McCulloch Saw

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McCulloch Saw

Here is technological progress painted yellow. The profits on making this saw bought the London Bridge (and moved it Arizona). As a reliable alternative to the handsaw, it forever retired the misery whip as the saw of choice for loggers. To be sure other power saws had been around for half a century, the most famous of which was the Mall ( shown elsewhere on this site), but this one weighed half as much as the Mall (only 50 lbs) and was made of what we used to call 'pot metal'. These saws appeared in the late 1940's and were no doubt a spin off of the World War II aviation technology. Light weight, air cooled and powerful. When coupled with the new fangled "Oregon Chain' which was invented about that time, The sawdust would really fly. The beauty of the Oregon Chain was that it would cut its own kerf and would avoid pinches which were always frustrating users of previous designs.

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McCulloch Saw
Transmission Removed

If there was a single thing in the evolution of timber harvesting practices that had as much impact as this machine, I don't know what it is or was. No longer were hundreds of men needed to man a logging operation. Logging camps, sometimes a 1000 men strong, simply were not needed. Sufficient men could be transported to the job site in a 'crummy' (Crew bus), so the logging camps turned into legends.

If you compare this saw to the Mall you will notice some other features as well. The fuel tank is cast into the housing on top the motor, as is the oiler. This is a bit different from an older model that we had which had the oiler as an external 'pump can' mounted on the operator side of the engine. In other progress, unlike the Mall the stinger (the handled on the end of the bar) was removable, even while the saw was running. This meant that if it got in the way, or you needed to pull the saw out of a saw cut without lifting it out of the top you could do so. This was very useful because you often had set a wedge in the kerf, or if you hadn't, it was likely pinched shut, etc.

The all position carburetor had not yet been invented so to keep the saw running you had to keep it reasonably right-side up. Thus in order to fall trees with it, it was equipped with a rotating bar. There was a simple clamp that held the transmission to the engine right at the location of the clutch (which was of the automatic variety--which engaged when you revved up the engine). Loosen the clamp and you could rotate the bar.

The Saw always had a good set of dogs on the front of the transmission, so you would jam the pointed dogs in the wood and pull up on the handle bars like no tomorrow to force the bar into the wood. With the Second man on the stinger, of course, the engine man didn't have to work as hard. The Stinger guy carried the gas can, the Axe, and the wedges, as well as pulling the handle as indicated. This saw had a huge chain on it by today's standards, and it was greatly gear reduced from engine speed. Each tooth took a huge bite of wood. It would be years before the smaller lighter and much faster so called 'direct drive' saws would become the norm, but this saw made the break from handsaws and no longer would anyone claim that misery whips were better.

One of the unique things about this saw was the fact that the engine always misfired and sputtered until it was fully loaded. Once loaded it would smooth out and sound right. Consequently, for as far away as you could head the saw you could tell if the cutter was working because only when they were leaning into it would the saw run smoothly.

You could get what ever length bar you wanted for one of these saws. Common lengths included ran from 2 to 8 feet. . In logging operations in our family around 1950, we used the 40 and 60 inch bars in a 2 man configuration for salvage logging, and 20 inch bar in a one man configuration for bucking second growth. My brother still has a sore back to prove it.

The saw in these photos is owned by Robert and Suzanne Gierer, Lost Creek Valley near Warrenton, MO who have generously allowed it to be photographed.

- - Updated 02/04/2013
- - Updated 04/06/2008
- - Updated 2/08/01
- - Updated 03/23/2008