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wyk

ECHO 361WES and 390ESX quick review

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I have recently had to replace an MS180 and an MS241CM on the estate I help manage the forests in Waterford, Ireland. The estate owner wanted something as light as possible and as easy to start to replace her 180. The 390ESX will mostly do small firewood and felling jobs and some carving as my own saw.  These are my initial impressions after a weeks use, mostly on firewood and small clean up duty.

I acquired both saws through RobD aka ChainsawBars.co.UK.

 

I have to admit that both saws had their cats removed first thing. I couldn't source a non cat exhaust for the 361 in time, so had to mod the existing exhaust. Mine was crimped too well to easily pull apart without cutting. So I simply opened up the top plate autopsy style and ground out the cat. On the 390esx, the seem was easy to pull free, and I managed to simply pop the cat right out and reseal. Both exhausts appear to be made from annealed 304 or 316 stainless similar to what STIHL currently use. It's no surprise really, Japan is an island and mild steel exhaust won't last very long.

 

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I didn't get to weigh the 361, but it feels considerably lighter than the 390ESX, which felt lighter than the ms241.

 

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The 390ESX is 10lbs 2.5 ounces on my kitchen scale. Yes, it fits. With the cat removed it is just a bit under 10 lbs. My MS241 is 10lbs 9 ounces.

 

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Some folks complained about the exhaust on a 390 burning the brake arm. I never had this issue, and did check the arm often. I did read about it, though, and so bent the exhaust cover just a touch in hopes to prevent such an issue before reinstalling the exhaust.

 

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I have also heard some folks say the ECHO are too shiny. I don't mind it if it's easier to find in the brush. And I like the looks and feel it is a quality product. Before Husky and STIHL started to go more of an industrial look, STIHL had a much more eye catching colour on their saws. Here's my 10mm 044 as an example. Most older STIHL's have faded since their manufacture, so that they look as dull as the new models.

 

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The controls feel a bit small, but these are small saws. Especially feels small on the 361 since the clutch side fasteners appear to be 11mm VS the standard 13mm. I think they could have, and should have gone with standard bar nuts. It requires it's own spanner this way. The triggers and deadman's grips are fine, though. The 390ESX feels small over-all even compared to the MS241. I think the handle could feel a bit more robust on the 390ESX, but it doesn't appear flimsy. Maybe I am used to more rubberized handles.  I love the simple cut off switch metal toggle they each have; especially since this American is used to up being on. In fact, that's fooled the estate owner once. I had to explain it's a U.S./Nippon thing for switches to be up to be on.

 

Here's the couple with an MS390 in the foreground, atop a 288XP is the 361WES and behind the MS241 on the right is the 390ESX. Behind them lies my 044 and a couple of pole saws.

 

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Now the important part - performance. Bearing in mind the cats are removed - which also removes a baffle as well. Another thing to consider is ECHO have used a highly tuned version of their CDi on their saws for decades. It hugely increases the timing advance in the mid range(maybe 8-10K), which is also how the ports are set up on these saws(to produce maximum mid range torque), and this is where the saws shine. The 361 is zippy, even when ran rich to break in. But it doesn't quite have the instant pick up the old ms200t had. But, then again, you have to mod even a new 201 to behave anything like the old 200. In which case one could easily do the same with the 361 and likely still come well out ahead on costs. Still, on the catless 361, I enjoyed limbing and even working the Norwegian saw horse with it. This thing pulls extremely well for a 36cc saw. It would make a great topper for a bucket or climber. The only issue I had was the small fluid openings and the small fuel tank. But this is the price you pay for such a tiny and light saw. Overall a delight to use, and a capable tool for it's category. Add in the price, and I couldn't resist picking one up.  In fact, I liked it so much I bought a 390ESX.

 

The 390ESX also enjoys the strong midrange the 361 had, just more of it. It has an electronic limiter(as did the 361), which I adjusted the H screw(with a D-shaped or PacMan tool) to just nudge up against it for break in(sounds like mid 13K). Running 325 NK, AKA, .325LP on a 15" SugiHara bar, it was very capable. Most folks have seen Rob's video of the 390ESX running 3/8LP chain. This thing seems to pull 325 just as well. I had no issues quickly cutting oak rounds with it, or snedding, or what have you.

It feels terrifically compact and easy to whip about while in use. And somehow is both light and 'solid' at the same time.  Add in the normal sized fluid caps, decent fuel range, and standard bar nuts, and I'm rather happy with it. I'll try and put up a long term review by summer.


