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Chain lubricants and wear

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Chain lubricants and wear

Old 11-19-17, 03:33 PM
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gauvins
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Chain lubricants and wear

I came across this engineering undergraduate thesis. The purpose of the author's work was to compare two lubricant properties : (1) friction and (2) protection.

Results for friction are fairly similar to those available through Ceramic Speed (Friction Facts).

The show-stopper, however, is the data on wear.
Three lubricants including Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, Chain L No. 5, and Finish Line
Ceramic Wet, gave no measurable wear after the one hour test (p.50)
A chart summarizes the findings.

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Old 11-19-17, 04:11 PM
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Test Results

Originally Posted by gauvins View Post

Results for friction are fairly similar to those available through Ceramic Speed (Friction Facts).

The show-stopper, however, is the data on wear.
Three lubricants including Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, Chain L No. 5, and Finish Line
Ceramic Wet, gave no measurable wear after the one hour test (p.50)
/
Good information, but what was his the criteria for the test or tests? ie: was any sand, woods dirt, water, introduced, etc.? I'm struggling down here in Florida with the #@!%&* beach sand on the roads. I certainly will read the report.

Thanks ......
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Old 11-19-17, 04:29 PM
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Chain care, wear and skipping by Jobst Brandt


It doesn't matter what you lube with, if you don't start with a clean chain.
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Old 11-19-17, 04:40 PM
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Reading through it as best as I could, the results indicate that the lower the power loss, the greater the wear, which makes sense. Thicker lubricants protect against wear better... on a specially designed rig in a laboratory, which is something that the guy running the study did indeed point out. Spray some salt water or uniform abrasive on the chainline and watch every single data point change. A week of riding with Phil Wood as chain lube would reward you with a chain that looks like a bar magnet dragged through a steel wool factory.
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Old 11-19-17, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Reading through it as best as I could, the results indicate that the lower the power loss, the greater the wear, which makes sense. Thicker lubricants protect against wear better... on a specially designed rig in a laboratory, which is something that the guy running the study did indeed point out. Spray some salt water or uniform abrasive on the chainline and watch every single data point change. A week of riding with Phil Wood as chain lube would reward you with a chain that looks like a bar magnet dragged through a steel wool factory.
I think it looks like more then a few do well in both the wear and power department. For instance the Mobil and Finish line Ceramic. I am amazed the differences are that big though. Especially in relation to wear. I agree you should be cautious transferring the results to the road, but Im betting the the worst offenders wont be any better when you apply rod grit to the mix anyway.
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Old 11-19-17, 05:36 PM
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I've tried Finish Line Ceramic, and am genuinely surprised it lasted the duration of the test-- I experienced noticeable increase in drivetrain noise after just 30-40 miles.
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Old 11-19-17, 07:10 PM
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So.... Chain-L is the one.
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Old 11-20-17, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
So.... Chain-L is the one.
It says:

" Based on these results the top performers in both friction and wear
included Slick Lube 100, Dumonde BioGreen G10, White Lightening Wet Ride, and
Spin Doctor Wet Lube.
There appears to be an inverse relationship between COF and wear, excluding
a few outliers. As the COF increases, the wear values tend to decrease on average.
This trend can be explained by tying the results back to viscosity."

I do however think, the winner is in the eye of the beholder. Chain-L do very well for wear but has somewhat more more friction than the best.
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Old 11-20-17, 03:51 AM
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The test completely removes dirt from the equasion - it being the main cause of chain wear. Ability of a lubricant to not attract dirt and withstand water washout are more important for bike chain lifetime, than just plain lubrication properties.
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Old 11-20-17, 04:14 AM
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That is true, depending on conditions*, but I will argue that worst performing lubricants will still be poor performers when road grit is added to the mix. It not likely they will all of a sudden protect against wear or get low friction. It is however a limitation that grit wasn't added to the test. Imo, cleaning the chain regularly may still be the best wear protector there is.

*My experience is that regular (motor)oil is a dirt magnet and will have the chain feel "gritty" in no time. I much prefer a MC chain spray that has solvent to penetrate and then dries to a stiff grease/wax, but then again, to date I have not tried any of the really thick oils like FL green.
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Old 11-20-17, 04:54 AM
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Basically, if I read it correctly, the Author built their own Tribometer because the lab one was being used somewhere else. In itself impressive, engineering, sensor and error analysis, stuff but extrapolating the results to a chain based on a one hour run on something that is not a chain and 'accepted theory', without including other things, could be slightly meaningless.
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Old 11-20-17, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
That is true, depending on conditions*, but I will argue that worst performing lubricants will still be poor performers when road grit is added to the mix.
That highly depends on the amount of dirt. An average lubricant that doesn't attract dirt will perform much better than a super-low friction lubricant that attracts a lot more dirt in dry weather riding conditions.

