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Old 10-19-11, 07:28 PM   #1
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Whoops! Left my chain in mineral spirits for (way) too long

I learned an interesting lesson recently. I had read a while back about some guy who left his Shimano chain in Simple Green for a while and later had it fail quite spectacularly on him while riding. "Who does that?" I thought to myself. Then I go and leave my own chain (actually two of them) soaking in mineral spirits while I use a third in a chain rotation.

Pictured below is how I found the quick link, luckily something obvious enough to be noticed prior to putting the chain back on my bike. Several links of the chain also showed the same damage.



Here's a link to the full 12 MP image for more detailed scrutiny: http://home.comcast.net/~joejackson9..._1303_full.jpg

The most annoying thing about all of this is that my cassette is so worn after 12,000 miles that a new chain skips on it. Since the other two chains in my rotation are done for I'm stuck using the same chain and squeezing out whatever life is left in my cassette. Not really a big deal but not how I envisioned the death of my cassette. I wanted more mileage! I'll probably still get 16k which isn't too bad. And I know to leave my chains in oil from here on out.

[edit] This was the type of mineral spirits in which the chains spent the most time soaking: http://www.homedepot.com/buy/paint/c...its-54685.html [edit]

And just for fun, a picture of my cracked American Classic front disc hub:



And a full size version: http://home.comcast.net/~joejackson9..._1301_full.jpg

Last edited by joejack951; 10-19-11 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 10-19-11, 07:49 PM   #2
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I'm guessing the damage was there before you left it in the mineral spirits, but didn't notice it.
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Old 10-19-11, 07:49 PM   #3
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Umm no. Chemical impossibility. Those cracks were in your chain before they went into the mineral spirits.

I don't really understand the concept of rotating chains - you end up with multiple chains you have no idea what the mileage is on. One chain, a ruler and a weekly clean ...
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Old 10-19-11, 08:01 PM   #4
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Absolutely positively those cracks were NOT in the quick link before soaking my chain. The pins in the quick link are completely loose due to the cracked plates. That link would fall apart in a second if I tried riding it.

One thing to note as it likely makes a big difference, the chain was in that "odorless" version of mineral spirits for most of the time (the milky stuff) but was transferred to regular spirits at some point.

As for rotating the chains, the chain pictured had 4000 miles on it +/-100 miles. So did the other chain I had soaking. They both measured 12 1/32" when removed. My third chain had just hit the same point so the first chain was going back on until it measured 12 1/16" or 4000 miles more.
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Old 10-19-11, 08:14 PM   #5
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+1. You're just noticing the cracks now that there's no gunk covering them up. Either that or you somehow broke the quick link when removing it. Sorry dude, there's no way the mineral spirits did that alone.
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Old 10-19-11, 08:20 PM   #6
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Do I need to take a picture of the second quick link, with the same cracks in it from soaking in mineral spirits, and then add my third quick link which has not been exposed for longer than a few minutes and currently has nearly 5000 miles on it and no signs of cracks? I don't have the pics yet but I can take them.
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Old 10-19-11, 08:23 PM   #7
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Umm no. Chemical impossibility.
Just curious as I honestly don't understand the chemical reactions that do go on, but would this be a chemical impossibility in Simple Green too? Do you know the chemical difference between regular mineral spirits and those "green" odorless mineral spirits I linked to in the first post (added as an edit)?

I can assure you though these cracks happened while the chain was soaking. I inspect my quick links every time I remove them. I did not miss something this obvious, twice.

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Old 10-19-11, 08:23 PM   #8
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Do you have some extra quick links lying around? I always keep my quick links on old chains in case I need one in an emergency.
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Old 10-19-11, 08:25 PM   #9
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Do you have some extra quick links lying around? I always keep my quick links on old chains in case I need one in an emergency.
Several links in the chain showed similar cracks. Even if they didn't, there's no way I'd trust the chain after seeing what happened to the quick link.
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Old 10-19-11, 08:55 PM   #10
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Great pictures BTW.
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Old 10-19-11, 09:07 PM   #11
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I don't believe I've ever seen that type of mineral spirits. I use Crown Low Odor Mineral Spirits from Lowe's - http://www.lowes.com/pd_206490-34228...its&facetInfo= It's clear and won't hurt your chain. I've used it for many years.

