Home grown chain lube.....no, not the religious way ;-)

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

Moderator: Moderator Team

basilic
Posts: 741
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

Questions:

- I remove the factory lube using the ParkTool chain cleaner, letting the chain sit in it overnight. Then rinse under running water. Im sure it has some nasty stuff in it, it just works. So is that unnecessary?

- MrM, adding graphite or other solids doesn't help - is that based on any measurement, or just eyeballing it?

- what do you guys do for unsuported multi-day trips? a few days of riding or an afternoon storm will just rinse all the wax off (I use solid melted paraffin). So far I have added lube at the nearest bike shop, which negates the whole thing.

@calnago: for me #1 is cleanliness. I live in the city in an appartment and almost never wash the bike...

by Weenie


User avatar
pdlpsher1
Posts: 2213
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

To strip the factory lube I use paint thinner or mineral spirits. I fill up a one-gallon paint can with paint thinner to the 1/3 mark. I put a new chain in the can and shake it a little bit. Then I close the can lid and leave the chain in the can for 3-5 days. I've found this method is the only effective way to remove all factory lube.

basilic
Posts: 741
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

another one:

- what exactly is the purpose of adding paraffin oil to the solid wax?

@calnago: #2 is environment. I used to go through 3 chains per season, maybe 4. Now they last years. (and yes, I patch tubes...)

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

jlok wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:39 am
Thanks MrMagura for bring up this topic. I am going to switch to parafin waxing. Hate clearing the gunk on pulleys that normal lube would leave behind.

I think I have missed the part of how to prep a new chain with factory lube or used chain with some other lube (currently on Smoove). Do you just dip it in hot wax bath and leave it there? or degrease it before dipping?
Factory lube from KMC can be removed, by just leaving it in the hot wax longer, some 30 minutes will do, while stirring the pot from time to time.
The rest of the chain manufacturers, I have no experience with, as I used to remove the factory grease with acetone, and have only had KMC chains since I quit doing that.

As for used chains, it depends what sort of oil it has been seing.
You sure don't want random stuff in your lube, so the old lube needs to be cleaned off, and that as well as possible.
Actone or petroleum would be a qualified guess.

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

basilic wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:03 am
Questions:

- I remove the factory lube using the ParkTool chain cleaner, letting the chain sit in it overnight. Then rinse under running water. Im sure it has some nasty stuff in it, it just works. So is that unnecessary?

- MrM, adding graphite or other solids doesn't help - is that based on any measurement, or just eyeballing it?

- what do you guys do for unsuported multi-day trips? a few days of riding or an afternoon storm will just rinse all the wax off (I use solid melted paraffin). So far I have added lube at the nearest bike shop, which negates the whole thing.

@calnago: for me #1 is cleanliness. I live in the city in an appartment and almost never wash the bike...
Water and degreasing a chain, is mutually exclusive. You create corrosion inside the chain, and you can't get the water out. So what you effectively have, is a degreased chain swimming in water.
I'm well aware that several companies are selling water based degreasers for chain cleaning, and some have for a long time, but it's driven by marketing, not if it's a good solution or not.
In short, yes, that's unnecessary, as if you actually manage to get the chain clean, you creat corrosion.
As for if any other brand of chains, besides KMC, are using compatible factory lube, I simply don't know.

I find it ironic, that people will swallow the marketing about environmetally friendly water based degreasers (with no evidence to my knowledge), yet the wast majority of riders are pouring xylene all over the place on regular basis (which is evidently as poisonous as can be), and thinks nothing of it.........go figure :lol:

Adding solids doesn't work, based on testing. I have the luxury of sending off identical bikes together, and get to see how they fared.
You can't eyeball something like that. This is why there's so much religion about this topic.
Take another look at the thread title, it says something to the tune of "no, not the religious way". :wink:

Once you get the ratio of liquid and solids right to your conditions, going for 500km on one lube is not an issue, also if the conditions are wet.
Your lube is flaking off, due to lack of oil in the mix.
If you're on multiple day unsupported trips, chances are that you're already bringing along a ton of stuff.
Bringing along another lubed chain will not make a difference, compared to bringing along a bottle of lube.

