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Old 06-26-08, 07:27 PM   #1
ablang
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WD-40 on a rusty chain?

I have a co-worker I'll call "Eric". Yesterday, I got to see his bikes (he has 4) at his place. He has a mtn bike (main) in the garage and 3 in the backyard. The last 3 seem to have been there for a while exposed to the elements. They all have rusty chains and I'm sure flat tires.

Today we got to talking about them. I told him he'll probably have to replace the chains (or is it possible to save a rusty chain?). He says he can WD-40 the heck out of it and it'll be as good as new. I told him I thought it would probably work, but that WD-40s a degreaser and it'll have to be cleaned off afterwards and then lubed. He says he's been riding bikes for years and WD-40s all he needs (he probably sprays his whole bikes w/ it).

What do you guys think? How can you un-rust a chain? And is WD-40 not good for a bike in any way?
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Old 06-26-08, 07:39 PM   #2
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I think a $15 dollar new chain will work more miracles then if you sprayed 10 cans of WD40 on it! If you want the bike then invest a little and make it right. WD40 doesn't remove the rust, it only loosens rusted objects so you can replace it or stop it from squeaking.
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Old 06-26-08, 07:41 PM   #3
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WD40 is fantastic for getting road gunk off of the bike's frame, rims, spokes, and drivetrain. It's a water displacement (WD) formula, so you can use it to clean moving parts after, say, getting caught in the rain.

It's not a very good lube, though. It'll silence a squeak or free up a stuck part just long enough for you to think you've solved the problem... Then once it evaporates, It's Squeak V 2.0...

If a chain is that rusty, and spending not a lot of money for a new one is not an option, then Yeah, soaking it with WD40 can't make it any worse. Work it into the links, wipe it off the best you can, and let it evaporate.

Then use a decent chain lube. If even that isn't in the budget, dribble some clean motor oil onto the chain. It works surprisingly well. My girlfriend's 85 year old ex-treecutter father once told me that chainsaw bar oil worked great on bikes he had back in prehistoric times. I've yet to try that...
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Old 06-26-08, 07:53 PM   #4
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Exhibit A: Eric's rusty abused bikes

Exhibit B: Eric telling you that WD-40 works great for everything.

I dunno, that seems to make a lot of sense to me.

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Old 06-26-08, 08:02 PM   #5
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Eric is the type of guy who wouldn't spend money on a new bike.

He instead favors buying used bikes at 50% off or greater from the new price and not use them once they no longer work good. Funny thing is, he's a technician at work, but has never bothered to keep his bikes maintained.
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Old 06-26-08, 08:15 PM   #6
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From the sound of it, I thought he was from Gaw Ja or Flor Rida, but you're from CA. so......maybe he lived here before.
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Old 06-26-08, 08:53 PM   #7
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If it's rusted to where it's tight then WD 40 will restore some function but he's fooling himself if he thinks it is as good as new. The pitting of the rust and wear it leaves behind means that his newly WD'ed chain is now officially beyond the wear limits.

If he is truly happy then you may as well leave him happy in his ignorance of the real picture. If he truly thinks this is all that he needs to make it as good as new then there's obviously nothing you can say that'll change his mind.
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Old 06-26-08, 09:12 PM   #8
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I've rescued some rusty chains with WD40 (to clean) followed by 3 in 1 oil to lubricate. I've got a 30 + year old chain doing commuter duty and it works just fine without a bit of noise. It isn't stretched so I'm not replacing it yet.
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Old 06-26-08, 09:36 PM   #9
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Even a bicycle chain bought at a hardware store would be better and cost the same a a can of WD40. The kids around here buy out the stock of gold colored link bicycle chains from the local OSH when new stock comes in...even comes with a reusable master/power link.
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Old 06-26-08, 09:52 PM   #10
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WD40 is great for displacing water. However you'd be further ahead to use penetrating oil on a rusty chain. PB Blaster is very good.
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Old 06-27-08, 09:53 AM   #11
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Anyone wanna guess how much "chain stretch" 'Eric' is riding on?


I bet he uses WD-40 for hub lube too. ("Huh? Hubs need lube?")
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Old 06-27-08, 10:36 AM   #12
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Anyone wanna guess how much "chain stretch" 'Eric' is riding on?


