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How do I know when a washed chain is dry enough to lube?

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How do I know when a washed chain is dry enough to lube?

Old 11-09-18, 10:58 PM
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el forestero
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How do I know when a washed chain is dry enough to lube?

I live in a humid country where things dry slowly. If I wash my bike (including degreasing the drivetrain) in the evening and point two fans at it, there's still a tiny bit of water here and there on some components the next morning. So I wouldn't be surprised if the parts of the chain that aren't directly exposed to the fans are still a bit wet even after 10 hours of drying. And if I wash it and don't point the fans at it, the chain has rust on it by morning.

I tend not to want to wash it in the evening after a 100 km + ride. I prefer to wash it the next morning and then go for a ride shortly after. But it takes so long to dry that I'm not sure how to deal with the chain when I do that. Even if I hand dry the chain with a cloth, the surfaces I can't reach with the cloth must still be wet. Is this going to interfere with the lube adhering to those surfaces? What experience do others have lubing the chain when its internal surfaces are likely still wet?

Would it be better to take the bike for a short ride so the wind dries the chain more thoroughly before lubing it? Or is riding even briefly without lube on the chain potentially more harmful than the lube not adhering to wet surfaces on the chain?
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Old 11-09-18, 11:30 PM
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A heat source can quicken drying. I'll sometimes whack the chain (fold it up in 4ths and swing against a cardboard box side) to force out some of the solvent.

Do you ever get rust after using a water solution to clean it with? Andy (and will this turn into a "how to clean your chain" diatribe?)
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Old 11-10-18, 01:26 AM
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If you're not soaking the chain in liquid not much gets inside, imho. (But I like cleaning chains off the bike, soak in degreaser, rinse then bake them dry, when they stop steaming I call them ready for fresh lubejob) Also wet lube or dry lube?

In the humid tropics, a dehumidifier or air conditioner is invaluable for force drying sports gear... especially golf bag & shoes overnight in time or teeoff next morning.
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Old 11-10-18, 05:30 AM
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I've always used one of those chain cleaner tools with the brush-tipped cogs inside. I first fill it with degreaser and run the chain through a bunch of times. Then I fill it with 50°C water mixed with a generous amount of dish soap and run the chain through again. Then I hose the soapy water off the drivetrain.

I like the idea of using heat to speed the drying. When possible, I put the bike in the sun after washing. Been using wet lube but gonna start using dry as we're going into the (sort of) dry season.

I like the dehumidifier idea too. Maybe will stash the wet bike in a closet with it.