Add water washout resistance to the equasion (as well as cross chained riding, which physically moves most dry lubricants off the chain, since they can't flow back) and you get even more diversed results than what "clean lab conditions" tests show.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:15 AM
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That is not what Im saying. Im saying you may as well discard the worst performing lubricants from the get go, as they are not going to get better if you add grit to the mix. Its true that some of the well performing lubricants may degrade significantly if you introduce dirt, but that is besides the point.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:37 AM
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I'm happy to see that the test results confirm what I've been saying for years.

I might also add that NO lube can offer any benefits if it's no longer where it needs to be, which is why I strove for the longest service interval and weather resistance.

As for viscous drag, that's a bit more complicated because chains are a bit unique regarding how viscosity affects drag. In most applications, drag is a straight trade off for protection, and you choose a lube based on the load factors. However, chains only need serious lubrication at the pins, yet the overlapping plates on either side act like two discs and you'll pay a viscous drag penalty as they move.

In theory, if you first lubed the pins, then thinned the lube remaining between the plates you could have the best of both worlds, but life isn't that easy.

Lastly, re: cleanliness and sand. You only need the lubricant inside the chain, and whatever is on the outside serves only as weather protection (if you need that) and to attract dust. The solution is easy, don't lubricate too often, and run the chain through a rag or paper towel as needed to keep the outside clean and as relatively dry.
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Old 11-20-17, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by fbinny View Post
i'm happy to see that the test results confirm what i've been saying for years.
rofl
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Old 11-20-17, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
The test completely removes dirt from the equasion - it being the main cause of chain wear.
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Lastly, re: cleanliness and sand. You only need the lubricant inside the chain, and whatever is on the outside serves only as weather protection (if you need that) and to attract dust.
Glad this was brought up.

A couple of observations:

(1) The conversation on chain wear is almost entirely focused on stretch and ignores roller wear and/or roller-to-cog wear. I suspect that this is in part because stretch is more easily measured and that roller-to-cog wear usually happens at a slower rate.

(2) Another thread made the observation that sediments at the bottom of solvent jars used to clean chains is magnetic. In my experience, this gunk is almost exclusively made of metal particles -- I was able to remove all sediments from a jar using rare earth magnets. So the argument that the stretch part of wear is caused by road dirt appears to be questionable.

(3) I can see how sand can wreak havoc in no time on cogs and rollers, especially if silica particulates are "glued" to the drivetrain by thick oil. As @FBinNY observes, one strategy is to rely on high viscosity lubricants to care for the pin-plate interface, and to wipe excess oil to prevent gunk from sticking to the outside (roller and cogs). But then, the chain would run dry over the chainrings and sprockets and would wear at a faster rate than it would if it were lubricated. One approach might be to use a complementary lubrication method for cassettes and chainrings. Another might be to let the rollers run as dry as possible on the cogs on the basis that wear rates are low and that lubrication will not change things significantly.
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Old 11-20-17, 10:36 AM
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Probably any chain lube will need to be a compromise between durability and cleanliness. If you want a clean chain, use something thin like diesel that dissolves old grease, and does not pick up sand and grit, but usually only lasts about one ride.

If you want no-compromises lubrication that will last and last and last, but pick up plenty of grit and look like crap, use some of that foaming spray-on motorcycle chain oil. Talk about durable, one application of that stuff would probably last the lifetime of most bikes.

I notice a lot of the bike shop chain lubes are really thin stuff with some wax at the bottom. Your chain will stay clean, but like diesel, you have to re-apply it pretty religiously.
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Old 11-20-17, 10:39 AM
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Any more the bushingless , ie all derailleur, chains ,
what wears most is the flange punch forged in making the hole in the inner link plate,

it supports just the edge of the roller, and the pin passing thru inside.. where before , old roller chains
have a full width bushing pressed in joining the 2 side plates.. (now relegated to single speed/track chains)

with pressed in bushings the steel can be hardened and a different alloy from the steel for the sideplates, pins, & rollers..
Plus have a wider surface to share the wear-load..

as others say more "speeds" packed into rear cassette, chain side plate metal is thinner.

1/8" chain they are a lot thicker..






.....
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Old 11-20-17, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Glad this was brought up.

A couple of observations:

(1) The conversation on chain wear is almost entirely focused on stretch and ignores roller wear and/or roller-to-cog wear. I suspect that this is in part because stretch is more easily measured and that roller-to-cog wear usually happens at a slower rate.

(2) Another thread made the observation that sediments at the bottom of solvent jars used to clean chains is magnetic. In my experience, this gunk is almost exclusively made of metal particles -- I was able to remove all sediments from a jar using rare earth magnets. So the argument that the stretch part of wear is caused by road dirt appears to be questionable.

