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WARNING! Another Chain Lubrication Thread!

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WARNING! Another Chain Lubrication Thread!

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Old 06-30-18, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
If wax isn't a lubricant, then that is it's strength. I wholly believe that wet lubes actively contribute to accelerating drivetrain wear-- after all, a wet drill bit cuts faster than a dry one.
Wet bits cut faster because the oil prevents heat buildup. That's not applicable here, because bike chains don't heat up. There may be reasons to prefer wax, but this isn't one of them.
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Old 06-30-18, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Wet bits cut faster because the oil prevents heat buildup. That's not applicable here, because bike chains don't heat up. There may be reasons to prefer wax, but this isn't one of them.
Wet bits cut faster because the fluid dissipates heat, clears chips, and speeds the cutting process. I don't douse thread cutting dies in RapidTap because they get hot. I don't put cutting paste on endmills because they get too hot. It's there because working 6061 is like trying to machine frozen chewing gum.
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Old 06-30-18, 05:28 PM
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Thanks for that explanation, @DrIsotope . Maybe oil wears a chain out. It still seems hard to tell.
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Old 06-30-18, 07:09 PM
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I don't know if the oil wears it out-- I don't really think it does-- but I do think that the oil stops the crud, grime, and bits of worn out chain from getting out of the chain. Now grit + oil does make a nice cutting slurry. When you try to wash an oiled chain, there's muck aplenty. A waxed chain remains nearly clean.

I do know that oiled chains in sealed drivelines last a very, very long time. So it's oil + the environment that combine to wear out chains... IME, anyway.
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Old 07-01-18, 06:53 AM
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Here's the link to a serious lab test of various oil and wax formulas:

https://www.scribd.com/document/2620...ficiency-Tests

I acknowledge that some have criticized this test for not taking into account real world conditions, like chain shear, which some claim forces wax out, and leaves the chain un(der) lubricated quickly. Might have some validity, but as I am doing under 400 miles / month, and most of that is commuting, it seems to work for me.

YMMV.

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Old 07-01-18, 07:16 AM
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"It's clear then, that going for a lube with as much PTFE as possible is the best bet for pure efficiency. For consistently wet weather, go with heavy oil. And for the meticulous mechanic, happy to pull a chain off and re-wax it every few weeks, cheap hardware store paraffin is unbeatable."
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Old 07-01-18, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by davei1980 View Post
+ 1000

Do you have a quick link for your chain? I have noticed this makes the process much easier.

I also only have S/S bikes so I think taking the chain off is not as big of a deal as with derailleur bikes.

Yes, quick links are much easier. I don't (yet) have a QL tool, just using needle nose pliers, but that's on my Wish List.
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Old 07-01-18, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by NewATBikeComute View Post
Yes, quick links are much easier. I don't (yet) have a QL tool, just using needle nose pliers, but that's on my Wish List.
I use forceps for now. They work ok
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Old 07-01-18, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I don't know if the oil wears it out-- I don't really think it does-- but I do think that the oil stops the crud, grime, and bits of worn out chain from getting out of the chain. Now grit + oil does make a nice cutting slurry. When you try to wash an oiled chain, there's muck aplenty. A waxed chain remains nearly clean.

I do know that oiled chains in sealed drivelines last a very, very long time. So it's oil + the environment that combine to wear out chains... IME, anyway.
My experience concludes the same. We know the problem. There are various solutions, all imperfect. Mine is to use Chain-L and clean with a rag. I replace the chain frequently, possibly at a wasteful level. I also clean my derailleur pulleys and cogs frequently, because that grime gets into the chain.
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Old 07-01-18, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by davei1980 View Post


I use forceps for now. They work ok
Once you get the tool, you will realize you waited too long.
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Old 07-01-18, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by davei1980 View Post
Just to weigh in on the waxing vs oiling debate - a lot of people use liquid wax because they say that the reason hot wax is melted is to get it in liquid form so it can reach all metal surfaces of the chain.

