Howdy!

     ECHO has picked me to test out and do a review on one of their chainsaws, the ECHO CS-355T. This is their top of the line climbing saw! I am very excited and honored to be picked for this adventure. I have taken their offer, and saw, and have a couple of opinions and thoughts to give about the company and their equipment. Consider this article to be a preview of my review! I will have a review at a later date, once I use this saw and toss it around a bit. I don’t believe in reviewing things I am not familiar with, so you may have to wait for me to work the saw a bit! So far the saw has gathered around 12 hours of run time. Click this to skip straight to the video!

The Company

     First let me tell you what history I have found out about the company. The parent company is the Yamabiko Corporation of Japan, which formed when Shindaiwa and the Kioritz Corporation merged. ECHO formed in 1972, and was an importer of hand held equipment made by the Kioritz Corporation. This is all good and wonderful, but I mention it because they are now in cahoots with Shindaiwa, who has been making chainsaws since the mid 50s, and also have a very favorable reputation in the chainsaw circles. In my opinion ECHO plus Shindaiwa has to be an awesome combination!

ECHO 280E handle and hand guard
An old ECHO 280E that’s in great running shape to this day! An interesting view of the CS-355T’s heritage. You can see many similarities and features that have carried down thru the years. This one is my friend Randy’s, from Camping and Fishing California! Swing on by and tell him hi!

     You may find ECHO products at Home Depot, as well as at private dealers (and on line also!). I’m not sure where I would rather purchase ECHO, I think the main thing to consider would be servicing encounters. The private dealer would most likely be able to fix your gear in house, whereas Home Depot would probably be shipping your stuff off. I would bet that you could buy at Home Depot and get servicing at a private dealer. I don’t really pay too much mind to these things, as I like to work on my own gear, if possible.

ECHO 280E muffler protrusion
Notice the same muffler guard shape.

     And now the important bits for the consumer… At least the points that caught my eye! They have a couple different programs in place to help take care of the end customer. They are divided into consumer (homeowner) and commercial. There is a 5 year consumer and 2 year commercial warranty (except for chainsaws, which are one year for commercial). I found a graphic that shows their warranties, which I lifted directly from their site. 🙂 You can click here to see the long version!

ECHO warranty

     As you can see, ECHO does not ask the consumer to buy a whole bunch of special factory oils to get the long warranty, like some other brands do. I like the fact that they do not try to up sell their merch just to get you to get a longer warranty. It seems right to me the way ECHO is doing this.

     Another thing that caught my eye was the one day sale events that they are holding. They are only in specific locations, but they are chopping 20% off the MSRP of all units in those locations. Sweet indeed! Here’s a link that shows the locations and dates. The sale covers both Pro and Homeowner, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the neighborhood when it is going on.

ECHO 280E handle and hand guard
The run stop control is in a different place. See it right near the starter handle?

     The other things I saw (see what I did there?) seem to be centered on the professional user. There is a 7 day money back guarantee on certain models! I couldn’t believe that, they are pretty sure of those models, I would guess! The models covered are their three top handles and the CS-361P. Still, wow!

     The other bit I noticed was the fleet programs, they have two different ones. One called “Arborist” and one called “Landscaper”. They look basically the same, with slight little differences. Click this to see more details on all of the above offers and programs.

ECHO 280E flywheel side
The air cleaner and carburetor was actually on the front of this saw! I can’t see that being a good place for an air cleaner, but I guess it works. The saw still runs like a champ!

     ECHO appears to be a company that will stand behind their products, and I like that. It is very early to tell, but I think I may have found a “new” brand of chainsaw for me to use and abuse on a daily basis! I’m sure going to stick the hours on this CS-355T for ya!

     I did notice that Husqvarna offers some of the same type programs as ECHO, so maybe that’s the direction the market is heading. If so that seems a positive for the consumer. I am especially impressed with the 7 day money back offer.

The saw!

ECHO CS-355T flywheel side without scabbard
A nice 16″ bar tops off this top handle!

     Bout time, eh? The CS-355T is a top handled climbing saw. As I said, it is their top tier climber. The MSRP is $349.99 to $359.99, which puts it in the price ranges of the Husqvarna T435 and Stihl 193 T, neither of which are their top of the line saws. ECHO’s pricing on this saw is very realistic. Think of this as a pro grade saw with mid grade pricing.

     As it is a top handled saw, more care must be used when operating this saw, because the tendency of people is to use it with one hand only. This is a very bad habit to form, it makes the saw extremely uncontrollable in a kickback situation. Use two hands, always, you would not like a cut by a chainsaw on your arm, leg, face, or any other part of your body. Just Google it if you don’t believe me. I’ll use two hands, thanks!

