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Waxed Chain Failure

Old 04-08-22, 05:57 PM
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SamSam77
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Waxed Chain Failure

After reading some of the purported benefits to using a a waxed chain, as opposed to a liquid ("drop on") lubricant, I wanted to give it a try. This week, I made my first attempt to wax the chain and clearly my efforts did not live up to my expectations, as shown in this photo of my now rusty chain after only 5 days of use.

To summarize my process, which mirrors other procedures I found online:
I started from a brand new chain (KMC X9.93) and cleaned it by soaking it in mineral spirits for about 24 hours, then soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for another couple of hours, and finally dried the chain before proceeding. I used ordinary paraffin wax (new, clean, white/clear) without any additives (such as PTFE or MoS2, etc.) and melted it in a water double-boiler at roughly 90 °C. Once the chain was cleaned and the wax was melted, I dipped the chain into the wax and agitated it around a bit. A few air bubbles were observed to come off the chain once it was in the molten wax, which I attributed at the time to be trapped air escaping from the small joints between links that was previously 'frozen in' by a thin layer of solid wax that formed immediately after placing the relatively cool metal (acting like a heat sink) into the molten wax. After about an hour of letting the chain rest at the bottom of the pool of molten wax, I lifted the chain out and let it drip for a short time, then set it down to allow it to cool to room temperature. Afterward, the chain was very stiff and I methodically loosened each link by hand to ensure it would move freely. In doing this, little bits of wax did fall of, as expected. I installed the chain on the bike and then rode it around for > 8 miles to 'break it in.' During this break-in time, I noticed that it was not shifting well and would lag behind the gear it was supposed to be in as I moved up/down the ramp, but I did not change anything during the break-in period, or the next day, in case it would self-adjust back to normal. It did not go back to shifting well, so I loosen the derailleur a small amount, which made it shift nearly perfectly.

After installing the waxed chain (and the derailleur adjustment), I had several consecutive days of commuting through the rain as well as rain on my bike while it was locked at an outdoor bike rack, while seemingly the chain performed fine. Today was my first dry day and I took the time to actually get down and inspect the chain closely, which is when I found all the rust (see photo, linked above).

I expect paraffin to be long-lasting and extremely hydrophobic, not only to repel water quite well but also to resist being washed away by water, and to last at least as long as liquid-based lubricants (if not substantially longer). The exterior parts of the chain (where nothing rubs), where some bits of way are still visible, looks fine (clean and rust-free). However, the interior surfaces and joints, where there is a lot of rubbing (chain-on-chain and chain-on-cassette) are very rusty. It would seem as though the wax came off these regions and left the metal unprotected. Also, I noticed that the cassette, which was also brand new at the same time as the chain, is also covered in darks splotches of material, which I am guessing are bits of dirty wax that came off the chain. Why is this happening? Why didn't the wax stay adhered to the chain? What could/should I have done differently?
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Old 04-08-22, 06:55 PM
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You tested your lube in about the worst conditions that the lube is well known for being a poor choice for, "simple" wax, frequent rain. I think the property of a waxed chain that you missed anticipating is that wax is a solid and when the "action" of a chain flakes off the wax (you stated as such) the wax won't flow back into the lost wax areas, thus water has contact with bare metal. This is a big reason why various additives are added, to reduce the flaking off and extend the life span of the lube.

Where are you located? I have found that different locals have different "best lube" dependent on the environmental conditions. Here in the eastern great lakes wet lubes are more common. When I wrenched in NC and had a number of customers who rode the coastal islands that liked wax for the less sand sticking nature. Of course their various fasteners showed rust soon too, what with the salt Andy
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Old 04-08-22, 08:10 PM
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My process is simpler and I too just use straight gulf wax. Never ride in rain though and living in reno makes that easy since it only rains here about 3 times a year.
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Old 04-08-22, 10:02 PM
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If you want a good all-weather minimal maintenance chain, get a KMC Eco ProTeq rustbuster. I can get a full year of rain, snow, slush, salt riding out of a chain on my foul-weather / winter bike (usually at least 3000 miles on this particular bike, replacing around .5% elongation). I clean and relube with FinishLine dry lube about every 100-150 miles, adding additional lube as needed after getting soaked in wet conditions. I have never experienced any rust whatsoever with this chain.
With a similar cleaning/lube routine on a standard chain, I would experience rusted links and shifting problems frequently on winter commutes.
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Old 04-08-22, 11:05 PM
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I guess it is not so much that I did not anticipate the flaking off of the wax; I just did not expect it to be so fast and complete in the areas that mattered. I think I was expecting it to flake off on the outside but get 'stuck' / clogged on the inside, but clearly that was wrong.
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart
This is a big reason why various additives are added, to reduce the flaking off and extend the life span of the lube.
I was under the impression that the additives were more for optimizing the coefficient of friction than for changing the 'flakiness' of the wax. For example, adding PTFE/Teflon or 2D materials for improve (reduced) friction, beyond the what the wax provides on its own.

