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The Buick V8 Chainsaw

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Competition is almost a given anytime there is two people or businesses employed doing the same job. The banter begins about who can do their job better and faster.  In Washington state the lumber trade was no different. On off days, contests were held between lumberjacks to determine who could fall a tree the fastest using only an ax.

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Then it graduated to chainsaws as they became more common in the lumber trade, and then as you might guess, somebody decided to go one step further and the “Hot Saw” competition was born.

Have you heard the sayings, “If some is good than more is better.” “There is no substitute for cubic inches and horsepower.” You have probably heard them all and more.

But when you apply that logic to the timbering business things can get a little weird. First, it was motorcycle engine-powered chainsaws using Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines, then modern Japanese motorcycle multi-cylinder inline engines became popular. Now things have gotten really out of hand, and the action has graduated to chainsaws powered by automotive V8 engines.

What does it take to create such a record holding wood destroyer? Robert Andrews of Enumclawn, WA is the builder of this saw, called the Predator.

Say what you want about the sanity of doing somthing like this, I greatly admire someone who can complete a project like this. Figuring out how to harness 300 horsepower and make it work with a chainsaw bar and chain is no simple task. You have to build your parts strong enough so they do not break, but light enough so that you can still pick up the saw when you are done.

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This saw is a work of art. You can tell that Andrews put a lot of time and thought into this saw and the quality of work is excellent. Most important of all he got it right and has a world record to prove it.

It is powered by a 215-cubic-inch aluminum block Buick V8 engine of 1963-1964 vintage. These motors were originally used in Buick F-85 models. In 1965, GM sold the rights to this V8 engine to British Leyland, which used the engines to power Land Rover off-road vehicles from 1965 through 2004. In England, these engines are like the small block Chevrolet motor is here in the U.S. As a result, there are plenty of aftermarket performance parts for these engines.

Meanwhile, back to Robert Andrews. A Northwest U.S. machinist by trade, Andrews has attended numerous “Hot Saw” competitions along with his wife. After one of those competitions, Robert’s wife asked him why he didn’t have one of those saws to compete with. That was all it took.

Robert chose the Buick V8 because its aluminum block made it one of the lightest V8 engines ever built. His engine came to him in pieces so he had to machine the block and rebuild the heads and the rest of the engine internals.

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Robert’s Rules for Disorder

Man logic says that if you’ve been given the green light by your wife and have to machine the block for new parts anyway, you might as well put in a few aftermarket performance parts and increase the horsepower and torque while you are at it.

What Robert ended up with was a two-man 508-pound chainsaw with an output of 300 horsepower and a chain speed of 200 mph. His saw holds the world record of cutting through a 30-inch log in .88 second.

The driving mechanism is a jackshaft from a farm tractor. Pulleys from a dragster’s supercharger drive the chain. Robert purchased the biggest chainsaw chain he could find – an Oregon 11H Harvester chain used in mechanized logging – and custom-built the four-foot bar.

Running at 8,000 to 9,000 RPMs, Andrews says the biggest concern is breaking a chain during a cut. “When they break they act like a bullwhip,” he explains. “At a Canadian competition, a 12-in. piece of chain flew 1-1/2 miles.”

Watching this saw in action is truly amazing. If you Google “Predator Hot Saw” there are numerous videos of this saw in action. You will also see some other pretty strange and wild V8 chainsaw combinations, including a 454 V8 chainsaw and one using a Mopar Hemi engine.

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Just when you think you have seen it all you find something like this. It kind of restores your faith in American ingenuity. ν

Editor’s note: As with most automotive race sanctioning bodies, extensive rules for national and international “Hot Saw” competitions are in place. Safety equipment and experienced handlers are recommended with this type of engine application!

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