I think that's false, I think the real advantage is that it can reach those areas and, unlike anything liquid, can stay there for a long time, not attract dust and not ruin your clothes.

I just waxed my chain after a week of wet riding and it's DEAD silent now!!!
Yes, you have to melt the wax to get it into the chain. You can't do it any other way. You are stating the obvious. However, you can do exactly the same thing by dissolving the wax in a solvent that evaporates which leaves the wax behind. It's a lot less work since you can apply the wax without having to take the chain off to do so.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You don't have nine bikes yet.
Exactly. Who has time to keep up with the maintenance schedule necessary to hot wax that many bikes? I have better things to do as do most people.

On the other hand, the constant removal of the oil from oil based lubricants is as bothersome as hot waxing.

Originally Posted by carlos danger View Post
is there actually any proof that wax actually lubricates anything??
From what I have heard it first dont stay put as oils and greases does.
I has zero high pressure resistance (like what happens inside the chain).
It has zero beneficial solid particles like teflon or molybden inside.
so whats all the fuzz about?
I don't think you understand what wax is nor how it works. It is a lubricant just as oil (or even water) is. It prevents metal on metal friction by providing a film between the parts that can slide and shear. You also have the idea of how the oil works in the chain wrong. Oil doesn't "stay put". It flows so that it can backfill when it is forced out of the pin/plate interface. The problem is that there is nothing keeping the oil from flowing out of the chain altogether. That's why you have to constantly clean and wipe chains that have been lubricated with oil.

As for high pressure resistance, waxes are like grease. They are both high viscosity materials that resist flow under pressure...which is the definition of "viscosity". The wax that is at the pin/plate interface doesn't flow away from the interface when put under pressure as easily as oil does. It can be displaced because it has some flow characteristics but it isn't as mobile as oil. That's part of the problem with waxes, however. When it does get displaced (which happens over time), it can't flow back into the space.

But, just to be clear, oil being able to flow back into the space isn't a perfect system either. When the oil flows back, it carries all the contaminants that it gathers along the way with it. This places highly abrasive materials at high friction/high pressure points exactly where you don't want, or need, them.

As for additives, the reasons those are added to oil is because of the need for some high viscosity materials to remain at the pin/plate interface. The Teflon and molybdenum (correct spelling but, to be honest, I always have to look it up) serve much the same purpose as the wax in hot wax and solvent wax-based lubricants. They resist flow and stay where they are needed.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
If wax isn't a lubricant, then that is it's strength. I wholly believe that wet lubes actively contribute to accelerating drivetrain wear-- after all, a wet drill bit cuts faster than a dry one.

I get 4,000+ miles out of 10 and 11 speed chains, and never have to degrease anything. With a waxed drivetrain, there is no maintenance other than refreshing the wax. The rest of the components are maintenance-free.

So I would say the fuzz is about wax being the cleanest and quietest chain treatment there is. It being super inexpensive is just a bonus.
Wax is a lubricant...it's just not the best one. Oil is a lubricant but it's not the best one either. Neither is actually very good at doing the job for very different reasons.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I don't know if the oil wears it out-- I don't really think it does-- but I do think that the oil stops the crud, grime, and bits of worn out chain from getting out of the chain. Now grit + oil does make a nice cutting slurry. When you try to wash an oiled chain, there's muck aplenty. A waxed chain remains nearly clean.

I do know that oiled chains in sealed drivelines last a very, very long time. So it's oil + the environment that combine to wear out chains... IME, anyway.
I would disagree with the mechanism but not the result. The oil doesn't stop the grim, grit and metal wear from getting out of the chain. That's the reason that oiled chains have such maintenance problems. The oil and associated gunk flow out of the chain to the surface. But there isn't a mechanism to keep the oil and associated gunk from flowing right back into the chain where it can go on merrily chewing the chain into more tiny bits of metal. The fact that the oil serves as a trap for particles coming from the environment to be retained on the chain results in a constant supply of grit for that grinding paste. That's why chains don't last much more than 3000 to 4000 miles...yes, I know there are people out there with chains that have gone to the sun and back but you are outliers on the furthest edge of the curve. But...

