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Chain cleaning - Degreaser and oil don't mix

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Chain cleaning - Degreaser and oil don't mix

Old 10-07-09, 07:56 AM
  #1  
acantor
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Chain cleaning - Degreaser and oil don't mix

I use my Parks chain cleaning tool two or three times a year. I find that the tool is fast, convenient, and effective. I fill the reservoir with an "environmentally friendly" degreaser, attach the chain, and turn the crank about 30 times. If the chain is especially dirty, I repeat the process again. Then I wipe the chain, apply a little synthetic oil, turn the crank, and if necessary, wipe off excessive oil. There is often a surprising amount of gunk at the bottom of the reservoir when I finish.

But degreaser and oil don't mix. Any degreaser that remains in the chain after cleaning is likely to work at cross purposes with the oil.

What is the best way to deal with this? For example, does degreaser evaporate if the chain is left long enough? If so, how long is long enough? Or would a blast of compressed air help dissipate the residue degreaser?

Or, after wiping the chain before applying the oil, maybe the tiny amount of degreaser that remains is not enough to make a difference?
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Old 10-07-09, 09:19 AM
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Dry the chain (using whatever method you prefer) before applying the oil. Problem solved.
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Old 10-07-09, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by acantor View Post
I use my Parks chain cleaning tool two or three times a year. I find that the tool is fast, convenient, and effective. I fill the reservoir with an "environmentally friendly" degreaser, attach the chain, and turn the crank about 30 times. If the chain is especially dirty, I repeat the process again. Then I wipe the chain, apply a little synthetic oil, turn the crank, and if necessary, wipe off excessive oil. There is often a surprising amount of gunk at the bottom of the reservoir when I finish.

But degreaser and oil don't mix. Any degreaser that remains in the chain after cleaning is likely to work at cross purposes with the oil.

What is the best way to deal with this? For example, does degreaser evaporate if the chain is left long enough? If so, how long is long enough? Or would a blast of compressed air help dissipate the residue degreaser?

Or, after wiping the chain before applying the oil, maybe the tiny amount of degreaser that remains is not enough to make a difference?
I use the same routine you do except I use the chain cleaner gizmo every 2-4 weeks. Not at all sure this is the best routine, but I use Simple Green and water and do 2 or 3 cleaning cycles decreasing the Simple Green percentage to zero on the last run. Let the water dry, then use Dumonde Tech.

This is probly overkill. Chain is very quiet. Silent from the perspective of riding. Between cleanings with the gizmo I occasionally wipe the excess off the sides of the chain, and wipe gunk off the chain rings, sprockets a jockey wheels. More overkill, but I want at least one thing in my garage to look clean.
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Old 10-07-09, 10:11 AM
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Don't bother with an environmentally friendly degreaser: Once you run your chain through it and it's full of road grit, metal dust and chain lube it's not "environmentally friendly" any more and you can't just dump it down the drain.

Mineral spirits can be used and reused just by allowing the sediment to settle, and decanting the clean solvent into a new container. Clean your chain with it, wipe the excess and put it to dry in front of a fan for a couple minutes to evaporate any solvent which remains on the chain.
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Old 10-07-09, 10:38 AM
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You da man CliftonGK1. Very logical thinking on the environmental thing and as far as the mineral spirits, it is probably more environmentally friendly because like you say you can use it over and over. I know I have been doing that with cleaning car parts and oil based paint for years. I guess old age kept me from putting two and two together.

I'm adopting your method from now on.

Thanks
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Old 10-07-09, 01:09 PM
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I've got the same gallon of spirits I've been working from for the past year. Cost me $8.00 at the hardware store, as opposed to $15 or more a half litre, for eco-smiley citrus bike-specific cleaner at the LBS.

Just remember to watch for the neighbourhood "kitchen/household chemical disposal" collection that most firehouses have once a year. Take your saved, dirty spirits for proper disposal.
The other option is to use a folded cheesecloth, filter the stuff into a new jar, wring the cloth to remove as much as possible, and evaporate any excess on the cloth before throwing it and the grit away.
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Old 10-08-09, 05:13 AM
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I seen in a bike book to use a bottle full of sand as a filter for the dirty cleaning spirit. think you tip the spirit in the top of the bottle. with a hole to drain on the bottom. probably need a cloth to stop sand escaping
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Old 10-08-09, 07:08 AM
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Here is what I do.

