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Yet another thread on chain cleaning



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 29th 03, 06:35 PM
asqui
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

Sorry to flog a dead horse and everything but I have some questions that I
haven't been able to find answers to in the archives and FAQ, so here
goes...

[It seems this has turned into a bit of a rant now so feel free to scroll to
the bottom for the actual question I'm asking...]

I cleaned the chain on my new bike (Dawes touring bike, exclusively on-road
use in pretty clean conditions and so far rarely in rain) as thoroughly as I
could a week ago. It had 750mi on it at the time and I had the bike in for
its complimentary service at about 400mi. It came back liberally lubricated
and soon became a black mess (no doubt they just lubed whatever they use on
to the dirty chain, great). Before that I was managing to keep it pretty
clean with regular wiping down and I lubricated it once with the PTFE lube I
bought under recommendation from the shop. It was getting pretty squeaky
when shifting the rear derailer, I assume from lack of lube, but I wanted to
leave it until the service to let them deal with it as I figured they know
more than I do.

Anyway, after it became a black mess I knew it was time to sort it out
properly. I wiped it down thoroughly several times to try and keep it clean
then finally attacked it properly at 750mi on.

I wiped it down thoroughly with an old sock, scrubbed it with soapy water
and a toothbrush (I think this was pretty redundant because it didn't have
loads of mud or dirt on it, so it didn't seem to make much difference),
dried it with the sock, let it stand for about 10-20mins, sprayed Halfords
brand degreaser aeresol on it ("Rapid Air-Drying Formula", how useful -- it
seems to dry instantaneously, but at least the blast of the aeresol spray
seems to work quite well at cleaning pretty much instantly) and wiped with
the sock vigorously. Several cycles of the entire chain. It was still
feeling pretty nasty when flexing it laterally, like it had grit still in
there, though externally it was looking pretty good. I decided that this was
as good as I was going to get it and then applied the PTFE lube, using the
narrow spray tube to apply a stream of penetrating, foamy, lubricant. I
backpedalled the cranks for a little bit and wiped off the excess. I also
wiped off the chain several times in the next few days.

I think the main pitfall was that I didn't manage to clean it as thoroughly
as I would have liked. It didn't really feel "fresh" inside when I played
with it. Also, I didn't rinse off the degreaser, so although on the surface
it dries pretty quick there may have been some left inside the chain. I
think the effect of this would have been pretty limited though.

So anyway, now it's a week later and I am 830mi on. I got home after a bit
of light rain and got a bit carried away. First I wiped the frame dry, then
sprayed WD40 into all the unused rack mountings and other frame holes, wiped
the excess off and wiped the frame down with the WD40'd rag, then applied
PTFE lube to all the cable housing entry points, then to all the pivot
points on the derailers. Then I discovered how to use the PowerLink on my
Sachs/SRAM chain and took it off. It didn't feel as bad as right after I
cleaned it. I think it's because part of the dodgy feeling I had when
flexing it may have been due to the liquid inside... or maybe the lubricant
flushed some of the crap out to be picked up on subsequent wipe-downs?

Anyhow, I wiped it down seveal more times, then sprayed it with the
degreaser aeresol *liberally* and continued wiping it down. Unfortunately it
didn't seem to make all that much difference and I felt like I was wasting
time and degreaser. It still felt a little bit gritty inside.

I found a wide-neck 1L lemonade bottle and threw the chain in there in
preperation to soak it in something. (Actually, having another look at it
now it doesn't seem so bad. The gritty feeling is completely gone! Just a
bit dirty between some links and I can feel that it's not *completely* clean
inside the rollers.)

========================
End semi-irrelevant rant, begin actual question about chain cleaning...
========================

I had a rummage around the garage and found:
Mineralised Methylated Spirit (Funky purple colour!)
White Spirit
70% Isopropyl Alcohol

Which one of these would be the best to pour into the bottle and shake
occasionally to get the chain clean? I plan to leave it on my desk for a few
hours and give it a vigorous shake every now and then.

Other things I can think of to use a
Fairy dishwashing liquid (can't see this working too well)
Dishwashing-machine powder (I'm wary of this stuff ever since it ate pits
into the bottom of a pan when left overnight in the sink)
coca cola (with all this whining about how it's so acidic, I figure it might
do some good. probably too much sugar and not enough chemicals capable of
breaking down the grease though.)

