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Old 12-04-07, 01:58 PM   #1
farandaway
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chain washing machine?

I'm making my Christmas list, and came upon cleaning supplies in the bike catalog. One thing that sounds intriguing is a washing machine for my drivechain. Anybody have one of these, and do you think it's worth having? Thanx!
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Old 12-04-07, 02:05 PM   #2
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I've had two chain cleaning "machines" over the years. However, I'm back to cleaning the chain with lubricant and a rag once or twice a week. It takes less time, keeps the chain clean and functioning. And, there's been no difference in chain wear. Part of the reason I'm back in this simple mode of chain cleaning comes from watching a guy operate a rather large bit of machinery that runs a drive chain about 30 feet in length. He cleans it with a rag and oil. I asked him if he ever did a complete job of cleaning the chain. He looked at me and said, "I ain't worried about how it looks. I'm worried about how it works." As I thought about that I realized I didn't need a spotless chain, just one that was relatively clean and worked well.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:12 PM   #3
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Think it depends on your type of riding. Offroad and clean the chain every trip- thoroughly in the cleaning machine. On the trails with all the dust, and use a dry lube to stop dust collecting on the chain, and clean frequently. On the road in perfect sunny days with no rain and road muck and when the cassette starts getting dirty from the excess oil on the chain and clean the chain. Out on a filthy day on the road with plenty of puddles to go through and mud and muck. Clean the chain afterwards.

I am a believer in keeping the chain clean- preferably with a cleaning device- or if you use a quicklink- take the chain off and clean by agitating in the detergent. And I am a believer in keeping the chain oiled after cleaning and working the oil through the chain and letting it "Drip Dry" and then wiping before the ride to remove excess.
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Old 12-04-07, 02:34 PM   #4
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I like my machine. It's a mess, but I think those little brushes get dirt that wiping teh outside doesn't get.
I don't do it often, maybe once =a month or fewer times, but whan I do and I see what omes out I'm sure it's a good idea.
My roadie has 3000 miles on the chain and is still in fine shape, shifting well and not stretched (though the not stretched doesn't have much if anything to do with clean)
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Old 12-04-07, 02:59 PM   #5
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My roadie has 3000 miles on the chain and is still in fine shape, shifting well and not stretched (though the not stretched doesn't have much if anything to do with clean)
Something I have been thinking about and I have just got a chain stretch guide.

MTB-XT chain fitted about1,000 miles ago- cleaned after every trip and still good. (The mud does knock out MTB chains)

Giant- Cheap KMC chain- 1,500 miles and knackered

Boreas- Ultegra chain- 1,000 miles and still plenty of life left.

Although cleaning a chain before it gets the grinding paste of of Mud and road dirt working on it will prolong the chain- The quality of the chain has a lot to do with it.


Edit- Tandem- Crossover chain is an XT 8 speed- has done about 4,000 miles and only minimal stretch on it. The drive chain has about 500 miles and is 9 speed XT and not long before that has to be replaced.
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Old 12-04-07, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by farandaway View Post
I'm making my Christmas list, and came upon cleaning supplies in the bike catalog. One thing that sounds intriguing is a washing machine for my drivechain. Anybody have one of these, and do you think it's worth having? Thanx!
Yes...I use the Park Tool chain cleaner as well a MEC chain cleaner with Bio Cycle cleaning fluid. Riding on sandy trails as well dirty city streets, the drive train picks up a lot of dirt which when combined with lubricants becomes an abrasive, similar to sandpaper or a grindstone...