ECHO CS-355T clutch side without scabbard

     OK, let’s get the most important specs out of the way first! (Here is the home page for the CS-355T)

  • Weight. 8 lbs, dry, and minus a bar/chain.
  • Engine size. 35.8cc.
  • Vibration dampening. Rubber.
  • Oiler. Adjustable and automatic.
  • Chain tensioner. On the side, where it should be!
  • Gas. 11.2 oz, premixed.
  • Oil. 8.2 oz.
  • Bar length. 14 or 16 inches, although the chain brake states a 12″ is also available.
  • Chain. 3/8 low profile, .050 inch gauge. Comes with an Oregon 91PXL57CQ, full comp semi chisel anti kickback chain.
  • Sprocket. Spur type. At this time there is not a rim sprocket kit for this saw, at least that I could find.

     So, right out of the box I noticed that it is very orange! It is very close to the Husqvarna orange. Makes it easy to find in the grass when you toss it down for break time… The handle and air box are black, giving it some nice contrast, visually.

ECHO CS-355T air box and controls
The air box cover. This placement makes more sense to me!

     Also visually, I notice the build quality. It has some superb fitment of pieces, nothing appears to be tossed together. The plastics seem to be nice and thick, and all the seams are nice and tight. I was really impressed with the apparent quality right off the bat. The only thing that seems a bit lacking are the logos and such. They are all stickers, but who really cares? Not I! Especially if the saw works as intended.

ECHO CS-355T tools and goodies
The ECHO CS-355T comes with a scrench, nose protector, star key, and a couple options for the palm rest. Oh, and a 5 year warranty if you are not using it commercially!

     The run/stop control is in a convenient position on top of the handle, easily reached with your right thumb. The controls on one of our other climbers is too far forward (it’s a Stihl), you have to flip the saw up to be able to reach it. These controls work very well, they seem quite thought out. You do not have to pull the throttle to set the choke or high idle, simply run the switch all the way forward for choke, and back one notch for high idle. Stop is all the way back, towards you. Messing around with the stop function I found you can lightly slightly bump the switch towards off and it kills the motor, leaving the control switch in the run position. Don’t know if the switch was designed this way, but it sure is a great feature!

ECHO CS-355T run stop control
A close up of the run stop control. My camera decided to throw weird colors at this picture for some strange reason, so it’s in grey-scale!

     The oiler is adjustable, just as any pro model saw should be. The chain tensioner is on the side, right where it should be (it is in the clutch cover). I really don’t like front tensioners… There are ity bity bumper spikes, they are metal! There is a purge bulb. There is a chain brake (that is some thick plastic on that lever!). The carburetor is adjustable, it does have limiters, however. I know you can defeat them, but I am leaving this saw stock like a good consumer! 🙂

ECHO CS-355T chain catch and oiler adjuster
The adjustable oiler is down that hole that’s just above the little picture of the chain. It takes a flat head screwdriver.

     There are two bar nuts, which are the same size as Husqvarna and Jonsered. Both of these points are positives in my book! I still feel that you get a more secure clamp on the bar with two nuts, rather than one. You will notice that the muffler guard sticks out into the path of a scrench while tightening or loosening the nuts. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of, so you don’t mush your fingers or break your cover!

ECHO CS-355T starter handle and purge bulb
The purge bulb and carburetor adjustment screws.

     Speaking of the muffler guard, the muffler is on the clutch side, towards the rear of the saw. It points the exhaust down. It seems to be good for all positions but one. I noticed while cutting some stumps off that the exhaust was blowing right into the ground. This could start a fire, so have caution if stump cutting! I know that this is not the saw for that anyways, but I am trying to wrack up some hours for ya on it!

ECHO CS-355T muffler clearance
The muffler guard contacting a scrench.

     The oil and gas are on the forward side of the saw. The gas is an orange cap, the oil cap is black.  They are good caps, and they have a slot for a scrench if you get too excited while tightening them. They have some retainer strings to keep the caps from wandering off while refilling. My problem with them, and honestly one of only two gripes I have so far with this saw, is their size. They are much too small in diameter in my opinion. I will be contacting ECHO to try to find out the reason or logic for such small holes. I have overfilled the gas every time so far, and the oil almost as much.

ECHO CS-355T gas and oil caps
The oil and gas caps, with retainers!

     There are some changeable hand grip ends. It comes with three styles/sizes, One of which is a plug to run the saw with no grip assist. The one that came installed seems the best, but it is cool that there are options there. It reminded me of changing the back strap on a pistol! It is changeable by using the supplied star tool on the one rear screw. It will take you longer to try to remember where you left all the parts and tools than to actually change them out!

ECHO CS-355T bonus palm rest
The changeable grips.

