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Chain degreaser and oil

Old 03-16-12, 04:16 PM
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ckaspar
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Chain degreaser and oil

I have been looking around at bike shops for oil and degreaser for my chain. I then got an idea to check Home Depot and they also sell oil and degreasers for chain, Chain saw more accurately.

I get more of each for less at Home Depot and was curious of the bike specific stuff was really worth the extra money. Not that I am trying to be "Mr. Cheapo" here. I am just curious what the difference is. Any thoughts?
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Old 03-16-12, 06:14 PM
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degreaser is just that..degreaser. Doesn't matter what you use. Oil/lube on the other hand, you'll want bike specific. More importantly, wet or dry specific. Use a wet lube in dry conditions and your chain will be a black mess in days. Conversely, use a dry lube in wet conditions, to quote Soundgarden, kinda "I'm gonna break my rusty chain!!!!.......and run".
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Old 03-16-12, 06:22 PM
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Yup, any degreaser works, even the stuff from Home Depot!
For lubrication I use the hot wax/parafin method. No fuss, no muss, no greasy chain tattoo and re-usable!
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Old 03-16-12, 07:09 PM
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Some degreasers are stronger than others. HD sells Zep Purple, for example, which is powerful and dangerous.
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Old 03-16-12, 07:11 PM
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I kinda figured on both counts. Oh well. 2 stops it is. Lol. Thanks y'all!!
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Old 03-16-12, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ckaspar View Post
I kinda figured on both counts. Oh well. 2 stops it is. Lol. Thanks y'all!!
Or better yet, just oil your chain, thoroughly wipe the outside even using a bit of mineral spirits to get the outside sparkly clean if that's the look you're going for, and don't waste your time with "degreasers". As long as you simply add oil to the inner parts of the chain, and keep the outside clean (or not if you really don't care), that's all the chain needs.
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Old 03-16-12, 09:35 PM
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For oil and grease removal, I'm pretty addicted to paint thinner myself.
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Old 03-17-12, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
As long as you simply add oil to the inner parts of the chain, and keep the outside clean (or not if you really don't care), that's all the chain needs.
Easier said then done. The problem with oils is that they are low viscosity and don't stay on the inside of the chain. They flow, whether through pressure or gravity, to the outside of the chain.
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Old 03-17-12, 09:35 AM
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This is one of those topics that can start a war between factions. Here's what I use. For Degreaser, I usually use a simple orange degreaser from the hardware store. I used to use Simple Green and that worked fine too - although some people will say it corrodes aluminum...but I never had any issue. If I really want to clean something up (usually a nice chain), I'll soak in mineral spirits...but I lived just fine, for many years, without mineral spirits.

Lube, some people have very strong opinions on this. People make all sorts of arguments; however, I don't really know for sure which is the best. I haven't been scientific about going through various lubes, been consistent with cleaning/application, then measuring chain wear, etc. I have used, at one time or another: Finish Line (from bike store), ProLink Gold (bike store), Chain Saw Bar Oil (4:1 with mineral spirits), Tri-Flow (from hardware store). I've found I like ProLink the best as my drivetrain runs the quietest with it; many say it is pretty much equivalent to a homebrew of 3 or 4 parts mineral spirits to motor oil...I'll probably try that next. Finish Line was fine but was pricey and not as nice as ProLink. I was fine with Tri-Flow (from hardware store) but some people talk about what a mess it makes and I thought it didn't have a whole lot of staying power on the chain. I find things run a little quieter with ProLink. I still use Tri-Flow on pivot points (brakes, shifters, etc.) - a lot because it comes with that very little straw that I find very useful for these tasks. I use the Chain Saw oil/spirits mix in the slushy spring on my winter ride because, through the road salt and water, it stays on the chain longer. BTW, bike applications are pretty light...various homebrews usually mix spirits to help the oil flow into the chain, flush out what is in there, then leave some oil behind after the solvent evaporates. Chain saw oil is pretty tacky without some dilution.

Various others will tell you some of the above are the best ever or are ruining your bike. I found any lube is far better than none and wiping down a re-lubing probably goes a longer way than what lube you are using. No matter what I've used, my chains last a long time, nothing rusts (even in the spring saltwater mixture). I've found that I've been slowly shifting towards various homebrews alternatives in my bike lubes - just because I can make it, it is easy, I don't have to go to the store, and it is seemingly as effective. I suspect the bike shop stuff is more marketing than substance. I simply don't believe that there are multiple bike product manufacturers that have chemical engineers toiling away to innovate and create microscopic lubing spheres with optimal cross-link matrices that are appreciably better for bicycle applications than anything else. I think they buy something, repackage it, and mark it up 200-500%...but I'm not a chemist, engineer, or lubing-related expert. I am in a technical field, though...and I have seen what marketers and MBAs do to sell things.

