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Old 12-03-07, 02:44 PM   #1
jimisnowhere
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Operation Chain Wax

Well I constantly read about people boiling their chains in wax for a water proof lubricant. So I decided to try it.

I set up a double boiler using two different sized Maxwell House cans (worst coffee ever) I mixed 12 oz canning grade parafin (candle wax) with 10 oz. teflon oil additive. I also got a tin pie dish to keep myself from flinging hot waxy chain filth all over the kitchen. I degreased two chains and steeped them in the wax for 10 minutes apiece. I also did two new brake cables, because they were there. I hung the chains up and wiped off any excess wax, and let them cool. The cables went into the wax coiled and I let them dry coiled. I just picked off the excess wax. I'm going to pick up the chain to my fixed gear while I'm in Boston and I'll boil that one too.

I put the chains onto their respective bikes. Both are a geared: one's 21 spds the other 24. The chain on the 21 spd came out light and responsive. The 24spd is a little sluggish. But the 21 spd chain is fairly old while the 24 spd is a completely new drive train, so I think I'm just used to a perfect shifting machine. By the way both test drives where done at 20 degrees. At room temperature both chains behave like new. I took the 21 spd bike out in the snow and sludge today and I can see the water bead off the chain and a bit off the gear teeth. The chain is clean to the touch. I'm hoping I'll wear the 24 spd's chain in a bit because its my daily driver and I just love that bike. I figure I'll give these bikes no oil or lube for the winter season and see how they come out.

Keep checking in and I'll try to keep you guys updated as to how well this works. By the way I ride about 9-10 miles weekdays and more like 24 on the weekends. So these chains won't receive an epic amount of miles but enough for us to get a rough estimate as to how well this works in replacing that filthy gritty wet lube.


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Old 12-03-07, 06:40 PM   #2
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I've been waxing for several years.

Rather than a double boiler, you might find a cheap crock-pot more suitable for the task.
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Old 12-03-07, 08:01 PM   #3
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Ah, the memories. I though the old coffee can/hot wax treatment went out over a decade back.
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Old 12-03-07, 08:28 PM   #4
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If you don't like the coffee, why do you have two empty cans?
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Old 12-03-07, 08:59 PM   #5
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I did this once years ago - I used a hotplate and made a little dish out of tinfoil to minimize the amount of wax that i had to melt.

Another alternative is to pick up a ratty old pan at a yard sale or Goodwill, and just use that on the stove over a low heat.

I honestly don't remember why I only did it once. It is a bit of a pain, but you obviously don't need to do it very often. For spur of the moment lubrication, I guess it is easier to use the more traditional stuff. I think part of it was that I would try and clean the chain first, and the thing was so (*&(& filthy that it was a lot of work.

It was years later that I discovered that chains do stretch, and need to be replaced.
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Old 12-03-07, 09:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimisnowhere View Post
Well I constantly read about people boiling their chains in wax for a water proof lubricant. So I decided to try it.
Constantly? I must not be hanging out in the wax forums. This seems like a huge pain in the ass, but what do I know. Wierd.
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Old 12-03-07, 11:09 PM   #7
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It is whole heck of a lot easier to just drip the red Rock 'n' Roll lube over the chain.
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Old 12-03-07, 11:37 PM   #8
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I just used FinishLine wax last year. No need to boil it, since it's paraffin suspended in a solvent that evaporates. Once the stuff evaporates, the chain is dry and waxy. I had good luck with this setup on my winter beater last year.
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Old 12-04-07, 08:31 AM   #9
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I waxed for a while years back.

It worked well, but the wax would flake off fast so I'd have to wax way too often.

I went back to Phil Woods Tenatious Oil.
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Old 12-04-07, 11:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
It is whole heck of a lot easier to just drip the red Rock 'n' Roll lube over the chain.
That's probably the worst thing you can do. Lubricants are only good when applied to a clean chain.

If you aren't going to remove the chain and clean it then you're better off not using any lubricant at all, but if you are going to remove the chain and clean it then sticking it in the hot wax is just about as easy as using a drip.


I've been waxing my internally hubed bike and it seems to work pretty well. However, the thing I don't like is that, when it comes time to clean the chain, it's harder to clean the dirty wax off the chain than it is to clean dirty oil (although the oil gets dirty quicker and retains more dirt). So I'm considering perhaps getting a rustproof chain and not applying any lubrication at all.

Last edited by makeinu; 12-04-07 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 12-04-07, 12:04 PM   #11
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Interesting. When I used to ride/commute a lot (I'm just getting back into it now -- slower, but back!) I'd do bike maintenance on the weekend. Remove the chain (no, not every weekend!), clean it in solvent, let it dry, and do the wax job. Looking back, I never had chain noise (other than sloppy shifting - back in days before indexed shifters), always knew my bike was ready.
Waxing is a bit tedious but it sure gets you up close and personal with the drive train on a regular basis. Also, I never had the stripe up my back from chain lube!!
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Old 12-04-07, 02:38 PM   #12
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I'm assuming you just melted the wax, which should be liquid and low viscosity at less than 200F. The wax wouldn't boil until north of 600F, and its physical properties on resolidifying would be changed a lot.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimisnowhere View Post
Well I constantly read about people boiling their chains in wax for a water proof lubricant
People still wax their chains?

RFM
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