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Newbie paraffin chain waxing issues

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Newbie paraffin chain waxing issues

Old 11-29-19, 10:34 AM
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Chuckles1
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Newbie paraffin chain waxing issues

I recently cleaned 4 chains and two cassettes in kerosene (poured through coffee filter to remove grit between each cleaning cycle) until no more grit was evident. Then dipped them in 80% paraffin, 20% kerosene mix in a saucepan on hotplate near open garage door. All went well, and it was a pleasure to install parts on my 3 bikes without black hands (one bike has a freewheel, so no dipping on those cogs).

I don't ride outside in winter, so i've stored my two newer bikes, ready to roll in spring. I've been using the oldest bike as a stationary trainer on a magnetic resistance setup. I'm wondering, how do you know when the lube is worn out and is time to rewax?

Also I have an idea I'm toying with, and wonder if anyone has tried it. I read a paper by engineers in the oil pipeline industry on solvents to dissolve paraffin. They found that a mixture of 1 part kerosene and 1 part acetone will dissolve paraffin in a few hours to yield a solution of approximately 1/3 of each ingredient. I thought if i add enough paraffin to fill a container that is 2/3 full of half and half kerosene and acetone, let it dissolve, and apply that to chains with a chain cleaner (the kind with a small reservoir and revolving brushes) maybe every week or two, that might renew the paraffin on chain while the acetone and kerosene evaporate away (outdoors of course).

Has anyone tried a similar approach, and if so, how well does it work. Any tips to optimize the process?
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Old 11-29-19, 12:18 PM
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I rewax when the chain starts squeeking.
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Old 11-29-19, 12:25 PM
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First, I'd use OMS (odorless mineral spirits) in place of kerosene as the solvent. It has much less odor (duh) and evaporates more cleanly. Also, acetone is very volatile so store your paraffin mix in a very tightly closed container.

My experience with waxing chains was using hot molten wax, not wax dissolved in a solvent. It works and was very clean but not very durable so frequent rewaxing was required.
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Old 11-29-19, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Kovkov View Post
I rewax when the chain starts squeeking.
+1. When I did wax decades ago I figured out after about the first 3 waxing's that it would usually start to squeak at about the 120 dry miles mark pretty consistently and would then just re-wax before then. Your mileage may vary of course but that was the best method I found for waxing intervals. Wet rides needed to be waxed after each ride.
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Old 11-29-19, 02:46 PM
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motorcycle chain lube ....
https://www.sportsbikeshop.co.uk/mot...3681,2923,1083
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Old 11-29-19, 04:06 PM
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Camp stove fuel (naptha) evaporates faster than kerosene or mineral spirits. With naptha, it takes about 3 fluid ounces to dissolve 1 ounce by weight of paraffin (1/4 of a 4-ounce block). I add up to 10% high quality oil to the mix. IMO, using this lube there is no need for hot waxing. I buy Crown brand camp stove fuel at Walmart for about half the price of Coleman brand. It is also nearly odorless.

I tend to relube after 120-150 miles. It only takes a couple of minutes and it's far faster than hot dipping. I believe that chains should also be removed for cleaning after about three application of lube. Chains still get dirt deep inside, just due to dust and grit on a relatively clean paved road.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 12-11-19 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 11-29-19, 04:51 PM
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I start with a new chain that I clean in odorless mineral spirits.
I then heat my chain in a foil pan in a 200 deg. oven, then sprinkle with powdered graphite and rub with paraffin. Turn it over an repeat. Then heat once more to try to get everything inside.
Take it outside, flex it back and forth over the pan, then install on the bike.
I have been doing this for probably 8 or 9 years; I get 4-500 miles before it starts making noise, my (10 speed, KMC) chains last 2-3,000 miles. I am not a hard sprinter, but I do a lot of climbing.

(I modified this from a guy on the old Bicycling forums who went by Garth.)
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Old 11-29-19, 08:28 PM
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For a couple of years I've used plain Gulf Wax in a Little Dipper crock pot. The stuff comes in bars of paraffin about the size of soap bars. Works fine, keeps everything clean, pretty easy to do compared with the typical full routine for wet lubes and associated cleanup. I've used it on both road bikes and my hybrid errand bike.

I've gone up to 400-500 miles between rewaxing in dry conditions. The drivetrain starts out very quiet but some noise can be heard within 50-100 miles. If I was picky about it I'd rewax every week or every 100-150 miles. I used to run a pair of identical chains and swap 'em off twice a month. I might resume that practice.

It doesn't last long in rain. I was caught in a brief summer downpour a year or so ago and the chain became noticeably noisier during the 15 mile ride home. Not squeaky or dry sounding. But much noisier. The outside of the chain links still felt a bit waxy.

