I Too Remember a ‘Killer Saw’

By Staff

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

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

Thank you for allowing me to reminisce!

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines