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Back To The Future: Waxing My Chains

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Back To The Future: Waxing My Chains

Old 02-01-19, 06:33 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute


It does take more time than applying wax from a bottle. You are missing the steps of getting out whatever you use to melt the wax, heating the wax, cooling whatever you use to melt the wax, and putting it away.

I suppose you could break applying wax from a bottle into steps but it would be several steps less and a whole lot less time. It takes some time to heat the chain and to take it off and put it back on. Even if you use multiple chains, you still have to do the same steps.

I do agree that chain cleaning and maintenance doesnít have to be complicated, however. NattyBumpoís procedure is one of the most complicated Iíve ever seen. His post is also the longest post Iíve seen and, for someone who tends to go on and on, thatís impressive. If his procedure provided double the mileage that most people get, it would be worth the effort but just. But for only marginal improvements, elaborate procedures just arenít necessary.
I don't understand why you think waxing a chain takes so long. I've timed it a few times, and it's normally around 2 minutes which includes the 2 seconds that it takes me to turn the crockpot on and off. You're right that could be more than it takes to apply wax from a bottle. I've honestly never timed that, since 2 minutes to wax a chain every few hundred miles isn't that big of a deal to me.
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Old 02-01-19, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston
I don't understand why you think waxing a chain takes so long. I've timed it a few times, and it's normally around 2 minutes which includes the 2 seconds that it takes me to turn the crockpot on and off. You're right that could be more than it takes to apply wax from a bottle. I've honestly never timed that, since 2 minutes to wax a chain every few hundred miles isn't that big of a deal to me.
Iíve done it too. It takes far more than 2 minutes to heat up the wax. It takes more than 2 minutes to heat the chain to the point where the wax surrounding it is melted...it is colder than the wax that it is dropped into.

And Iíve taken a lot of chains apart. Again, it takes more than 2 minutes to remove and install a chain...even with a quick link.

Letís be realistic about the time it takes. It doesnít matter to me if people use hot wax but to say that it is as easy as applying liquified wax is not being realistic.

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Old 02-01-19, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope
But he's not spending any of your time, or anyone else's time to do it. No harm, no foul. I have in excess of 25,000 miles using hot wax now, after trying pretty much every wet or dry lube commercially available. Extra time used? Absolutely zero. I set aside zero minutes out of any given day to lubricate a chain. I am in physical contact with said chain for less than 2 minutes total (removing, putting it in wax, taking it out, putting it back on the bike) and my current wax blend and mileage division between bikes means chain care adds up to about 5 minutes per month. Time for the crockpot to warm up doesn't count, because I don't have to blow it up like a balloon. I turn a knob, and electricity does the rest. Do the chains last longer? Don't care one way or another-- regardless, I go through 3-4 chains every year. I want a clean and quiet chain, and in the pursuit of that, nothing comes close to hot wax. Nothing.
Sorry but I’m still not buying the “2 minutes” thing. And I noticed the not “in physical contact” loop hole. The time it takes to do a procedure isn’t just the amount of time you are doing the task. It’s the whole task, including any wait times. I develop procedures for a living and teach people how to do them. If a procedure has a 2 hour wait time in it but only takes 3 minutes for the measurement, I don’t tell people that it takes 3 minutes.

I don’t care if you use wax or not. I don’t care if you teach other people how to do it. Just be honest about the time it takes.

And, finally, I can say the same about my liquid wax. I get the same mileage as you do without all the hassle. And try doing your procedure 1000 miles from home.
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Old 02-01-19, 08:06 PM
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If electricity were free, I'd just leave the 60W crockpot on 24/7. Your insistence that the warm-up time for the crockpot counts in the time of the procedure is stretching to even be a technicality.

