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best most economical chain degreaser?

Old 02-19-17, 01:01 PM
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AKHIker
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best most economical chain degreaser?

Wondering what everyone uses for routine chain cleaning in their chain scrubber.


Thanks
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Old 02-19-17, 01:06 PM
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economically - probably a gallon of diesel fuel. Otherwise: Odorless mineral spirits, dawn + water, rand(citrus degreaser).
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Old 02-19-17, 02:20 PM
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Lots of people take the chain off using a quick link that is easily reconnected again. After swishing the chain around in a plastic liter bottle to degrease, with say, odoress paint thinner, The liquid can be filtered and reused a number of times.
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Old 02-19-17, 02:33 PM
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Dawn.....small bottle can be found at the Dollar tree for only......$1.
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Old 02-19-17, 03:17 PM
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Actually....if you buy kerosene in bulk (from a pump), it's probably cheaper than diesel fuel because there is no road tax.
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Old 02-19-17, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexCyclistRoch View Post
Actually....if you buy kerosene in bulk (from a pump), it's probably cheaper than diesel fuel because there is no road tax.
It also less smelly and a bit less "oily".
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Old 02-19-17, 06:11 PM
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WD40. I've been using it on my motorcycle chains for 30yrs works great . Ride to get the chain warm , clean with WD40 then spray on the chain lube . Gonna do the same thing with my bike.
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Old 02-20-17, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 1Coopgt View Post
WD40. I've been using it on my motorcycle chains for 30yrs works great . Ride to get the chain warm , clean with WD40 then spray on the chain lube . Gonna do the same thing with my bike.
I got this same tip from a LBS mechanic. I've used it successfully a number of times. But I cleaned two very old chains this weekend with WD-40. Both had years of caked-on grunge (old bikes, very neglected). It was a lot of solvent and a lot of scrubbing. I kept thinking 'there must be a better way'.

It works pretty well with a better maintained chain. I usually hang it up to dry out at least a day before reassembly and lube.
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Old 02-20-17, 08:51 AM
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I'd recommend against mineral spirits. Very effective as a degreaser but it will eat away the finish of a plated chain. I learned this the expensive way with a few chains.

I personally use White Lightning Clean Streak spray and do my degreasing on the bike for my regularly maintained chains. Not the most economical but very quick and easy.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by plonz View Post
I'd recommend against mineral spirits. Very effective as a degreaser but it will eat away the finish of a plated chain. I learned this the expensive way with a few chains.
Never heard of this happening. Possibly you were using the GREEN environmentally friendly type which is a completely different thing? I use Odorless Mineral Spirits to degrease most things including plastics and rubber and never had any plating or paint destroyed or metals harmed. It's a fairly safe degreaser for most surfaces. Also OMS can be re-used by storing in a jar and letting the gunk settle for a few days. Then just pour off the clean liquid and save for next time. Much better for the environment than pouring cleaners down the drain or into the garden and about the most economical cleaner you can get if you keep recycling it. WD-40 is a solvent and works great for degreasing and very light lubing but it ain't cheap.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
Never heard of this happening. Possibly you were using the GREEN environmentally friendly type which is a completely different thing? I use Odorless Mineral Spirits to degrease most things including plastics and rubber and never had any plating or paint destroyed or metals harmed. It's a fairly safe degreaser for most surfaces. Also OMS can be re-used by storing in a jar and letting the gunk settle for a few days. Then just pour off the clean liquid and save for next time. Much better for the environment than pouring cleaners down the drain or into the garden and about the most economical cleaner you can get if you keep recycling it. WD-40 is a solvent and works great for degreasing and very light lubing but it ain't cheap.


+1 Andy
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Old 02-20-17, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
economically - probably a gallon of diesel fuel. Otherwise: Odorless mineral spirits, dawn + water, rand(citrus degreaser).
Odorless mineral spirits. Skip the diesel (doesn't evaporate as well or as quickly) and skip the Dawn/water/citrus degreaser. Ineffective and expensive with unnecessary rinse steps.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by AlexCyclistRoch View Post
Actually....if you buy kerosene in bulk (from a pump), it's probably cheaper than diesel fuel because there is no road tax.
This is the second time someone has mentioned buying kerosene from a gas station this week. Where are you guys living that you find kerosene on tap, so to speak? I've been in gas stations all over the US and haven't seen anyone selling kerosene and I certainly haven't seen "pumps" for it.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Odorless mineral spirits. Skip the diesel (doesn't evaporate as well or as quickly) and skip the Dawn/water/citrus degreaser. Ineffective and expensive with unnecessary rinse steps.
+1 For some reason many people think that Detergent, Simple Green, etc. are "planet friendly" because they don't contain those terrible petrochemicals. Problem is that, instead of reusing mineral spirits and taking them in to a service station for proper recycling when no longer usable, you flush all the junk from your chain down the drain, along with copious amounts of water.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:58 AM
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Howdy All;

Back when I was in the Navy, we used to use Freon to clean up spills, drips & leaks
in the hydraulic shop and inside the aircraft. Then it got outlawed ... what to use that
would disperse the oils and greases yet evaporate quickly and not be harmful to the
parts being cleaned ... . Well we found that good old rubbing alcohol found at your
local store of your choice, would do the same thing as the Freon. It's what I use for cleaning
up oiley messes when doing my maintenance on my truck or bike it cleans up gear oil,
engine oil and does well with greases with the help from a brush.

hank
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Old 02-20-17, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by plonz View Post
I'd recommend against mineral spirits. Very effective as a degreaser but it will eat away the finish of a plated chain. I learned this the expensive way with a few chains.

