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Chain soaking

Old 01-09-06, 04:37 PM
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Chain soaking

I commute daily 50k (total) and especially during the winter my drivechain is a dirty mess. Rather than spend a day outside in the cold cleaning, i want to just swap chains, quickly.

I want to drop the old chain into a container with a solvent of some sort, and just leave it till the following weekend. Where i remove it, blast it under the hose, hit it with wd40 to remove the water, install it and re oil it.

I recall a thread i read a while ago that said most citrus cleaners were bad for extended soaking. There was a reply by a chemist who had a suggestion for what was good. Unfortunatly at the time i didnt have 2 chains, so I only glanced over the thread quickly. I tried searching but cant seem to find it.

Can anyone help me in what I can safely clean my chain for extended periods is ?
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Old 01-09-06, 05:46 PM
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Found it in a search. Odorless mineral spirits, or paint thinnner as you suggested. Thanks.
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Old 01-09-06, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarery
I commute daily 50k (total) and especially during the winter my drivechain is a dirty mess. Rather than spend a day outside in the cold cleaning, i want to just swap chains, quickly.

I want to drop the old chain into a container with a solvent of some sort, and just leave it till the following weekend. Where i remove it, blast it under the hose, hit it with wd40 to remove the water, install it and re oil it.

I recall a thread i read a while ago that said most citrus cleaners were bad for extended soaking. There was a reply by a chemist who had a suggestion for what was good. Unfortunatly at the time i didnt have 2 chains, so I only glanced over the thread quickly. I tried searching but cant seem to find it.

Can anyone help me in what I can safely clean my chain for extended periods is ?
Paint thinner works. Kerosene works. White gas for camping stoves works (I have a couple of gallons that I use since I hate the stove the fuel was bought for ) Paint thinner and white gas are a bit more volaitile then kerosene so they are more flammable and they evaporate faster. Kerosene usually doesn't completely evaporate from the chain. My chain cleaning method is to put the chain in an old Gatorade bottle, shake it, pour off the dirty stuff, add clean and repeat until I'm satified with the chain cleanliness. I then remove the chain from the bottle and allow it to stand in the sun for a while. This evaporates the solvent. I then put the shiny clean chain on my bike and use White Lightning for lubrication. In dry Denver, this lube is about the best one around because we don't have to deal with wet conditions much.

To dispose of the used solvent, I have an old barbeque grill that I burn the stuff off in.

All of this should be done outside with adequate ventilation, of course.
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Old 01-09-06, 06:42 PM
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Diesel fuel. Container with 1/2 gallon lasts a long time. Every couple of weeks, let the solvent settle, pour off the good stuff at the top, throw out the sludge in the bottom 1/4 inch of the container.
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Old 01-09-06, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarery
I commute daily 50k (total) and especially during the winter my drivechain is a dirty mess. Rather than spend a day outside in the cold cleaning, i want to just swap chains, quickly.
You must be awfully slow.

Why have the chain soak for a week. That's way overkill. 30 minutes will do the job, especially if you use kerosene or diesel. Drop the chain. Read Bikeforums while it soaks. After half an hour, wipe it clean, reinstall, and lube.
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Old 01-09-06, 07:17 PM
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I have a gallon can of that disgusting carburetor and parts cleaner, the kind with the dip basket. The stuff that stinks BAD, but it is a pretty good cleaner. The dirtiest of chains or other parts just washes clean after a 20 minute soak. Then a WD-40 or solvent bath and lube, then back on the bike!
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Old 01-09-06, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
I then remove the chain from the bottle and allow it to stand in the sun for a while. This evaporates the solvent..
Well there goes that plan
We have not seen sun for a month, and the 14 day forecast is more rain, every day....

Heheh dry lube isnt great here either, bummer. i'll definatly use your method in the summer though.
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Old 01-09-06, 08:36 PM
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Kerosene or diesel mixed 50/50 with Dexron atf. The atf is high in detergents and high in anti corrosive agents and it's also cheep.I pretty much just leave my old chains in it untill I need them again. It also works well for old rusty chains.
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Old 01-09-06, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
My chain cleaning method is to put the chain in an old Gatorade bottle, shake it, pour off the dirty stuff, add clean and repeat until I'm satified with the chain cleanliness.


Your technique reminded me of when I watched my ride Bud do a cool chain clean trick. He cut a 1.5 litre plastic pop bottle in half, dropped the chain in the bottom base half and covered it with solvent. Let it soak for a few minutes. He then took his hand held disk vibrating sander with NO grit paper on it of course and held it upright (face pad up) and rested the bottle c/w chain and solvent on it. Holding it all tightly, he flipped the switch and buzzzzzzzzzzzap, an instant ultra-sonic-vibrating-shaker. Chain was super clean in no time.
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Old 01-10-06, 05:08 AM
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My present favourite is to remove the chain, tie it into an old pair of socks and run it on a short, hot program in the washing machine, followed by thorough drying (hot radiator or the bottom of a warm oven). I used to use mineral spirit, but this method is very effective and avoids the exposure to solvents, nasty vapours etc.

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Old 01-10-06, 05:34 AM
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Running 2 chains is a very effective method for saving time. You dont have to spend time cleaning the chain, just remove the dirty chain, put the clean on on.
I use kerosene (uk paraffin) in a screw-top glass jar. You can re-use the solvent many times. You can use 2 jars, one for a dirty chain and one clean rinse. Take the chain out the day before swapping and it will dry on its own.
Doing any kind of bike maintenance on a dark, cold, wet and windy day is no fun.
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Old 01-10-06, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jarery
Well there goes that plan
We have not seen sun for a month, and the 14 day forecast is more rain, every day....