Forget the rain for a moment, if the wax is flaking off so quickly then how can people claim to be getting so many miles on their waxed chains before having to re-wax or, in the long run, eventually replace the chain? I though I was reading that one could go at least as long, if not longer, before having to re-wax a chain as is possible with drip-on lubricans? And claims that the chain's total lifetime could be even longer still? In my case, with rain, the problem became clear very quickly but if I had a few dry weeks, or I was living in the south west, and got no rain then I could have kept riding on the chain and never got/saw the rust. But the wax would still have flaked off, and then I would have bare metal-on-metal, which is not good, though perhaps not much road dirt accumulation. How then, spelger, do you get the results you do with plain paraffin? You don't have adhesion issues?

Typically, I use liquid 'oil' lubricant (Finish Line), though obviously its big drawback is that it accumulates dirt very easily even if it can reflow back into the nooks and crannies of the chain and can resist water better. Although I try to take good care of my chain, keeping it clean and monitoring its elongation, I never get the longevity out of it that I would like and I am frequently burning through a chain + a cassette pair, twice a year. I get a fair amount of rain in my area, especially in the spring, and I thought that the hydrophobic wax would be something good to try. I have also used drip-on "dry lube" waxes, that go on wet but then dry as a thin solid film. I like the dirt-resistant properties but I don't feel like it works quite as well, plus it will wash off easily, so I have a relatively short window during the year to use it.

Originally Posted by SalsaShark
If you want a good all-weather minimal maintenance chain, get a KMC Eco ProTeq rustbuster.
I have tried this chain before and I agree, it's great and does a nice job resisting rust. That's actually my preferred chain to use but it was out of stock recently when I needed to buy a new chain this time, so I had to go with the must less resistant 9.93 model. Even with the ProTeq chain, though, I won't get a full year out of it or, if I do, it will wear the cassette down along with it (even if I don't exceed 0.5% wear as measured using a gauge).
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Old 04-08-22, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSam77 View Post
After reading some of the purported benefits to using a a waxed chain, as opposed to a liquid ("drop on") lubricant, I wanted to give it a try. This week, I made my first attempt to wax the chain and clearly my efforts did not live up to my expectations, as shown in this photo of my now rusty chain after only 5 days of use.
To start, “purported” is correct. There is no reason that hot wax is any better than solvent wax (aka “liquid” wax). People seem to think that the more complicated something is, the better it is going to work. Wax dissolved in solvent dripped onto the chain will penetrate just as well (and perhaps better) as hot wax.

To summarize my process, which mirrors other procedures I found online:
I started from a brand new chain (KMC X9.93) and cleaned it by soaking it in mineral spirits for about 24 hours, then soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for another couple of hours, and finally dried the chain before proceeding.
You don’t need to clean the chain as much as people think. If you want to wade through this thread, I’ve discussed complicated cleaning schemes extensively. Mineral spirits with about a minute of agitation will do everything you need to do in terms of cleaning.

I used ordinary paraffin wax (new, clean, white/clear) without any additives (such as PTFE or MoS2, etc.) and melted it in a water double-boiler at roughly 90 °C.
Gulf canning wax, right? Paraffin wax is quite brittle. Adding in a soft wax, like the wax on the chain will make it a bit more flexible.

