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Waxing chain with paraffin/beeswax

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Waxing chain with paraffin/beeswax

Old 07-08-13, 07:44 AM
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ennchicago
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Waxing chain with paraffin/beeswax

Hello,

After reading the articles about chain waxing on Ecovelo, I thought I'd give it a try. I followed the instructions that he gives (although I used a 4-1 paraffin/beeswax mixture instead of 8-1, since I live in a much rainier place). I used a new chain. The ride feels awful. Although the chain is pretty silent, there is an intermittent grinding or grittiness that I feel in the drivetrain when I pedal. It doesn't happen on every crank revolution but it happens frequently enough to be very irritating. I thought maybe I had taken the chain out of the wax too early, letting all the wax run out, so I tried waxing the chain a second time after a couple days and left it in longer--no difference at all.

Since my results seem to be so different from what everyone else reports with chain waxing, I'm wondering if I bought the wrong type of chain (the old chain was a KMC chain that the previous owner installed, so I don't know the model; the new one is a KMC Z33--I just asked for a 3/32nd chain. The new and old chains look identical to me. This is a single-speed bike. I did notice that the old chain with the same number of links was slightly longer (maybe a quarter inch) than the new chain, which I figured was just due to stretch).

My other theory is that maybe I messed something up in the freewheel while cleaning it. There is a bit of play in it and I can hear a lot of bearing knocking coming from the freewheel. But both those things were also true before I waxed the chain, and the ride felt fine.

It's hard to diagnose the exact source of the grinding because I only feel it when I actually ride the bike. I can't feel it when I turn the pedals by hand.

Can anyone think what I might have done wrong to cause this, or anything else I could try before I give up and go back to regular lubricant?
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Old 07-08-13, 08:03 AM
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Did you by any chance thoroughly solvent wash the new chain first, thus removing any and all factory lube? If so you will not be able to replace it in the chains interior with any wax treatment. Also, how hot did you get the wax before immersing the chain? The usually recommended double boiler heating method is safe but doesn't really thin out the wax enough to be effective.
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Old 07-08-13, 08:15 AM
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If you have grittiness or grinding it should be obvious that the only possible cause is something besides the paraffin. You left some contamination inside the chain - or worse, moved it deeper. The only fix is to wash every bit of both the wax and previous lube out and then wash again to make sure it's clean.
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Old 07-08-13, 08:19 AM
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Are you using 3/32" chain on 1/8" cogs?
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Old 07-08-13, 08:45 AM
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It is a 3/32 chain. It seems to fit the cogs, but I don't know enough to say for certain. The previous chain was also a 3/32 chain (or at least something visible smaller than a 1/8 chain).

Did you by any chance thoroughly solvent wash the new chain first, thus removing any and all factory lube? If so you will not be able to replace it in the chains interior with any wax treatment.
Yes, I did do this, as per the Ecovelo instructions. I put the chain in a plastic tupperware-type thing with some citrus degreaser, shook thoroughly, let it soak a bit, then shook thoroughly some more. I did this twice since it still felt pretty lube-y after the first time. What would you recommend instead? Should I just wax over the factory lube? Or just try to remove the external factory lube with a rag, without soaking the chain?

I did use a quasi double boiler (mixing bowl atop a saucepan), that may also be an issue. I don't really know the temperature, only that the wax seemed pretty watery.
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Old 07-08-13, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ennchicago View Post
Yes, I did do this, as per the Ecovelo instructions. I put the chain in a plastic tupperware-type thing with some citrus degreaser, shook thoroughly, let it soak a bit, then shook thoroughly some more. I did this twice since it still felt pretty lube-y after the first time. What would you recommend instead? Should I just wax over the factory lube? Or just try to remove the external factory lube with a rag, without soaking the chain?

I did use a quasi double boiler (mixing bowl atop a saucepan), that may also be an issue. I don't really know the temperature, only that the wax seemed pretty watery.
Despite what you might hear, the factory lube is as good as it gets and there is no reason to wash it out of the chain's internals. What you did was not only to remove the factory lube but probably left a fair bit of water in it's place. You may want to place the chain in a warm oven for a fair bit of time or use a hairdryer to get it dry internally before you relube.

Next time just wipe the factory lube off of the chain's external surface with a dry rag or one just dampened with mineral spirits and then try your melted wax treatment.
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Old 07-08-13, 10:00 AM
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I knew that the factory lube was a good lubricant, I just wasn't sure how compatible it would be with the wax (which I wanted to try because I would like a cleaner chain).

I will try again with a new chain, just wiping down the outside.

Thank you for the help, I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-08-13, 10:01 AM
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The time I used citrus degreaser in a pop bottle to attempt to clean a chain, I wasn't very impressed. Despite shaking vigorously and using several passes with clean "solvent", grime and factory lube remained on the chain. I imagine the inside (which is the only part that really counts) didn't end up very clean either. Did you rinse out the citrus degreaser with water before drying? Any remaining water-based solvent will interfere with lubrication.

FWIW, I've had much better success with true mineral spirits. As an aside, it's possible that your old freewheel isn't meshing well with the new chain. Single-speed drivetrains are fairly tolerant of this, but you still might feel it.
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Old 07-08-13, 10:29 AM
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Unless you very thoroughly dried your chain after the water-based cleaning (I put mine in a pan in a 250 degree oven for 1/2 hour), you likely left water and/or cleaner mixture in the tiny crevices of the chain, which the wax will not be able to displace. Wiping with a towel, hanging in the Sun or using a blow-off gun will not get the water out, you need to get the water above the boiling point so the steam will escape. A few rinses with denatured (NOT rubbing) alcohol will also dissolve out the water and then evaporate fairly quickly.
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Old 07-08-13, 10:34 AM
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New chain and old gears need some me time.....
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Old 07-08-13, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
The time I used citrus degreaser in a pop bottle to attempt to clean a chain, I wasn't very impressed. Despite shaking vigorously and using several passes with clean "solvent", grime and factory lube remained on the chain. I imagine the inside (which is the only part that really counts) didn't end up very clean either. Did you rinse out the citrus degreaser with water before drying? Any remaining water-based solvent will interfere with lubrication.

FWIW, I've had much better success with true mineral spirits. As an aside, it's possible that your old freewheel isn't meshing well with the new chain. Single-speed drivetrains are fairly tolerant of this, but you still might feel it.
It depends on the citrus degreaser you use. Most of the stuff you can buy in stores is kind of weak. However, there are products like Citrikleen that'll strip away all grease and oil so well, you have to dry the item and relubricate it very quickly or else it'll start rusting immediately. Amazing stuff, really.
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Old 07-08-13, 04:29 PM
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The citrus degreaser I tried once sucked also. Didn't do a good job at all. I'll have to try that Citrikleen... In the meantime mineral spirits or paint thinner works well enough for me.

A couple things - you said this is a single speed. Is your chainline straight? Do you have too much chain tension? Are your cogs excessively worn? Any of these things will cause it to run like crap no matter what lubing method you use.
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