Actually I don't like quick links, I use the special pins that come with new Campy or Shimano chains. And I never remove a chain until I'm ready to replace it.
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Old 10-19-11, 09:08 PM   #12
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Great pictures BTW.
For the camera geeks, I used a Nikon D300s with a 105mm f/2.8 AF-S G Micro lens @ f/11 (all EXIF data is intact).
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Old 10-19-11, 09:10 PM   #13
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I don't believe I've ever seen that type of mineral spirits. I use Crown Low Odor Mineral Spirits from Lowe's - http://www.lowes.com/pd_206490-34228...its&facetInfo= It's clear and won't hurt your chain. I've used it for many years.

Actually I don't like quick links, I use the special pins that come with new Campy or Shimano chains. And I never remove a chain until I'm ready to replace it.
I'm using that type of mineral spirits now too (different brand though). Have you left chains in that stuff for any period of time? I'm tempted to experiment again but not until I have a chain that's definitely trash already. Also, it should definitely be noted that many links of the chain cracked too, not just the quick link. I should have taken more pictures while I had everything set up. Maybe tomorrow night.

I don't have anything against the pins but the quick links are easier and KMC chains are cheap.
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Old 10-19-11, 09:14 PM   #14
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I'm wondering if you've possibly confused Simple Green, or some other Alkali/water concoction, with "odorless mineral spirits".

OMS is never "milky", it's crystal clear, petro-based, and should be entirely metal-friendly.

Anything else is what it is.

When I first saw your post, I was thinking you were posting pictures of parts from the shop dumpster (?).

Then, I started to wonder if you've got goblins in your shop that pulled a switch on you(?).

I too am assuming the cracks might have been hidden by grunge. I soak parts in OMS all the time.

And, BTW, I was one who sounded the alarm waaay back about the cassette sprockets I'd seen crumble after soaking overnight in Simple Green.

I have seen other parts fail over the years from over-tight press fits. Even Campy derailers splitting across the top where the mounting bolt bushing had been pressed too tightly into the aluminum forging. Much like those quik links of yours.

You mentioned inspecting those quick-links prior to dunking them; Were you looking for cracks? If so, why? (I've seen the pins loosen, but can't recall seeing one ever cracked. Regular links, yes, I've seen many old, rusted ones crack that way)
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Old 10-19-11, 09:20 PM   #15
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That's why I leave my chain nice & grimy.

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Old 10-19-11, 11:06 PM   #16
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I'm wondering if you've possibly confused Simple Green, or some other Alkali/water concoction, with "odorless mineral spirits".

OMS is never "milky", it's crystal clear, petro-based, and should be entirely metal-friendly.
I have Simple Green in the garage too so I'm clear on the difference. Did you check the link I posted for the "green" odorless mineral spirits? That stuff has been discussed before on this forum. It's thicker than normal mineral spirits and won't let sediment easily settle out of it hence why I stopped using it to clean chains and switched to regular OMS.

Here's another link. Read the reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Klean-Strip-Od.../dp/B002L6K51K

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I too am assuming the cracks might have been hidden by grunge. I soak parts in OMS all the time.

And, BTW, I was one who sounded the alarm waaay back about the cassette sprockets I'd seen crumble after soaking overnight in Simple Green.

I have seen other parts fail over the years from over-tight press fits. Even Campy derailers splitting across the top where the mounting bolt bushing had been pressed too tightly into the aluminum forging. Much like those quik links of yours.

You mentioned inspecting those quick-links prior to dunking them; Were you looking for cracks? If so, why? (I've seen the pins loosen, but can't recall seeing one ever cracked. Regular links, yes, I've seen many old, rusted ones crack that way)
Keep in mind, this wasn't a simple dunk. This was a long term (8 months at least) soak in the stuff. Stupid? Yes, in hindsight, but I had never read anything leading me to be concerned about it. I knew about the issue with Simple Green but didn't think the same might apply to the "green" OMS I was using.

Why would I inspect the quick links? I'm not too keen on failures of any bicycle component, especially one that could throw me off the bike. While I'm reinstalling the chain it's a painless, 5 second process to check the tightness of the pins and make sure the plates look "right." These plates obviously don't look right even when not blown up on the computer screen. The other quick link actually had the pin fall out due to the cracked plate. I need to post some more pics.