     The air cleaner is on the back of the handle, under the big square part. The screw that holds the top on is that big orange thing right under the model number. It is a quarter turn to either loosen or tighten. The air filter is a type that I have not seen before. It is thick and looks kind of like a flocked filter, but it is not, it is hardish. It is kind of like a fuel filter but flat, I guess would be the best way to describe it. I checked it at around 10 hours and it was a tiny bit dirty. I tapped it off on the back of the truck and stuck it back on, pretty easy maintenance. It pulls air thru the flywheel, much like Husqvarna, which seems to work quite well.

ECHO CS-355T air cleaner
The air cleaner.

     There is one attachment for climbing. It is on the back side under the air box. The ring will pop out or in, depending on what you want. It is very stiff to move by hand, and they do have an image of a scrench being used to open it right beside the ring… The spark plug is accessible right under the cover that the ring is attached to, looks easy enough to get to.

ECHO CS-355T climbing attachment closed
The climbing attachment ring. It’s in the closed position here.

     There is a chain catcher. It is some kind of plastic. Not sure how many thrown chains it will hold up to, but it will be much nicer to your chains than the aluminum ones usually found on saws.

     The clutch is a three plate design, which I understand is better than the two part design. I have used both, and have no complaints with either. The chain brake lever stays attached to the saw when you remove the clutch cover, which is nice.

ECHO CS-355T clutch
Under the clutch cover… Is the clutch! It’s a three piece design.

     The only thing I think it is missing are the “gunners sights”, “fellers sights”, “aiming lines”, or whatever you would like to call them. I know this saw is not a felling saw, but I feel that in a tree when you are taking a top out it is nice to have those lines to reference. Some situations require pretty accurate cutting, so it would be nice to have them, I think. My backyard solution involves a framers square and a sharpie… Hopefully ECHO has some good input on this.

ECHO CS-355T bar nuts and chain adjuster
The outside of the clutch cover.

     The engine is a clamshell design. That means the cylinder comes off by splitting the crank case in half. It’s only an issue if you were to do some porting, which I’m not. There are crank stuffers… wow! These are supposed to raise the compression in the crank case if I’m remembering right. Domed piston… This thing has some serious engineering going on inside all the plastic bits! I’m impressed. Here’s a link to a build a builder did, I found it quite informative!

ECHO CS-355T clutch cover
The inside of the clutch cover.

Running!

     OK, I have around 12 hours on the saw, so I will tell you my first impressions on the unit. I like it! Honestly, the little guy is around the same weight as the Husqvarna T435 and the Stihl MS192T, perhaps a tiny bit heavier. It also has a longer bar than those other two too.

     It started right up for the very first time, almost as if it had just been used the day before. After about 2-3 hours we fiddled around with the carb screws and got it to run a bit better. It wasn’t running bad in the first place, just a bit rich. I noticed a marked improvement in performance at around 8 hours, I guess that’s about where it breaks in.

ECHO CS-355T first day on the job
First day on the job! This is the second dead pine that the ECHO CS-355T tackled.

     It has taken down 2 dead pine trees and one large green piñon, all from the top down. The pines were about 20-24 inches and the piñon was around 30 at breast height. I also used it to buck up everything I could find off of the piñon, and have used it for pruning for a full day, from the ground. I enjoy the fact that it doesn’t seem to be afraid of heights like the Husqvarna T435, I hope that keeps!

ECHO CS-355T air box interior
Under the air cleaner… Not much to see without getting out the tools!

     I decided to turn up the oiler, so of course I set it all the way open! I found this a bit much in branches and little wood, and have an oil soaked leg to prove it! I have it set at around halfway open now, which seems to be a good spot. I think if I were doing big cuts it might need to be set all the way open.

ECHO CS-355T chain brake lever
Here’s that chain brake lever, way thick! It stays attached to the saw when the clutch cover is removed also.

     At around 10 hours I was thinking that it was time to mess with the carb a bit again. The saw just didn’t seem to be running at the RPMs that I thought it should be. Before I messed with the screws, I popped off the air cleaner and tapped it off. It wasn’t too dirty, I thought. I was wrong. The saw started running great again as soon as the filter was clean! I guess it is touchy about the air cleaner’s cleanliness. No biggie, every 10 hours take the 15 seconds it takes to clean it. 🙂

ECHO CS-355T palm rest
Another view of the hand grip extension thing.

     It seems to cut and run real well, and should only get better with usage. It usually starts with one pull, even after sitting in the sun for a bit. We are having a very hard time getting both the Jonsered CS 2253 and Husqvarna 562 XP started again once hot. Yes, we have read the owners manual, and no, it doesn’t seem to make a difference following their hot start instructions. I am thinking that the autotune technology might have been released a bit early by Husqvarna. Luckily, the ECHO CS-355T happens to be running on a regular ol carburetor, and it just seems to work!