Wax has it's problems as well. If wax were a really good lubricant, it would provide longer service life on chains than oil. The fact that it doesn't...mileage is still about the same...says to me that there is something else going on with wax that causes wear at the same rate as oil. Yes, wax is clean. Yes, wax prevents grit from getting into the chain and causing damage. But the fact that wax is too viscous to backfill when it is pushed out of the pin/plate interface means that that interface will eventually be starved of lubrication and accelerate wear. There is more of a chance for metal-on-metal wear which decreases chain life.

Since neither lubrication system provides better results, the cleanliness of the wax system outweighs the oil system in my opinion. Hot waxing, however, is as much of effort to maintain as oiling chains is even when you take into account the cleanliness. Putting the wax into a solution and applying it like an oil base lubricant frees you up from elaborate hot wax procedure as well as the elaborate cleaning of oil lubrication. You get the same results as both without any of the hassle of either.
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Old 07-01-18, 11:29 AM
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I commute all year round. Every day. And we have snow/slush here for half of the year.

I have tried everything from soaking in greases like EP type greases (non lithium based), molykote. grease with graphite/moly/copper etc. Motor oil with these greases dissolved. Teflon spray thin, teflon spray thick and juicy, shimano chain oil. Motor oil. Sewing machine oil.

Tried never ever cleaning, only adding more. Tried cleaning with 3 different solvents and resoaking and so on.

You know the results? None of the methods or lubricants significally extends chain life.
Dunking in motor oil/grease and never cleaning last just as long as cleaning very good and often and using teflon sprays very often.

One thing though. Dunking in oil/grease when new and never cleaning and just dripping new oil/grease solution on the chain saves time though. Since with some greases like molykote i could go 2 months before reapplying sometimes. And this was in the slush/snow/rain season. Thats quite good. Teflon spray only last 1 week in that weather.
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Old 07-01-18, 02:53 PM
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@cyccommute , thank you for your expertise, as always.

And @carlos danger , thank you for your perspective. It's pretty funny to me. Maybe I should stop my rag cleaning process. Eh. No, I won't. But it's a nice relief to know it doesn't make much difference. I watch for chain wear and replace when the chain is marginally worn. This saves the life of my cogs. Where is the danger zone, @carlos danger ?
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Old 07-01-18, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
...the cleanliness of the wax system outweighs the oil system in my opinion.... Putting the wax into a solution and applying it like an oil base lubricant frees you up from elaborate hot wax procedure as well as the elaborate cleaning of oil lubrication. You get the same results as both without any of the hassle of either.
Wax systems don't really impress me as being much cleaner than oil systems. IMO, they're messy in different ways. With an oiled chain, the accumulated grit and grime stays on the chain but is easily transferred to whatever it touches; pant legs, skin, whatever. Waxed chains have a constant shedding of blackened wax specs and flakes but the chain is far less messy to the touch. In my experience, oiled chains are messy to the touch but waxed chains are messy to the floor. My wife informed me that tracking any more black wax specs into the house will greatly shorten my life span, so I've gone to Finish Line Dry as it seems to be less oily than oil based and doesn't shed like wax.

I have no time to be doing any hot wax routines, but like the idea of wax based products. Is there a wax based product that doesn't shed?


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Old 07-01-18, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
Wax systems don't really impress me as being much cleaner than oil systems. IMO, they're messy in different ways. With an oiled chain, the accumulated grit and grime stays on the chain but is easily transferred to whatever it touches; pant legs, skin, whatever. Waxed chains have a constant shedding of blackened wax specs and flakes but the chain is far less messy to the touch. In my experience, oiled chains are messy to the touch but waxed chains are messy to the floor. My wife informed me that tracking any more black wax specs into the house will greatly shorten my life span, so I've gone to Finish Line Dry as it seems to be less oily than oil based and doesn't shed like wax.