I bet he uses WD-40 for hub lube too. ("Huh? Hubs need lube?")
Poly Unsat Corn Oil.
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Old 06-27-08, 11:30 AM   #13
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WD40 is great for displacing water. However you'd be further ahead to use penetrating oil on a rusty chain. PB Blaster is very good.
I did just that, To get the bike I got for my daughter at a Sheriffs sale working, until I get my lazy ***** to get a new chain. The chain was coated with a more than light rust, I wasn't expecting much. I hosed it down with the PB Blaster, wiped off the excess, and put it on the bike. The result was quite surprising, it worked pretty smooth, not perfect, but good enough that there is no rush for a new chain. Of course
YMMV.
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Old 06-27-08, 03:38 PM   #14
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So how much does real bicycle chain lube cost? Maybe $5.00 for a 2 year supply? Why would anybody want to fool around with anything else?
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Old 06-27-08, 03:58 PM   #15
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http://bicycletutor.com/no-wd40-bike-chain/

Here's another vote for not using WD40 as a lube.
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Old 06-27-08, 05:01 PM   #16
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So how much does real bicycle chain lube cost? Maybe $5.00 for a 2 year supply? Why would anybody want to fool around with anything else?
Well let's see. I find Pro-Link Gold to run about $8 a bottle. A bottle may last me a month or two, depending on how much riding I do. So either I clean and lube my chain too often (every 500 miles), or I use too much lube when I do. I do wipe the chain down with a shop towel soaked in lube after each ride, so that contributes greatly to lube usage.

How do you get $5 worth of lube to last 2 years? I'm really curious.
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Old 06-27-08, 07:06 PM   #17
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I used to lube my rollerblade's with WD-40. They'd be crazy fast after that. But... I needed to lube them prior to every use, and they'd wear out really quickly.

WD-40 isn't a lubricant. It's water-based and evaporates quickly.
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Old 06-27-08, 07:13 PM   #18
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....WD-40 isn't a lubricant. It's water-based and evaporates quickly.
Um... sorry but no it isn't water based. It's water DISPLACING. It's a mix of a very light body oil and some solvents that tends to displace the water in a joint and leave the solvents and oil behind. The oil is so thin though that while it offers some rust protection it's easily wiped or washed away so it's temporary. And of course the solvents in the mixture dry away after a day or so.
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Old 06-27-08, 07:28 PM   #19
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the big problems with a rusty chain are

1) quicker wear on rest of drive chain
2) increased chance of failure
3) decreased preformace and increased effort needed

most people who have rusty chains know or atleast dont care about 1 and 2, but most dont know about 3, I think that 3 is the best way to convince someone to keep the chain non-rusty. I think appealing to the desire for comfort, and ease of use is the best way of changing peoples ideas on bikes. once I borrowed a bike that had a rusty chain, it felt like I was carrying a trailer behind me, I actually think improperly lubed bikes (hubs, bbs, drive chains) are what make people view bikes as too difficult to ride for any sort of distance.

as others have already stated WD-40 is water displacement, not lube. tell him to try using WD-40 instead of motor oil in his car.
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Old 06-27-08, 07:41 PM   #20
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http://www.snopes.com/business/names/wd40.asp

http://www.wd40.com/AboutUs/our_history.html
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Old 06-27-08, 07:56 PM   #21
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How do you get $5 worth of lube to last 2 years? I'm really curious.
I dunno. I follow the directions on the little bottle. Currently I'm using Rock n Roll. I can't remember when I bought it, maybe 9 months ago? At the rate that I'm using it up 2 years is a pretty conservative estimate. I've got another free sample bottle of something in my shop that I haven't opened yet so it'll be awhile before I feel the need to buy chain lube again.
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Old 06-27-08, 09:31 PM   #22
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If you only put on enough to do the job and no extra it's AMAZING how far a single drop of oil will go.

I read somewhere in a book (that's how long ago it was... ) that a single drop of oil can safely protect and lubricate something like 50 to 60 square inches of metal.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:00 PM   #23
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You know, all WD40 is is modified fish oil! I take my plastic worms and soak them for about a month in a zip lock back full of WD40 and the fish love it! Don't believe me? take a cheap plastic worm and soak it then try it and tell me what happens.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:19 PM   #24
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OK SINCE NO ONE ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS I WILL.

To unrust a chain and re-use (on the cheap)

1. scrub chain with old toothbrush, nylon brush, or even better wire brush; to loose any dirt or clumps. (do it dry)
2. wipe chain with a dry rag to remove dust or smaller clumps
3. put chain in white vinegar making sure that it is completely submerged (if anything is exposed to the air it will rust stupid fast)
4. after a day or two depending on the level of rust come back and scrub the chain with the brush again the rust will fall off. rinse with water and dry.
5 repeat step 3 if necessary (I have never had to repeat though)
6. lubricate chain with motor oil of any kind
7. wipe chain as dry as you can.
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Old 06-27-08, 10:21 PM   #25
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Old chains break though. I ALWAYS replace a chain.
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