1) Use chain cleaner like the Park Cyclone
2) Remove chain from bicycle once chain no longer gets degreaser dirty
3) Put chain into a small container of degreaser and work the links back & forth
4) Rinse chain with water
5) Dry chain with paper towels
6) Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
7) Place chain in oven for 15 mins
8) While waiting for chain to dry in the oven clean and degrease the rest of your drivetrain
9) After 15 min remove chain from oven, let chain cool enough to hold & lube with whatever chain oil you use
10) Put chain back on bike and run it through all gears
11) Wipe the chain lightly with a cloth while turning the cranks by hand
12) Have a beer and admire your handy work
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Old 10-08-09, 07:11 AM
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I use Kerosen from the camping fuel isle at Academy sports and outdoors.
No counting crank revolutions, just wash till the kersone no longer turns dark.
Dirty fluid is poored into an old apple juice bottle to settle out. The fresh stuff on top is reused.

Once chain is clean, I wipe it down with a rag, and take the bike for a quick spin. Something like 2 or 3 miles.. just a beer run or something. Just enough to work the degreaser out of the tidbits, and air it out.
Wipe down again, and apply lube of choice. Ride 2 or 3 miles, and wipe off excess.
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Old 10-08-09, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by griftereck View Post
I seen in a bike book to use a bottle full of sand as a filter for the dirty cleaning spirit. think you tip the spirit in the top of the bottle. with a hole to drain on the bottom. probably need a cloth to stop sand escaping
The sand would work but then you have a bed of sand that is filled with grease and mineral spirits. Plus the sand may contribute it's on grit to the end product. An easier way to remove the grit is to either let it settle and decant from the grit or to filter it in a paper coffee filter.

Filtering, however, will only remove heterogeneous solids that are suspended in the mineral spirits. Oil and grease are homogeneous solids that are dissolved in the mineral spirits and can only be removed by distillation. DO NOT TRY TO DISTILL MINERAL SPIRITS AT HOME! EVER!

Use the mineral spirits a few times and then dispose of it...properly, of course
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Old 10-08-09, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by kaseri View Post
Here is what I do.

1) Use chain cleaner like the Park Cyclone
2) Remove chain from bicycle once chain no longer gets degreaser dirty
3) Put chain into a small container of degreaser and work the links back & forth
4) Rinse chain with water
5) Dry chain with paper towels
6) Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
7) Place chain in oven for 15 mins
8) While waiting for chain to dry in the oven clean and degrease the rest of your drivetrain
9) After 15 min remove chain from oven, let chain cool enough to hold & lube with whatever chain oil you use
10) Put chain back on bike and run it through all gears
11) Wipe the chain lightly with a cloth while turning the cranks by hand
12) Have a beer and admire your handy work
Why? Sorry but this is just way too complicated.

1. Remove chain from bike using a master link
2. Feed it into a wide mouth bottle (old 16 oz Gatorade bottles work very well)
3. Add mineral spirits and shake
4. Fish the chain out or cut the top off the bottle
5. Let the chain evaporate in the sun for about 10 minutes
6. Reinstall and relube

I've saved you 5 steps and a whole lot of messing around. (You can still have the beer.)
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Old 10-08-09, 08:47 AM
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At Shimano's Interbike seminar this year, they again recommended against aggressive cleaning of chains, citing the very reasons the OP brought up. Degrading the lubricant with residual solvent or cleaning solutions. I agree with them that excessive cleaning can be counterproductive.

Unless a thorough cleaning is required, wipe gunk off the outside of the chain with a dry rag, or one slightly moistened with mineral spirits or naphtha.

If you must wash the chain and it has a reusable link, wash it off the bike, but understand that once you start the process you have to complete it. A half washed chain with residual oil/solvent mix is worse than an unwashed chain. Keep washing and rinsing until the rinse stays clear.

How you dry the chain depends on your cleaning solution. Mineral spirits or naphtha will dry completely in a short time, kerosene will take eons to dry, and water based cleaners will only dry if baked out with heat either in the oven or using a hair dryer. In hot sunny areas you can use your car as a solar oven, put the bike inside, crack the windows, and park it in the sun for a few hours.

If you relube a chain still wet with cleaner, the lube will not wick into the chain as the channels are full, and you'll be riding with solvent as a lube, and lube on the surface to attract dirt.
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Old 10-08-09, 11:52 AM
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This all seems way too complicated to me. I do one of 2 things: 1) Use Carb cleaner, a little bit goes a long way, and leaves the chain dry but it's a little nasty. 2) Park cleaner with simple green. Then Use compressed air to dry the chain (on the bike). Wipe down and lube. These 2 options have worked year after year with many a satisfied customer. Also depends on which lube you're using. After you're finished the chain should be clean as a whistle, with no visible lubrication on it, and no crunchy or stiff links.
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Old 10-08-09, 11:58 AM
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close to other posts on the subject..