I have no time to be doing any hot wax routines, but like the idea of wax based products. Is there a wax based product that doesn't shed?


-Kedosto
My bikes are in a garage so I never notice if they shed flakes or not. However, I do have loads of experience with having to deal with the grimiest drivetrains around at my local co-op. I'd rather deal with flakes of wax than the transfer of chain gunk to everything else.
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Old 07-01-18, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by carlos danger View Post

You know the results? None of the methods or lubricants significally extends chain life.
That's the conclusion that I've come to. A lot of electrons have been murdered over the years trying to squeeze out another mile of use out of a cheap chain by using elaborate cleaning schemes and exotic lubricant mixtures. All of that work and all those dead electrons amount to exactly zero improvement in chain life. It really is a lot of to do about nothing.
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Old 07-01-18, 06:40 PM
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A friend I met here originally on BF is a car mechanic in his day job. He's also a bike nut, and he has remarked that his hands get far dirtier working on bikes than on cars. So yeah, it can be pretty annoying. I wear an apron when I work on bikes, and I keep rags around to wipe my hands. Then I wash them with Dawn dish soap and a mild scouring pad. That gets my hands clean. Keeping my clothes clean is a combination of skill of where to place my body and wearing an apron and still having occasional mishaps where I ruin an article of clothing. Oh well, it's the price of my hobby.

Way back in 1981, I was touring in France by myself. The woman at one of the bike shops in the country sold me a bottle of paraffin oil. It wasn't like anything I have seen here, and I wonder if it's available here. Maybe that's what you use, @cyccommute . It was colorless and had low viscosity, and it did lube my chain and stay clean. Is that what you use? If so, I'll definitely try it again. Interestingly, I think I was served by old women at at least two shops. They really knew their stuff, and there was no one else in the shop at the time, so she may have been the biggest resident expert in all things bike. But that was a long time ago. I have no idea what it's like in the industry there now. Probably even better.
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Old 07-02-18, 02:24 AM
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Wax with a slow cooker, its a no brainier really, just take the chain off (quick release chain is a must), wipe off the surface dirt, place it on top of the wax in the slow cooker, turn it on, go have a cup of tea, pull out chain, wipe it down, put it back on. Jobs a good'n. I dipped about 300km ago and plan to re dip in 200km time.
I won't ever go back to oil purely based on how much more effort it takes compared.
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Old 07-02-18, 01:09 PM
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FWIW now that I've confirmed I don't like wet lube that I use during the winter, during the spring & summer. I'm trying a can of this stuff (after wiping down the chain, etc w mineral spirits & a shop cloth). so far seems OK

Finish Line Teflon Plus Dry Bike Lubricant - 8 oz. Aerosol

presto!

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Old 07-02-18, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
FWIW now that I've confirmed I don't like wet lube that I use during the winter, during the spring & summer. I'm trying a can of this stuff (after wiping down the chain, etc w mineral spirits & a shop cloth). so far seems OK

Finish Line Teflon Plus Dry Bike Lubricant - 8 oz. Aerosol

https://www.rei.com/product/892907/f...SABEgJNd_D_BwE

that's a weird looking link
You could just highlight the "Finish Line Teflon Plus Dry Bike Lubricant - 8 oz. Aerosol" and click on the link icon in the toolbar. Follow the instructions to get the blue highlighted text.

Or you could make that link or any other long link into a TinyURL
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Old 07-02-18, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You don't have nine bikes yet.
I have 11 bikes, plus my wife has 5, my son has 2 and each of my 3 daughters have 1. That makes 21.
I have converted the five I ride the most and my wife's road bike to wax. The rest get progold prolink except my commuter that gets used 10W40 motorcycle oil.