I personally use White Lightning Clean Streak spray and do my degreasing on the bike for my regularly maintained chains. Not the most economical but very quick and easy.
There is nothing in mineral spirits that can touch the finish on a plated chain. Mineral spirits is a relatively mild solvent which works very well on the oils and greases we use on bicycles. It's related to kerosene and diesel...all come from petroleum...but evaporates easier and cleaner.

Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
Never heard of this happening. Possibly you were using the GREEN environmentally friendly type which is a completely different thing? I use Odorless Mineral Spirits to degrease most things including plastics and rubber and never had any plating or paint destroyed or metals harmed. It's a fairly safe degreaser for most surfaces. Also OMS can be re-used by storing in a jar and letting the gunk settle for a few days. Then just pour off the clean liquid and save for next time. Much better for the environment than pouring cleaners down the drain or into the garden and about the most economical cleaner you can get if you keep recycling it. WD-40 is a solvent and works great for degreasing and very light lubing but it ain't cheap.
The "green" "mineral spirits" is really a water based emulsion that may (or may not) contain the mineral spirits cut of petroleum. It's not really good stuff to use on chains, especially if you are going to soak the chain long term. About 5 years ago, joejack951 posted a problem with chains cracking during storage in green mineral spirits. I was able to show that the cracking was due to salt in the water part of the odorless mineral spirits.

I agree about the WD-40. It is expensive but the larger issue is that the "solvent" contains about 25% mineral oil so it will always leave a residue. If you feel the need for a spray can of degreaser, Finishline Speed Degreaser is a far better choice than WD-40 since it is just mineral spirits in a can. But it is rather expensive compared to a can of mineral spirit from a hardware store.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:15 AM
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^^ I like the Finish Line Degreaser, but it's expensive. For the most economical I would say gasoline, but we don't do that anymore. Next for economical I like kerosene, it cleans well and leaves slightly oily finish.
I am not a fan of water-based cleaners for bikes.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
This is the second time someone has mentioned buying kerosene from a gas station this week. Where are you guys living that you find kerosene on tap, so to speak? I've been in gas stations all over the US and haven't seen anyone selling kerosene and I certainly haven't seen "pumps" for it.
Gas stations in poor and rural areas are likely to sell kerosene. People with space heaters use it for home heating.
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Old 02-20-17, 12:16 PM
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I am a simple green and water in an ultrasonic cleaner fan. I had chains that lasted 16k and 19k miles using this method.
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Old 02-20-17, 01:53 PM
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Kerosene and a chain cleaner like the park tool. I put the bike in the stand, put down some newspaper, pour some kerosene in the tool from my jar, follow directions, wipe chain with a rag, pour the kerosene from the tool back into the jar. The next time that I need to use the degreaser, all the gunk has settled and the kerosene is clear and ready to pour. Use and reuse. After a few years, too much gunk is at the bottom of the jar and i pour it into a new jar. Toss the old one. I suppose I should take the old jar to the toxic waste place. A gallon of kerosene lasts a very long time.
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Old 02-20-17, 02:15 PM
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Simple Green environmental friendly, cheap and does a good job.
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Old 02-20-17, 02:28 PM
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Mineral spirits. I've been using this for decades, and my dad for decades before that. I once left some chains and other bike parts marinating in Varsol for 6 months and upon decanting, they showed no deterioration whatsoever; they were just clean.

Anything water based, including anything 'Green' is hopeless as a solvent. Take that from a chemist.

Wd40 is a poor solvent and worse as a lubricant.
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Old 02-20-17, 03:26 PM
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Heads up to all you mineral spirits users. We can't get it here in Los Angeles. It's only a matter of time so I suggest you stock up.
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Old 02-20-17, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
Never heard of this happening. Possibly you were using the GREEN environmentally friendly type which is a completely different thing?
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There is nothing in mineral spirits that can touch the finish on a plated chain.
I use Klean Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits. I've used OMS for a lot of applications and did have the personal experience of ruining 2 Dura Ace chains after repeated soakings. Plating came off and the metal had a gritty roughness to it like it started to corrode.

I would sometimes soak the chain overnight. The container I used was an unused paint can you buy from the hardware store. It had a coating inside that was also eaten by the mineral spirits. Maybe there was some sort of weird chemical reaction going on.

Good to hear OMS is working fine for you guys. I'll continue to steer clear.

Here is the stuff I use. "Odorless" is a bit of a misnomer as it has a distinct chemical smell to it.
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Old 02-20-17, 03:52 PM
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My experience......

Diesel is the cheapest. A couple bucks a gallon and it works well. Anyone that will tell you that it is dangerous to use in this application likely knows little about the stuff and/or has never degreased with it.

Take the chain off and soak in the diesel. While it is soaking, clean the chainring and cog with diesel and a rag. Thats what I do......works great.
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