How to Get a Chainsaw Clutch Cover On When the Chain Brake Is Engaged


It happened to you, huh? At first, it felt like your clutch cover was stuck, so you pried and pulled. And then… *SNAP.* By the time you realized what had happened, it was too late. You took your chainsaw clutch cover off with the chain brake engaged, and now you can’t get it back on. Don’t panic. It happens all the time, both to chainsaw newbies who don’t know any better and seasoned veterans who have a momentary lapse of judgement. In fact, I often have to stop myself from doing accidentally frequently. What is important, however, is that it is usually pretty easy to fix, depending on your model of chainsaw.

You are in luck. Today, In solidarity with you, I have purposely taken my chainsaw clutch cover off with the chain brake engaged to show you how you can easily put it back on. You can see below how, with the chain brake on, the radius of the brake spring is reduced and smaller than the clutch, preventing it from fitting back on. This is what the real issue is, so the task is in disengaging the chain brake to increase the radius of that band again. Here is how to do it.

Chainsaw clutch cover removed with the chain brake engaged.

Step 1: Find Where the Brake Lever Connects to the Clutch Cover

Begin by locating the three-pronged socket where the brake lever meets the clutch cover. It should kind of resemble a radiation symbol and have male and female counterparts. You can see these two pieces in the photo below. This photo was taken of a Jonsered chainsaw, but most chainsaws should have similar (if not identical) components, including Echo, Husqvarna, Stihl, and Poulan.

Male and female sockets for the chain brake.

Step 2: Line Up the Two Sockets to Interlock

Once you have located the two sockets, line them up visually so they can interlock. Try to keep the clutch cover stationary and parallel with the ground and use the brake lever to try to line it up. Remember, these components should interlock so the pieces of the metal prongs fit into the spaces on the plastic lever.

If the clutch cover is off with the chain brake engaged, begin by lining up the components.

Step 3: Push the Pieces Together and Pull Back on the Chain Brake Lever

With the pieces interlocked, push the pieces together with as much pressure as possible. Because the clutch is in the way of proper positioning, you won’t be able to get perfect contact between the components. Thus, you need to apply pressure to prevent the pieces from slipping, which can strip and damage the prongs on the plastic brake lever.

Once you have good pressure applied, pull back gently on the brake lever until you hear the *click* of the brake releasing. Once you hear that click, the brake will be disengaged, and you can fit the clutch cover easily back in place.

If you are having trouble getting the pieces to interlock enough to release the brake, you may need to remove the clutch so the cover can fit in its proper position and get better contact with the lever. While this is a bit more involved, it is certainly a more fool-proof method.

Once the chain brake is disengaged, the clutch cover should fit back on the chainsaw.

That’s All There Is to It

Once you successfully disengage the brake, the clutch cover can be placed back on the chainsaw without any lasting damage to any component. Even so, try not do it again. Always disengage the chain brake prior to removing the clutch cover. Like I said, even the most seasoned among us make mistakes from time to time, but if nothing else, remember this much: The clutch cover should never need to be pried off. If the cover is not coming off easily, something is not right, and it likely involves the chain brake.

Goodluck fixing your saw, and I hope this helps!

Zachary Lowry

A forester from northern Maine, I spent my early career working for large timberland owners, managing forest land and investments in the form of managing timber harvest operations as well as planning and managing precommercial thinning, planting, and herbicide application programs. These days I work on my own land and help timberland owners large and small manage theirs.

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