Once the chain was cleaned and the wax was melted, I dipped the chain into the wax and agitated it around a bit. A few air bubbles were observed to come off the chain once it was in the molten wax, which I attributed at the time to be trapped air escaping from the small joints between links that was previously 'frozen in' by a thin layer of solid wax that formed immediately after placing the relatively cool metal (acting like a heat sink) into the molten wax. After about an hour of letting the chain rest at the bottom of the pool of molten wax, I lifted the chain out and let it drip for a short time, then set it down to allow it to cool to room temperature. Afterward, the chain was very stiff and I methodically loosened each link by hand to ensure it would move freely. In doing this, little bits of wax did fall of, as expected.
Pretty normal for a waxed chain. Part of the reason that I don’t like hot waxing chains. Too futzy for too little benefit.

I installed the chain on the bike and then rode it around for > 8 miles to 'break it in.' During this break-in time, I noticed that it was not shifting well and would lag behind the gear it was supposed to be in as I moved up/down the ramp, but I did not change anything during the break-in period, or the next day, in case it would self-adjust back to normal. It did not go back to shifting well, so I loosen the derailleur a small amount, which made it shift nearly perfectly.
I’m not sure that your waxing the chain caused the shifting problems. It’s probably just an unfortunate coincidence.

After installing the waxed chain (and the derailleur adjustment), I had several consecutive days of commuting through the rain as well as rain on my bike while it was locked at an outdoor bike rack, while seemingly the chain performed fine. Today was my first dry day and I took the time to actually get down and inspect the chain closely, which is when I found all the rust (see photo, linked above).
I wouldn’t expect an oiled chain to perform any better. Water has an affinity for metal that oil and wax (which are closely related) don’t. Water doesn’t “dissolve” wax and oil but it is denser and can float the lubricant off by infiltrating through cracks for solid lubricants and just settling under the oil for liquid lubricants.

[I expect paraffin to be long-lasting and extremely hydrophobic, not only to repel water quite well but also to resist being washed away by water, and to last at least as long as liquid-based lubricants (if not substantially longer).
It is extremely hydrophobic. But you are putting it down on top of a substance (steel) that doesn’t have much of an affinity for hydrophobic materials.

The exterior parts of the chain (where nothing rubs), where some bits of way are still visible, looks fine (clean and rust-free). However, the interior surfaces and joints, where there is a lot of rubbing (chain-on-chain and chain-on-cassette) are very rusty. It would seem as though the wax came off these regions and left the metal unprotected. Also, I noticed that the cassette, which was also brand new at the same time as the chain, is also covered in darks splotches of material, which I am guessing are bits of dirty wax that came off the chain. Why is this happening? Why didn't the wax stay adhered to the chain? What could/should I have done differently?
Part of the problem with any lubricant is getting it to stay were it is needed. Liquid…or low viscosity…lubricants will flow when displaced by pressure or gravity. Solid…or high viscosity…lubricants don’t flow when displaced by pressure. Gravity really isn’t a problem with solid lubricants. The properties have good and bad points. With a liquid lubricant (oil), the oil can flow around and around as the chain goes around. Some of it is going to be lost as it drips off which is why it need more to be added from time to time.

The flowing, however, comes with a down side. As the oil moves from inside the chain to the outside and back again, over and over and over, it gathers tiny particles of dust (mostly quartz) that get into the inside of the chain and grind away at the metal bits. Quartz, being harder than steel, wears the steel out and the chain wears out.

Oil is good at keeping the chain quiet during or after rain because it flows in and out of the chain but it is only masking the issue. The water forms an emulsion with the oil and upon sitting, will separate out towards the bottom of any oil that it is sitting on. On a metal face, the water will get under the oil where it can oxidize the metal but the oil covers the sounds you might expect from a rusty chain. The bottom line is that grit grinds the chain and water helps oxidize the chain. The chain wears out, probably in about 3000 miles.

Wax also has a down side. As the wax is squeezed out of the contact points, it can’t flow back into the gaps. The solid wax won’t gather grit that can damage the chain because it fills the gaps and keeps the grit out of the chain. However, the contact point is staved of lubrication and starts to grind metal on metal. The chain wears out, probably in about 3000 miles. When water gets into the contact points through cracks in the wax, it rusts the contact points and the chain squeaks. The oiled chain just doesn’t squeak because the oil keeps the sound down.