End of the day, you don't do hot wax, so why are you in this thread again? Oh, that's right. I almost forgot-- your modus operandi is to interject yourself into races in which you have no horse. Just to show up and tell the jockeys they're doing it wrong.
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Old 02-02-19, 07:36 AM
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Couple of points
  1. When calculating labor cost, duration is irrelevant. I could leave my chain in the wax for a month and my labor cost would still be 2 minutes per chain
  2. Just because you can't do something doesn't mean it can't be done. Those of us who wax chains regularly get pretty good at swapping chains. No point in arguing about exactly how long it takes. Even if it were 10 minutes every few hundred miles, it's a trivial amount of time in the grand scheme of overall bicycle maintenance
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Old 02-03-19, 03:40 PM
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I wax my chains, but instead of melting a pot full of wax use a variant on a technique put forth by a gentleman who went by "Garth" back when Bicycling magazine's website had forums.
I heat the chain in the oven, sprinkle with powdered graphite and rub with a votive candle. I get at least 500 miles between waxes, and my chains last at least as long as they did with wet lubes. I don't have to worry about fires or double boilers or crock pots, I only need a disposable pie tin (which I use over and over). It takes however long the oven takes to get to 200 deg, plus about 20 minutes (of which only half is hands on). My chain and cassette stay clean, and I too do not get greasy crud on myself if I have to handle the chain (also don't get chain tattoos on my leg although I generally don't contact the chain with my leg anyway). The only downside to riding in the wet that I have noted is that the sideplates get some rust.
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Old 02-05-19, 01:44 AM
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How well does hot chain waxing work on wet rides?
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Old 02-05-19, 02:09 AM
  #33  
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I have a bike with a SRAM derailleur and it has a little button to lock up the cage. At the same time itís 1x. Chain maintenance has never been easier. I still donít see how that button is any benefit for wheel removal but for popping off the chain to clean, itís a huge help. Which makes this whole waxing idea sound a lot more palatable.
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Old 02-06-19, 10:15 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by andy_p
How well does hot chain waxing work on wet rides?
you actually ride in the rain? Crazy


Seriously though, it does make the rotation out quicker, if I get caught in a heavy moisture event I remove the chain probably 100-150 miles quicker for re-waxing. Depends on how much rain we are talking about too.
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Old 02-06-19, 10:39 AM
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Whenever I ride in the rain I spray off the whole bike, dry it, lube the pivots, put on a fresh chain, and re-wax the one that was ridden in the rain. I like having a clean bike which is a whole other debate.
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Old 02-06-19, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by andy_p
How well does hot chain waxing work on wet rides?
I never tried the melted wax idea but I did try White LIghtning in the hopes of it being better at shedding grit from the chain in wet weather commuting. But what I got was an almost instantly rusty chain. Like it was rusty the very next morning after the first wet commute day after switching to the WL.

I did get a couple or three dry days before the rainy day. And during that time it felt as smooth and silky as the OP said in that long opening volume. So high marks for that aspect.

But it was horrid in the wet and I quickly went back to using oil.
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Old 02-06-19, 02:39 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by andy_p
How well does hot chain waxing work on wet rides?
Meh, not so great. But we don't get much rain here.

The best solution for waxed chains in rainy areas is to keep two or three identical chains waxed and ready to go, with quick links. Swap 'em around once a week or twice a month, as needed. Pretty much what I already do with a pair of chains for my road bike.

My errand bike is on the second year with the same waxed chain, never cleaned or re-treated. But it's ridden only a couple of miles at a time, a few times a month.

My road bike gets ridden 20-50 miles at a time, 2-3 times a week. I avoid riding that bike on rainy days, but when I've been caught in brief downpours I can tell the chain will need to be re-waxed when I get home. It doesn't immediately fail and turn into a metal on metal squeak toy spitting shards of metal everywhere. It just gets a little noisy.

Sometimes I'll touch up the waxed chains on the road bike with Boeshield T9, which is just paraffin in naptha and mineral spirit solvents. It works okay. T9 leaves a little less grimy mess than most wet lubes, but it doesn't last long per treatment either -- maybe a week. But it's just an interim treatment until I can re-wax the chains.

My other hybrid is set up with fenders, etc., for rain rides. I use a wet lube on it, Park CL-1. It's not the best rated lube in terms of friction, but that hardly matters for that bike. It's for casual paced rides. Park CL-1 is very resistant to washing out from rain, so one treatment may last a year. It forms a persistent film soon after application. When I've been caught in the rain, it actually reduces chain noise and restores smoothness. Presumably the rain washes out the road grit while the lubricant film remains.

Reportedly Chain-L is even better, but I haven't run out of CL-1 yet. All wet lubes will attract more grimy debris. Just the nature of the beast. If I was really concerned I'd add a chain guard to protect my shins, jeans and cats from chain tattoos.
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Old 02-06-19, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sdmc530
you actually ride in the rain? Crazy
Where I live, I have to, or I wouldn't be a cyclist

Originally Posted by sdmc530
Seriously though, it does make the rotation out quicker, if I get caught in a heavy moisture event I remove the chain probably 100-150 miles quicker for re-waxing. Depends on how much rain we are talking about too.
Originally Posted by canklecat
Meh, not so great. But we don't get much rain here.
So if it's really only any good in the dry, then does it matter what you lube the chain with?

