a few washers and a nut (cost was under 3 bucks at local hardware store) 
You take the tools and put the push tool on one side and the receiver tool on the other, slip the bolt thru with the washers and a nut and give it a twist with a couple of wrenches. The Blue tool is made for just removing (and installing if you ever want to do that again) the bushing where the green one is for both the bushing and bearing removal and/or installation. The green tool has marking on it to tell you which end to put against the shock for install or removal, it's good to pay attention to those as you'll just squeeze things and nothing will happen if you set it wrong.

I was rather surprised at how easy the old bushing was to press out with the tools and after the initial umph needed to break it free it slid out with little effort on the wrenches. The bushing actually slides inside the receiver end so you can't see it when it's done,  but it's very obvious when it's full out of the shock.

I took the shock and a bit of rubbing alcohol and wiped out the eyelet, then setup the tools for pressing in the bearing. there is a 2nd piece to the green tool and you use it instead of the blue one for pressing the bearing is and keeping it centered and straight. Make sure you flip the larger green tool as it stops the bearing from going to far beyond the center of the eyelet.

The tool ready with the bearing in place         --- - ---          Bearing pressed flush with shock eyelet

bearing in

Now you just take the supplied bearing race and end caps and making sure the dust seals are against the shock covering the bearing, and bolt onto you bike... 

Just a short video of the action, I wish I had taken one of the shock before I installed this, I would say it would have been a lot more "jerky" as it's now a much smoother action for sure. 
(PS yes the shock is a tad low on air at the time of this recording)

1st Impressions, well, Even from just a quick trip down my little trail in the yard I would have to say there is a noticeable improvement  in smoothness and small bump action. I Actually added about 5 lbs more air than I used to and it's still WAY smoother than it was on the small pot holes and branches and such that are normally kinda jarring. 

More to come,... custom install on the Voodoo Canzo 29er and actual ride report... 

here's just a goofy video I did with some of these photos and the cam shot of the first ride down my mailbox trail...

Monday, December 16, 2013

And it's GREEN!!!

OK, time to get back into it, I've been slacking WAY to long...

I ordered these a bit ago from Real World Cycling.. but the size to fit my bike doesn't come in green  :(  well was Joking with Chris about them not coming in green to match the Voodoo canzo and he said,. "I'm sending a bunch of stuff out to get green ano next week, if ya don't mind waiting I'll just have them do one of that size for ya in green"  AWESOME!!! It's soooo gunna look cool on the Swamp Green Voodoo Canzo
It's minus the RWC etched logo so I feel I owe him a bit of thanks and promotion on his really spectacular customer service!! The 2 upper items are the tools to remove and install and the lower piece is the actual item...

Can ya guess what it is?  (should be obvious to most)

A full install and review to follow!!

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