I've tried a couple of wax based liquid lubes -- Boeshield T9 and White Lightning Easy Lube. They aren't the same.

White Lightning Easy Lube seems to be paraffin in naptha -- that's what the solvent smells like. It's necessary to shake the bottle because the paraffin visibly separates from the solvent. I'm not sure I like the Easy Lube. When applied directly to the chain on the bike it will cause a buildup of gooey wax and black road grime within a few days and worsen with each application. After two or three weeks I noticed the drivetrain felt draggy and it shifted poorly. When I removed the chain I discovered snot-like boogers of soft wax and road grime stuck between the link plates and cassette cogs. So following White Lightning's directions didn't work well for me.

Next time I, after cleaning and flossing the chain and cassette, I applied the Easy Lube to the chain off the bike. Then let it dry, and wiped off the excess. It's been about a week or 150 miles. I'll check it this weekend to see how it's working. The drivetrain is quiet and seems well lubed.

I've done both methods using Boeshield T9 as well. While Boeshield doesn't develop those waxy grimy snot boogers like Easy Lube, it does attract just as much grime as any wet oil lube. It doesn't last long. I don't really see much advantage to Boeshield T9 when applied to a chain mounted on the bike. It's a little better off the bike.

But neither was better or easier than removing the chains to dunk them in a crock pot of melted wax. And the crock pot method leaves the chain cleaner. Any excess wax flakes off during the first ride. Rubbing the chain with fingers or a paper towel leaves a slight smudge that's like graphite dust from a pencil sharpener. Wipes right off.

I've also added leftover wax from scented candles. These are usually softer due to the addition of some kind of solvent. Adding this to the crock pot of plain Gulf Wax had a very slight effect, not better or worse.

On my other hybrid I still use Park CL-1 wet lube. It's persistent even though rainy rides. Yeah, it leaves a grimy mess but all wet lubes do. At least it doesn't wash out and needs to be applied only a couple of times a year. I don't bother with thorough chain cleaning between uses. The CL-1 seems to semi-dry to a tacky surface similar to a Post-It Note, somewhat similar to motorcycle chain lubes but less sticky. Presumably this helps it last longer in wet weather. It's also what makes Park CL-1 a poor choice for lubing cables -- it'll make 'em sticky and sludgy. Tried it, didn't like it. But it's an okay chain lube as oil type wet lubes go.

I thought about trying the White Lightning Easy Lube on the other hybrid but, nah. Not if it's going to cause a waxy grimy buildup in the chain and cassette/freewheel.

BTW, the Ozzie guy on YouTube who advocates waxing chains uses "petrol" (gasoline) as the main solvent. I wouldn't do that. Especially looking at his shop. He'll leave open containers of flammable and combustible liquids on a workbench with ordinary electrical outlets and extension cords visible on the wall behind the bench. I've seen the catastrophic results of that kind of heedless use of gasoline. In another life I was a nurse and later a federal workplace safety inspector. I've seen deaths and horrific injuries from careless use of gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene and other solvents around ignition sources. But everyone who does it anyway always says the same thing "Well, I've done it this way for X-years and never had any problems." Welp. Oh-kay. I reckon that gives you immunity.

Anyone who thinks that's a good idea should try a little experiment in terror. Wait for a very humid day with damp weather, preferably when the barometric pressure is lower than usual. Pour about 2 ounces of gasoline into a cup. Walk into an open field where the grass is cut low and the ground and foliage are thoroughly saturated from rain so there's less risk of a wildfire. Be sure there's no other source of ignition or flammable liquids within 100 yards if possible. Pour the gas onto the ground. Wait about a minute. Then toss a match on the ground. You'll be surrounded by a nearly perfect circle of flames, 10 feet or larger in diameter, with an amusing WHUMP! sound. Lots of fun.

Actually, no, don't do that. That's a joke. That's how my stepdad's business partner died, although he poured a one gallon can of gas onto a brush pile he was burning, then stepped away to what he wrongly assumed was a safe distance. He was enveloped in the vapor and the ignition then ignited the rest of the can at his feet.

