Why has .404 chain fallen from favour?

Bob Hedgecutter

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Seems to me, when I started using saws way back last century, .404 chain was fairly popular over here.
Nowadays it seems to be headed the way of 1/4" pitch chain, getting harder to find from suppliers and harder to find bars/tips suited for it.
I myself, used to use a lot of it (and on hardnosed bars to boot!), still have many feet of it on rolls and loops, but most saws I run now are set up for 3/8"all the way out to 36" bars.
I have my own theory behind the general lack of popularity for this pitch chain, but having just ordered a new Sugi Hara 42" bar with .404 tip for general bucking and falling of the big stuff I sometimes encounter- I would be interested in hearing others point of view as to why .404 pitch chain does not seem to be a popular choice nowadays unless it is on a machine driven hydraulic saw?
 

Chainmale

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I have a .404 bar/chain/sprocket setup for my 2100 but it usually wears 3/8. I think the fact I can interchange all my 3/8 bars and chains between my 630 266's 380's 2100 have sort of pushed me in that direction. If I had a few more saws that were a bit more capable of running .404 I may have invested a bit more that way. The last time I used .404 it was 26" on my 2100 nearly buried in blue gum, in that situation it was awesome, cut for 3 tanks and it hadn't even dulled. Plus great chip clearance.
 

Bob Hedgecutter

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I have a .404 bar/chain/sprocket setup for my 2100 but it usually wears 3/8. I think the fact I can interchange all my 3/8 bars and chains between my 630 266's 380's 2100 have sort of pushed me in that direction. If I had a few more saws that were a bit more capable of running .404 I may have invested a bit more that way. The last time I used .404 it was 26" on my 2100 nearly buried in blue gum, in that situation it was awesome, cut for 3 tanks and it hadn't even dulled. Plus great chip clearance.
Plus a larger- longer lasting cutter!
I think, (along with uniformity and commonality as you say with other saws) is saws have changed from torque makers to chain speed reliers, greater than 70cc saws have changed from the good old days of 051, 076 and 480CD 2100CD type saws and suit 3/8" on longer bars.
I agree whole heartily with the bar/chain commonality thing- most mine run on 0.063 3/8- but once you step out past the 30" mark with say a 2100- .404 is advantageous.
Trying to find a good D009 in .404 X 42" here is proving troublesome though!
 

Tyy

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I run the stock .404 on my old Pioneers . P-20 in 18 " Oregon bar & .404 .063 guage & 1/2 " pitch . 11-60 in 20 " Oregon bar & .404 .063 guage & 1/2 " pitch . All Carlton Chain . My current Milling MS660 runs 36 " & 48" Oregon Ripping chain full chisel in .404 .068 guage & standard 3/8 " pitch . I think today's saws need at least 70 cc class to efficiently utilize the larger .404 tooth count . I square grind my current chains , turned to Oregon EXL a few yrs back , much better quality than the Stihl RS I had been grinding . In a pinch I have bought a loop of Sten's from time to time .
 

Bob Hedgecutter

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I run the stock .404 on my old Pioneers . P-20 in 18 " Oregon bar & .404 .063 guage & 1/2 " pitch . 11-60 in 20 " Oregon bar & .404 .063 guage & 1/2 " pitch . All Carlton Chain . My current Milling MS660 runs 36 " & 48" Oregon Ripping chain full chisel in .404 .068 guage & standard 3/8 " pitch . I think today's saws need at least 70 cc class to efficiently utilize the larger .404 tooth count . I square grind my current chains , turned to Oregon EXL a few yrs back , much better quality than the Stihl RS I had been grinding . In a pinch I have bought a loop of Sten's from time to time .

Exactly, stock .404 on my old Pioneer's= torque saws, not chain speed saws.
I don't/won't own a 660 and certainly wouldn't use one for milling with a 48" for any timber we have here- so can't comment on that- do have older flat top 066's and have run 36" .404 on them crosscutting- but have saws better suited to that particular niche- for my money, that size Stihl shines at sub 30" bars.
Oregon chain- if it was made last century, sure- modern stuff I would not thank you for- bit like their bars, in my opinion they have slipped from near the top of the pile quality wise- personally, I prefer RS any day of the week in 3/8- but I do not grind on them.
 
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Tyy

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Exactly, stock .404 on my old Pioneer's= torque saws, not chain speed saws.
I don't/won't own a 660 and certainly wouldn't use one for milling with a 48" for any timber we have here- so can't comment on that- do have older flat top 066's and have run 36" .404 on them crosscutting- but have saws better suited to that particular niche- for my money, that size Stihl shines at sub 30" bars.
Oregon chain- if it was made last century, sure- modern stuff I would not thank you for- bit like their bars, in my opinion they have slipped from near the top of the pile quality wise- personally, I prefer RS any day of the week in 3/8- but I do not grind on them.
Bob thanks for the follow up . Let me clarify , the Pioneers all run Carlton chain , even the solid nose bars were Carlton "Pioneer stamped" from the factory in the 60's bud . I have since installed Oregon Roller tip bars . Also yep , Pioneer reed valve torgue is impressive . As far as the MS 660 , its ported by a very knowledgeable gentleman who you would know lol. Tons of torgue in Red & White oak via the 36 " bar ( 28"- 30" logs) . My 48 " bar is exclusive to pine & fir slabbing (32" log max .) . The grind of my chain makes the difference within the cut , I just don't mill enough to justify a 880 lol. In closing you should try the new Oregon EXL & Husky X-cut chain , Chipper1 & I use it exclusively now apparently , after yrs of RS usage for our square & round grind or filed chain applications ! P.S. My crosscut saws are 576 xp & Dolmar 7900 & Vintage Pioneer P-51 all running 28" Oregon Versa cut bars & EXL. 3/8 " Full chisel chains !
 