Heheh dry lube isnt great here either, bummer. i'll definatly use your method in the summer though.
If you have a sheltered area outside, you could let it hang overnight. You could use a garage but be careful since the solvent is flammable. It's not terribly toxic, just flammable. Unless the temp is much lower than room temp, the solvent should be gone by morning. If not just let it evaporate a while longer.
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Old 01-10-06, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Stv
Your technique reminded me of when I watched my ride Bud do a cool chain clean trick. He cut a 1.5 litre plastic pop bottle in half, dropped the chain in the bottom base half and covered it with solvent. Let it soak for a few minutes. He then took his hand held disk vibrating sander with NO grit paper on it of course and held it upright (face pad up) and rested the bottle c/w chain and solvent on it. Holding it all tightly, he flipped the switch and buzzzzzzzzzzzap, an instant ultra-sonic-vibrating-shaker. Chain was super clean in no time.
Except for cutting the bottle in half, that a great idea! I originally started using the plastic bottles because you could feed the chain through the openning, put the cap back on and shake it like crazy. When you were done, you just cut the bottle in half and retrieved the chain. But the small Gatorade bottles have a big mouth which lets me get the chain out without cutting the bottle.
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Old 01-10-06, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Except for cutting the bottle in half, that a great idea! I originally started using the plastic bottles because you could feed the chain through the openning, put the cap back on and shake it like crazy. When you were done, you just cut the bottle in half and retrieved the chain. But the small Gatorade bottles have a big mouth which lets me get the chain out without cutting the bottle.
The big (gallon size) Gatorade bottles are really nice as they also have the big mouth. You can get these at any supermarket. You can put your chain in and it will lay flat on the bottom and you only need enough of your solvent_of_choice to cover it up.

I like that idea of the orbital sander to vibrate the bottle. Gonna try that ;-)
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Old 01-10-06, 05:31 PM
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Might I suggest brake cleaner parts as well for about 20-30 mins. It contains a organic solvent we in the law enforcement Meth lab business call TCE (Tetrachlorethylene). It would work as well and like one person said.......soak it for about 20-30 mins. and wipe with a clean cloth then lube!
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Old 01-10-06, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cascade168
The big (gallon size) Gatorade bottles are really nice as they also have the big mouth. You can get these at any supermarket. You can put your chain in and it will lay flat on the bottom and you only need enough of your solvent_of_choice to cover it up.

I like that idea of the orbital sander to vibrate the bottle. Gonna try that ;-)

I can't stand that much Gatorade I'd rather drink the thinner
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Old 01-10-06, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by msheron
(Tetrachlorethylene)
Excusemeplease!

I am no chemist, but I think that stuff is very nasty to be around.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q...&dopt=Abstract
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Old 01-10-06, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by msheron
Might I suggest brake cleaner parts as well for about 20-30 mins. It contains a organic solvent we in the law enforcement Meth lab business call TCE (Tetrachlorethylene). It would work as well and like one person said.......soak it for about 20-30 mins. and wipe with a clean cloth then lube!
Oh, sure... use TCE. Help your local law enforcement Meth lab guys meet their quota
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Old 01-10-06, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by msheron
Might I suggest brake cleaner parts as well for about 20-30 mins. It contains a organic solvent we in the law enforcement Meth lab business call TCE (Tetrachlorethylene). It would work as well and like one person said.......soak it for about 20-30 mins. and wipe with a clean cloth then lube!
Yikes! Meth is cooked with brake parts cleaner? Well, I heard GHB is essentially some industrial grade solvent used by remanufacturers for cleaning automobile motors.
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Old 01-10-06, 05:55 PM
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Just bought a new chain that comes apart very easily. No chain tool required. One link has a slot in it: you put pin in the middle and pull back to lock into place; to take apart, you just push the pin forward.
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Old 01-10-06, 05:59 PM
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GHB can be made in about 30 seconds using two chemicals! That is scary. As far as TCE........it is an organic solvent used in some processes of cooking meth. The suspects inmy area use and buy it by the cases.

Forgot to say................I am a site safety for the state I work in that mandates and oversee's the cleaning of these labs at your expense......the tax payer!
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Old 01-10-06, 06:23 PM
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Gatorade bottles for sure! You cant beat the wide mouth.
Personally, i would clean the chain by soaking first. Then let it sit in a dry place until necessary again, rather than leave soaking for an extended time. THis also means on one of those days when you get up and are ready to go and think "Oh twit", you've got a clean chain waiting already
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Old 01-11-06, 05:08 AM
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I use Gasoline in a tray as a cleaner then when done cleaning i recycle it into the weeds as a weed killer..
That's what i 'do.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by sngltrackdufus
I use Gasoline in a tray as a cleaner then when done cleaning i recycle it into the weeds as a weed killer..
That's what i 'do.
If you are going to use gasoline (not a good choice) please, please, please DO NOT use it in an open tray! Gasoline has a low vapor pressure and a low ignition point! You can quickly build up a concentration of vapor that will ignite on just about any ignition source. If you have to use gasoline, use it in a closed container outside away from any heat or spark source. In a tray, you are literally playing with fire! Trust me on this!
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Old 01-11-06, 08:41 AM
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Interesting thread development here.

We have extremely volatile and explosive gasoline in open trays being used as a parts cleaner then dumped on the ground as weed killer and water table spoiler, to a prooved carcinogenic inducing TCE. Anyone here aware that TCE is transferable through the skin membrane and absorbed by the body which then parks itself in your liver, permanently?

How green is your bike?

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