I Too Remember a 'Killer Saw'

Content Tools

5420 White Creek Road, Marlette, Michigan 48453

Andy Harland's article 'Killer Saw,' in the March 1995 GEM got my attention, as I operated such a saw in the 1950s. The one I operated was similar to the Ottawa shown in article 29/7/19 GEM in the July 1994 issue, but I don't recall ever seeing a name on it. It had disc wheels with bicycle tires and was V-belt driven, not self-propelled. It had a guard that almost entirely enclosed one half of the blade. It worked quite well on smooth, level ground, and was used for felling trees and cutting logs into lengths. On very rough ground or a hillside it could be difficult or impossible to use. It would, at times, throw a chip or small stick of wood and so be dangerous to anyone in front of it.

With the guard in place and the blade horizontal, the blade would not touch the ground and would continue to rotate slowly with the engine at idle. Without the guard the blade would touch the ground and stop. It had an automatic clutch and a throttle that closed when released, as chain saws do, and was balanced so the blade would go into the ground rather than up to spin freely in mid-air. I can't imagine the machine running away unless the throttle was stuck open and the operator released the handles and let it go.

All power driven saws are dangerous, but having used the Ottawa type and also chain saws I feel the Ottawa was safer to operate as the blade is always several feet away, while the chain blade operates at full power within inches of the operator's body with no guard. The old Ottawa was crude and very limited in use by today's standards, but what antique isn't?

Some 25 or so years ago I bought an old chain saw and used it a few times to cut fireplace wood then set it aside, eventually donating it to the St. Clair County Farm Museum. It has an 18' inch cut, weighs 30 pounds, and the carburetor has to be turned according to whether the blade is vertical or horizontal, and don't forget to pump oil to the chain. It takes both hands and good footing to operate this one. Since reading Andy's article I got the old saw out, cleaned the spark plug and to my surprise it started on the third pull and ran perfectly. Thanks to dry storage!

Thank you for allowing me to reminisce!