Are there any precautions? Is it posible to "over-do it" with any of these
chemicals? (Aside from the dishwashing-machine powder)

I plan on soaking it for a couple of hours with frequent agitation, then
pouring out whatever I'm using into a jar for reuse, and filling the bottle
with water and shaking vigorously for a while, maybe changing the water a
few times to make sure I clean out all of the cleaning chemicals. Then
drying it with a rag and leaving it out to dry overnight before putting it
back on the bike and aplying PTFE lubricant with a narrow tube, letting it
work its way in, then wiping down with a rag.

How does that sound?

Thanks a lot,
Dani


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  #2  
Old July 29th 03, 07:11 PM
asqui
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

After-thought:

If I use something like White Spirit I can just do a few rinses with that
then let the chain dry, as opposed to rinsing it with water.


  #3  
Old July 29th 03, 07:48 PM
asqui
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

Dishwashing-machine powder (I'm wary of this stuff ever since it ate
pits into the bottom of a pan when left overnight in the sink)


It has its uses, but the most proper ones in my opinion involve the
use of the associated appliance. (Have you considered just tossing
the chain in with the next load of dishes? There have been reports
thatthis works...)


Yeah, I did read the thread on here about that a couple of days ago, but I
really think my parental units would go haywire if I even suggested it

and filling the bottle
with water and shaking vigorously for a while, maybe changing the
water a few times to make sure I clean out all of the cleaning
chemicals.


Counterproductive with the WS solvent. Just take the chain out, wipe
it off, let it dry for a short while, and lube it.


Yeah, I realised that rinsing with water was a bit silly a short while after
submitting the original post. Is it alright to leave it overnight to make
sure all of the WS evaporates before lubing? Or is it going to start rusting
instantaneously if left without lube...?

I will note that my former contacts at DuPont were, without exception,
less than complimentary about the various PTFE-doped lubricant
products on the retail market. PTFE is a generic term for the same
stuff as DuPont's Teflon. It does have valid applications as a
lubrication layer, but as far as the people at DuPont were concerned,
the majority of the *consumer* products on the market which
incorporated it were simple frauds. DuPont did the early work with
the stuff, they discovered it properties and usefulness, and in heir
own plants, they don't use it for a spray or oil-carried lubricant.
If the oil base that the chain lube contains is a good lube, then the
presence of the PTFE is certainly going to do no harm; the stuff's
amazingly inert at common temps. But it will *not* remain in place
between loaded surfaces without a mechanical retaining method of some
sort, so it's unlikely to do very much on a chain.


So basically I have some spray-lube in a can which may or may not work well
but the PTFE content is completely irrelevant and unlikely to make any
difference?

Thanks for your help,
Dani.


  #4  
Old July 29th 03, 08:02 PM
Eddiefel
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

asqui wrote:

I had a rummage around the garage and found:
Mineralised Methylated Spirit (Funky purple colour!)
White Spirit
70% Isopropyl Alcohol

Which one of these would be the best to pour into the bottle and shake
occasionally to get the chain clean? I plan to leave it on my desk for a few
hours and give it a vigorous shake every now and then.


Everybody settles on their own method after awhile.

I favor taking the chain off every 500 miles or so and soaking it for a
few hours in a solution of water and Simple Green, a citrus-based
nontoxic degreaser/cleaner. I shake the container once or twice, or not
at all, the time seems to be more important than the agitation.

I then take a toothbrush and using the leftover solution give the thing
a quick scrub in the work basin. Rinse with hot water, dry with a rag,
hang it up for a couple of hours or overnight, then put it on the bike
and lube.

It's probably overkill but I like having everything perfectly clean
rather than doing a partial job. I only do this when I have a chance to
give the bike a full cleaning where I get the gunk off the chainrings,
cogs and pulleys.

If they are still dirty they soil the chain quickly; in that case I just
clean the chain as best I can on the bike with new lube and a rag.


  #5  
Old July 29th 03, 10:58 PM
Rick Onanian
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 17:35:03 +0000 (UTC), asqui
wrote:
long rant and question snipped

Am I the only one who'd rather spend $25 on a new chain once every
couple years, and a new cassette every other chain, than spend an
hour cleaning my chain for every 2 hours I spend riding?