Originally Posted by BCRider
I never tried the melted wax idea but I did try White LIghtning in the hopes of it being better at shedding grit from the chain in wet weather commuting. But what I got was an almost instantly rusty chain. Like it was rusty the very next morning after the first wet commute day after switching to the WL.
I still have a large and almost full bottle of White Lightning - it was the intermediate grade, but came out almost like water. No use at all.
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Old 02-06-19, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by andy_p
So if it's really only any good in the dry, then does it matter what you lube the chain with?
Sure. I can handle the chain with bare hands. At worst the residue from a waxed chain is like the graphite smudge from a pencil. Helps if I need to handle the chain quickly while wearing good clothes. I keep my bikes in my apartment and it cuts down on chain tattoos on the cats and me.

And wax works well in the conditions I usually ride, where dry grit is a bigger problem than rain. It's not bad in rain. No worse than some light lubes like Tri-Flow and Boeshield T9, and with less buildup of grime.

While the process of rotating two or more chains through hot wax sounds like a lot of trouble, I find it easier than the mess of maintaining a chain with wet lube. I still do have one bike that uses wet lube, but I keep it in a back room where it's less likely to tattoo furniture, the cats or my legs.
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Old 02-07-19, 08:57 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by NattyBumpo
I figure most people attracted to this thread will be wondering, "Why the heck would you even bother?" so I'll address that first. If you don't care why and only are interested in is the "How?" skip on down to the row of asterisks.
That was a nice post -- well written, logical and friendly to the reader. I also like the pictures and the bonus of a "Breaking Away" clip.

To add a few points: In my experience, a freshly waxed chain takes a few miles of riding before it shifts right. The hardened wax makes the chain stiff for a while, even if I manually bend all the links and flex it side to side a bit before installation. Maybe there is some technique to address this. I use Molten Speed Wax, which is basically paraffin with (I think) some graphite, but after a hot chain hangs dry and cools, it's pretty rigid. I've wondered if there are better ways to go from the slow cooker to a cool chain -- such as wiping it, or letting it rest at an intermediate heat before letting it settle to room temperature.

Second, you can apply lube to a waxed chain if you get to the wax's limit. I've applied Squirt, which is a wet wax emulsion, to waxed chains that were on the edge of needing a fresh wax, and the results were great. So, if you don't have a backup chain all waxed and ready, but do have a wet lube, particularly a wax-based lube, you can just apply that quick and go ride on a slick chain.
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Old 02-07-19, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ljsense
T

To add a few points: In my experience, a freshly waxed chain takes a few miles of riding before it shifts right. The hardened wax makes the chain stiff for a while, even if I manually bend all the links and flex it side to side a bit before installation. Maybe there is some technique to address this. I
Here is what I do to help this. Get a short piece of PVC pipe or something like that and put it in your vise or any such device. then run the chain over the round plastic pipe or whatever. It frees it up really nice. Do this for a minute at most and the shifting is flawless right away. Its loosens up the wax in the pins nicely.

For reference this was a trick Jon over on the GCN Tech show suggested to elevate the first few shifts troubles. It works great.
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Old 02-07-19, 08:58 PM
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I take the chain straight from the crockpot to the bike, put the chain on, and shift through the gears while it's still hot. Seems to keep the shifting consistent, reduce the amount of "cooldown flaking," and doesn't appear to shorten the service interval.
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Old 02-08-19, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope
I take the chain straight from the crockpot to the bike, put the chain on, and shift through the gears while it's still hot. Seems to keep the shifting consistent, reduce the amount of "cooldown flaking," and doesn't appear to shorten the service interval.
changing your name to the man of steel...they are HOT coming out of the crockpot! I bet this does work great too. I do a three chain rotation. when I put the 3rd chain on then I re-wax the other two. I might try this though one time.
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Old 02-08-19, 09:19 AM
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From years of lathe turning, I can handle heat a bit better than most. A fun pastime I had would be to take a part out of the lathe, and say to an unsuspecting bystander, "Hey, can you hold this for me for a second?" and then plop it in their hand. Always a good time. For me, at least.

I usually just have a blue shop towel in one hand to hold one end of the chain, and feed the chain through the RD with my bare hand. A chain cools down pretty fast.
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Old 02-08-19, 02:42 PM
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My waxed chain is hooked to hang / cool, then each link on that "sword" is broken free prior to installation.

There is very little flaking during those steps.


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Old 02-08-19, 04:07 PM
  #46  
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I like using the ShelBroCo system. It is time consuming, however, the results come out great. I am about half way through a chain now. Here is the link to the cleaning system that I use:

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

I like the two chain idea. Maybe I can ride more this way.
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