If you find yourself facing a multiple day trip, with a forecast of pouring rain all the way, simply bring a chain per day for a worst case scenario, or a bottle of paraffin oil.
You're then back to square one, but no worse.

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

basilic wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:21 am
another one:

- what exactly is the purpose of adding paraffin oil to the solid wax?

@calnago: #2 is environment. I used to go through 3 chains per season, maybe 4. Now they last years. (and yes, I patch tubes...)
If you don't add oil to the wax, it will flake off, as you will have very limited adhesion.
This is where the beauty of making your own comes into the picture, as you can mix it so it fits your environment.
In my current environment, the temperature range is from -10 to +35 degrees celcius, so I have a summer and a winter version.
One could get away with just one, but when it gets cold you will get flaking, if using a lube that didn't change phase at 35 degrees.

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

pdlpsher1 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:07 am
To strip the factory lube I use paint thinner or mineral spirits. I fill up a one-gallon paint can with paint thinner to the 1/3 mark. I put a new chain in the can and shake it a little bit. Then I close the can lid and leave the chain in the can for 3-5 days. I've found this method is the only effective way to remove all factory lube.
That's another way of doing it, but if you shake it a couple of times, and leave it for half an hour, either you're done, or the solvent you use is not working.
The gaps in chains are huge, so any solvent will get in rather fast.

mattr
Posts: 4570
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

MrMagura wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 11:53 am
Water and degreasing a chain, is mutually exclusive. You create corrosion inside the chain, and you can't get the water out. So what you effectively have, is a degreased chain swimming in water.
I use a compressor to blast the water out. You can actually store a significant amount of water in a chain.....

basilic
Posts: 741
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

Thanks for the detailed response!
MrMagura wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 11:53 am
...degreasing a chain,
In short, yes, that's unnecessary,
Alright, simpler is better!
About rinsing - in my recollection the chain dries rather quickly, and the first paraffin bath brings out some bubbles. If there's rust within it never seemed to cause a problem. But it's even better without this step, I'll try that.
I have the luxury of sending off identical bikes together, and get to see how they fared.
What do you mean by "see how they fared"? measurements? perceptions?
Once you get the ratio of liquid and solids right to your conditions, going for 500km on one lube is not an issue, also if the conditions are wet.
Yes, with 0% oil that's what I get in the dry, nowhere close in the wet.
If you find yourself facing a multiple day trip, with a forecast of pouring rain all the way, simply bring a chain per day for a worst case scenario, or a bottle of paraffin oil.
I tend to do the credit card touring, minimum stuff. I'll bring some paraffin oil next time. Cheers!

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

You can tell if a chain is out of lubrication, by simply listening to it. So if one chain starts talking before the other, you know there was a difference.
Clearly it's more difficult to tell the difference if it's not by much, but anything significant you can easily tell like that.
Lab tests obviously give numbers, but it's extremely difficult to replicate real life conditions in a lab, so the numbers are more like indications.
If you have a few bikes that are at the same events, and are running identical drive trains, you can do long term tests, and even deliberate test to breakdown (screaming chain).
That's what I've done over the years.

I do credit card touring myself, but that includes reading weather forecasts these days :D

Alexandrumarian
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:34 pm
Location: Romania

by Alexandrumarian

Interesting topic. A couple weeks ago I lost my Squirt bottle so in a pinch I tried a rough wax job. Lit one of those alu can candles and let it burn until all wax melted. Placed it somewhere close to the bike and using a cotton swab put a drop on each roller. If I move fast enough, it stays liquid for long enough as to infiltrate some. So far it seems to work fine, drivetrain is a quiet as it was with bought stuff.

User avatar
otoman
Posts: 451
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Nashville

by otoman

Thank you MrMagura! I appreciate you taking the suggestion to drop some knowledge on us about your well-sorted process.
Age and treachery shall overcome youth and skill

mattr
Posts: 4570
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

Calnago wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 7:53 pm
- Cost?... I really don’t have to skip any meals to afford a bottle of good chain lube every few months.
When "in the trade" a normal sized bottle (4 oz?) would last two or three days , depending on the event and the weather, and the size of the team. I used to buy the 1 gallon/4 litre tubs and decant into (many) 2 and 4 oz dropper bottles. It's also messy when you are doing multiple bikes up against a time limit.
Calnago wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 7:53 pm
- Convenience? Removing the chain, hovering over it like a witches brew etc etc. no thanks. A new quick link just negated any cost savings you might be achieving. But convenience, hardly.
Hmmmm, take 10 chains off 10 bikes, sling them in a pot of hot wax, do all your bike cleaning etc, refit pre prepared, dry lubed, chains that you did a couple of days ago, rack bikes up for the riders or to go back into the van. Hook newly boiled chains out of the wax, drip clean, wipe down, leave to cool, throw them in a box for next time.