But it's an example of how quickly vapor pressure can spread gasoline. And why it's a stupid practice to keep open containers of gas anywhere near ignition sources -- such as garages and workshops with non-safety outlets, circuit breakers, hot water heaters, or any electrical device that cycles on and off periodically.
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Old 12-01-19, 07:54 PM
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first advice:
some additive is needed to ensure low wear and high intervals in cleaning/lubing. get some ceramic additive. hBN = hexagonal boron nitride.
teflon (PTFE) does not work too well on it's own - will not stay put.
stay away from molybdenum disulfide as it causes galvanic corrosion, especially in wet conditions.

second advice:
mix polycrystalline wax with some paraffin oil if you want to make your own concoction. and don't bother with solvents if you can dip the chain in warmed up wax.

third advice:
look for some lube that has these things in it as it probably also has lithium stearate which helps minimize wear and corrosion. get the ingredients only if the market does not the right product for you at a reasonable price. getting all the right ingredients can be harder. just because famous brands are overpriced does not mean you don't have a chance to find some efficient and cheap product even though intended for a different market (label).

last advice: don't dry rub the goo from the external part of the chain. you will push the trapped dirt inside the chain this way. and it's better to keep a film of sticky goo outside the chain and not attempt to rub it off even if dirty. the right grease should not take dirt in by constantly flowing. use rags etc. only if you previously have used some liquids to wash the outside dirt from the chain.
use some isopropyl+ethanol/methanol mix as a first step in cleaning the chain. maybe use water first - if you are cheap - but use alcohol to help dry out any water residue.
after greasing the chain rub it with some cloth but don't overdo it. and ignore the chain until it begins to feel dirty/dry on the inside. ignore the dirt on the outside.
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Old 12-01-19, 11:07 PM
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I used a similar concoction for several years, but felt it was still attracting too much dirt. I switched to 'Squirt' full time and am more than satisfied.
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Old 12-02-19, 07:14 AM
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I've been waxing for about two months now, riding 13-14km every day on commute. At the first (rather light) rain, I'd thought it was fine and didn't re-wax immediately. About 4 days later I'd discovered some light spots of superficial rust on the chain.

Keep in mind I've followed MSPEEDWAX (previously Molten Speed Wax) directions and thoroughly washed all the lubricant on the chain (put simply: 2 baths on querosene, 2 baths on degreaser and isopropyl alcohol for a finish), so it was bare metal under the wax. This probably contributed to the rust spots.
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Old 12-02-19, 07:55 AM
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less than full Brazilian

Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
I used a similar concoction for several years, but felt it was still attracting too much dirt. I switched to 'Squirt' full time and am more than satisfied.
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+1 on Squirt (for all non-tarmac and a light bit of dino based for the tarmac bike chain-what the majority of bike tech guys use in my LBS)...not a masher but nearly always need to replace a chain for "stretch" length...is it felt the above waxing technique(s) provide any improvement-longevity?

Last edited by stormpeakco; 12-02-19 at 07:56 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-02-19, 09:00 AM
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Multiple alcohols mixed together is not a good way to degrease a chain. Minerals spirits, naptha (camp stove fuel) are all better choices. Most isopropyl alcohol contains at least 10% water and some has 30%. If you're going to add an oil to your paraffin, use a high quality lubricating oil, not paraffin oil. I use a high viscosity gear lube. It only takes .5-1% to improve the lubricity. There is a limit to how much oil will mix with paraffin.

Also, acetone will not dissolve paraffin like mineral spirits or naptha will. Lacquer thinner is mineral spirits and acetone.

A little research shows that kerosene is the same thing as lamp oil or paraffin oil. A quick test that I did this morning showed it to be a light oil that evaporates very slowly. I would not mix it with paraffin to make it softer. The softer it is the more likely it is to work more like grease and leave residue on the sprockets and derailleur pulleys.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene

Last edited by DaveSSS; 12-02-19 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 12-02-19, 02:49 PM
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Simple, just buy some chain lube from a shop.

heating wax and flammables is a good way to meet your local firefighters


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Old 12-04-19, 08:43 AM
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You need to understand that wax is not a lubricant, you have been mislead.
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Old 12-04-19, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
You need to understand that wax is not a lubricant, you have been mislead.
The absolute best non-lubricant there is! I wax my chains once a month, getting 400-500 miles per chain. I know it's not a lubricant because it doesn't get my drivetrain completely filthy.

p.s. wax is absolutely a lubricant, as per the definition of the word itself...

lubricant [loo-bri-kuh nt] a substance for lessening friction, especially in the working parts of a mechanism.
Synonyms for lubricant: coating, grease, oil, silicone, wax

p.p.s paraffin wax is made out of petroleum or shale oil, just like most other lubricants
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Old 12-04-19, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeWMass View Post
I start with a new chain that I clean in odorless mineral spirits.
I then heat my chain in a foil pan in a 200 deg. oven, then sprinkle with powdered graphite and rub with paraffin. Turn it over an repeat. Then heat once more to try to get everything inside.
Take it outside, flex it back and forth over the pan, then install on the bike.
I have been doing this for probably 8 or 9 years; I get 4-500 miles before it starts making noise, my (10 speed, KMC) chains last 2-3,000 miles. I am not a hard sprinter, but I do a lot of climbing.