I waxed a chain yesterday and timed the entire process.
  • Remove chain
  • Put a waxed chain on the bike
  • Put the used chain in the crock-pot
  • Take the chain out of the crock-pot and hang it up
  • Roll up the waxed chain and put it on the shelf

Total time: a couple of hours
Working time: seven-and-a-half minutes

I'm sure I could apply drip wax a little faster, but seven and a half minutes every few hundred miles is an acceptable amount of maintenance to me.

I'm riding a 600k this weekend which will be my longest ride on a waxed chain. I'm putting an extra waxed chain in my drop-bag and bringing a little bottle of squirt in case the wax doesn't last the whole ride.
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Old 07-02-18, 07:16 PM
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That's a professional and thorough approach, and you need one to keep all those bikes running throughout the year. Damn.

Maybe I should offer to let my adult kids if their bikes need anything.
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Old 07-03-18, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I have 11 bikes, plus my wife has 5, my son has 2 and each of my 3 daughters have 1. That makes 21.
I have converted the five I ride the most and my wife's road bike to wax. The rest get progold prolink except my commuter that gets used 10W40 motorcycle oil.

I waxed a chain yesterday and timed the entire process.
  • Remove chain
  • Put a waxed chain on the bike
  • Put the used chain in the crock-pot
  • Take the chain out of the crock-pot and hang it up
  • Roll up the waxed chain and put it on the shelf
Total time: a couple of hours
Working time: seven-and-a-half minutes
I do a lot of complicated procedures as my work. One procedure takes me time to weigh samples, prepare reagents, add reagents, do the reaction (2h) and then time to do the titrations. The actual titrations take only 3 minutes to complete but I would never claim that it only takes me 3 minutes to do a titration. It takes the better part of 8 hours to do a sample set. If it takes two hours to wax a chain, it takes two hours of working time. You may be sitting around for 2 hours but it still takes 2 hours.

On the other hand, why does everyone seem to think that the chains have to be cooked for extended periods of time when you wax them? There isn't anything in the chain that isn't penetrated by the liquified wax in minutes or even seconds. Chains don't have tight clearances.
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Old 07-03-18, 08:04 AM
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Yes and no. It takes about two hours and 40 minutes to bake a loaf of bread, and I have to be home for those three hours, but kneading takes 20 minutes, and then I'm free to do anything at home for an hour during the first rise. Then I punch down, which takes a minute, and the second rise takes another 40 minutes. It takes less than a minute to move the loaf into the oven where I bake it for about 40 minutes. Total labor time is 22 minutes. You could say that putting aside the almost three hours has a cost equivalent to more than 22 minutes, but it's not three hours, either. I can take a shower, cook dinner, clean the house, watch videos, read, practice music, whatever.
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Old 07-03-18, 08:15 AM
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I just plugged in my Lil' Dipper crockpot. That took the number of seconds it takes for me to walk to where it's located.
Now I'm going about my usual morning business. I won't think about the crockpot again for several hours.
In a few hours, I'll pull the chain off of whatever bike is in the workstand, and drop it in the pot. That might take upwards of 30 seconds.
Then I will go back to whatever I was doing. In 20 minutes, or an hour, or whenever, I will put that chain out and re-install. Maybe 30 seconds.
Then I'll repeat with subsequent bikes. The Lil' Dipper might be plugged in all day-- sometimes I don't unplug it until right before bed.

But that doesn't mean chain waxing takes 12 hours. It takes a matter of seconds. It's such an uninvolved process, I don't think I'm in contact with a chain for more than a minute total.
This isn't a restaurant line. I'm not trying to get a waxed chain out to a customer. Sure, hours go by. Hours when I'm not messing with chains.
But I'm dealing with chains for a grand total of about 10 minutes, every other week. Doing 4 bikes. That's 1 minute, 15 seconds per bike, per week.
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