ECHO CS-355T bumper spikes
The little metal bumper spikes I was talking about. Kinda cute, eh?

     It’s funny how happy I am that the saw runs like it should! As I said, it just seems to work! My boss said as happy as I was, one would think that the saw starts itself, and rolls over to the desired tree, and takes itself to work. LOL. Yes, I’m happy that the saw runs like it should, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves, when things don’t work like they should. The ECHO CS-355T seems to work as advertised, and that’s a good thing in my book!

Video

Wrap

     Well, thanks for reading along with me! I will be sure to get with ECHO and see what kind of solutions they have for my two gripes. Time will surely tell how well this saw will hold up, and I intend to use it as much as possible for the sake of research! If it heads in the direction it appears to be heading, then this will be an outstanding saw. I already like it much more than my Husqvarna T435. Perhaps if I had the hundred or so dollars to purchase the updated carb for it… No need with this solid little ECHO by my side! The more I run the ECHO CS-355T the more I like it, and the better it seems to run.

ECHO CS-355T gas lines
Some cool molding where the fuel lines run!

     After I get some more time on the saw I will drop a review. I don’t expect it to be as long as this article ended up. Funny how that works! In the review I will touch back on some points that I made in this one, and bring to light any new developments that I may come across. I look forward to getting enough hours on this CS-355T to be able to give you a detailed review, until then…

ECHO CS-355T muffler guard and climbing attachment
A side view of the muffler guard and climbing attachment.

     As always, any questions or comments feel free to throw them at me in the comment section below. I can also be reached by email, there is a box in the right column just for that! Additionally, let me know if you have this saw what your thoughts are, I’m curious to hear what you think.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility! Cass “Cronkito”

Some thoughts on another top handle, the Husqvarna T435.

Shoot on over to ECHO and check out the CS-355T!

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6 thoughts on “Echo CS-355T, A Top Handled Climbing Saw

    1. I did too! Then I read the manual a bit and came across it in use. I will be keeping the nose guard in the toolbox for those situations where there is a wall, or fence, close enough to the tree to warrant the nose guard’s use. Then I’ll use it! LOL.

      Safety is everyone’s responsibility! cass “cronkito”

    1. Indeed! I guess I’d rather have it and not need it, than toss it and figure out I needed it… It doesn’t take up any room anyways. 🙂

      Safety is everyone’s responsibility! cass “cronkito”

  1. Good to see that manufacturers are starting to tag you as someone who knows what you’re talking about, and can write about it in an informative way. You’ve a good eye for detail in a review like this one, and I can see how you’ve raised the bar in terms of the depth and detail covered now you’re getting direct requests for hands-on testing and reviews. I’ve commented before on the systematic way you organize your reviews, and it’s great to see that manufacturers have started to recognize it. I’m guessing, but I think their opinions about your reviews will do you more good than mine will.

    I see you’re working to the principle of using the product for an extended time before writing a definitive piece. Many years ago I saw the same approach applied by a reviewer of professional photographic gear. The reviewer would use a piece of equipment intermittently for about nine months, and then extensively for three. It was based on the notion that not only does using something for such a long time reveal little quirks or weaknesses, but it also allows the reviewer to test the gear in all weathers. I’m sure you’re not going to wait a year before writing the full review, but the same principle’s at work.

    Hope it goes well for you.

    1. Hi, David! Good to hear from you again, hope all is well in the world for ya!

      Thanks for noticing all my details. 🙂 I think it would be remiss of me to just say, “Oh wow, this is a great saw!” Which I have seen on other reviews for various things. I don’t want to give out any reviews such as that. ECHO was kind enough to send a piece of equipment, and I feel obligated to give the most in depth report that I can. I feel this too will be the most helpful to a perspective buyer. What’s that saying? An informed shopper is a happier shopper, or some such…

      That is basically my principal. I don’t feel it would do anybody any good to use a piece of equipment for 20 minutes and give a rave review. A chainsaw takes a few hours to break in, for one thing. I want to be confident in my analysis of any given piece of equipment. For example, my Jonsered CS 2253 is a heck of a saw. I really, really, like it. I would not recommend it for certain situations, however. It does things that it should not do when it is hot outside, or if it gets used heavily and extensively. I do hope I can figure out what is going on with it so I can change that opinion. I think what I’m getting at is that you must really put it thru the paces before any of the gremlins show up.

      Anyways, my plan with all future saw reviews is to gather around 150 hours of runtime before I formulate any opinions. Unless of course the saw up for review flops before that… This little ECHO has around 17 hours now and only seems to be getting better and better, so I do have great expectations for it!

      Safety is everyone’s responsibility! cass “cronkito”

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