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Bob Hedgecutter

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Bob thanks for the follow up . Let me clarify , the Pioneers all run Carlton chain , even the solid nose bars were Carlton "Pioneer stamped" from the factory in the 60's bud . I have since installed Oregon Roller tip bars . Also yep , Pioneer reed valve torgue is impressive . As far as the MS 660 , its ported by a very knowledgeable gentleman who you would know lol. Tons of torgue in Red & White oak via the 36 " bar ( 28"- 30" logs) . My 48 " bar is exclusive to pine & fir slabbing (32" log max .) . The grind of my chain makes the difference within the cut , I just don't mill enough to justify a 880 lol. In closing you should try the new Oregon EXL & Husky X-cut chain , Chipper1 & I use it exclusively now apparently , after yrs of RS usage for our square & round grind or filed chain applications ! P.S. My crosscut saws are 576 xp & Dolmar 7900 & Vintage Pioneer P-51 all running 28" Oregon Versa cut bars & EXL. 3/8 " Full chisel chains !

I might live on a wee Island Nation half a World away, but we do have access to EXL and X- CUT chain, been there- tried both- would still rather use rolls from the 1990's I have in stock and RS or Carlton A3.
I use what I feel works best for me, my part of the World, my timber and my conditions- but I do not push any one brand- be that saws or consumables.
 
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Tyy

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I might live on a wee Island Nation half a World away, but we do have access to EXL and X- CUT chain, been there- tried both- would still rather use rolls from the 1990's I have in stock and RS or Carlton A3.
I use what I feel works best for me, my part of the World, my timber and my conditions- but I do not push any one brand- be that saws or consumables.
I do the same , I grind , weld , fabricate & rebuild & reuse . I can & do pretty well fine tune all chain out of the box to fulfill my requirements . That's why I still run Carlton chain on some models of saws. However , when it comes to metallurgy numbers don't lie . Chromium content & silicon alloy compositions vary from brand to brand as does stock cutter & side plate contours & tolerances . I have 100' rolls of Carlton , Oregon & Stihl & even Sten's hanging in the shop , some from the last century . It all gets used for one application or another . After 40 + yrs of production felling & bucking various species of wood all over North America , no one saw or chain does everything & does it well . I have never cut New Zealand or Aussie wood species but understand they can be quite challenging . As for saws my Shelf Queens , Pioneers are my favorites from 50 cc to 60 cc to the 80 cc class P-51 they all get sentimental usage annually . My 346xp & 5105 H are the kings of my 50 cc class my 7900 HD & 576 xp are my daily driver heavy weights . My go to saw middle weight is my 357 xp it gets the majority of use for felling , bucking & limbing followed by my bargain basement 620 P . Anyhow good conversation , different strokes for different folks ! ;)
 
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Dennisthemenace1

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Seems to me, when I started using saws way back last century, .404 chain was fairly popular over here.
Nowadays it seems to be headed the way of 1/4" pitch chain, getting harder to find from suppliers and harder to find bars/tips suited for it.
I myself, used to use a lot of it (and on hardnosed bars to boot!), still have many feet of it on rolls and loops, but most saws I run now are set up for 3/8"all the way out to 36" bars.
I have my own theory behind the general lack of popularity for this pitch chain, but having just ordered a new Sugi Hara 42" bar with .404 tip for general bucking and falling of the big stuff I sometimes encounter- I would be interested in hearing others point of view as to why .404 pitch chain does not seem to be a popular choice nowadays unless it is on a machine driven hydraulic saw?
I reckon there are less blokes cutting decent timber with proper saws these days (in Oz /NZ). Wood heaters in new homes are frowned opon if not banned even in rural towns. So young country fellas who might have started with a 056 or 076 and moved on to 066 now get sold a ms 391 or Ms 400 for their more occasional work.
All my 90 cc and up saws run 404 but everyone else on my road run 3/8 on little 570mk11s or 365s, 038s etc
 

Norm

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Seems to me, when I started using saws way back last century, .404 chain was fairly popular over here.
Nowadays it seems to be headed the way of 1/4" pitch chain, getting harder to find from suppliers and harder to find bars/tips suited for it.
I myself, used to use a lot of it (and on hardnosed bars to boot!), still have many feet of it on rolls and loops, but most saws I run now are set up for 3/8"all the way out to 36" bars.
I have my own theory behind the general lack of popularity for this pitch chain, but having just ordered a new Sugi Hara 42" bar with .404 tip for general bucking and falling of the big stuff I sometimes encounter- I would be interested in hearing others point of view as to why .404 pitch chain does not seem to be a popular choice nowadays unless it is on a machine driven hydraulic saw?
All I can figure, is cost and chain speed. Even many fallers are running 3/8. IMO .404 is the King, and running it on a stock 461 with a 32inch bar. I'm not seeing a great loss in speed. I'm cutting big stuff. Maybe mainly cost for some. Not sure.
 
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