Compared to cleaning, drying then oiling 10 chains in situ, i know what i'd prefer.

And once you are set up, and have spare chains lying around, it probably makes a fair bit of sense for those of us who maintain our own fleet of bikes.

MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

Yeah, that's how it was when we had it sponsored by FinishLine back in the day. Piles of bottles!
Also, unless you are with a team that has very deep pockets, life span of the drive train is considered important.

What I guess makes the different points of view, is largely that most people only maintain their own personal bike. In that case it's not a big deal how long it takes.
I've often seen people drip a single drop of lube on each link, and while to most it's a hobby, still, there must be more to life than spending 10 minutes lubing a chain? :D

I do batches of 20 chains normally, and as Mattr wrote, it's making it an extremely efficient method.
While most people don't service that many bikes, just buying a couple more chains, which most of us will wear down sooner or later anyway, will make it time saving.

A point that has not been mentioned, is that by removing the chain, you also get to inspect it, minimizing the risk of going out with a bad chain.
KMC among others, offers a digital caliper, that is modified to measure chain wear.

All that I really think is left to have the perfect setup in this regard, would be a board for the wall, where the chains can be stored, with indicators for chain wear. That would be neat!

by Weenie


MrMagura
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:38 pm

by MrMagura

So, now for some practical stuff.
Remember these links are just illustrations, not direct suggestions, as I have no idea about their actual dimensions, and here are people from all over the world, who has different options.

1) You need an electrical rice cooker. Do me a favor and have a look in your local second hand shop, as all this calls for is that it's running.
1a) You can algernatively use a regular pot on a stove, but it's dangerous, and I warn against it!

2) You need a sift like this one, that has a foot, so the dirt can fall to the bottom of the pot, leaving the chain clean.
https://www.real.de/product/324885064/
I've made a few of these by now. The way it works best, is if you remove the handles, they can be broken off fairly easily, if you bought one that was cheap enough. I then cut the edge to make it fit inside the rice cooker, leaving a couple of mm of space around the sift.

3) To get the chains in and out of the pot, and to stirr, I now use a pair of long nosed pliers.
For more years than I care to think about, I used a spoke for this purpose. It's far from elegant, but it actually works.
The reason I bought the pliers for it, was the mess it made when a chain slipped off the spoke, and landed back in the pot. :lol:

4) For cooling off the chains, I use a one of the work stands, but a broom stick between two tables is just as fine.

To get paraffine wax, I use tea candles. Cheap, easy, and available anywhere.
Paraffine oil is readily awailable most places, if not, Johnsons baby oil is an alternative source. Smells funny, but works just as well as pure oil.
EP additives, I get by mixing in 10% STP oil treatment in the paraffin oil, so as to end up with around 5% in the end mix.

The starting point for mixing wax and oil, is 1:1. Make a batch, and go for a ride.
If you come back, and you have wax flaking off everywhere, add more oil.
If you instead come back with a chain that has attracted every bit of dirt in a 10 mile radius, add more wax.
I usually use a piece of metal to test dip. Let it cool to ambient temperature, and scrape off the wax with a finger.
If it flakes off, more oil, if it seems sticky, more wax.
This gives a rule of thumb.
Once you have it nailed, don't forget to write down the mix, and do remember to note what you mix in the process, so you know what you're doing.

This should not take long to do, and once you have it nailed, it just keeps on working.

As I use the wax to also clean chains, sooner or later the mix gets real nasty. I replace mine like once a season, but depending where you are on the planet, YMMV.
The good news is, it takes a few minutes, and costs very little to do (given you followed my advice, and wrote things down, and didn't loose the note in the meantime).

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post