Solvent wax lubricants don’t protect any better than either oil or hot wax. They have the same issues as hot wax. The only advantage is that they can be easily applied and they don’t get as dirty as the oil lubricants.

Basically, there is no way to win. A chain is either going to be ground into metal shavings by grit in the oil or ground into metal shavings because of the metal on metal friction. Pick your poison. I choose solvent wax because it is easy and clean.
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Old 04-09-22, 01:52 AM
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while waxing the chain may give a potentially cleaner looking chain under certain conditions, I would not consider going 100% wax for an environment that can expose the chain to moist & dirty conditions.

A heavy soaking of a good chain lubricant, wiping off the excess after the soaking, & then letting it hang overnight with another wipe down after installation is what seems best for my 11sp chain. I only let it rest overnight as the recommendation is set by the lubricant's instructions to do so. I have transgressed the manufacturer's recommendation, to only find my frame with lubricant requited everywhere.

After each ride I use a clean throwaway rag, or comparable, for wiping the exposed nearby parts & chain down after giving the bicycle a quick once thru inspection & cleaning.
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Old 04-09-22, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Basically, there is no way to win. A chain is either going to be ground into metal shavings by grit in the oil or ground into metal shavings because of the metal on metal friction. Pick your poison. I choose solvent wax because it is easy and clean.
If "winning" is defined as minimizing chain wear, then an enclosed chain case such as found on some "city" bikes is a "winning" answer. But those come with their own issues (no derailleur, so single speed or internally geared hub, additional hassle in removing rear wheel, additional weight). Another "winning" answer is a lubricant-free belt drive, with fewer complicating issues than an enclosed chain case, but not issue-free (again, no derailleur, split rear stay to allow belt installation and replacement).
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Old 04-09-22, 05:29 AM
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I’m lazy, have low standards and have invested $15 in a dedicated crockpot which has gulf wax and lamp oil mix with a grid at the bottom.

If I hear any squeaking I plug in the pot, wipe surface dirt off the chain and drop it in. Sometime later I try to flex the chain in the pot then remove it and immediately wipe it off with a paper towel. Hang to cool.

I am amazed how little rain exposure will result in squeaking the next time I ride that bike. I’ve learned to just go ahead and wax a chain after any water exposure.

The drive train stays clean. My 8 speed chains which cost less last longer than my 10 speed chain which costs more to replace.
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Old 04-09-22, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by SamSam77 View Post
After reading some of the purported benefits to using a a waxed chain, as opposed to a liquid ("drop on") lubricant, I wanted to give it a try. This week, I made my first attempt to wax the chain and clearly my efforts did not live up to my expectations, as shown in this photo of my now rusty chain after only 5 days of use.

To summarize my process, which mirrors other procedures I found online:
I started from a brand new chain (KMC X9.93) and cleaned it by soaking it in mineral spirits for about 24 hours, then soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for another couple of hours, and finally dried the chain before proceeding. I used ordinary paraffin wax (new, clean, white/clear) without any additives (such as PTFE or MoS2, etc.) and melted it in a water double-boiler at roughly 90 °C. Once the chain was cleaned and the wax was melted, I dipped the chain into the wax and agitated it around a bit. A few air bubbles were observed to come off the chain once it was in the molten wax, which I attributed at the time to be trapped air escaping from the small joints between links that was previously 'frozen in' by a thin layer of solid wax that formed immediately after placing the relatively cool metal (acting like a heat sink) into the molten wax. After about an hour of letting the chain rest at the bottom of the pool of molten wax, I lifted the chain out and let it drip for a short time, then set it down to allow it to cool to room temperature. Afterward, the chain was very stiff and I methodically loosened each link by hand to ensure it would move freely. In doing this, little bits of wax did fall of, as expected. I installed the chain on the bike and then rode it around for > 8 miles to 'break it in.' During this break-in time, I noticed that it was not shifting well and would lag behind the gear it was supposed to be in as I moved up/down the ramp, but I did not change anything during the break-in period, or the next day, in case it would self-adjust back to normal. It did not go back to shifting well, so I loosen the derailleur a small amount, which made it shift nearly perfectly.

After installing the waxed chain (and the derailleur adjustment), I had several consecutive days of commuting through the rain as well as rain on my bike while it was locked at an outdoor bike rack, while seemingly the chain performed fine. Today was my first dry day and I took the time to actually get down and inspect the chain closely, which is when I found all the rust (see photo, linked above).

