Tanaka TCS-3301S

For a company that is becoming increasingly well known for its power equipment, that has focused hard on vibration figures for brushcutters and that makes a superb hedgetrimmer, it seems a logical extension for Tanaka to venture into chainsaws.
The newest, and probably the one with the most advantage, is the 33cc TCS-3301S. The “S” stands for “S-Start”. It’s the feature that grabs our climbers’ attention. “It’s an amazing starter,” enthuses a tester. With an action reminiscent of “walking the dog” with a yo-yo, he extends the recoil starter cord with a slow, smooth action. The engine fires into life. “It’s brilliant, it’s incredible,” continues the tester. “Until you have tried it for yourself you simply wouldn’t believe it. It takes absolutely no effort at all. Actually, it feels weird, but there would be advantages at the end of the day when you are tired of climbing and re-starting the saw.”
Fuelling the saw up, however, is not so easy. The team uses “Combi” fuel cans — the ones with sealable caps to prevent spilt fuel. But the spout of the can is far too big to fit in the saw’s filler opening. “It’s like trying to fill a thimble,” remarks one tester. And it’s the same with the oil filler.
There are several design points that concern the testers. In a commercial world saws need to be robust and while the construction of the TCS-3301S seems solid enough, the position of the primer bulb and the spark plug are not perfect.
An exposed spark plug is a potential hazard in itself. But there’s more. The primer bulb is right at the front. Puncture that at the same time and the worst case scenario is that you go up in flames.
The on/off switch is located on the body of the saw, not on the handle where it could be easily flicked with the thumb. It is also front-line for being hit by branches as the saw is pulled up through the trees. And when you are in a tree and need to give a quick clean to the air filter make sure you have a screwdriver with you. This saw does not have a flip-off air filter cover.
The chain brake comes in for some criticism from the testers. “It comes on easy enough at the moment because it is new; but there is too much flex in it,” says one. “You want to be able to touch it and know it is going to go on straight away.”
And next there is a discussion about the rear eye. It’s located at the back but under the handle and is almost too small to fit a strop through it.
Having said all that, the TCS-3301S will set you back a mere £254. And it does the job. It slices through wood up to 10cm in diameter.

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