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Old 11-09-10, 03:13 PM   #1
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Chain making grainy, grinding noise

Hi all, I'm a new to bike maintenance and forum use, so go easy on me if I've done anything stupid in regards to either of the two. I'd really appreciate any and all help.

I recently went out for a ride on a popular trail near me and near the end of the ride I was getting some chain skip on my second chainring and fifth or so rear sprocket. It's a rather new bike, the cassette and chainrings are plenty healthy, so I figured the chain/drivetrain had just become very dirty and sandy. I'm tight on money so I thought I would tackle this myself. At first I only had 91% isopropyl alcohol, so I let the chain take a bath in that while I went at it with a thick bristled brush, and a lot of the grime came off, but not all. I washed it out with water, blew some compressed air through it to get the water out, and let it dry in the sun for about an hour.
After this I realized my rear derailleur pulleys looked quite dirty so I went out and bought some concentrated all purpose Simple Green, diluted some in a spray bottle, and hit the rear derailleur, cassette, and chainrings with that, let it sit, scrubbed at it a bit, then washed it all off with a hose on low power. I also figured I might as well let the chain sit in some simple green, which I did, and it got the chain looking much cleaner than the alcohol had. After I dried it all off, everything looked nice and shiny, so I put the chain back on and went about putting a drip of Park Tool synthetic blend chain lube on each roller. But even after doing so, I noticed a really grainy, gritty noise occurring rather loudly in the chain, along with a loud click happening in the rear der/cassette area every few seconds.. my cassette and chainrings are totally clean and brushed, so this leads me to believe dirt or sand is actually down in the rollers of my chain and is affecting the entire drivetrain. Is there an easy way to go about cleaning this and making my bike rideable with the supplies at hand? Also, am I supposed to actually grease the cassette and chainrings themselves with bearing/bike grease?

Thanks much for reading my lengthy post. Any advice is appreciated greatly. I don't have the spare cash to go out and buy much of anything else right now, so any tips using what I have at hand (Simple Green, Park Tool chain lube, and PT "polylube" grease) is preferred, but if you know of another fix please let me know.
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Old 11-09-10, 03:35 PM   #2
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Sounds like you've either washed some grit into your chain, or possibly have a spot of rust. It's a common problem when folks wash chains but don't do a thorough job.

Before doing anything else check for stiff chain sections by holding some tension off the RD idler so the lower loop sags a bit & back pedaling slowly. Look of any links that don't straighten out immediately as they come off the lower RD pulley. If you have any stiff links that accounts for the clicking, ut the next step is the same regardless. You need to do a more thorough job washing the chain to get all the grit out.

If you can remove the chain using a re-usable master link so much the better. Take it off and put it into a plastic Coke (or pepsi or whatever) bottle, fill 3/4 with hot tap water and your favorite dish detergent. Shake like crazy, then let the dirt settle a bit and pour it off. Repeat until the liquid stays perfectly clean, then rinse with fresh water plus 1 tiny drop of detergent to manage PH. Shake out the chain & dry it in your oven at 200 for 10 minutes to ensure that it's perfectly dry before re-lubing with your favorite lube. (hopefully my stuff)

If you can't remove the chain it's basically the same using a chain cleaner gadget, but it's slower and messier, and you'll need a hair dryer (heat until the chain feels warm) or a final rinse in fuel grade alcohol (methanol, not isopropyl) to ensure that it's dry. Re-lube immediately after.
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Old 11-09-10, 03:46 PM   #3
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If it's still gritty sounding then you still have grit in the rollers or between the plates.

I've found that the three wheel chain cleaning gizmos you can get from the bike shops work best for getting the chain clean. They have the advantage that they actually flex the chain and roll the rollers as it passes through the cleaner so the grit has some encouragement to work it's way out of the nooks and crannies. And best of all you do all the work right on the bike so you don't need to remove the chain all the time.

If you really don't want to spend the roughly $7 to get one then you can sort of dupllicate the action by passing the chain through some cleaner by holding the ends in each hand and sort of lifting one hand while lowering the other so the loop of chain stays at the same height but the chain moves through the bend. Keep the bend down in the Simple Green cleaner so it turns the corner while submerged. This should aid in getting more of the grit out. Once blotted dry and dried in the sun oil it again. And if you're on a budget there's no need for a boutique chain oil. A quart of engine oil is basic but will do the job. Apply somewhat liberaly so it penetrates well and then wipe off the excess from the outside a few times. What is left is enough to do the job. But since you have the Park oil already just keep using it. Apply as you did, whiz the chain backwards a couple of dozen time to spread the oil around and into the chain and then wipe off any excess with a paper towel until it comes away with only a light oil stain.

No need to oil or grease the teeth of the sprockets. They'll get what they need from the chain... which is pretty much nothing at all other than a little due to the contact points touching.
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Old 11-09-10, 04:57 PM   #4
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Hence the reason some of us use kerosene or gasoline. Gets things cleaner, faster for those of us who don't understand why water won't wash off oil....

+1 on a re-usable master link.
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Last edited by canopus; 11-09-10 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 11-09-10, 09:43 PM   #5
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I remove the chain and I used to drop it in a plastic bottle with solvent and shake it for a few minutes. I would rinse it and dry it and put it back on the bike and lube it. Now the only difference is that I put it in an ultrasonic cleaner with Simple green and water. Then I rinse it, dry it and install it.

Last edited by davidad; 11-09-10 at 09:49 PM.
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