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billt

Got My Old Homelite XL Chainsaw Running Again !

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It's has been sitting on the shelf for the last 25 years, collecting dirt and dust. These were well made saws. Constructed of all powder coated Aluminum, with very little plastic. And good, strong running engines. So this morning I decided I would try to get it running again. It's been a good saw, but has been badly neglected. And I felt bad about it. 

So the first thing I did was open the fuel cap and turn the unit upside down. I thought it was empty, then after about 10 seconds this vile thick snot like substance came running out. It resembled a slimy 90W gear oil. Most likely it's what was left over after what gas was in the tank evaporated over the last 25 years... Yecch!

I filled the fuel tank about half full of fresh 40-1 Tru-Fuel Mix, and swished it around, and let it soak up and absorb whatever assorted crap was left in the tank, while I washed the unit down with some clean Kerosene. And then I blew it all off with compressed air. I wiped it down and detailed it a bit with some WD-40 and a clean, soft cloth. It cleaned up really nice.

After I got it all nice and clean, I pulled the plug and replaced it with a new one. Then I drained the fuel tank again, and filled it with fresh 40-1 Tru-Fuel, with some Sta-Bil added to it. Along with about a tablespoon full of some fresh Husqvarna Synthetic Blend 2-Stroke Oil, to richen up the mixture a bit. (I was able to find the operators manual on line. And Homelite say's it should run on a 32-1 mixture of gas and oil).

I oiled and adjusted the chain, and drained and filled the bar oil tank with some fresh Mobil 1, 10W-40 I had laying around. I really didn't expect it to start. But after a couple of pulls with the choke on, I switched it off, held the throttle wide open, gave it a yank, and it fired right up after the third pull! I was shocked! It stumbled and smoked a bit until it burned all the crap "fuel" out of the lines and carburetor.  

Then I let it idle for a few minutes to warm up, while goosing the throttle to draw more of the fresh fuel through the lines, and into the carb. Now at full throttle it really screams! To be honest, it's the best I ever remember it running. I let it get good and warmed up, and all total I burned through about a third of a tank of the fresh, Sta-Bil treated Tru-Fuel.

So now she's good to go. I hate neglecting power equipment. And I thought for sure I was going to have to pull the carburetor off this thing, and soak it. Especially after seeing that nasty crap that drained out of the fuel tank. But she fired right up, saving me a lot of aggravation.

So now between this and my old Honda generator, along with my brand new Echo 8010-T power blower, and my Simpson / Kohler Power Washer, I've got everything all freshly fueled and running like Rolex's. I feel a lot better now!

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I've got a Homelite Super EZ from about 1980, it still runs strong. I had to replace the ignition box a couple years ago, and it's probably on its 4th bar. 

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Mine is a 16" bar. (At least that's what it measures from the front of the case to the tip of the bar). Will any 16" chain fit? I'd like to get a new one.

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1 hour ago, billt said:

Mine is a 16" bar. (At least that's what it measures from the front of the case to the tip of the bar). Will any 16" chain fit? I'd like to get a new one.

Yes, any 16" chain should work fine. Mine is a 16 as well, though I think it started life as a 14".   I've got 5 chains for it, but I'm down to the last sharp one. The local co-op has a machine that will sharpen a chain for couple bucks. 

Edited by peejman
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I bought a Homelite Super EZ 16 mid/late 70s. Cut many cords of wood, as I heated with wood as my primary heat source till about 10 years ago. I backed off to about 30% of my heat then and 5 years ago stopped completely when we move to TN. I finally replaced mine when the ignition module died and gave it to a friend that had the identical saw and he fixed it and uses it as his backup. Had what I think was an XL as my backup saw but it had the same fate. I bought a Husqvarna and could not believe the improvements in technology over the 30+ years. with all the shock mounts and such it is a lot easier on the hands and arms and chain adjustments requires no tools. Of course soon after that is when I started phasing out my wood cutting. Homelite made a great chain saw.

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I heard of a trick for cleaning out neglected fuel systems on small gas engines, that I was going to attempt to use on my saw...... But fortunately didn't have to. I had heard that after washing out the tank with fresh fuel, you then fill the fuel tank with half pure Sta-Bil, plus half Chevron Fuel System Cleaner with Techron, straight from the bottle. (If it's a large tank, just add several ounces of each). This will help cut through any gum or varnish that is clogging up the carb and / or the fuel lines.

