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Old 02-28-06, 08:52 AM   #1
TallRider
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I'm worried that the chain on my good road bike has gotten some grit inside the rollers - well, more than what would be typical. I know that brush-based chain cleaners are no good here, as they only force more grit into the innards of the chain. Is a solvent bath (soaking the chain in mineral spirits, shaking it up, pulling out and letting dry before re-installing and re-lubing) useful to get grit out of the inside of the chain, or does it still only clean the outside mostly?

The chain hasn't lengthened at all yet, so I'd like to catch this before the chain gets damaged more quickly than it should.

I realize that chain stuff has been discussed often here, but I've not seen this specific question yet.
Thanks all.

Edit: thanks, mods.

Last edited by TallRider; 02-28-06 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:05 AM   #2
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I cleaned mine recently doing that method and it did okay. I suggest you use something like mineral spirits or kerosene. I used a citrus solvent and it did okay but there was still some grit within the rollers.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:59 AM   #3
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With sufficient agitation, a hot detergent solution will get a chain extremely clean. So will mineral spirits, though you may want to run a couple of changes with fresh spirit to get really clean.

I put chains in the laundry machine, tied into old socks to save wear on the drum, and run it on a 90C wash. This gives the repeated agitation needed to get the oil and grit out of the innermost parts. At the end it is very very clean indeed .

Cheers,

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Old 02-28-06, 10:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ed Holland
I put chains in the laundry machine, tied into old socks to save wear on the drum, and run it on a 90C wash. This gives the repeated agitation needed to get the oil and grit out of the innermost parts. At the end it is very very clean indeed . Ed
I guess you are single. If not, you will be.

You can put the container that has the chain and cleaner in it on top of the washer and / or dryer. This will shake it.

I have found a Park chain cleaner to work flawlessly using Simple Green as the cleaner. I ran the same chain for 3000 miles and it was still well within spec. If it is extra dirty you just run it though three or four cycles. It is a lot easier than removing the chain and having containers of kerosene around.
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Old 02-28-06, 10:30 AM   #5
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I use a jar of kerosene (UK paraffin) to clean chains. I have one chain in the jar and another on the bike and swap them around.
Cleaning a chain is a messy , time-consuming business and it is more convenient to keep my bike ridable by a simple chain swap.
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Old 02-28-06, 10:39 AM   #6
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I think realistically the answer is no, getting the grit out of what is nearly an enclosed space is going to be impossible short of a method that does a one way flush of the area, which none of the above do. The washing machine idea might come closest but is not practical as another poster points out. Even better might be a few cycles in the dish washer, real blast there compared with sloshing in a washing machine. Grit inside the rollers is going to end up pulverized into flour dust by the pedaling action of riding and mix with whatever lube/water ends up along with it, this will polish and scratch the inside of the roller and outside of the pin slowly abrading it away. Best not to obsess about it and buy a new chain when it exceeds the 1/16-3/32" elongation per foot level. Clean it the easiest way you find that you will do on a regular basis.
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Old 02-28-06, 11:47 AM   #7
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I think realistically the answer is no, getting the grit out of what is nearly an enclosed space is going to be impossible short of a method that does a one way flush of the area, which none of the above do. The washing machine idea might come closest but is not practical as another poster points out. Even better might be a few cycles in the dish washer, real blast there compared with sloshing in a washing machine. Grit inside the rollers is going to end up pulverized into flour dust by the pedaling action of riding and mix with whatever lube/water ends up along with it, this will polish and scratch the inside of the roller and outside of the pin slowly abrading it away. Best not to obsess about it and buy a new chain when it exceeds the 1/16-3/32" elongation per foot level. Clean it the easiest way you find that you will do on a regular basis.
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+1
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Old 02-28-06, 04:02 PM   #8
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Jobst Brandt comments that running water onto a chain that is lying flat will allow these particles to be flushed out, after it has bean cleaned using shaking methods. He says you can see the black powder exiting from the chain a for quite a while. I don't have the link with me on this PC.
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Old 02-28-06, 04:15 PM   #9
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I just use my old rock tumbler from my gold business. I think I got it for 20.00 20+ years ago and still working fine. Basically a heavy duty round rubber cylinder that has a liquid sealed top that you put on a rotating roller. I put kerosene in and put the chain in, close the top and let it run for however long I want. Uses very little electricity so I usually just let it run non stop. Put in dirty chain clean one comes out.
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Old 02-28-06, 04:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jur
Jobst Brandt comments that running water onto a chain that is lying flat will allow these particles to be flushed out, after it has bean cleaned using shaking methods. He says you can see the black powder exiting from the chain a for quite a while. I don't have the link with me on this PC.
That's exactly what I do, and it gets the grit out like nothing else I've tried. I wash my dirty chains in water based citrus solvent, in a closed container so I can agitate them like crazy. Then I take them out and hold them under a strong stream of warm water in the sink, letting the water run on each link. Then I repeat the whole cycle in a fresh citrus solvent container, agitate, rinse with a strong stream of water. When I'm done, I can twist the chain and hear that there is no more grit inside.