...the tool cleans deep into the links
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Old 12-04-07, 04:00 PM   #7
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A can of Brake Klean, a towel, and some pipe cleaners works way better. Easier, less mess and a perfectly clean chain. The trick is to do it often, so the chain never gets grungy. My park chain machine has been in the cupboard for years. bk

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Old 12-04-07, 04:02 PM   #8
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A can of Brake Klean, a towel, and some pipe cleaners works way better. Easier, less mess and perfectly clean. The trick is to do it often, so the chain never gets grungy. My park chain machind has been in the cupboard for years. bk

"Pipe cleaners" and "easier, less mess " don't really go together.
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Old 12-04-07, 04:06 PM   #9
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My chain washing machine is a quick link, a pint mason jar and mineral spirits. I use a brush and the same mineral spirits for chainrings and cassette. This method works and is really not much trouble at all.
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Old 12-04-07, 04:22 PM   #10
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I have a Park cleaner and I use it mostly for my mtn. bike. For my road bike I use a rag and brush with bio stuff.
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Old 12-04-07, 04:44 PM   #11
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Pipe cleaners work well, IF you don't let the chain get grungy. I use one pipe cleaner, bent in half, to clean my 9.5 foot recumbent chain. Over lubing can make a mess of things too. bk
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Old 12-04-07, 05:09 PM   #12
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Im pretty sure that the cleaners don't get inside the roller/pin interface so your just cleaning the outside of the chain. Keeping dirt out of the inside of the chain will better its performance. If you wash the chain and the brushes chase dirt into the inside then you are loosing the battle.

Use a relatively dry lube (unless you ride in very wet conditions) and brush the dirt off. Chains are ment to be replaced before they eat your more expensive chain rings and cassettes.
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Old 12-04-07, 05:28 PM   #13
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The one I had years ago was the most effective method I've ever found to get black, greasy gunk all over my wheels and tires.
+1 on T-man's jar and mineral spirits method.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:11 PM   #14
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The one I had years ago was the most effective method I've ever found to get black, greasy gunk all over my wheels and tires.
+1 on T-man's jar and mineral spirits method.
You need to take the back wheel OFF and put something there for the chain to run around. I have a dripp catching tray under the bike also.
Been doing this for over 15 years. Just have to be smarter than the DIRT.
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Old 12-04-07, 07:21 PM   #15
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You need to take the back wheel OFF and put something there for the chain to run around. I have a dripp catching tray under the bike also.
Been doing this for over 15 years. Just have to be smarter than the DIRT.
Where's the convenience in that? Might as well take the chain off and clean it. Which is what I do once in a long while.
Whatever works. The machine didn't work for me. YMMV
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Old 12-06-07, 01:18 PM   #16
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Pipe cleaners are meant to clean between the links. It's the NAPPY towel with brake kleen or mineral spirits that gets the crap out of the rollers and pins. Capillary action does the trick. It gets the old lube out, and puts the new lube in. Works great on road and paved trail bikes. MTB chains get too dirty.
It doesn't put ANY WATER or acidic degreaser into your chain, either. bk

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Old 12-06-07, 02:23 PM   #17
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I bought a Pedro's cleaning machine, the kind where the top locks with a lever that hooks around the rear derailleur, and the lever broke on the first usage. I replaced it with a Park machine that has a handle that protrudes from the side, and the top is held on with two spring clips.

I personally think the Park machine is more durable - at least I haven't broken it yet - but YMMV.
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Old 12-06-07, 03:37 PM   #18
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I'm surprised that no one has brought this one up- the best chain cleaning system around:

http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html
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Old 12-06-07, 04:54 PM   #19
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Those chain cleaning machines are one of those things you need to own at least once in your life. They're messy, they're inefficient, they drive you mad, but they do work up to a point. Maybe they're right for you, maybe they're not. We're all different (for instance, I still can't understand why people think removing the chain is a good idea) but you'll never know until you buy and try.

I've got one. I don't care about the mess because I'm about to assault the cogs and the like with kero and a brush anyway. For me, they give a good initial clean that you'll want to touch up with the toothbrush. But I don't get out there and scrub the bike down too often anyway, only when it NEEDS it. Most road riding only needs a wipe with the rag. On wet roads, particularly if there's sand around, it needs it more often. Mud? What? Get dirty?