I expect paraffin to be long-lasting and extremely hydrophobic, not only to repel water quite well but also to resist being washed away by water, and to last at least as long as liquid-based lubricants (if not substantially longer). The exterior parts of the chain (where nothing rubs), where some bits of way are still visible, looks fine (clean and rust-free). However, the interior surfaces and joints, where there is a lot of rubbing (chain-on-chain and chain-on-cassette) are very rusty. It would seem as though the wax came off these regions and left the metal unprotected. Also, I noticed that the cassette, which was also brand new at the same time as the chain, is also covered in darks splotches of material, which I am guessing are bits of dirty wax that came off the chain. Why is this happening? Why didn't the wax stay adhered to the chain? What could/should I have done differently?
I run 3 waxed chains in rotation, running each ~300 miles before swapping out. The only thing that interrupts this is a good soaking. If I leave the wet chain on it’ll have rust spots by the next day. If there’s time I’ll simply fire up the crockpot in the garage and rewax the chain, if not, I’ll put on a fresh chain. Minor inconvenience, but IMO outweighed by having a clean chain the rest of the time.
I don’t think you need 8 miles to “break in” a waxed chain - sounds like an unnecessary faff - I install the chain with bike on the stand, then run the chain up and down the cassette a couple of times. Chain runs rough for the first few shifts, and sheds a lot of flakes, then it’s fine - whole process takes ~1 minute.
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Old 04-09-22, 07:19 AM
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Others already covered it, the harshest use case for a preparation best used for a dry and pretty clean environment. Due to no additives. You need additives for that.

Next up is for dustier environments, or messy ones, I feel folks make the same chain lube violation they do with drip lube.......excess. Excess catches dirt and debris. When the chain comes out and cools, and you're done, it shouldn't look like you slathered the chain with dried up Vaseline chunks. I lay the hot chain on some paper towels and then press paper towels on the other chain plates facing up. Just getting the excess off. Personally not having that flaky excess on there has helped with the chains not picking up as much dirt.

Next up, if you're dead set on doing this in a wet environ, having several chains to pop on and off at the ready helps and also buying chains that have some kind of coating. I buy the gold KMC chains not for the bling bling factor......but because of the coating on them.

I race cyclocross and do this, but I will rotate through chains a lot faster than the clean road bike TT bike chains. But having several chains "ready" and only occasionally needing to crack out the ultrasonic bath and crock pot for wax, it's as fast as the quick link on the chain.
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Old 04-09-22, 08:00 AM
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Years ago, having read of the virtues of waxing chains, I tried it for a year or so. I discovered it was not the panacea I had been promised.

The only benefit was the chain stayed very clean and I totally avoided "chainring tattoos" if I brushed against the crank.

The downsides were:
it was a fussy and time consuming process.
It had very poor durability and needed to be redone about every 150 or so miles to keep the chain quiet. That was every week or 10 days for me at the time.
If I got caught in the rain the chain had to be removed, dried and rewaxed nearly immediately to avoid rust formation.
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Old 04-09-22, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
If "winning" is defined as minimizing chain wear, then an enclosed chain case such as found on some "city" bikes is a "winning" answer. But those come with their own issues (no derailleur, so single speed or internally geared hub, additional hassle in removing rear wheel, additional weight). Another "winning" answer is a lubricant-free belt drive, with fewer complicating issues than an enclosed chain case, but not issue-free (again, no derailleur, split rear stay to allow belt installation and replacement).
“Winning” is perhaps not the best way to put it but it’s shorter than saying neither lubrication method is better than the other.
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Old 04-09-22, 08:25 AM
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I have now been waxing for years, and I have learned a few hard lessons in my time. First straight paraffin wax is really a not great use for chains. Way to brittle and stops working way to quickly.

I landed on Molten Speed wax reduced with about 30% paraffin wax...for me that was the best combination for long life and getting the most out the MSW value wise. You can use it straight but its good diluted to about 30%. Over that number it starts to be less pliable and much easier to remove if caught in rain or such.

Wax is a great system for keeping chains lubed, clean and smooth.