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Old 10-19-11, 11:28 PM   #17
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... It's thicker than normal mineral spirits and won't let sediment easily settle out of it hence why I stopped using it to clean chains and switched to regular OMS.
The title is kind of misleading. Probably too late to fix.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:26 AM   #18
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Just curious as I honestly don't understand the chemical reactions that do go on, but would this be a chemical impossibility in Simple Green too? Do you know the chemical difference between regular mineral spirits and those "green" odorless mineral spirits I linked to in the first post (added as an edit)?

I can assure you though these cracks happened while the chain was soaking. I inspect my quick links every time I remove them. I did not miss something this obvious, twice.
Cracks in metal are due to stress. Chemicals don't put stress on metal, at worst some will react with the metal but that would happened on all surfaces in contact with the metal so you would see the whole piece slowly breaking down over time. Mineral spirits are just petroleum based solvent and does little to the metal.
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Old 10-20-11, 06:40 AM   #19
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Cracks in metal are due to stress. Chemicals don't put stress on metal, at worst some will react with the metal but that would happened on all surfaces in contact with the metal so you would see the whole piece slowly breaking down over time. Mineral spirits are just petroleum based solvent and does little to the metal.
Given that there is a pin pressed/peened in the plate, the metal is always under stress in the quick link. A weakening of the metal could cause the metal to crack. I'm not sure what reaction is taking place but something did.
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Old 10-20-11, 07:59 AM   #20
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Nice link pic. Interesting that they cracked in identical places. Both plates appear to have a ding or notch at the edge where the crack ends/starts...perhaps a manufacturing defect that precipitated the crack? I agree that it'd be impossible for normal/traditional mineral spirits to do this. That'd be like the chain cracking from leaving chain lube on it too long.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:03 AM   #21
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Given that there is a pin pressed/peened in the plate, the metal is always under stress in the quick link. A weakening of the metal could cause the metal to crack. I'm not sure what reaction is taking place but something did.
I read your post again and what you used was not mineral spirit, but rather a mineral spirit SUBSTITUTE. I don't know what's in the SUBSTITUTE so it's possible that something happened to the quicklink. Real mineral spirits don't really do anything harmful to the metal within 8 months.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:09 AM   #22
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If what you are saying is true that mineral spirits damaged the metal link, then there is no way it could be stored and sold in metal containers.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:09 AM   #23
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Just curious as I honestly don't understand the chemical reactions that do go on, but would this be a chemical impossibility in Simple Green too? Do you know the chemical difference between regular mineral spirits and those "green" odorless mineral spirits I linked to in the first post (added as an edit)?

I can assure you though these cracks happened while the chain was soaking. I inspect my quick links every time I remove them. I did not miss something this obvious, twice.
Simple Green is slightly alkaline and can lead to some reactions with metals that result in cracking. The Klean-Strip® Green™ Odorless Mineral Spirits you linked to isn't 'mineral spirits' in the traditional sense. It's about 40% light end petroleum distillate and is an emulsion. If you are emulsifying petroleum, you are probably emulsifying it with a water based material or some other polar liquid. The MSDS says that the liquid melts at 0 C and boils at around 100 C. Suspiciously, that corresponds to the properties of water and I suspect that they use a surfactant to get the petroleum distillate into an emulsion. That makes the 'mineral spirits' far more like Simple Green than petroleum based mineral spirits.

Real mineral spirits should be a colorless liquid with a slight to strong petroleum odor. It won't damage parts because it can interact with the parts. It will dissolve grease but you could soak your parts in it for decades and never have any kind of corrosion or damage...to metal parts. Plastics bits are different.

Your cracking issue is with the green part of Klean-Strip® Green™ Odorless Mineral Spirits. Because they added a polar liquid (likely water), soaking parts in that mixture isn't benign.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:12 AM   #24
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Nice link pic. Interesting that they cracked in identical places. Both plates appear to have a ding or notch at the edge where the crack ends/starts...perhaps a manufacturing defect that precipitated the crack? I agree that it'd be impossible for normal/traditional mineral spirits to do this. That'd be like the chain cracking from leaving chain lube on it too long.
I suspect the crack is an artifact of the process that was used to stamp the numbers in the plates. Likely formed a stress riser at the end of the stamp. The notch is just where the metal spalled out after the crack formed.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:17 AM   #25
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If you're a geek like me, you could take an old carefully inspected chain and separate a few 3-4 link sections and toss them into jars of the solvent/cleaners in question and let the sit.

Last edited by Myosmith; 10-20-11 at 08:18 AM. Reason: correct typo
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