You can let the grit settle out of the solvent mixture, and re-use it by pouring it into a fresh container.
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Old 02-28-06, 05:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jur
Jobst Brandt comments that running water onto a chain that is lying flat will allow these particles to be flushed out, after it has bean cleaned using shaking methods. He says you can see the black powder exiting from the chain a for quite a while. I don't have the link with me on this PC.
+1, I always do this after a good simple green soak. Glad Brandt agrees with me
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Old 02-28-06, 06:10 PM   #12
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Title changed...

Also my view, get a chain link made by SRAM (if your chain is 8 speed or above) and then get some simple green from a hardware store (not WALMART) (its very cheap and works WONDERS!) Get a gatorade bottle. One of the wide mouthed ones. Install the powerlink, and then before you put the chain back on the bike do a one to one proportion of simple green and water in the bottle; add chain; and now you can eithor let it sit for a little and then shake SHAKE SHAKE! or just shake SHAKE SHAKE! right after you put the chain in the bottle. Try letting the chain sit in the degreaser to really make sure it gets clean.

Oh and SRAM powerlinks are like 4-5 dollars, they are a great investment. Much better investment than those chain cleaners. It allows you to break the chain when ever you want so you dont have to keep using a chain tool.

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-28-06, 08:07 PM   #13
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get a chain link made by SRAM (if your chain is 8 speed or above) and then get some simple green from a hardware store (not WALMART)
What if I have a 7 speed drivetrain? I can't use a SRAM chain?


Why can't I buy simple green at Walmart if they sell it?

Last edited by BostonFixed; 02-28-06 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 02-28-06, 08:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by hi565
Title changed...

Also my view, get a chain link made by SRAM (if your chain is 8 speed or above) and then get some simple green from a hardware store (not WALMART) (its very cheap and works WONDERS!) Get a gatorade bottle. One of the wide mouthed ones. Install the powerlink, and then before you put the chain back on the bike do a one to one proportion of simple green and water in the bottle; add chain; and now you can eithor let it sit for a little and then shake SHAKE SHAKE! or just shake SHAKE SHAKE! right after you put the chain in the bottle. Try letting the chain sit in the degreaser to really make sure it gets clean.


Hope this helps!
Simple Green causes chain failure, regardless of whether or not it comes from Wal-Mart.

http://www.velonews.com/tech/report/...es/9216.0.html

I prefer aerosol brake cleaner for cleaning chains, but I also don't believe in global warming.
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Old 02-28-06, 08:42 PM   #15
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well, my radical chain cleaning solution is this; using sram chain for easy on/off, put chain in old round cookie tin, add 100ml gasoline, slosh her around, walk away 5 min, come back, slosh her round again. remove chain, hang on shrubbery limb to dry 15 min, dump solution onto noxious weeds.

you must use high octane or this just wont work.

here's my long winded explanation of homemade lube, it basically obsoletes the gasoline chain cleaning stage.

