By Randy Frassetto
Published Friday, May 25, 2012
| From the July 2012 Issue of FireRescue
When it comes to brand names in the fire service, Super Vac has been a mainstay. It’s been making fire service equipment for more than 50 years. Among their many offerings is the Super V3 Power Pro Ventilation Saw, which is advertised as a tool that “tackles a variety of operations with ease,” so it seemed like a tool that could be put to the test for use on a ladder company.
As I pulled the saw out of the box, I noticed right away that it looked like it was ready for business. It has sleek lines, a good, balanced feel, and it comes with a few extras, such as an aluminum depth gauge and a D-handle on the pull cord, which also made it easy on the eyes. Another noticeable feature: the wrap-around handle, which makes for an extremely maneuverable tool.
The best way to test this saw was to use sawyers at all different skill levels. My crew includes a probie recently out of the academy, a senior firefighter with 10 years in the back seat, and everything in between, so I used them for all the evolutions. The saw was tested using a 16" bar, with a depth gauge that could easily be adjusted or removed, depending on how the saw was set up.
Before any testing began, the saw was pulled apart to a point that any sawyer on a ladder truck should be able to pull apart a saw. The product came with a “scrench” tool attached to it, which was nice because it aided in pulling the saw apart, and the chain tension was set using the Super Vac system, which allowed for quick and easy operation. Overall, the saw was easy to take apart, simplifying routine maintenance for all levels of users. Once the saw was reassembled, it was time to start having some fun.
The first step was to check the product’s user-friendliness. The saw features an “all-in-one” choke and throttle button that made starting quick and easy; it consistently started with two pulls of the cord and didn’t take much effort, especially when we used the compression release button. To shut off the saw, there’s a switch on the side that’s easy to reach; however, early into our tests, the plastic tabs that held the switch in place broke, and the button was recessed into the body of the saw. In addition, the aluminum D-ring handle looked nice, but we found that it was a little tight for a gloved hand. There was also some early wear on the pull cord.
Once we started up the saw, it ran extremely well, with a smooth idle and a very quick response on the throttle. The chain brake was easy to reach and worked well, and the tool’s “shock absorbers” took the brunt of the vibration caused by the motor, preventing excessive shaking of the sawyer’s arms.
Being able to handle a tool when working on the fireground is one of the most important things to consider for safety and efficiency. During our tests, we started off just rolling rafters, then we switched hands and rolled the rafters in the opposite direction. The Super V3 has extremely good balance to it, as we noticed when it feathered over the rafters in all the tests.
One of my favorite features to this saw with regard to handling was that wrap-around handle. It made life much easier when maneuvering the saw at all different heights and when switching hands. The 16" bar also worked well with the roofs we tested with steeper pitches, but I personally prefer the 20" bar because it’s more versatile and works well for flat-roof operations or with taller sawyers.
The saw’s “Quicksilver” billet aluminum depth gauge was extremely easy to adjust, remove and put on. After running the saw through both residential- and commercial-type roof cut sequences, I first set the depth gauge about a half-inch past the width of the decking material and made several cuts. It cut with ease, as I was able to just rest the saw on the roof and pull. Note: Although this procedure worked well for cutting a hole, I was unable to feel any rafters.
I then moved the depth gauge up a bit to allow for four inches of the saw to cut. Initially, this test was done by the probie who was new to operating a saw and had a habit of “burying” the saw while cutting. With the guide on, the new sawyer greatly improved his ability to roll rafters, as the guide forced him to keep the saw at the correct angle and depth.
The final test with the depth gauge was applied to a panelized roof using a two-sawyer cut, where the sawyer had to reach out from the purlin. With the gauge still set at four inches, the cut worked extremely well, as the gauge prevented the sawyer from having to hold up the saw as he reached out and was able to just “drag” the saw toward his feet.
During all tests, we used the most common types of materials that firefighters encounter. The Super V3 cut through half-inch OSB and plywood with ease as expected. The half-inch plywood was then covered with three layers of asphalt shingles to create a built-up roof, and the saw performed well. The engine did not bog up and the aggressive chain kept the bar from binding. Then, using 1" sheathing, the aggressive chain and powerful motor again kept the saw cutting. The wider chain left a good channel through the material and assisted in making for a smooth cut. Finally, most lightweight metal doors and garage doors are made from 20-gauge metal, and the saw easily cut through it.
Super Vac has been making quality products for the fire service for more than 50 years, and the Super V3 Power Pro Ventilation Saw lives up to the company’s longstanding reputation. It has more than enough power, it’s compact and it’s designed to have good versatility and maneuverability for ladder company operations. The saw was built for firefighter use, as features such as the wrap-around handle make work much easier.
In short, we made sure the Super V3 took a beating, and it still functioned extremely well.
Sidebar 1: Super V3 Power Pro Ventilation Saw
- Wrap-around handle
- Quick and easy operation
- Extras, such as “scrench” tool
- Smooth idle, quick response on throttle
- Absorbs vibration from motor
- Excellent balance
- Takes a beating
- Plastic tabs on shut-off switch are fragile
- D-ring is tight with gloved hand
- Early wear on pull cord
Super Vacuum Mfg. Co.
P.O. Box 87
Loveland, CO 80539-0087
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