Waxing is really easy once set up and not really more time consuming than anything else. Get a new chain clean it once hot wax it done. Every time you need it re-waxed heat up the crock pot and throw it in. You don't need to clean the chain every time, just the first time. I have a 2 or 3 chain rotation so I am doing 3 or so at once, can easily go 3-4 months. I can get 400 miles easy on one waxing cycle, of course depending on conditions.

Its not very difficult and no more time consuming than just lubing and the best part is NO MESS. No oil on anything, I store my bikes in the house and if a chain rubs on something I can just wipe it off and done. With oils you will not be so lucky.
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Old 04-09-22, 08:28 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by SamSam77 View Post
I guess it is not so much that I did not anticipate the flaking off of the wax; I just did not expect it to be so fast and complete in the areas that mattered. I think I was expecting it to flake off on the outside but get 'stuck' / clogged on the inside, but clearly that was wrong.

I was under the impression that the additives were more for optimizing the coefficient of friction than for changing the 'flakiness' of the wax. For example, adding PTFE/Teflon or 2D materials for improve (reduced) friction, beyond the what the wax provides on its own.
Reducing friction really isn’t necessary for a bicycle chain drive. It doesn’t produce much. Johns Hopkins did a study a number of years ago and found that there is very little friction in bicycle drive trains…even when not lubricated. People add all kinds of materials to bicycle lubricants (wax and oil) to reduce friction but they really aren’t doing anything.

Forget the rain for a moment, if the wax is flaking off so quickly then how can people claim to be getting so many miles on their waxed chains before having to re-wax or, in the long run, eventually replace the chain? I though I was reading that one could go at least as long, if not longer, before having to re-wax a chain as is possible with drip-on lubricans? And claims that the chain's total lifetime could be even longer still? In my case, with rain, the problem became clear very quickly but if I had a few dry weeks, or I was living in the south west, and got no rain then I could have kept riding on the chain and never got/saw the rust. But the wax would still have flaked off, and then I would have bare metal-on-metal, which is not good, though perhaps not much road dirt accumulation. How then, spelger, do you get the results you do with plain paraffin? You don't have adhesion issues?
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone claim that their waxed chains can go longer between application than oil. I have claimed that solvent wax lubricants can go about the same as oil between application in dry conditions. But oil based lubricants also need to be reapplied after rain. Just because the oil masks the sound doesn’t mean the chain isn’t rusting under the wax.

I would also take the claims of higher mileage with wax with a very large grain of salt. I would take any claim of greatly increased mileage with any lubricant as an exaggeration.
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Old 04-09-22, 08:45 AM
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I have read claims of longer chain life when waxed, quite a few times over the years. Nearly every time it is a home guy recording his mileage and maintenance with no controls and a way small population of samples (maybe a few chains over their season or two). I am hesitant to believe them.

I had a friend, years ago, that I rode with quite a bit. He went through his "I'll try wax" period for a couple of seasons. Our rides being between 40 and 100 miles typically. For the usual club rides about our area his chain ran fine, and of course was clean, as he had freshened up the wax for each ride. He soon began to run two chains alternatively. He had found that after around 70ish miles his chains were becoming louder and might squeak. When we went to weekend events he packed the second chain all ready to go in a Zip Lok baggy. Towards the end of the second season he started to add oil to the wax melt pot and then was oiling the chain to get a second day out of it or a quiet last 30 miles on the Fall century. I don't think he waxed chains after that second year, we had begun to go our own ways (not due to his chain lubing manor). Andy
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Old 04-09-22, 09:04 AM
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Silca's secret sauce wax lasts longer than MSW in my experience. My drivetrain is perfectly clean but started to get a little noiser in the last couple of days. I checked and it was 308 miles ago that I hot waxed. Usually, it is 200-250 with MSW. Wax seems to require more frequent applications than oils. Canning wax is useless.
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Old 04-09-22, 09:10 AM
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I been using 1 to 3 mixture of Chain saw oil with OMS with good results. Just reapply on bike every 1-2 weeks.
The key is to wipe down well prior to applying and after. I let it sit over nite before using.
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Old 04-09-22, 10:40 AM
  #19  
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I've continued waxing and rotating 2 chains on each bike solely because I enjoy the process. I put the crock pot on and shoot pool with the guys while the chain soaks for several hours. In rainy weather there's never a shortage of people to shoot pool with or a lack of need to wax hahah.
I should add that one of the neighbor ladies gave me a scented candle to add to my wax. It's all good.....
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Old 04-09-22, 10:57 AM
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To be sure, each type of wax has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each person is going to weight those differently for their situation. For myself, I hate cleaning my perpetually dirty, sticky, oily chain and everything that it touches. It seemed to me that no matter how diligent I tried to be about cleaning it, I could never keep up with the dirt accumulation in either wet or dry conditions, which enticed me to try various waxing options that might stay cleaner for longer. I did not mind the initial effort involved in cleaning and waxing the chain. But if the trade-off is having to remove and re-wax the chain after every water exposure, which I would mind, then I don't think I am actually gaining anything with this process. As mentioned above, cleaning and reapplying oil-based lubricants is still recommended after each water exposure too (the difference being, perhaps, that it is a bit less extreme of an issue since the problem is mostly hidden from view).