Cheers, Y'all

Edited by wyk
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During the first week, we had to cut a few oak planks and oak logs to length. I was impressed how the little ECHO's handled it.

 

168442505.6H5ahXag.jpg

Edited by wyk

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3 hours ago, wyk said:

During the first week, we had to cut a few oak planks and oak logs to length. I was impressed how the little ECHO's handled it.

 

168442505.6H5ahXag.jpg

Interesting Wes . A very honest review  . ?

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Yup, Echos are funny, they seem to always need the muffler modded and a bit of a carb tune and bingo...different saw. I guess it is because the Japanese seem to use CATs rather than strato type technology. People ask me what they are like and I always say, they seem a bit lightly made but seem relatively strong and typically.....well....JAPANESE!

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thanks for taking the time to write that in depth review. we have got some echo 501sx at work, a couple of years old and have been pretty good. how does the 390 compare with the stihl 241? had a quick go on one and seemed nice, super light.

there seems to be a few dealers round here in ireland pushing the echo brand which has made spares a bit quicker to get hold of which good.

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In use, there's not much between the two. I chose the 390 for it's weight and lack of electric carb.

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fair play to ya Wes.  I own tree Echo climbing saws but not one single ground saw.  I do like the look of the 390 and 501, 620 etc.   What irritates me is Echo sells  climbing saws with 'lumpy and aggressive' cutting gear which can make them a pig to use.  I bought a 280 TES and i hafta say it is quite frankly a horrible little saw which appears quite gutless as it was on 3/8ths which caused it to really struggle,  i converted it to 1/4 pitch and fitted a 0.43 bar and chain which helped so calm tings down.  I reckon a de-catted muffler and a re-tune is the way ta go. My Echo 2511, 280 & 360 climbing saws are all sporting 1/4 pitch 0.43 chain and bars.  Anyway i need ta rebuild me 2511 after it got destroyed a couple of weeks ago as it tried to leave me with a massive poplar limb that was earth bound,  bar retaining stud get pulled out and the AV's got all twisted up and crooked looking but i reckon it's fixable.

 

@spudulike You 'pepped up' my Echo 360 TES  a while back by fitting a de-catted muffler and re-tuning it for me,  but would you be interested in having a go at porting it and an Echo 280 TES too as you ran out of time previously due to work load / demands on your time? 

 

 

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On 25/11/2018 at 18:54, spudulike said:

Yup, Echos are funny, they seem to always need the muffler modded and a bit of a carb tune and bingo...different saw. I guess it is because the Japanese seem to use CATs rather than strato type technology. People ask me what they are like and I always say, they seem a bit lightly made but seem relatively strong and typically.....well....JAPANESE!

One of the reasons I got them was that they weren't strato, nor were they electronic. Yeah, I had to do some work on them, but it is really minor stuff. And it is well worth it as these saws run strong. I don't feel the need to go and port the 390 just yet. It does the job. Being made in Japan is definitely a good thing. Though I think many of the smaller models in the US are made there in MAGA.

 

 

Edited by wyk

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4 hours ago, wicklamulla said:

fair play to ya Wes.  I own tree Echo climbing saws but not one single ground saw.  I do like the look of the 390 and 501, 620 etc.   What irritates me is Echo sells  climbing saws with 'lumpy and aggressive' cutting gear which can make them a pig to use.  I bought a 280 TES and i hafta say it is quite frankly a horrible little saw which appears quite gutless as it was on 3/8ths which caused it to really struggle,  i converted it to 1/4 pitch and fitted a 0.43 bar and chain which helped so calm tings down.  I reckon a de-catted muffler and a re-tune is the way ta go. My Echo 2511, 280 & 360 climbing saws are all sporting 1/4 pitch 0.43 chain and bars. 

 

 

I haven't used the VXL chain on the 361 yet. I Imagine on a saw with a handle, it is much easier to control. On a top handled saw, I can see how it might be a hand full in stuff like beech and oak whilst up in the tree. I used Stihl picco chain on the 361. It cut fast and smooth on the 361. I ran the new 325 TXL on the CS390ESX. It flies right out of the box and is super smooth, much like the new 3/8 EXL chain. And like the EXL, it didn't stretch nearly as much as I expected.

 

We're sort of in a golden age for chains. A huge choice, with some good examples out there at good prices.

Edited by wyk
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I’ve just bought a echo cs4510 and it’s a really good saw. Seems to have plenty of power and torque. By no means as good as a 550xp but should last longer. It’s a nice looking saw as well IMG_5582.jpg

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