After filling the tank with this mixture, put the choke on FULL, and pull the starter through 15 or 20 times to draw the mix into the lines and carburetor. The engine won't run, but this mixture over time will eventually soften up the gunk, and get it through into the engine. I knew a guy who was in no hurry, and did this over a weeks time. Every day after work, going out to the garage and pulling the starter several times.

He said after a week of this, he pulled the spark plug, and he could smell the Sta-Bil and the Techron. The old spark plug was soaking wet with it. He then drained, flushed, and emptied the fuel tank again, and pulled the starter another dozen times or so to push whatever was left, out of the lines and cylinder. He then replaced the spark plug with a new one.

He refilled the tank with fresh fuel, and it fired right up after just a few pulls. He said for about a minute it belched white smoke and sputtered. But once it cleared out the lines of all the cleaner, along with whatever crap was left in the system, and it started drawing fresh gas into the engine, it took off like a pimp chasing a $50 New Orleans hooker. And it's never run better.

On my saw I honestly can't remember if I had used Sta-Bil or not the last time I ran it 25 odd years ago. I'm pretty sure I must have, because after over 25 years that crap would have for certain solidified in the fuel lines, and I would have had a royal mess on my hands. I normally don't neglect things like this. And from now on I'll take better care of the fuel systems on these tools. It's not that hard to do. Especially now that I'm retired. Plus, this Tru-Fuel they sell is much better than the 10% Ethanol pump gas, which starts going bad in just a few months. Plus it comes premixed to whatever fuel / oil ratio you need. If you treat the Tru-Fuel with a bit of Sta-Bil, it will last all but forever. I don't burn enough of it for the cost to be an issue.  
 

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Most all of the problems I've seen through the years with small 2-stroke engines come from either neglect, bad fuel, or else the wrong fuel / oil mix, fouled plugs, flooding, or all of the above. With a small displacement 2-stroke, you usually get one shot at starting it. If you over choke it, you'll flood it. And once you get the plug wet, you're pretty much done, because the oil in the fuel mix won't evaporate and dry off. And with many of these engines it doesn't take much. It's why I always keep at least 2 extra spark plugs for each 2-stroke I have.
 
It takes a bit of skill to learn how to get and keep small displacement 2-strokes running reliably. They can be a bit quirky, and every one is different. Loggers and landscapers make their living with these things. So they know what and what not to do. And they're running their own equipment day in and day out. So they know it well. 
 
But the average homeowner who runs a saw once every couple of months doesn't. That, and having the thing sitting 10 times more than it's running, doesn't help either. Most are being run on stale gas. They also require far more carburetor adjustments than a 4-cycle does. It's actually a mechanics engine, just by it's design. And I think that is why so many people have trouble with them.

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I kind of have a thing for old Homelites.  The first is my XL 12 that belonged to my grandfather.  I got it cleaned up, but not running.  Needs new fuel system gaskets and hoses.  The second is my father in law's XL 12 with the bow saw attachment, that one belonged to my wife's grandfather.  I have intentions to incorporate both into a decorative piece.  

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Edited by 10-Ring
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I found a replacement ignition module on ebay. It wasn't exactly cheap, but it worked fine. I've also had to replace the recoil rope a time or two. Don't let that spring get away!!!  :D

We heated with wood when I was a kid and my saw cut most of it. I just have a fire pit now and use it for trimming or cutting smaller trees for folks. 

My carb cleaning trick when not in a hurry is to fill it with straight liquid carb cleaner. Sea Foam or Berryman are my preference. Then just as above, let it soak and pull it through over a few days. Works well on 4 stroke stuff too. 

I think these old saws run so well because the jets are bigger to deal with the heavier oil mix. My Super EZ runs on 35:1. The 50:1 that newer saws use means all the holes are smaller and hence clog easier.  But always only use 100% gas. Ethanol wrecks a carb. 

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I ordered some of this today. It's expensive, but it's supposed to work much better than Sta-Bil. And a 1 quart bottle treats up to 512 gallons of fuel. They say this stuff can even return bad fuel to factory refinery freshness.

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