Originally Posted by cyccommute
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone claim that their waxed chains can go longer between application than oil.
There are several responders, just in this thread alone, that are claiming some pretty long mileages out of their own waxing jobs: GhostRider62 (200 to 300+ miles), sdmc530 (400 miles), Litespud (about 300 miles), HillRider (150 miles). Oil-based lubricants are definitely not going to last that long, or at least stay clean while doing so, and I think drip-on waxes typically need to be applied about as frequently or moreso. Granted, in these anecdotal cases mentioned, I am assuming these riders are in dry environments more suited to waxes than what I experienced. (Andrew R Stewart relayed a counter example, by way of a friend, to the high mileages mentioned by others.)

Other than commercial waxes (Silca, MSW, etc.), what kinds of additives are used to improve the flexibility of waxes. In my own reading, the most common types that I came across were PTFE (MSW) and materials like molybdenum (MSW) or tungsten disulfide (Silca), which I think are more for their frictional properties and not for wax flexibility. I'd imagine lower melting point waxes, for example, or adding in some organic solvents (e.g., flangehead mentioned lamp oil), might help. I'd think that the solvents, though, might evaporate overtime, leaving it brittle again in the end.

Incidentally, regarding my waxing process, yes, I agree that my 24-hour+ pre-cleaning and 1-hour soak was overkill, but this was mostly done out of convenience and not out of perceived necessity. I just dropped the chain into the solvents ahead of time and 'forgot' about them as I did other things. I figured there was no harm in over-cleaning them, but I did not want under-cleaning to be a possible reason for failure later ("of course your wax is falling off, you didn't pre-clean the chain enough and now the residue is interfering with adhesion"). And letting it have such an extended break-in period after reinstalling the chain was probably also not necessary; the derailleur issue was probably an unrelated coincidence.
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Old 04-09-22, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSam77 View Post

I expect paraffin to be long-lasting and extremely hydrophobic, not only to repel water quite well but also to resist being washed away by water, and to last at least as long as liquid-based lubricants
There's your problem. Unless you live in the desert and don't expect it to last very long you're going to be disappointed.
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Old 04-09-22, 04:04 PM
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Thank you for sharing your experience with immersion chain waxing. I've used various liquid chain lubricants over the years, including drip-on wax lubricants White Lightning and others, with generally good results. I find that regular simple rag cleaning and application of lubricant results in good chain life and performance. And as noted before, I am NOT a fan of fanatic, overly-obsessive chain cleaning. No solvents. No baths. No fancy brush wheels and all that. Why clean a chain to perfection when it's dirty in the first 10 minutes? (Or less! Driving to Gooseberry Mesa yesterday rendered my cleaned and freshly-lubed chain COVERED in grime - and yes, that's after wiping off all excess lube from the chain, ring & cogs after lubing.)

Your results are disappointing for me. I'm just about to embark on a European tandem tour which involves packing the tandem & chains for our flight. A college friend recently offered glowing reviews of immersion waxing and not having to deal with a grimy chain. So there I was all set to replace the chains and start off fresh with wax... and not have to deal with a grimy chain.