(3) I can see how sand can wreak havoc in no time on cogs and rollers, especially if silica particulates are "glued" to the drivetrain by thick oil. As @FBinNY observes, one strategy is to rely on high viscosity lubricants to care for the pin-plate interface, and to wipe excess oil to prevent gunk from sticking to the outside (roller and cogs). But then, the chain would run dry over the chainrings and sprockets and would wear at a faster rate than it would if it were lubricated. One approach might be to use a complementary lubrication method for cassettes and chainrings. Another might be to let the rollers run as dry as possible on the cogs on the basis that wear rates are low and that lubrication will not change things significantly.
Or use a dry friction modifier to coat the chain. Atm Im having fun experimenting, dissolving molybdenum paste in benzine ("petrol") and applying it to my 1sp bike. Doesn't seem to attract much dirt at all and runs just fine for now. I did try the "oil and wipe" method for a while. It newer seemed to work for me. I always got a gritty chain soom after applying oil. I have experienced the same magnetic gunk from the chain, but Im still convinced the wear is caused by sand trapped in the oil. In any case MCs with closed chain cases does exist and they get "10x" the milage compared to an open chain drive.

Last edited by Racing Dan; 11-20-17 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 11-20-17, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Glad this was brought up.

A couple of observations:

(1) The conversation on chain wear is almost entirely focused on stretch and ignores roller wear and/or roller-to-cog wear. I suspect that this is in part because stretch is more easily measured and that roller-to-cog wear usually happens at a slower rate.

(2) Another thread made the observation that sediments at the bottom of solvent jars used to clean chains is magnetic. In my experience, this gunk is almost exclusively made of metal particles -- I was able to remove all sediments from a jar using rare earth magnets. So the argument that the stretch part of wear is caused by road dirt appears to be questionable.

(3) I can see how sand can wreak havoc in no time on cogs and rollers, especially if silica particulates are "glued" to the drivetrain by thick oil. As @FBinNY observes, one strategy is to rely on high viscosity lubricants to care for the pin-plate interface, and to wipe excess oil to prevent gunk from sticking to the outside (roller and cogs). But then, the chain would run dry over the chainrings and sprockets and would wear at a faster rate than it would if it were lubricated. One approach might be to use a complementary lubrication method for cassettes and chainrings. Another might be to let the rollers run as dry as possible on the cogs on the basis that wear rates are low and that lubrication will not change things significantly.
Where I ride, most of the grit inside the chain is from sand. I live by a river. Metal particles could be from the the chain itself.

Roller wear doesn't affect chain function. It's the pin wear that causes elongation and faster wear of both the chain and the chainrings.

Chain running dry on the chainrings isn't that much of a problem, most friction and wear happens on the inside of the rollers. Outside of a roller stays put on a chainring, while the friction is between the pin and the inside of the roller.

Wrote a few articles on chain wear and lubricants, explaining it with pictures:
http://www.bike.bikegremlin.com/2015...chain-bicycle/
http://www.bike.bikegremlin.com/2017...nts-explained/
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Old 11-20-17, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Wrote a few articles on chain wear and lubricants, explaining it with pictures:
Yes yes, I remember reading them. Very detailed and a good review of notions scattered across several sources.

I'll take this opportunity to ask you one question wrt chain gauges. You refer to Shimano TL-CN42, supposedly more accurate because "it eliminates roller wear". This statement is blatantly wrong: the forward end of the tool is in contact with the frontmost roller; imagine for a moment that the pin/plate interface is infinitely durable and that wear is strictly restricted to rollers, whose diameter will progressively tend towards zero; as rollers wear, the gap between them increase, eventually wide enough to allow the tool to fall between links, yet the pitch would still be a perfect 1/2 inch. I believe that what this tool achieve is to exclude double counting of the pin/plate wear for the first link. It may still be of relevance because measurements are made over a small number of links, but: (1) it would probably be easy to build in a correction factor; (2) roller wear is still a confounding factor; (3) the "springy" end of the tool makes it easier to get false positive by manually forcing the tool -- which should drop freely rather than be forced into the links.
(EDIT
The above statement is in error. If the rollers were completely worn, the TL-CN442 would indeed correctly measure the pin-to-pin distance. What tricked me is that most explanations focus on the pin to roller wear.)

Roller wear occurs both inside and outside. Inside, because of the friction between pin and roller, outside because of the friction between roller and sprockets.

Last edited by gauvins; 11-20-17 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes yes, I remember reading them. Very detailed and a good review of notions scattered across several sources.

