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Chain Gang

Discussion in 'The Lighter Side' started by Blitzer, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Blitzer

    Blitzer Cool Cat

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    Jan 15, 2004
    The communist's play ground of OHIO
    Chain Gang


    By Patrick F. McManus

    They came, they sawed, they conquered.

    Jul 8, 2008

    Barney Wapshot's wife gave him a chainsaw for Christmas. I was furious. Barney is not a chainsaw kind of guy. It 's unlikely he will ever use it, but that still allows him to make comments about his chainsaw to guys at his golf club: "I was going to crank up my chainsaw the other day and cut down a few trees, but then some guests showed up for drinks and hors d'oeuvres by the pool." I hate that sort of pretense, particularly in a guy whose wife gave him the chainsaw in the first place. If you're a real chainsaw kind of guy, you go out and buy your own.

    Whatever on earth prompted Winnie, that's his wife, to give Barney a chainsaw, I don't know.

    Maybe she was sending him a message, like "I wish you were more like Pat. He's a chainsaw kind of guy."

    Or maybe Winnie was thinking about the economy. Anytime the economy goes to heck in a handbasket, people start thinking about chainsaws and how they can go out to a national forest and cut enough firewood to last through the winter. "At least we'll be warm, even if we have to huddle around the fireplace."

    Winnie would certainly be right if she thinks I'm a chainsaw kind of guy. In fact, I have two chainsaws, but I must confess that one of them is electric. The electic's okay for trimming limbs around the house but totally usless for cutting firewood out in a national forest, unless you have an awfully long extension cord. The other one is a standard gas model, but it's broken. Actually, it may not be broken, because I took it all apart and repaired it myself. On the other hand, you don't want a chainsaw to explode on you. Those saw teeth flying all over the place could really hurt. Exploding chainsaws can be messy, particularly if you're not a chainsaw kind of guy.

    What happened was that my chainsaw was spewing gas all over the place, which alerted me to the possibility that something might be wrong. I should point out here that no true chainsaw guy ever wants to take his saw into a chainsaw repair shop, except as a last resort. First, he tries to fix it himself.

    WARNING: Do not try to repair your chainsaw yourself, unless you are familiar with motors and sharp instruments and know what you're doing.

    The problem with my chainsaw, I quickly deduced, was that the little plastic hose that runs from the gas tank to the thingamajig had come loose. Right away I guessed that this was the reason the saw was spewing gas all over the place. I slipped the little hose back on its doohickey and then fastened it down with a glob of acrylic something-or-other I've had on a shelf in the garage for nine years. So far, though, I haven't worked up the nerve to pull the starter thing. I'm sure the saw would work fine, but still...

    Anyway, I mentioned to my wife, Bun, that I've been thinking about buying another chainsaw. "You know, what with the economy being what it is, we might want to put in a good supply of wood from the national forest, enough to last us through the winter. That way, we'd at least be warm, if we huddled around the fireplace."

    "You're not getting another chainsaw until you get rid of the two you have out in the garage right now. I stumble over them every time I go out there."

    I tried to explain to her that a chainsaw is almost impossible to get rid of. If you're giving it away, the potential recipient already knows it doesn't work. The garbage people don't want you sneaking it into your garbage and the dump people have no category for chainsaws, particularly those that spew gas all over everything.

    So I'm keeping my chainsaws. Maybe the next time one of my sons-in-law comes over I will have him pull the starter thing. You can't be too safe, particularly with a machine that spews gas.

    I have been associated with chainsaws all my life, since I was a teenager, anyway. Before that we used a big crosscut saw. In those days you would have a logger haul you in a couple of buckskin tamarack logs in the fall, each one only slightly smaller than a railroad tank car. Then after grade school each day you and someone else would go out and saw one block off the log. One block, split up into heater chunks and cookstove pieces, was enough to keep the home fires burning for a day. I was only seven or eight the first time I sawed with my partner. He complained that I was "riding the saw." That's an expression you don't hear much anymore. You see, once you have pulled the saw back for the stroke in your direction, you are supposed to relax the pressure. If you don't, your partner has to drag both the saw and you back. That's called "riding the saw." You usually don't commit this sin until your arms are about to fall off. It wasn't that I didn't know about riding the saw, but I kept forgetting. As a seven-year-old, I had a lot of other things to think about.

    By the time I was a teenager, chainsaws had come along. For anyone who had spent any time riding a saw, this was one of the great inventions of all time. A logger we knew would lone our family his chainsaw when he wasn't using it, and we would mow down trees like crazy and zip them up into firewood lengths. The one problem with this saw was that it was slightly heavier than a Buick. It had a bar on it that could slice through a giant redwood in one pass, even though there wasn't a giant redwood within a thousand miles. Once my stepfather fell on the saw, and we had to take him home in quart jars. No, I'm only kidding. The saw wasn't running at the time but it still gave him some really nice scars.

    Eventually, we got a much smaller chainsaw, and it was a marvel. One fall when I was a sophomore in college I went home for a weekend, and my girlfriend and I cut my folks enough firewood to last them for the whole winter. I mowed down birch trees like they were tall grass, then cut them into eight-foot lengths,and Olga and I loaded them into the back of our pickup truck. It was quite amazing that a skinny girl and I could accomplish so much in a single day. I never saw Olga again after that and often have wondered whatever happened to her.

    After I became an adult, I was never without a chainsaw. Every summer I would load the family into my mountain car, also known as "the family car,"and we would tow our utility trailer up into the national forest to get our winter's wood. It made for a wonderful family outing. Oh, how I remember the girls screeching and hollering and how I had to pry their fingers off the ends of their beds in order to get them into the mountain car. It was a fun time. It's a disappointment to me that after the girls grew up they got married to husbands who have never once ventured out into the forest to cut firewood for the winter. You would think the memory of all those fun times would make the girls want to recreate them.

    My friend Dave Lisaius, of Dave's House of Fry, is a chainsaw kind of guy, and he and I often spend hours discussing different little tricks you can do with a chainsaw. For one thing, according to Dave, you can turn the little screw on the whangdoodle either clockwise or counterclockwise—I forget which-- so that you speed up the chain. That way when you set the saw down, the chain will continue to rotate and drag the saw around. But don't try this unless you know your whangdoodles. Dave says he uses saw creep to let his saw move itself into the woods on its own. He has even thought about putting a leash on the saw and walking behind it, to make sure it doesn't get away from him. Even if you don't own one yourself, I'm sure you would enjoy just listening to chainsaw guys visit over coffee.

    I don't know if Barney Wapshot has tried out his new chainsaw yet. He probably doesn't even know the words you use to get a chainsaw started, particularly after the 200th pull on the starter thing. Maybe I'll go over and teach them to him. The economy being what it is, I might need to borrow a chainsaw one of these days.

    Autographed copies of Patrick McManus' latest collection of Outdoor Life humor pieces, Kerplunk!, may be ordered by going to or by calling (509) 467-4356.

    Illustrations © Daniel Vasconcellos 2008
  2. Slagged

    Slagged I'm lost... CLM

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    Apr 16, 2007
    While I think chainsaws are cool, that gentleman has managed to turn them into a fetish.

  3. HiddenEyes

    HiddenEyes It can be done

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    Feb 4, 2002
    Isn't whangdoodle a TOS violation?

    Mr. HE:cool: