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  1. #26
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I get much better chain life on my singlespeed / fg / IGH bikes... 5000 miles plus per chain is typical and my wife's city bike (with an enclosed chaincase) has over 8000 miles on a single chain and it has not hit it's wear limit yet.
    That sounds like keeping it clean and dry is the most important thing.
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  2. #27
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    You got me Bandrada -- I do put it on every link/roller/plate junction. It may be twisted but I enjoy doing it. But then, I'm retired and have the time.

    A bit more than 50 years ago, when I was a motorcycle mechanic, we used to apply heavy motor oil to our customers' chain plates and white grease to the rollers. We'd do this when starting a tune-and-service procedure. By the time we were through with the check list, the oil would have penetrated the complete chain and we would use a rag to wipe all we could off the outside of the chain, before and after the test ride. Our customers' chains lasted a long time.

    The best motorcycle chain lube ever was Kal-Gard's "Chain Gard." It was loaded with Molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) and thickened with Polybutene (I believe). It had a carrier that evaporated and left the stickiest, toughest, messiest goop imaginable. But it sure did lubricate a motorcycle chain. I didn't know a road racer who used anything else. Dirt riders too for that matter. The stuff was so thick and sticky that it would likely cost 50 Watts to pull it down the road on a bicycle.

    Don Emdy was manager of Yamaha's road race team and was obligated to use their crappy chain lube. He would carefully cut the paper label off the "Yamalube" cans and glue them onto the Kal-Gard cans then use it on the race bikes.

    Dirt Bike once did a chain lube shoot-out and the Kal-Gard came in first and second in their ratings. It seems that PJ-1 (I believe it was) chain lube was actually private labelled Kal-Gard stuff and the Dirt Bike staff did not know this --- great fun!

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Minton; 04-03-14 at 01:59 PM. Reason: left out "not" in last sentence
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  3. #28
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    That sounds like keeping it clean and dry is the most important thing.
    I have a few customers who ride bicycles with internal hubs and full chain cases... when you prevent a chain from getting wet and dirty (and these are commuter bicycles) the drivetrain life is extended greatly.

    My wife's 2006 Breezer had a half guard when it was purchased and was getting a new chain every year for the first two years (Portland winters kill chains) and then we added the full chaincase... the last time I replaced the chain was 5 years ago and the bike now has 20,000 miles on it.

    It also does not need to be lubricated very often either.

    When those customers come in with their roadsters all I usually have to do is check the chain and drive for wear and put the covers back on after giving the chain it's annual lubrication.


  4. #29
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Save your money on all the high priced chains lubes sold at bike shops. I use Mobil 1 engine oil. By using it and wiping down the chain before every ride, the last chain I replaced lasted 8000 miles.

  5. #30
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    Never had a bicycle with a chaincase but did own a motorcycle with one. All the chain needed was an occasional lube & I remember adjusting it once after several thousand miles.

    Current motorcycles use "O-ring" chains which have the bushings and pins protected by O-rings between the outer and inner plates, the middle being packed with grease of course. Only the rollers need to be lubricated. They last a very long time considering the loads they must carry.

    My Diamondback ST-8 is fitted with a Shimano Nexus 8 and I have an FMC single speed chain mounted. In 2,000+ miles, it has not worn enough to measure (I use a 12-inch precision scale to measure between the pins). Both sprockets are steel. I can only imagine how long a solid-bushing Wippermann would last.

    Harley's use a chain to carry power from the engine to the gearbox; they go an average of 60,000 miles. They are in a sealed chaincase and run in a bath of oil. My Triumph Bonneville would need a new primary chain after 20,000 mile or so.

    BTW: H-D and now others use the Gates toothed belt as a final drive. They'll typically go more than 100,000 miles before needing replacement. I know they were testing the Gates belt drive more than 35 years ago with obviously excellent results. These belt drive systems have many advantages and they are truly a step up from chain drives. Harley no longer makes any motorcycles with chain final drive.

    Joe
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  6. #31
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    My bike is a hybrid, rarely ride in rain, usually 35-minute x 2 round trip commute about 5 days a week on city streets in leisure speed. Should I buy high, mid or low viscosity chain lube? Pros and cons? Thanks.
    The problem with most of the suggestions above is, well, the viscosity. Or, rather, the lack of viscosity. Viscosity is a measure of a fluid's resistance to deformation (aka flow) by shear. While the chain is in motion, most all of the wet lubricants commonly used from 3-in-1 oil to motor oil to Phil's Tenacious oil will work to keep the oil at the pins and plates. But that only immediately after application. If you stop and let the chain sit for any appreciable amount of time, the relative low viscosity of even Phil's Tenacious oil or gear oils will allow the oil to flow to the lowest point on the chain. The longer it sits, the lower the oil will flow. That is why you have to wipe a wet lubricated chain before every ride. The oil isn't in the chain anymore but outside.

    And since it is on the outside, the oil serves as a nice trip for grit from the road. The large particles (stones and pebbles) aren't much of a problem but any grit on the surface of the planet is going to have a range of sizes. Some of that is going to be small enough to fit between the plates of the chain. The grit that is going to be damaging is going to be derived from silicon dioxide...quartz...and there's lots and lots of quartz on the surface of the planet. It's harder than the steel and serves as a grinding paste when trapped in the oil. When you put more low viscosity fluid on the outside of the chain, you just carry more of that grit down into the chain. Even washing out the oil with a solvent doesn't do much to remove the grit and just washes other grit into the chain.

    Remembering that the viscosity is a measure of the resistance to flow and in light of the fact that you don't ride in the rain much, I would suggest a very high viscosity lubricant...wax or a waxed based lubricant. You can find ways of doing melted wax which are futzy at best and dangerous at worst or you can use a lubricant like White Lightning, Finishline Wax or Pedro's Ice Wax. They are waxes in solvents. The solvent evaporates and the wax stays in place. There is, essentially, zero flow of the wax and the lubricant has nothing for grit to stick to.

    Many people over use wax lubricants because the chain is a little noisier. The chain doesn't squeak (if it does relubricant) but it a bit louder than oil based lubricants. I use White Lightning exclusively and have for 15+ years here in dusty Colorado. I get far more than the "100 miles" that many people report. I don't apply lubricant with any more frequency than people do wet lubricants, I don't have to wipe my chain before every ride, I don't have to clean my chain more than once nor do my chains show excessive wear. Most importantly, I don't have black marks on my legs and I can actually touch my chain without wearing a hazmat suit.
    Stuart Black
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  7. #32
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    Thick oils, like Chain L, Tenacious, etc. will not run out of a chain. Their enhanced surface tension, given the clearances inside a chain, trumps gravity. They stay put.

    My Poulan bar oil is about a 40W but has a surface tension enhancement additive that makes it really 'suck'. I could leave my bike sit for a couple of months and the chain would still have a full thickness of oil between all the moving parts.

    BTW: That 'full thickness' is a pretty good barrier to particles of dirt.

    All we can do is to try and keep the grit out of the moving parts. An enclosed oil bath is an improbable best. A full chaincase is an obtainable best. Motorcycle chains now run the pins and bushing in multiple 'chain cases' in the form of O-ring chains. Chain L, Tenacious and similar special oils do the next best thing by using their thickness and extra surface tension to act as a barrier to the entry of grit.

    Put on thick, sticky oil, let it soak in for a quarter hour so then wipe all that you can off the exterior of the chain -- this is the best we can do.

    Joe
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  8. #33
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    Cyccommute makes a very good point about dusty conditions. I do not have those but once did (two years in Alamogordo, NM). That damned desert dust will eat anything that is metal and rubs together. I can understand why he would choose to use wax as a lubricant. His compromise almost certainly is the best one for the conditions he rides through. A coating of that fine sand will suck the oil right out of a chain. If I had to ride along a windy beach (San Francisco, Santa Monica or Ventura for instance) I'd take a look at similar lubricants.

    However: Thick oil remains the best lube for chains if, that is, one can keep it clean.

    Clean is the real problem along with caring enough to bother.

    Toothed belts and IGH hubs end these concerns and I wish I could afford them ;o)

    Joe
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  9. #34
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    I can't remember when last I cleaned a motorcycle or bicycle chain. My chains remain both clean and lubricated, using Dupont. Available at Walmart. The esters are attracted and work their way to the metal, shedding impurities along their path. Main chain lubricant used by most motorcyclists.

    Oil + dust = silica carbide, AKA grinding paste. Makes short life of a chain.

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  10. #35
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Minton View Post
    Thick oils, like Chain L, Tenacious, etc. will not run out of a chain. Their enhanced surface tension, given the clearances inside a chain, trumps gravity. They stay put.

    My Poulan bar oil is about a 40W but has a surface tension enhancement additive that makes it really 'suck'. I could leave my bike sit for a couple of months and the chain would still have a full thickness of oil between all the moving parts.

    BTW: That 'full thickness' is a pretty good barrier to particles of dirt.

    All we can do is to try and keep the grit out of the moving parts. An enclosed oil bath is an improbable best. A full chaincase is an obtainable best. Motorcycle chains now run the pins and bushing in multiple 'chain cases' in the form of O-ring chains. Chain L, Tenacious and similar special oils do the next best thing by using their thickness and extra surface tension to act as a barrier to the entry of grit.

    Put on thick, sticky oil, let it soak in for a quarter hour so then wipe all that you can off the exterior of the chain -- this is the best we can do.

    Joe
    I have used Tenacious oil in the past. It does indeed run out of the chain. I could wipe the chain and still see threads of oil forming between the jockey wheel and the chain. Consider that if you have to wipe the chain constantly to keep from having oil on the outside of the chain, where does the oil on the outside of the chain come from? If you can get the oil to flow into the chain, there is nothing there to keep the oil from flowing out. That's the way fluids work. There is nothing magical in these heavy oils that keeps them in place.

    As for the idea that "thick oil remains the best lube for chains", according to whom? Lubricant is basically unnecessary to improve efficiency in chains according to this Johns Hopkins study. One of the more interesting bits of the news release is

    "The role of the lubricant, as far as we can tell, is to take up space so that dirt doesn't get into the chain," James Spicer says. "The lubricant is essentially a clean substance that fills up the spaces so that dirt doesn't get into the critical portions of the chain where the parts are very tightly meshed. ...On the road, we believe the lubricant mostly assumes the role of keeping out dirt, which could very well affect friction in the drive train."
    Oils, by their very nature, don't work to keep the dirt out. Particles of grit that falls on the oil on the outside of the chain...even just a little...will become entrapped and move through the oil to the insides of the chain. It doesn't make silicon carbide (that's a different material that requires chemistry to make) but it does make a grinding paste. I've washed plenty of chains when using Tenacious oil and could find grit and magnetic metal bits (iron) in the wash liquid. I could even hear the grit in the chain. I don't have that experience with wax based lubricants.
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  11. #36
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    And people wonder why I avoid chain lube threads.

    IMO, and for whatever it's worth, there's more than one way to skin a cat. There are plenty of choices in chain lube, using a variety of approaches. Search for reviews from people riding in similar conditions as you do, and you'll still find disagreement, but you should be able to come up with a short list of 2-3 with potential. Try them, or home brews if you wish, until you find something that works for you.

    Obsessing about chains is a waste of time that could be better spent wearing them out by riding the bike.
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  12. #37
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    Amen to that FBinNY --- It's all right there in your signature quotes, sad.

    I had written a long explanation with citations, examples, test results and so on but decided to erase it all since there'd be no point. All I seem to have accomplished is to add to the length of my "ignore" list.

    I'm offa this thread.

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Minton; 04-02-14 at 05:35 PM.
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  13. #38
    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Like I said, if you just reduce it down to your favorite color you should be alright.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandrada View Post
    Like I said, if you just reduce it down to your favorite color you should be alright.
    Do you have a link to a color/viscosity conversion chart?
    FB
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  15. #40
    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Do you have a link to a color/viscosity conversion chart?
    There is no need to complicate things with charts.
    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandrada View Post
    There is no need to complicate things with charts.
    This is BF, making the simple complicated is what it's about.

    At NASA, whenever one of the engineers gets carried away, his co-workers bring him back to reality by saying "Chill, it's not bicycle science!"
    FB
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  17. #42
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Minton View Post
    Amen to that FBinNY --- It's all right there in your signature quotes, sad.

    I had written a long explanation with citations, examples, test results and so on but decided to erase it all since there'd be no point. All I seem to have accomplished is to add to the length of my "ignore" list.

    I'm offa this thread.

    Joe
    So your argument boils down to "trust me". No reason why, nothing to back up your statements, just "trust me".

    Look at your posts above. Why wouldn't you ride with a thick oil in the desert or on a sand beach if the "oil stays put"? Why do people who use oil have to wipe their chains down constantly if the "oil stays put"? Why would motorcycle chains use o-rings on their chains if the "oil stays put"? Oil...even the thickest oil...still flows. Viscosity is a measure of resistance to flow. Unless the oil is solid, it will flow.

    By the way, you should look up the rest of that Alexander Pope quote

    A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    and drinking largely sobers us again.
    It doesn't mean what you think it means.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 04-02-14 at 09:25 PM.
    Stuart Black
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  18. #43
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    Very interesting read: Headlines@Hopkins: Johns Hopkins University News Releases


    The researchers found two factors that seemed to affect the bicycle chain drive's efficiency. Surprisingly, lubrication was not one of them.
    "The first factor was sprocket size," Spicer says. "The larger the sprocket, the higher the efficiency we recorded." The sprocket is the circular plate whose teeth catch the chain links and move them along. Between the front and rear sprockets, the chain links line up straight. But when the links reach the sprocket, they bend slightly as they curl around the gear. "When the sprocket is larger, the links bend at a smaller angle," Spicer explains. "There's less frictional work, and as a result, less energy is lost."
    The second factor that affected efficiency was tension in the chain. The higher the chain tension, Spicer says, the higher the efficiency score. "This is actually not in the direction you'd expect, based simply on friction," he says. "It's not clear to us at this time why this occurs."
    The Johns Hopkins engineers made another interesting discovery when they looked at the role of lubricants. The team purchased three popular products used to "grease" a bicycle chain: a wax-based lubricant, a synthetic oil and a "dry" lithium-based spray lubricant. In lab tests comparing the three products, there was no significant difference in energy efficiency. "Then we removed any lubricant from the chain and ran the test again," Spicer recalls. "We were surprised to find that the efficiency was essentially the same as when it was lubricated."
    "The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult."
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  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

    By the way, you should look up the rest of that Alexander Pope quote
    ...It doesn't mean what you think it means.
    I don't debate chain lubes, because I have an obvious bias, and don't want to appear as justifying my product through forum debate. In any case I'm a believer in the concept that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and based on third party reviews, wet lubes as a class seem to be preferred by most users for all kinds of conditions. I realize that they must all be ignorant of the fact that liquids can't stay in chains, and we're all lucky to have you to enlighten us on that point.

    I find it a bit ironic that I seem to be among the least passionate debater about chain lubes, and have never argued that there's only one intelligent way to lubricate a chain.

    As for the quote, I long ago chose to use it as part of my signature because I think it makes a valid point. If you feel it's inappropriate, or have some special insight into the meaning you might let me know.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 04-02-14 at 10:20 PM.
    FB
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  20. #45
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    Very interesting read: Headlines@Hopkins: Johns Hopkins University News Releases


    The researchers found two factors that seemed to affect the bicycle chain drive's efficiency. Surprisingly, lubrication was not one of them.
    "The first factor was sprocket size," Spicer says. "The larger the sprocket, the higher the efficiency we recorded." The sprocket is the circular plate whose teeth catch the chain links and move them along. Between the front and rear sprockets, the chain links line up straight. But when the links reach the sprocket, they bend slightly as they curl around the gear. "When the sprocket is larger, the links bend at a smaller angle," Spicer explains. "There's less frictional work, and as a result, less energy is lost."
    The second factor that affected efficiency was tension in the chain. The higher the chain tension, Spicer says, the higher the efficiency score. "This is actually not in the direction you'd expect, based simply on friction," he says. "It's not clear to us at this time why this occurs."
    The Johns Hopkins engineers made another interesting discovery when they looked at the role of lubricants. The team purchased three popular products used to "grease" a bicycle chain: a wax-based lubricant, a synthetic oil and a "dry" lithium-based spray lubricant. In lab tests comparing the three products, there was no significant difference in energy efficiency. "Then we removed any lubricant from the chain and ran the test again," Spicer recalls. "We were surprised to find that the efficiency was essentially the same as when it was lubricated."
    I am well aware that cog size plays a most significant role in drivetrain efficiency as does a perfectly tensioned chain... as for lube you can test this stuff in a lab but out in the real world you have to deal with environmental factors.

    A good rule for lube is to use dry lube where it stays very dry and a wet lube where you are exposed to more moisture which usually carries a lot of grit, proper oiling will keep that grit out and help protect the metal from corrosion.

    Going back to those bikes with full chain cases... you don't have to oil those chains with any regularity and the new chain I thew on my wife's bike had the factory lube on it and will probably last until the cog and chainwheel wear out.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    The interesting thing about this Johns Hopkins study, is that they "discovered" in 1999, things that were standard chaindrive textbook knowledge for about 100 years prior.

    What comes next? Germs, and not chilly weather cause colds?

    It's not a marvel of original research or insight. They could have saved themselves the time and effort by visiting the library.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    As for the quote, I long ago chose to use it as part of my signature because I think it makes a valid point. If you feel it's inappropriate, or have some special insight into the meaning you might let me know.
    The validity of the point depends on what point you are trying to make. Pope's point is quite clear in the full quote. If that is your point...to show that people should study subject deeply for full understanding...then I have no problem with it. But the short, out of context quote seems to have a different meaning to some.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    The validity of the point depends on what point you are trying to make. Pope's point is quite clear in the full quote. If that is your point...to show that people should study subject deeply for full understanding...then I have no problem with it. But the short, out of context quote seems to have a different meaning to some.
    In all my years of using this quote in a variety of contexts, I've never run into anyone who didn't understand the intent. I don't know why you feel that some seem not to get it, but I'm not going to argue Pope, so I'll grant you that some won't get it.
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  24. #49
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    The interesting thing about this Johns Hopkins study, is that they "discovered" in 1999, things that were standard chaindrive textbook knowledge for about 100 years prior.

    What comes next? Germs, and not chilly weather cause colds?

    It's not a marvel of original research or insight. They could have saved themselves the time and effort by visiting the library.
    Subtle. First you imply that because the press release is old, it can be ignored and then you imply that those eggheads at some fancy college where they only got book larnin' should'a knowd all this stuff to begin with 'cause it was knowd a hunert years ago.

    I've read the study. You could run on down to you local liberry and get a copy to read yourself. People couldn't have known what these guys found a hundred years ago because they didn't have the instrumentation to measure what was measured 100 years ago. The study used sophisticated instrumentation to measure heat flows that aren't simple to measure because the magnitude of those flows are extremely small.

    They did, by the way, "visit the library". The paper that they published is well documented and peer reviewed. For the uninformed, peer review is where papers are subjected to scrutiny by several learned people in the field of study before the paper is published. If Johns Hopkins is anything like other research facilities, it was probably peer reviewed by people at Johns Hopkins before it was submitted to external peer review prior to publication. And, just in case you think that peer review is a rubber stamp, it is not. Having been through the process many times, peers take their job seriously. The process is brutal and, if something were attempted to be published that has been "known for 100 years", they would have brought it up...in the harshest possible terms. It's not accepted to "rediscover" something.

    Now if you don't agree with the Johns Hopkins study, you are free to refute it. If you can find a paper from 100 years ago that states the same information, you can write and publish your own study.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    In all my years of using this quote in a variety of contexts, I've never run into anyone who didn't understand the intent. I don't know why you feel that some seem not to get it, but I'm not going to argue Pope, so I'll grant you that some won't get it.
    Oh, I understand your intent. It's just not Pope's intent.
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  25. #50
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    A good rule for lube is to use dry lube where it stays very dry and a wet lube where you are exposed to more moisture which usually carries a lot of grit, proper oiling will keep that grit out and help protect the metal from corrosion.
    I'll agree that oil protects against corrosion. That's the role they play in wet conditions. It interferes with the electrochemical reactions that cause oxidation of iron when water is present. Wax lubricants aren't as effective because the wax doesn't flow like oil does. Oil doesn't protect when water is present because it "stays put" but because it can move.

    But wet conditions don't carry more grit than dry conditions. Water makes particles of all size stick together better. In dry conditions, the particles can get airborne easier. The smaller the particle, which are the ones more likely to fit into the gaps of a chain, the more likely they are to get into the air and thrown onto the chain. Basically, you don't get dust storms in the rain.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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