Originally Posted by Bobbo22
When looking at pole saws, what's the most important thing to look for - aside from doing the job...?
Sounds like you guys are really into Echo for the durable shaft.
What about extended pole size? Weight? Telescopic pole? Shoulder strap?
What's the "perfect pole saw"?
I was in the same dilemma a few years back. Though I don't climb much anymore I'm a licensed arborist (well used to be) and spend most of the winter logging pulp- and firewood. I can usually tell a good saw from a bad one but 'm no expert on pole pruners. Anyway here's what I can remember:
Engine: I suppose a pole saw or any chainsaw for that matter works better with a 2-stroke. They are just more powerful, easier to control and have a more snappy response which you need when pruning.
Tubes: If I recall correctly, Echo has a 3-piece drive (cable + splined shaft + hollow shaft) whilst Stihl's is 4-piece (normal shaft + hollow + splined shaft + hollow) and supposedly superior. Both units were easy to adjust, there's a knob you undo and pull the shaft in/out.
Handle: Stihl has a normal trimmer grip whilst Echo is equipped with a bow supposedly designed for pruning. Personally I think the Echo handle looks goofy and I probably wouldn't have liked it, it also doesn't work upside down.
Gear-case: I couldn't really tell but both casings looked decent. I liked Echo's a tad better because it had two bar studs. Mind you a single nut is OK to hold 12" bars but I like two nuts much better. Echo also had a beefier bumper and a hook-like backside so you could pull small twigs down. Neither pruner had real chainsaw bumper spikes but both provided enough ground clearance to prevent the chain scraping the ground when starting.
Oil tank: Both oil tanks were small but Echo's was better. It's a single piece tank vs. a split design so should seal better. It had a normal filler cap vs. the flippy gadget from Stihl. If anyone thinks Stihl's flip-up gas caps are junk, I can attest that they are even greater junk when used as bar oil caps. It makes a huge mess when refilling. Also, the Echo tank vents to clean air, whilst Stihl vents to the chain area. It's probably only a matter of time before the vent valve plugs up with sawdust.
Oil pump: Echo comes with an adjustable pump so you can set it low for trimming or on high flow when cutting thick branches. Stihl's pump is fixed flow, not a big drawback but can be annoying at times. It also has a fixed oil pickup tube/strainer, meaning if you turn the pruner upside-down it won't oil. Echo has a weighed filter on a flexible line, just like a real saw and will oil in any position. Unfortunately, the goofy handle prevents you from using it upside-down, which would be nice when doing an undercut as the chain would be pulling like normal and not pushing the head back.
Chain adjuster: Both units had adjustment screws on the side (where they should be) but whilst Stihl had a normal case mounted mechanism (sturdy) the one on the Echo was housed in the bar cover. This is a very unusual setup and I don't like it that much. Removal of the Echo bar cover also required an additional screw to be taken out which is likely to get lost.
Anyway that's all I can remember since I demoed the pruners some years ago. The units were Stihl HT101 and Echo PTT260. I also demoed a Shindaiwa multi-tool with pole pruner attachment which was not up to merit of the other two. Stihl may be No. 1 in chainsaws but Echo wins this one hands down.
I bough neither of them since I got a manual pruner from American Arbor. It has a really sharp blade and two wooden extension poles. It's longer, lighter and in the end probably just as fast as them motorized units when doing light stuff.