Good ideas!
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Old 11-10-18, 06:47 AM
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With your high humidity, you might want to take the chain off the bike so it can be dried. Use a quick link, take off the chain, clean and rinse, then warm up the oven, turn off the heat, and put the chain in there. Or even on top of the stove in an old pan at very low heat. Leaving it in the sun for a few hours is probably the easiest method.

~~~

I never wash a chain. I just dampen a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and wipe off the chain, then relube.

In the winter, with salt on the road, I rinse the whole bike with a sprinkling can full of water. And I occasionally get caught in the rain while riding. I dry the bike indoors, where I have reasonably low humidity. I don't always relube after this, unless the rain was heavy or lasted a long time.

I do use a thick lube, so I expect that water is prevented from getting into the internal wear surfaces, as long as the lube is reapplied periodically.

I used to regularly deep clean a chain, and got a lot of miles from each chain -- about 4000 miles. But now, I still get similar mileage with just surface cleaning. (If I rode in wet conditions a lot or on very dusty roads, cleaning would be more critical.) To deep clean: I would remove the chain, shake in a plastic bottle with a small amount of paint thinner (pour out and store the used thinner for next time: the black gunk settles out.) Then shake with water and dish detergent, then rinse. Repeat the detergent shake until the water stays clear. Dry overnight, perferably with some heat source, or a hair dryer, or out in sunlight. Relube. A lot of work.

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-10-18 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 11-10-18, 06:57 AM
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haha my choice of heat is to boil the chain in dishdrops in a frying pan on the stove rinse then shake off water, return to pan on low flame and give it a few minutes to steam till dry.

Dehumidifiers don't bother with the tiny peltier ones, they barely pull a cupful of moisture in a week. The good ones are refrigerant heatpump type, rated for 2hp or so... ours can pull a 10L bucketful overnight running in a closed room with damp goods inside. They're basically same as aircon, chills the air until moisture condenses.

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Old 11-10-18, 07:02 AM
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If the chain is still on the bike, a hair dryer will dry it out in a fairly short time.
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Old 11-10-18, 08:54 AM
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a shot of wd 40 and wipe followed by your lube and wipe. done
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Old 11-10-18, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by el forestero View Post
I live in a humid country where things dry slowly. If I wash my bike (including degreasing the drivetrain) in the evening and point two fans at it, there's still a tiny bit of water here and there on some components the next morning. So I wouldn't be surprised if the parts of the chain that aren't directly exposed to the fans are still a bit wet even after 10 hours of drying. And if I wash it and don't point the fans at it, the chain has rust on it by morning.

I tend not to want to wash it in the evening after a 100 km + ride. I prefer to wash it the next morning and then go for a ride shortly after. But it takes so long to dry that I'm not sure how to deal with the chain when I do that. Even if I hand dry the chain with a cloth, the surfaces I can't reach with the cloth must still be wet. Is this going to interfere with the lube adhering to those surfaces? What experience do others have lubing the chain when its internal surfaces are likely still wet?

Would it be better to take the bike for a short ride so the wind dries the chain more thoroughly before lubing it? Or is riding even briefly without lube on the chain potentially more harmful than the lube not adhering to wet surfaces on the chain?
You shouldn’t lubricate a chain that is wet with water. Lubrication will just sit on top of the water and, when you start to move the chain, it will just churn up the mixture and allow the water to settle back on the surface of the metal after you stop churning it.

If you insist on using water, you should remove it by rinsing with a polar organic solvent like acetone or denatured alcohol afterwards. Or you could short circuit the elaborate procedure by using a solvent that does the job in one step. Mineral spirits is only slightly more hazardous then the degreaser, requires far less to do the job and doesn’t require any further rinsing as it evaporates quickly. Even if it doesn’t evaporate, it is the solvent used in most chain lubricants.

And if you don’t use an oily lubricant, you wouldn’t have to clean all the time anyway. I use wax based lubricants and clean my chain only once...when I put it on the bike.

Originally Posted by Tamiya View Post
If you're not soaking the chain in liquid not much gets inside, imho. (But I like cleaning chains off the bike, soak in degreaser, rinse then bake them dry, when they stop steaming I call them ready for fresh lubejob) Also wet lube or dry lube?
Chains aren’t sealed. Just about any liquid can easily penetrate into the chain. The problem is that water based degreasers need to be used in sufficient volume to do their job and that volume is several times what you have to use vs mineral spirits. A cup of mineral spirits will clean many chains (a dozen or more). A cup of water based degreaser won’t even dent the grim on a single chain. And the liquid degreaser requires more steps.
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Old 11-11-18, 04:26 AM
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Thanks for the info, all. So many options for cleaning and lubing chains that I wasn't aware of. Not sure how my wife will feel about the chain baking in the same oven as her cupcakes. But she may let me borrow her hair dryer. Today we were fortunate and had sun and light breeze, so nature did the drying work pretty quickly.
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Old 11-11-18, 07:06 AM
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hah! If you have a dishwasher... ...works great for car parts too.
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Old 11-11-18, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by el forestero View Post
Not sure how my wife will feel about the chain baking in the same oven as her cupcakes.
For years, I've been using "low heat" (~200 degrees F.) for a half hour. It gets the water out, and does no harm to the oven. Run the kitchen exhaust fan. :-)
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