But your observations make complete sense. As do the subsequent comments. I can't imagine how a melted-on solid is supposed to stay in place on a chain designed to bend both directions repeatedly throughout its cycle through the drivetrain. My engineering friend always criticized wax for NOT being a lubricant at all - just a coating prone to falling off. It would be one thing if we were embarking on a desert bike trip where a waxed chain would be ideal in dry conditions. But we're expecting rain, so I'm not sure going to all the trouble to thoroughly clean, then immerse, let drip, and then re-install a chain is of much value if most of it has flaked off and begins squeaking & rusting after the first wet ride!

Looks like I'll continue using my lubricant of choice, as it has proven to be long-lasting, quiet and seems to entail good chain life: DuMonde Tech.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-09-22, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSam77 View Post
There are several responders, just in this thread alone, that are claiming some pretty long mileages out of their own waxing jobs: GhostRider62 (200 to 300+ miles), sdmc530 (400 miles), Litespud (about 300 miles), HillRider (150 miles). Oil-based lubricants are definitely not going to last that long, or at least stay clean while doing so, and I think drip-on waxes typically need to be applied about as frequently or moreso. Granted, in these anecdotal cases mentioned, I am assuming these riders are in dry environments more suited to waxes than what I experienced. (Andrew R Stewart relayed a counter example, by way of a friend, to the high mileages mentioned by others.)
I disagree that oil based lubricants won’t last that long. Nor do I agree that solvent wax lasts less time. The mileages reported between applications is well within what I would expect out of hot wax, if not a little low. I’d certainly expect more than about 100 miles unless it gets rained on.
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Old 04-09-22, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
“Winning” is perhaps not the best way to put it but it’s shorter than saying neither lubrication method is better than the other.
You decide which issues you're willing to live with, and make your choice on that basis.
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Old 04-09-22, 05:45 PM
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[QUOTE=SamSam77;22466732]To be sure, each type of wax has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each person is going to weight those differently for their situation. For myself, I hate cleaning my perpetually dirty, sticky, oily chain and everything that it touches. It seemed to me that no matter how diligent I tried to be about cleaning it, I could never keep up with the dirt accumulation in either wet or dry conditions, which enticed me to try various waxing options that might stay cleaner for longer. I did not mind the initial effort involved in cleaning and waxing the chain. But if the trade-off is having to remove and re-wax the chain after every water exposure, which I would mind, then I don't think I am actually gaining anything with this process. As mentioned above, cleaning and reapplying oil-based lubricants is still recommended after each water exposure too (the difference being, perhaps, that it is a bit less extreme of an issue since the problem is mostly hidden from view).


There are several responders, just in this thread alone, that are claiming some pretty long mileages out of their own waxing jobs: GhostRider62 (200 to 300+ miles), sdmc530 (400 miles), Litespud (about 300 miles), HillRider (150 miles). Oil-based lubricants are definitelynot going to last that long, or at least stay clean while doing so, and I think drip-on waxes typically need to be applied about as frequently or moreso. Granted, in these anecdotal cases mentioned, I am assuming these riders are in dry environments more suited to waxes than what I experienced. (Andrew R Stewart relayed a counter example, by way of a friend, to the high mileages mentioned by others.)

Other than commercial waxes (Silca, MSW, etc.), what kinds of additives are used to improve the flexibility of waxes. In my own reading, the most common types that I came across were PTFE (MSW) and materials like molybdenum (MSW) or tungsten disulfide (Silca), which I think are more for their frictional properties and not for wax flexibility. I'd imagine lower melting point waxes, for example, or adding in some organic solvents (e.g., flangehead mentioned lamp oil), might help. I'd think that the solvents, though, might evaporate overtime, leaving it brittle again in the end.

Incidentally, regarding my waxing process, yes, I agree that my 24-hour+ pre-cleaning and 1-hour soak was overkill, but this was mostly done out of convenience and not out of perceived necessity. I just dropped the chain into the solvents ahead of time and 'forgot' about them as I did other things. I figured there was no harm in over-cleaning them, but I did not want under-cleaning to be a possible reason for failure later ("of course your wax is falling off, you didn't pre-clean the chain enough and now the residue is interfering with adhesion"). And letting it have such an extended break-in period after reinstalling the chain was probably also not necessary; the derailleur issue was probably an unrelated coincidence.[
/QUOTE]This is incorrect.
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