Chain , into plastic bottle of Diesel fuel,(low grade kerosene),soak a while,then shake well for a while. remove and blow dry with compresssed air, place in another plastic bottle with mineral spirits, shake again, remove, and blow dry with compressed air. let dry some more, over night.
Lube,link by link, dry with rag, and reinstall...(if no compresssed air, dry with rag and then air dry.)

let solids settle in diesel fuel bottle, and decant for reuse...reuse mineral spirits until dirty,then replace. works for me...
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Old 10-08-09, 01:19 PM
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I use mineral spirits and I think kerosene would work just as well. The only time I remove a chain from a bike is to replace it.
I have a FinishLine cleaning machine and also the later Park machine which is similar in design and a big improvement over the earlier Park machine that I threw away. I suspect Park took a good look at the FinishLine when they designed their newer model.

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Old 10-08-09, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
DO NOT TRY TO DISTILL MINERAL SPIRITS AT HOME! EVER!

Use the mineral spirits a few times and then dispose of it...properly, of course
Man... You're no fun.
*dismantles packed column and jacketed condenser*


As for the "a few times" recommendation; since it's just becoming a further saturated solution as you decant the "clean" spirits from the solids each time, I've just been using them over and over on the assumption that I'll probably lose the majourity of volume to decant/evaporation/etc. before the solvent ever becomes saturated to the point of unusability. I've probably run through the same pit of spirits 8 or 9 times so far. I wonder how much Finish Line Wet Lube it would take to truly saturate 500mL of mineral spirits...
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Old 10-08-09, 02:13 PM
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Why not try a little Bacardi 151 as your solvent and then just flambé it away? Could be interesting.

(Actually use mineral spirits and coffee filter myself, similar to CliftonGK1).
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Old 10-08-09, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Why? Sorry but this is just way too complicated.

1. Remove chain from bike using a master link
2. Feed it into a wide mouth bottle (old 16 oz Gatorade bottles work very well)
3. Add mineral spirits and shake
4. Fish the chain out or cut the top off the bottle
5. Let the chain evaporate in the sun for about 10 minutes
6. Reinstall and relube

I've saved you 5 steps and a whole lot of messing around. (You can still have the beer.)

This is exactly how I clean my chains. Any other step is overkill.
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Old 10-08-09, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by LUCAS View Post
This is exactly how I clean my chains. Any other step is overkill.
The reason to use the kerosene/diesel for the first rough cleaning is, its much cheaper than spirits, then the spirits just clean out the kerosene/diesel and dry much faster and last much longer,without all the gunk from the first cleaning..

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Old 10-08-09, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by oldster View Post
The reason to use the kerosene/diesel for the first rough cleaning is, its much cheaper than spirits, then the spirits just clean out the kerosene/diesel and dry much faster and last much longer,without all the gunk from the first cleaning..

Bud
I'm use less than a cup of mineral spirits when I clean a chain.* It'd cost me more to drive to the store to buy the kerosene than it would to just use mineral spirits for the whole job.




*I clean my chains once before I install them and then use a lubricant that doesn't attract gunk. It really saves on cleaning time
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Old 10-08-09, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by f4rrest View Post
Why not try a little Bacardi 151 as your solvent and then just flambé it away? Could be interesting.
Why not drink the Bacardi and ride the bike with a dirty chain. I'm opposed to waste.
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Old 10-08-09, 08:33 PM
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Lack of disposal problems is why I use Brake Klean. Works great, and you don't have to take the chain off the bike. bk

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Old 10-08-09, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
Why not drink the Bacardi and ride the bike with a dirty chain. I'm opposed to waste.
The jar of Bacardi will still be there once your chain is clean... nothing wasted I'm sure.
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Old 10-08-09, 10:23 PM
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I use a chain bath to clean my chain, and also use the rinsed out chain bath to rinse the degreaser out with water, holding the hose to the outfeed of the bath to flush out the chain bath. I make sure the solvent is also flushed away from the front and rear chain wheels.

I then wipe the chain... and here is the bit that will get me in trouble with a lot of you, but it works! I then apply WD40 to the chain... but using it for its intended purpose as a water displacer (WD = Water Displacer). I will then wipe of the access and allow the chain to dry... or rather wait for the solvent in the WD40 to evaporate (leaving a light lube behind). I will wipe the chain again and then finally apply a dry or wet lube depending on the time of year. I have never yet had the WD40 break down the final lube... and I do keep an eye on this.
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Old 10-09-09, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Unless a thorough cleaning is required, wipe gunk off the outside of the chain with a dry rag, or one slightly moistened with mineral spirits or naphtha.

...

If you relube a chain still wet with cleaner, the lube will not wick into the chain as the channels are full, and you'll be riding with solvent as a lube, and lube on the surface to attract dirt.
I was wondering about when the times call for wiping the gunk off the outside of the chain rather than a thorough cleaning, can you still lube the chain after or is that going to be a problem of pushing dirt further into a chain?
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