I'll take this opportunity to ask you one question wrt chain gauges. You refer to Shimano TL-CN42, supposedly more accurate because "it eliminates roller wear". This statement is blatantly wrong: the forward end of the tool is in contact with the frontmost roller; imagine for a moment that the pin/plate interface is infinitely durable and that wear is strictly restricted to rollers, whose diameter will progressively tend towards zero; as rollers wear, the gap between them increase, eventually wide enough to allow the tool to fall between links, yet the pitch would still be a perfect 1/2 inch. I believe that what this tool achieve is to exclude double counting of the pin/plate wear for the first link. It may still be of relevance because measurements are made over a small number of links, but: (1) it would probably be easy to build in a correction factor; (2) roller wear is still a confounding factor; (3) the "springy" end of the tool makes it easier to get false positive by manually forcing the tool -- which should drop freely rather than be forced into the links.

To clarify -- roller wear occurs both inside and outside. Inside, because of the friction between pin and roller, outside because of the friction between roller and sprockets.
that outside wear is minimal, otherwise you'd see a wear pattern on the outside of the roller. Whereas if you dissect a worn chain there is noticeable wear on the inside of the roller.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes yes, I remember reading them. Very detailed and a good review of notions scattered across several sources.

I'll take this opportunity to ask you one question wrt chain gauges. You refer to Shimano TL-CN42, supposedly more accurate because "it eliminates roller wear". This statement is blatantly wrong: the forward end of the tool is in contact with the frontmost roller; imagine for a moment that the pin/plate interface is infinitely durable and that wear is strictly restricted to rollers, whose diameter will progressively tend towards zero; as rollers wear, the gap between them increase, eventually wide enough to allow the tool to fall between links, yet the pitch would still be a perfect 1/2 inch. I believe that what this tool achieve is to exclude double counting of the pin/plate wear for the first link. It may still be of relevance because measurements are made over a small number of links, but: (1) it would probably be easy to build in a correction factor; (2) roller wear is still a confounding factor; (3) the "springy" end of the tool makes it easier to get false positive by manually forcing the tool -- which should drop freely rather than be forced into the links.

To clarify -- roller wear occurs both inside and outside. Inside, because of the friction between pin and roller, outside because of the friction between roller and sprockets.
The point of the shimano tool is that it pushes the rollers to the same side, where most other tools pushes them apart, the is, in opposite directions. Imo the Shimano tool is the better choice, but I have never seen a comparison of several different tools on the same chain.

The Shimano tool measures true chain elongation. Most other tools measure chain elongation + roller wear. I agree with the above. The rollers tend to wear from the inside out.

Last edited by Racing Dan; 11-20-17 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
that outside wear is minimal.
Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
I agree with the above. The rollers tend to wear from the inside out.
On a Connex with 2500kms, i find a roller diameter of 7.71mm, compared to 7.75 on a new chain (which happens to be exactly the nominal diameter -- so measurements appear to be reasonably accurate)

.04 mm over 114 links is 4.65 mm, which is almost exactly the amount of stretch exhibited by the chain. I am NOT saying that roller wear translates into stretch, but rather that roller wear (the outside diameter) is not trivial. it appears to be quantitatively quite similar to inner wear.

This being said, this is one observation. Maybe my chain is supportive


---

It would be interesting if several members of this community could share their measurements. Using a decent digital caliper, measure the outside diameter of a roller from used chain, and it's stretch. Then get the nominal dimensions, or better, measure the brand new chain that you have purchased in advance of chain replacement. compare the chain total stretch to the number of links times the rollers' diameter difference.

Maybe these measurements will show a significant difference between inner and outer wear. (Actually, there should be some variance, induced by the type of terrain)

Last edited by gauvins; 11-20-17 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 11-20-17, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
On a Connex with 2500kms, i find a roller diameter of 7.71mm, compared to 7.75 on a new chain (which happens to be exactly the nominal diameter -- so measurements appear to be reasonably accurate)

.04 mm over 114 links is 4.65 mm, which is almost exactly the amount of stretch exhibited by the chain. I am NOT saying that roller wear translates into stretch, but rather that roller wear (the outside diameter) is not trivial. it appears to be quantitatively quite similar to inner wear.

This being said, this is one observation. Maybe my chain is supportive


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It would be interesting if several members of this community could share their measurements. Using a decent digital caliper, measure the outside diameter of a roller from used chain, and it's stretch. Then get the nominal dimensions, or better, measure the brand new chain that you have purchased in advance of chain replacement. compare the chain total stretch to the number of links times the rollers' diameter difference.

Maybe these measurements will show a significant difference between inner and outer wear. (Actually, there should be some variance, induced by the type of terrain)
Except that outer roller wear is not additive in regards to wear/elongation
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