Wait till you see one on special. Buy it and try it. If it's brilliant, you're laughing. If it seems to do the job but isn't built well, you can then justify spending a bit more on a good one. If it's rubbish, at least you have the satisfaction of being able to point to it in the shed and say 'it's rubbish', not to mention being able to join in threads like this.

Richard
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Old 12-06-07, 05:13 PM   #20
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Those chain cleaning machines are one of those things you need to own at least once in your life. They're messy, they're inefficient, they drive you mad, but they do work up to a point. Maybe they're right for you, maybe they're not. We're all different (for instance, I still can't understand why people think removing the chain is a good idea) but you'll never know until you buy and try.

I've got one. I don't care about the mess because I'm about to assault the cogs and the like with kero and a brush anyway. For me, they give a good initial clean that you'll want to touch up with the toothbrush. But I don't get out there and scrub the bike down too often anyway, only when it NEEDS it. Most road riding only needs a wipe with the rag. On wet roads, particularly if there's sand around, it needs it more often. Mud? What? Get dirty?

Wait till you see one on special. Buy it and try it. If it's brilliant, you're laughing. If it seems to do the job but isn't built well, you can then justify spending a bit more on a good one. If it's rubbish, at least you have the satisfaction of being able to point to it in the shed and say 'it's rubbish', not to mention being able to join in threads like this.

Richard
I used to belong to the remove and clean school back when pushing out a pin and reusing it was the practice. Until the day my chain snapped on a steep climb right where I had reused the pin on my rohloff chain.. From that day on, which was just as the shimano chains requiring special pins came out, I use the pin furnished and don't take the chain off until time to replace.
Don't like the reusable links that some use. I figure that Shimano designed it to be used a particular way.
Haven't had an issue since.
Works for me, probably not most here.
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Old 12-07-07, 03:29 AM   #21
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Standing by for flames...

I've got a Shimano chain with the special pin. My method, used about monthly, is to spray/soak the chain, idler, cassette, &c, with degreaser and hose off with a jet nozzle on the hose. Let dry and re-lube with spray white lithium grease. Works for me but then I'm not a competition racer, just an older guy who like tooling around the local (mostly unmade) trails every morning.
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Old 12-07-07, 08:27 AM   #22
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My chain washing machine is a quick link, a pint mason jar and mineral spirits. I use a brush and the same mineral spirits for chainrings and cassette. This method works and is really not much trouble at all.
+1
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Old 12-07-07, 01:38 PM   #23
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I use a pedros chain cleaner. I spray WD40 on the chain. The WD40 is used as a solvent. I put simple green (a degreaser) in the cleaner. I run the chain through the cleaner. I then run it through water to get ride of the degreaser. I then dry the chain with a rag and grease it.

The remove the chain and mason jar trick would work every bit as well and I am sure the rag and solvent of choice would work fine too.

Here is a tip though. I have a cheap little chain gauge that I can put on the chain and it will tell me instantly if the chain is worn. That way I can replace the chain before it starts to wear down the cassette (or at least wear it down much).

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Old 12-07-07, 03:17 PM   #24
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I use the remove and clean method when the chain gets really nasty. but that does not happen often. Mostly I squirt on an excessive amount of Prolink, let it sit overnight and wipe as much as I can off the next day by running the chain through a rag in my hand. Adding solvents and water and then relubing without getting all of it out doesn't seem like a good idea.
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Old 12-07-07, 03:36 PM   #25
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I use the remove and clean method when the chain gets really nasty. but that does not happen often. Mostly I squirt on an excessive amount of Prolink, let it sit overnight and wipe as much as I can off the next day by running the chain through a rag in my hand. Adding solvents and water and then relubing without getting all of it out doesn't seem like a good idea.
+1 on the Prolink. The stuff does a really nice job of forcing all the dirt and grit out of the inner workings, and it seems to last for a respectable period of time.
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