A Word on Chainsaws
Selling chainsaws for over 40
years, Milt Moore has seen it all
By Barbara Coyner
Milt Moore ran chainsaws for over
forty years, but never spent a day logging. As a saw shop owner who recently
retired, heís sold, demonstrated and repaired hundreds of saws, definitely
giving him a handle on the loggerís essential tool. His thoughts on chainsaws?
Theyíve gotten better and better. "The young people working out there today
couldnít go back and work on what I was working on," says Moore, who ran a saw
shop first in St. Maries, Idaho, and later in Potlatch, Idaho. "The quality has
gotten a lot better. Theyíre lighter weight and sturdier because of the plastic
parts, though you donít dare call it plastic because people think itís cheap.
But thereís actually a certain amount of give to plastic that isnít there with
metal that makes newer saws able to stand more impacts. The new saws are easier
to run so theyíre easier on the sawyer."
Milt poses by a prized
chainsaw carving he got while working n the saw shop business
Moore, who grew up in South Dakota
before coming west with his family, ventured into the saw business at age 21,
sharpening his skills in Charlieís Saw Shop in St. Maries. It was a good fit,
and Moore even put his musical background to good use in the bargain. "I was
always mechanically inclined, so it wasnít hard to pick up working on saws,"
says Moore. "I think my music helped too, because I had an ear for it and could
adjust saws by sound. The company told us we had to use a meter to adjust rpmís,
but I proved them wrong several times."
Working on Homelite and McCulloch
brands initially, Moore eventually added Stihl, Sacks Dolmar, Poland, Pioneer
and Jonsered to his lineup. He singles out Stihl as his hands-down favorite,
both for product quality and company reliability. "Stihl is probably the best
company I ever worked with. They were good at getting stuff to you and had few
back orders. They make reliable, good quality parts, but frankly, the company
got too good on us and we didnít have a big amount of repairs on their saws."
Interior of Miltís first
saw shop at St. Maries.
Interestingly enough, Moore
figures he could scope out a loggerís professional attitudes merely by the way
the lumberjack treated his saw. It was easy to peg the top loggers. "Some
loggers just plain donít take care of their saws. They throw them in the back of
their trucks in the rain and the snow and then expect them to work. Iíve seen
more than a few melted parts when some guy tried to thaw his saw out over the
exhaust of a cat. A good logger keeps his equipment in good repair because it
makes him money," says Moore.
Milt Moore still comes
by the saw shop in Potlatch to visit with Dana McGreal, and sometimes
offer advice, as well. He trained Dana and says women oftentimes have a
better touch when it comes to fine-tuning and detail work.
"A used saw is not for a pro, and
some guys would come in every six months and buy a new one. The best customers I
had to work with wanted me to fix their saw, but others came in and just wanted
to get by. Some would even gripe about the prices, but then Iíd look at the new
truck they were driving and remind them that it was the saw that made him his
money for that truck." Moore was more than willing to show the old hand or the
chainsaw rookie how to care for equipment. Rule number one: keep the fuel and
filter clean. Keep the saw maintained so itís ready to work. During his business
years, Milt knew the loggers depended on their saws to pay their bills, and
depended on him to keep their equipment running.
Training his share of technicians,
he points with special pride to two women who worked with him. He inherited
RaeDean Scofieldís chainsaw know-how when he bought out the Atkisonís saw shop
in Potlatch, and he later trained Dana McGreal in the trade. Both women were
well respected for their expertise by area loggers. "In finer work, I think
women can do better because they have smaller hands and can set the carburetion
better," Moore says. Moore admits that heís a people lover and misses many of
his old customers now that heís sold out, but he gladly leaves chainsaw repair
to Idaho Rigging, the new owners of his shop in Potlatch.
Miltís bar machine,
which he built himself and used in his shop.
The general shape of the timber
industry worries him a little, and he thinks he picked a good time to exit the
profession. "The business is down in saw shops because of all the mechanization
in the woods, but I think in the future, down the road, theyíre going to go back
to the saws. Mechanization benefits the mill, but not the logger." Safety is now
a bigger issue in the woods, Moore says, and he watched sales on chaps, ear
protection and eye protection go up considerably since he first broke into the
trade. "People didnít willingly buy chaps," he quips. "They usually stopped on
their way home from the hospital and bought them." After surviving heart
surgery, Milt Moore is definitely kicking back and savoring his retirement,
especially the chance to make more music. He plays rhythm guitar and sings, and
his wife Bev plays bass for his band Moore Country.
The two gear up for several yearly
campouts that offer non-stop old-time music and dancing. In the meantime, Milt
keeps the home fires burning, puttering with household projects and working his
draft horse team. As for chainsaws, Moore doesnít go looking for them. He keeps
a couple around for work at home, and sometimes even helps some of his friends
and neighbors with their logging and thinning chores. Itís about the closest
this seasoned chainsaw expert will ever get to being a logger
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