If you are in a dry,dusty, climate (and only that), I would consider a dry lube. I'm not, so I'm not even sure what the good hardware alternatives would be.
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Old 03-17-12, 09:50 AM
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Ckaspar, you've touched on a stormy topic. Everyone has their own Holy Grail products and methods. But I'll try to sum it up quickly.

Most of us feel that bike specific products are simply overpriced repackaged bulk items that you can find just as easily at big hardware or automotive care shops. There is a very few things which do not fit this such as Phil's oil which has teflon mixed in with the oil. Some folks like it for that reason.

For degreasing you have two choices which have been well documented in past threads almost to ad infinitum. Use the Bike Forums Search feature for "chain cleaning" and sit down with a LARGE beverage for a LONG read.... But it basically comes down to the citrus and Simple Green camp and the solvent camp.

Similarly the choice of what lube to use is just as widespread and we all vouch for them a being the best. To my thinking this means that there's really only a few bad options which are not hard to avoid. Again it's a massively discussed topic which you'll find well, even overly, documented with a BF Search on "chain lube".
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Old 03-17-12, 10:06 AM
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I ride in the winter, and have used 'wet' lubes like Finish Line Green, and found that safe, pleasantly scented degreasers like Simple Green or the orange 'citrus' products will not make a dent in the tenacious black stuff that coats your chain. Try it, and afterwards put the chain in some mineral spirits and watch all the black evil stuff come flooding out, and realize that you're wasting your time with a water-based degreaser.

With lighter 'dry' lubes you'll have better luck. But still, a subsequent dunk in mineral spirits tells the story and it isn't pretty.
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Old 03-17-12, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Yup, any degreaser works, even the stuff from Home Depot!
For lubrication I use the hot wax/parafin method. No fuss, no muss, no greasy chain tattoo and re-usable!
+1
I use the citrus based degreaser. I put a bit in a jug with the chain, let it sit for a while, swirling occasionally. Then I hose it off. For lube, I use the hot paraffin to which I have added some graphite and some motor oil (4 parts paraffin 1 part oil). It still solidifies when cool and so is a "dry" lube and it lasts for quite a while. One thing to remember is to wipe the extra lube off the chain when it is still liquid. Otherwise you get flakes of wax coming off the chain.

-G
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Old 03-18-12, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Easier said then done. The problem with oils is that they are low viscosity and don't stay on the inside of the chain. They flow, whether through pressure or gravity, to the outside of the chain.
Well sure, just wipe it again. I didn't mean to imply this was a one time deal. Just that oiling and wiping the outside was (in my own experience, of course) a very simple and clean alternative to full-on degreasing, etc. and the chain stays nice and lubed, and you can easily keep it as clean as you want.

Even if the OP put a lot of effort into "degreasing", the oil he added afterwards would still behave the way you describe, but he woudn't have to repeat the degreasing (again, in my exereience), but simply wipe as necessary.
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Old 03-18-12, 10:11 PM
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I'm also a fan of petroleum solvents for breaking down and flushing chain oils. Not only are they more effective, many dry completely in a short amount of time. The down side is that most are flammable, and smell bad, so they're not practical for apartment dwellers.

The cost of using petroleum solvents is pretty low because they can be poured into jars and the dirt (but not dissolved oil) will settle allowing the solvent to be reused. I keep 3 storage jars, 1st wash (dirty), rinse (somewhat dirty), and final rinse, (new or like new). as the wash gets too dirty (5-10 chains) I dump it and move all the others down, using new solvent for the final rinse jar.

BTW- citrus degreaser is tricky because it covers such a wide group of finished products. The active ingredient d-Limonene is distilled from the oil in the rinds of citrus fruits, mainly oranges and grapefruits which have been juiced. It's similar chemically to turpentine and is a very powerful degreaser (don't get it on paint). However, where as years ago it was almost free, it's now more expensive than the distillates it replaces. Most citrus degreases sold today are diluted with water. One way to tell is that pure d-Limonene is transparent like colored water, or corn oil, whereas when water is added it turns cloudy or milky white.

If you want quality citrus degreaser look for it labeled as d-Limonene, rather than just citrus degreaser.

years ago I had a connection who imported citrus oil from Brazil and was able to buy the stuff for a few dollars a gallon and resell it in the bike trade. I quit when the price reached almost $20.00gal as many industrial users were trying to replace their chlorinated solvents.

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Old 03-19-12, 12:47 AM
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it depends on ow your disposing of the grease and muck from your chain... I use kerosene and recycle the kerosene at my local autoshop...
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Old 03-19-12, 09:02 AM
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I was able to find some citrus degreaser that was was not milky and was clear at Home Depot for under $2. Nice big spray bottle. I used that and it seems to work OK. I didn't pull the chain because I didn't really have time. It was in between rain showers this weekend. Will try that on the next shot. Thanks guys.
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