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Thread: Clicking Chain

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    Clicking Chain

    I took apart my chain the other day (with chain tool) and cleaned it, and put it back on the bike. I noticed a stiff link (the one I had taken apart) so I bumped it with the chain tool and lubed it some more and it seemed OK. I rode it around a little bit and decided things were fine. Then I'm riding to work the other day and notice I'm hearing this "click click click click" sound that seems to be coming from the back of the bike - the chain skipping through the derailleur or on the cassette. I'm also having gear shifting issues (skipping up or down a gear, not settling into the right spot). It seems like it must be the higher cadence (high 80s-90s) since it didn't happen just tooling around the driveway. I checked the chain again last night. I spun it around on the bike looking for a skipping problem but couldn't find one. I tested each of the links by hand to find a stiff one and couldn't find it.

    Any solutions? Any way I can find this stubborn chain problem? Thanks in advance.

    EDIT: This is on a '92 Trek 1200, so it has indexed downtube shifting, and an 11-23 7 speed cassette (still the original one I believe).

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    I assume you have a current 7/8-speed chain by Shimano, KMC, SRAM, etc. If you pushed out one of the regular pins and then pushed the same pin back in you left a weak spot that is likely to separate. Those chains have thin sidepalates and the pins are riveted at the ends for strength. When you push out a pin you wipe off the rivet head and ream the hole oversize. Thus the weak spot. The proper way to break a modern chain is to remove the pin completely and replace it with either a specific joining pin (Shimano) or a master link as supplied by SRAM, Wippermann and KMC.

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    +1 on Hillriders comments relating to the use of chain tools on modern (since Hyperglide) chains. But, while the chain is at higher risk of breaking at this pin, I don't think that's your problem.

    Most likely it's a trim issue and the RD isn't precisely centering below each sprocket, (see tutorials on derailleur adjustment), especially if you notice that it now shifts in one direction better than the other.

    Note that if the trim changed suddenly, from one day to the next, then the likely cause is that the hanger is bent in slightly, possibly from the bike falling over. I mention the bent hanger since that would also move the inner limit increasing the risk of the chain overshifting into the spokes. Test the inner limit by shifting (off the bike) all the way in by pulling the bare wire away from the downtube like a bow string. Do this a few times and make sure you can shift to low and no farther.

    The other possible cause of added chain noise is chain lube, especially if you washed and immediately lubed the chain. You cannot properly lube a newly washed chain until it's been given enough time to dry completely inside and out. Cleaning liquid remaining within the chains small gaps will keep the applied lube from penetrating, so the chain won't be properly oiled where it needs it most.
    FB
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    Yeah I assume it is the original Shimano Hyperglide chain that came with the bike. I was unsure about whether you could put the pin back in but it looks like that was a mistake. Do you think there's any easy way to identify which link I took apart? how will it look different? And can I replace that link with a masterlink?

    FBinNY, appreciate the derailleur advice and will check into it; it's pretty much impossible that the bike fell over as it stays upright and locked unless I am riding it or working on it. I checked the shifting limits when I was diagnosing this problem initially and it seems like they are fine. Your other suggestion about drying the chain is probably correct. I'm sure I didn't allow enough time for it to completely dry. What's the solution? Wash it again and allow it to dry completely?

    Again, thanks for you responses, I'm trying to get into working on my bike myself and am pretty handy in general but pretty green in this area.

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    May want to check that your cassette and crank are on tight enough with no wobble. This might be a reason why you are experiencing gear shifting issues while only on the bike. You may also just need a quick adjustment on the barrel adjuster of your r. derailleur. Although a r derailleur might be shifting correctly with no problems it may need a quick adjustment to keep the jockey wheels perfectly inline with each cog on the cassette as you shift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmvengy View Post
    I'm sure I didn't allow enough time for it to completely dry. What's the solution? Wash it again and allow it to dry completely?
    So what should I do here, rewash the chain? How long should I let it dry afterwards?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmvengy View Post
    So what should I do here, rewash the chain? How long should I let it dry afterwards?
    How you dry a chain depends on what you washed it with. If you used something like mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) all it needs is time since these evaporate dry pretty quickly. Water based washes like simple green and many citrus products are another story. While the surface may seem dry, water will stay trapped within the chain for a long time. Anywhere from 24 hours to a few days depending on temperature and humidity. If the chain is off the bike, I dry them in the oven at 200° for 10-20 minutes. On the bike I recommend the solar oven parked out front. Put the bike into your car with one window cracked open only an inch or so. Leave it in the sun 3-4 hours and you'll be sure the chain is totally dry.