(I modified this from a guy on the old Bicycling forums who went by Garth.)
You start out by removing the best lube your chain will have?
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Old 12-04-19, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
You start out by removing the best lube your chain will have?
Outdated and ostensibly false. The factory coating on a chain is an anti-corrosive agent, and serves to attract and trap contaminants perhaps better than anything else. It should be removed before applying any lube, unless frequent drivetrain cleaning and fostering premature wear are among your pastimes.
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Old 12-04-19, 02:43 PM
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[QUOTE=DrIsotope;21233303]Outdated and ostensibly false. The factory coating on a chain is an anti-corrosive agent, and serves to attract and trap contaminants perhaps better than anything else. It should be removed before applying any lube, unless frequent drivetrain cleaning and fostering premature wear are among your pastimes.

It's lubricant made by https://www.fuchs.com/lubritech/?pag...d_produkt=2993.
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Old 12-04-19, 07:22 PM
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I remove it because:
1. It is really sticky
2. Grit and grime adheres to it
3. If you don't remove it, the was doesn't stay on the chain very well,

and finally...
4. That is what Garth said to do.
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Old 12-05-19, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The absolute best non-lubricant there is! I wax my chains once a month, getting 400-500 miles per chain. I know it's not a lubricant because it doesn't get my drivetrain completely filthy.

p.s. wax is absolutely a lubricant, as per the definition of the word itself...

lubricant [[b]loo-bri-kuh nt] a substance for lessening friction, especially in the working parts of a mechanism.
Synonyms for lubricant: coating, grease, oil, silicone, wax

p.p.s paraffin wax is made out of petroleum or shale oil, just like most other lubricants
On my recumbent bike and my trike using Mobil 1 oil I get over 8000 miles. That is checking chain wear with both a Park chain wear tool and a foot long steel rule. I ride only hard surface streets and bike paths.
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Old 12-05-19, 05:12 PM
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I feel like I shouldn't need to remind you that a recumbent uses 2-3 chains, so take your chain life (in miles) and divide it by either 2 or 3.

If your trike uses just 2 chains, you're getting a tiny bit more mileage than I am, if it's closer to 3 you're doing worse.
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Old 12-06-19, 09:54 AM
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OP Q for rydabent

Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
On my recumbent bike and my trike using Mobil 1 oil I get over 8000 miles. That is checking chain wear with both a Park chain wear tool and a foot long steel rule. I ride only hard surface streets and bike paths.
Do you use straight Mobil 1, or do you add Mobil 1 to paraffin?

I like the ideas on adding some additional lubricant to paraffin. I assume powdered additives are better than oils regarding avoidance of grime buildup on chain (the whole purpose of trying paraffin in the first place for me; I'm tired of cleaning a filthy drivetrain, as I ride a combination of paved and gravel roads almost every ride).
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Old 12-06-19, 03:17 PM
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Here's my latest finding with regard to mixing paraffin and oil. I use 75-90 synthetic gear lube, but any high quality oil will probably do. Do not use paraffin oil or lamp oil or kerosene. Mixing paraffin to oil at a 2/1 ratio should produce a product that isn't too soft and still behaves, mostly like paraffin. I increased the oil to 2/1.5 and got a lot softer product that's more likely to be a little dirty/greasy. I don't hot dip, I dissolve the paraffin in naptha (camp stove fuel). This product requires a small fraction of the paraffin that hot dipping does. With a thin liquid lube, you can put it wear it's needed - around the rollers and not all over the chain.

MSW only claims 16 application for a pound of wax. If diluted with a minimum of 3 parts naptha to 1 part paraffin/oil, 2 ounces of paraffin could give up to 90 applications, as a liquid lube. If you apply only 1-2 drops per roller, you can get up to 6 application per ounce of liquid lube.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 12-11-19 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 12-06-19, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Here's my latest finding with regard to mixing paraffin and oil. I use 75-90 synthetic gear lube, but any high quality oil will probably do. Do not use paraffin oil or lamp oil or kerosene. Mixing paraffin to oil at a 2/1 ratio should produce a product that isn't too soft still behaves, mostly like paraffin. I increased the oil to 2/1.5 and got a lot softer product that's more likely to be a little dirty/greasy. I don't dip, I dissolve the paraffin in naptha (camp stove fuel). This product requires a small fraction of the paraffin that hot dipping does. With a thin liquid lube, you can put it wear it's needed - around the rollers and not all over the chain.

MSW only claims 16 application for a pound of wax. If diluted with a minimum of 3 parts naptha to 1 part paraffin/oil, 2 ounces of paraffin could give up to 90 applications, as a liquid lube. If you apply only 1-2 drops per roller, you can get up to 6 application per ounce of liquid lube.
I'm only like half way through my bag and probably have waxed 50 chains this year
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