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Highlight of the 2013 Elmia Wood Show
By Ken Morrison
Over 50,000 forest industry professionals flocked to the Elmia Wood exhibition near Jönköping, Sweden, in June to observe the latest timber harvesting and processing technology. Many of these attendees were also drawn to the sights and sounds of some very old machines—the vintage chainsaws that launched the mechanized age of timber harvesting.
This popular exhibit was born when show officials contacted Magnus Mattisson, a well-known chainsaw collector in Farlöv, Sweden. Mattisson is also the founder of the Chainsaw Collectors Forum website (which has over 5,000 registered users worldwide) and the International Chainsaw Collectors Association (ICSCA). He describes the association as “a loose group of chainsaw enthusiasts who engage in annual gatherings to display vintage saws, meet, greet, and generally enjoy the hobby.” The gatherings rotate between Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Norway. The Elmia Wood invitation provided an unusually large stage for the group’s 2013 gathering.
Mattisson posted on his website and contacted ICSCA members in hopes of creating a display that would showcase the advent of chainsaw technology from its origins (mid-1920s) to the present. He attracted a dozen collectors—eight from Sweden, one from Finland, two from Germany, and one from Vancouver, Canada—who collectively provided 120 saws for the display.
The exhibit space was donated by Elmia Wood, but all travel, lodging, and shipping costs were borne by each ICSCA member. They did receive support from sponsors Dolmar (sweaters), Husqvarna (tent), Stihl (tent), ASPEN (hats, tent, fuel mix), Elite Oil (bar/chain oil), and Oregon/Blount (test logs).
The participating ICSCA members also staffed the exhibit, and nine of them were there throughout the show’s four-day run. In addition to fielding visitor questions, the group frequently demonstrated these relics in a roped-off cutting site. Their demo fleet included a pair of brand new saws—a 79 cc Dolmar and a 46 cc Jonsered—that were used to illustrate advances made since the 1970s and 1980s.
Renowned collector/restorer Mike Acres, of Vancouver, B.C., the lone North American on the ICSCA team, said the rapport was outstanding. With varying collections and interests, the exhibit staff complemented each other and ably handled the ongoing barrage of questions from passers-by. “Everyone was good at talking to people, sharing the history of specific units, and most importantly, listening as visitors asked questions or reminisced about their own experiences with some of these old saws,” Acres explained.
Acres, who also maintains a popular collector website (the Chain Saw Collectors Corner), took an extra step to help communicate the historical significance of the saws on hand. Prior to the show, he researched and composed informative placards for the models that were most historically significant. The display was organized by brand and/or collector, and the saws were laid out on the ground with pathways around them to provide up-close access for visitors.
Acres, whose entire working life has been spent in the forestry equipment arena, said that the show’s location in Europe yielded some very rare and collectible models from a North American perspective. “I got to see and touch some saws that I had never seen before—some rare enough to be on my personal wish list,” he said.
He cited eight saws that were particularly interesting:
1. Archimedes, twin-cylinder two-man saw. Made by a Swedish outboard manufacturer between 1938 and 1948. This saw was functional and was demonstrated several times each day at the show.
2. Festo Model KKS, a one-man, gear-drive saw made in Germany. It was powered by a 98 cc Fichtel & Sachs engine. A very unique adjustable transmission setup allowed cutting in virtually any position and angle.
3. LaQuick, two-man saw made in France in 1934. This saw has a manual, dry-plate clutch operated by a large lever on the right side of the saw and is almost identical to a Burnett, Danarm, Stihl, or Dolmar saw of that era, except these saws had grip-type clutch controls.
4. BP Motorenwork Baker Polling Type 1.2 made in Germany in 1949. This saw used a motorcycle engine in a horizontal plane.
5. Husqvarna Alaska I made in Sweden in 1956. This prototype model was Husqvarna’s very first attempt at building a chainsaw.
6. Stihl KS43 two-man saw made in Germany. This was the first European-made saw to employ die-cast magnesium housings. This model was built for the German army in 1939 and adapted for retail sales after World War II. The KS43 at Elmia Wood was operational and demonstrated several times a day.
7. Jonsered Model P, a one-man saw made in Sweden in the 1950s. It has the distinction of being diesel-powered. Only 200 of them were manufactured. Jonsered modified the design and reintroduced it as the Model XA, which was somewhat more abundant.
8. PPK Model Quick 25L40 was a small, one-man saw made in France. Very rare.
There were just a handful of saws made in North America: Two Hornets, four McCullochs, six Homelites, and one each of Mall, Titan, and Pioneer. Nevertheless, Acres felt the saws on hand did a good job of demonstrating the transition from two-man units, to one-man swiveling gear drive units with float carburetors, to one-man direct drive-units with all-position carburetors—the basic technology still in use today.
The collectors manning the Elmia Wood exhibit were pleasantly surprised by its popularity. The booth was a fair distance from the gate, but once attendees began to arrive, it remained busy all day. Acres estimated that at any given time, there were 50 to 100 visitors and often more. Rumors circulated that its popularity rankled some of the mainstream equipment exhibitors! According to Torsten Nilsson, a Swedish ICSCA team member, “I think we all —agreed this was one of the best chainsaw shows we’ve ever attended.”
Nilsson added that an important factor in this success was that nearly all the visitors were tied to the forest industry. “Many of the older men had been using saws, been with their fathers in the woods, or just had an interest in anything related to logging and machines,” he said. “But there were also lots of young people who were keenly interested and thought it was great to see such a comprehensive representation of chainsaw history.”
The ICSCA members are looking forward to the next Elmia Wood show, which will take place in 2017. They are optimistic that with more lead time, they will be able to draw an even wider array of vintage saws and related equipment and more collector/enthusiasts from around the world.
For more information about the Elmia Wood display and vintage chainsaws in general, visit the Chainsaw Collectors Forum (www.chainsawcollectors.se) and the Chain Saw Collectors Corner website (www.acresinternet.com/cscc.nsf).
Ken Morrison, former editor of Chain Saw Age magazine, has researched and reviewed chainsaws and related power equipment for more than 30 years.
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