    Another way to dry a water based chain is with methanol (wood alcohol, aka alcohol stove fuel) If you used an on-the-bike chainwasher, use the alcohol as a final rinse allowing it to absorb the water, and then evaporate dry. I prefer the solar oven, because why pay for and consume chemicals when free energy is so plentiful.
    FB
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    Yeesh many hours? OK.

    Is denatured alcohol something I could use as a final rinse? Because I have that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmvengy View Post
    Yeesh many hours? OK.

    Is denatured alcohol something I could use as a final rinse? Because I have that.
    Yes, that'll work fine, it's just more expensive. The only alcohol that isn't very effective as a final rinse is isopropyl or rubbing alcohol because it already has water in it. If you really want to blow the budget 160 proof rum will work too.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Great, thanks. Also if I'm trying to identify the pin that I pushed out before (to replace it with a powerlink) is there anything I should be looking for? Specific damage?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmvengy View Post
    Great, thanks. Also if I'm trying to identify the pin that I pushed out before (to replace it with a powerlink) is there anything I should be looking for? Specific damage?
    It can be very hard to find, but you're more likely to find it on the side that you pushed the pin to. That's because the side that you pushed through the chain will have the peened lip of the rivet sheered off. Look for a pin that has a bit of a recessed ring around it or who's outer rim looks a bit different.

    Note it's a very tiny difference, so if you don't know for sure, leave bad enough alone, but check the chain often running it through your fingers while gently pinching and feeling for a link that seems a bit wider. With luck you'll feel the plate starting to spread before it's gone far enough to fall off and can cut it out and replace with a connector.

    I had a friend who was a very aggressive mtn biker who'd break chains regularly. I suggested he take an old credit card and cut a square notch into it that the chain could just pass through. When he runs the chain through the notch spread links snag and rip the card from his hand. Since "carding" his chain regularly, he's found lots of damaged links, but never actually broken a chain riding.
    FB
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    If you really want to blow the budget 160 proof rum will work too.
    Would the bike require a sobriety check before the next ride?

    FB your advice to notch a credit card as a chain checker will get done first thing tomorrow. Great tip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SortaGrey View Post

    FB your advice to notch a credit card as a chain checker will get done first thing tomorrow. Great tip.
    For some unknown reason, your wife's credit card work better than your own.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 06-16-12 at 06:38 AM.
    FB
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    For some unknown reason, your wife's credit card work better than your own.
    Now.. that is an even better TIP.

    I'd think one would have to cut the first card a mite large.. just to make sure the chain enters said notch. And then take one's time making sure just the right notch width is achieved. Might well take the whole file of cards to get it right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    For some unknown reason, your wife's credit card work better than your own.
    ROFLMAO!!! You just don't know how appropriate this seems right now!
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

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    Well I did some more listening and it seems like a pedal/crank/BB issue. It does tick-a-tick every time I hit the bottom of my left pedal stroke. Just take things apart and grease them up? An excuse to get more tools!

    Edit: Clearly the answer is I need more bikes so I have something to ride while I fix this one!
    Last edited by tsmvengy; 06-19-12 at 06:42 AM.

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    There are many causes for this kind of sound, so don't be too quick to take things apart.

    One is perfectly normal, especially if the sound only happens on the outer or middle chainring. The chain clicks as it passes over the shift gate, much as a trains wheels do when they pass over a switch. You can easily check this by putting the pedal in the right position and seeing if the gate where the chain is about to engage.

    Another easy to check cause is the pedal threads. Remove the pedals, clean & grease the threads and put them back on. Or eliminate them as a cause entirely by trying another pair of pedals.

    Only after eliminating easy items, should you consider taking the BB apart. Though in my experience, modern BB systems with slip-in crank spindles are more prone to clicking in the BB than most of the older systems where the spindle is part of the BB itself.
    FB
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Yeah the sound is happening on the inner chainring (this bike only has two - 53/42 I believe); I basically never use the big chainring! I'll try the pedals first - I have an extra set.

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