Homelite 33cc Chainsaw Review (Common Issues)

I own a pair of Homelite Rangers, which is the nickname for this 33cc chainsaw, so I thought I'd write a quick review about it.

No sales pitch, I find it to be a good saw and am not being paid for this. Besides, I also trust Homelite, they make good stuff.

About the 33cc Ranger: it's a Homelite chainsaw with a 2-cycle gas engine. Its bar length options are 12, 14, 16 or 18 inches and the chain has a default pitch of 3/8 inch.

It has an oil tank capacity of 8.45 fluid ounces, a fuel tank capacity of 14.9 fluid ounces, and it weighs 11.8 pounds.

Designed for cutting wood and other materials, it is best suited for light duty use. The "33cc" in the name refers to the size of the engine, which is 33 cubic centimeters.

In my opinion, this is a perfect small saw to keep on hand for emergency use.

It's great for cutting down a fallen tree if it blocks the road, or to turn an unexpected fallen tree into useable firewood.

It's inexpensive, durable, and works best in occasional use situations where you don't want to be fiddling with it to start.

Homelite 33cc Chainsaw Review

Homelite 33cc Chainsaw Bar and Chain Combinations

On 12" power tip saws, the recommended guide bar is number PT-12371-MD with an 35-MD50-45 chain type (part number H1-N7245-AH).

On 14" power tip saws, the recommended guide bar is number PT-14371-MD with an 35-MD50-52 chain type (part number H1-N7252-AH).

On 16" power tip saws, the recommended guide bar is number PT-16371-OD with an Oregon 91VG chain type (part number PS04598).

And On 18" power tip saws, the recommended guide bar is number PT-18371-MD with an 35-MD50-62 chain type (part number H1-N7262-AH).

Common Maintenance Issues With The 33cc

Being an older chainsaw, the typical maintenance issues all apply. This includes hardened fuel lines, dirty fuel and air filters and possibly needing a carburetor cleaning or rebuild.

In my experience, the most common model specific issue with Homelite 33cc saws is the carburetor diaphragm getting hard prematurely. When this happens, the saw becomes difficult to start, won't stay running long, or won't start at all.

The solution is to replace the diaphragm, however, it's just as easy to install a new carburetor. Homelite 33cc chainsaw carburetors are fairly inexpensive, and simply replacing the unit saves you the time of disassembling and cleaning the old one.

Piston Scoring

Piston scoring is a problem I find on Homelite 33cc saws quite frequently. While it can happen to any saw, piston scoring does seem to happen more frequently with this particular model.

Piston scoring, which are scratches on the side of the piston, rob the engine of compression causing it to run poorly, or not run at all. It's typically caused by a lack of lubrication and/or overheating.

Because it has a two-stroke motor, it requires a 40 to 1 mix of fuel and oil. Using regular gas will damage the piston and cylinder wall over time.

The easiest way to diagnose piston scoring on this model, besides detecting low compression, is to remove the muffler and look inside the engine block exhaust port while manually turning the motor over by hand.

Clutch Drum Issue (too tight)

Another issue I find more frequently on Homelite 33cc saws is a tight clutch drum that doesn't spin as freely as it should. On inspection, you can diagnose this problem by looking for drum discoloration caused by friction and heat.

What causes this to happen may be a design flaw, it happens when the hand brake is applied too strongly, which causes the plastic to flex against the drum.

I don't recommend trying to shim the handle to prevent this from happening because it's not worth the risk of making the saw unsafe.

Overall Impression

My overall impression of the Homelite 33cc chainsaw is that it is a good old saw for occasional light-duty use, as long as it is properly maintained. For an old budget saw, it's a good choice for cutting limbs from small trees around the house.

I highly recommend storing it in a plastic Homelite case to keep the dust from accumulating on it. I also recommend draining the fuel and running it dry every time you are finished using it to prevent carburetor issues.

From a repair point of view, I would say this saw is extremely easy to work on and repair. If you've never rebuilt a small engine before, the Homelite 33cc saw would make a good first candidate.

The starter (side) cover has to come off before you can remove the carburetor, but the fuel lines and carburetor throttle linkage can be accessed by simply removing the top cover.

The carburetor adjustment screws are located on the left side of the saw, about an inch from the pull-start rope handle. A small flathead screwdriver is all you need to adjust the throttle response.

The muffler on a bandit saw is located on the front of the saw. To check for piston scoring, remove the muffler and shine a light inside the exhaust port located behind the muffler.

The fuel tank is built into the bottom of the saw housing and the fuel cap is located on the left side of the saw near the handle. Don't forget to use a 40 to 1 fuel-oil mix when refueling the saw.

To remove the engine block and piston assembly, you need to remove the four hex bolts and washers located on the bottom of the saw. The motor will slide off the saw easily afterward.

Troubleshooting Tips For This 33cc Chainsaw

If it starts but doesn't accelerate when you pull the throttle lever, and the air filter looks good, check for exhaust blockage. Remove the exhaust and look inside, carbon buildup sometimes clogs the exhaust port.

If the saw also has low compression, check the piston for scoring before reinstalling the exhaust. If the exhaust is clear and the piston looks good, inspect the fuel filter and carburetor next.

Old fuel will clog the carburetor over time and may cause the diaphragm to harden, causing the engine not to start or to run poorly. A carburetor rebuild or replacement will solve this issue.

If the chain doesn't stop spinning at idle and the RPM seems high, adjust the carburetor screws to slightly lower the saw RPM. If that doesn't resolve the issue, you may need to adjust or replace the clutch.

If your Homelite 33cc Bandit won't start at all, inspect the air filter (clogged), check for a foul odor from the fuel tank (bad gas), make sure there is good compression (worn piston), check the spark plug (fouling) and test for spark (coil issues).

Also, make sure the saw is set to the on position. We've all forgotten to do that, at least once!