Homemade lube makes my chain squeal like a stuck pig: what gives

i still use gas to clean cassettes, nothing works as good as removing cassette and hitting it with some gas and a toothbrush.

i think i would be careful using any strong acid or alkaline cleaner on chains; that alloy is not very rust resistant and subject to chemical attack. gasoline won't rust em. but the fumes might rust you.

Last edited by seeker333; 02-28-06 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 02-28-06, 08:44 PM   #16
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I prefer aerosol brake cleaner for cleaning chains, but I also don't believe in global warming.
**** yes. At the bike shop once, I found a 35 year old hub from behind the workbench, which looked like it had rolled there 35 years ago, unused. The grease had turned to a sticky wax/tar substance. A couple of shots of carb/choke cleaner, and a brown river of old grease poured out. The balls/cones/races were like new, shiny as a mirror.

ps. carb/choke cleaner feels really good on your hands.
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Old 02-28-06, 08:51 PM   #17
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well, my radical chain cleaning solution is this; using sram chain for easy on/off, put chain in old round cookie tin, add 100ml gasoline, slosh her around, walk away 5 min, come back, slosh her round again. remove chain, hang on shrubbery limb to dry 15 min, dump solution onto noxious weeds.

you must use high octane or this just wont work.
Sounds like a good method; just remind me not to ride too close to you in case something sparks!

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Old 02-28-06, 08:54 PM   #18
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**** yes. At the bike shop once, I found a 35 year old hub from behind the workbench, which looked like it had rolled there 35 years ago, unused. The grease had turned to a sticky wax/tar substance. A couple of shots of carb/choke cleaner, and a brown river of old grease poured out. The balls/cones/races were like new, shiny as a mirror.

ps. carb/choke cleaner feels really good on your hands.
Better living through caustic chemistry!
What feels so good on your hands is 3 or 4 layers of skin sloughing off, a small price to pay for clean parts.
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Old 02-28-06, 08:54 PM   #19
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Yes, you can use the SRAM chain on a 7-speed drivetrain -- I have one on my 7-speed set up.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:13 PM   #20
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Better living through caustic chemistry!
What feels so good on your hands is 3 or 4 layers of skin sloughing off, a small price to pay for clean parts.
I think it's an endothermic reaction, similar to when you spill rubbing alcohol or the like on your hands.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:17 PM   #21
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What if I have a 7 speed drivetrain? I can't use a SRAM chain?
Chains designed for and compatible with 8-speed drivetrain will also work on 7- and 6-speed drivetrains. And I think they'll work fine on 5-speed freewheels, too.

Also: you don't need to buy a SRAM chain to use a connector link. You can buy aftermarket Wipperman or SRAM connector links and use them with whatever chain. I've got a Shimano UN-93 with a Wipperman connector link on my good road bike.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:24 PM   #22
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come on now a bike is for riding, not showing off!!!!
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Old 02-28-06, 09:28 PM   #23
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Jobst Brandt's an obnoxious dogmatist.

I like clean chains, too.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:40 PM   #24
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I don't mean to be obtuse, but what was the cause of the grit? I use a chain cleaner about once per month (400 - 500 miles) and wipe the chain with a towel after each ride. I usually oil it twice between cleanings. I ride daily in the desert on roads I would not classify as clean by any means. Never have had a grit problem.
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Old 02-28-06, 09:41 PM   #25
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Hey, dogma is worthwhile if it's been refined over time and has good reasons behind it other than just continuity of tradition for its own sake. Brandt doesn't just rip on things he dislikes; he also provides careful explanations as to why he dislikes them. When I see how much time people lose in the TDF when they have a "mechanical" I sometimes wonder how much was gained by having the part that emphasized "performance" over durability...
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