I clean my chain when I think it's full of crud, or when I'm
cleaning the whole bike. Other than that, I load it up with
chain lube every few rides; it never squeaks, and my drivetrain
lasts as long as anybody else's.

At least, this has been the case with my badly abused mountain
bike. I haven't had road bikes long enough to know.

I've got better things to do than clean my chain every day. Things
such as offending people on newsfroups...

Thanks a lot,
Dani

--
Rick Onanian
  #6  
Old July 30th 03, 02:07 AM
Werehatrack
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 17:58:27 -0400, Rick Onanian
may have said:

I've got better things to do than clean my chain every day. Things
such as offending people on newsfroups...


Some people may have have...

- an inside parking place in which they must have a clean chain or
risk enraging The Gods, or
- time to engage in such things, and the willingsness or personally
imposed imperative to do so, or
- a cleanliness fetish, or
- a bike that they take pride in, to the point of wanting to keep it
in spanking clean condition all the time, or
- a complete lack of ability to ignore small glitches, or
- nothing with a higher priority that would keep them from cleaning
their chain at that time[1], or
- some other reason to want to do this sort of thing.

And, of course, there are folks who do it because the people with the
chain fetishes told them it was a good idea...and the list still
grows.

I clean mine as I acquire used bikes, as I notice them getting really
cruddy, and as time permits. The last time that I actually *wore out*
a chain was in (if I recall correctly) 1971. On the other hand, the
last time I *replaced* a chain was a couple of months ago, at
aquisition of a used bike that had pretty clearly been ridden hard and
put up wet....literally.



[1] depending upon the bike owner involved, this could include
watching The Simpsons on TV.

--
My email address is antispammed;
pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail.
Yes, I have a killfile. If I don't respond to something,
it's also possible that I'm busy.
  #7  
Old July 30th 03, 03:15 AM
Douglas Landau
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

If it needs the toothbrush, I figure, then there's still
grit inside.

With repeated immersion, one can see when the grit stops
coming out. I can't think of any other way to know that.

After seeing that, I can't imagine that anything else works.

Doug


Eddiefel wrote in message ...
asqui wrote:

I had a rummage around the garage and found:
Mineralised Methylated Spirit (Funky purple colour!)
White Spirit
70% Isopropyl Alcohol

Which one of these would be the best to pour into the bottle and shake
occasionally to get the chain clean? I plan to leave it on my desk for a few
hours and give it a vigorous shake every now and then.


Everybody settles on their own method after awhile.

I favor taking the chain off every 500 miles or so and soaking it for a
few hours in a solution of water and Simple Green, a citrus-based
nontoxic degreaser/cleaner. I shake the container once or twice, or not
at all, the time seems to be more important than the agitation.

I then take a toothbrush and using the leftover solution give the thing
a quick scrub in the work basin. Rinse with hot water, dry with a rag,
hang it up for a couple of hours or overnight, then put it on the bike
and lube.

It's probably overkill but I like having everything perfectly clean
rather than doing a partial job. I only do this when I have a chance to
give the bike a full cleaning where I get the gunk off the chainrings,
cogs and pulleys.

If they are still dirty they soil the chain quickly; in that case I just
clean the chain as best I can on the bike with new lube and a rag.

  #8  
Old July 30th 03, 01:19 PM
Phileas
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Posts: n/a
Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning


"Rick Onanian" wrote in message
news
Am I the only one who'd rather spend $25 on a new chain once every
couple years, and a new cassette every other chain, than spend an
hour cleaning my chain for every 2 hours I spend riding?

It doesn't take an hour to clean the chain.

I have two chains either of which at any given time is "in cleaning/lubing".
Cleaning just means shaking the chain in solvent which is then filtered and
used again with the same chain. Lubing means leaving the chain in bath of
oil for a while and then hanging it up for the excess to drain off,
following which the chain is wiped with a cloth and is then ready for use.

The whole process is spread over a period several days depending on when I
am in the shed and in the mood for a couple of minutes "work".

Having said this, I don't know how clean my chains really are (inside) after
all this and whether they will last longer but I like putting a "fresh"
chain on every week or so!

Phileas




  #9  
Old July 30th 03, 01:55 PM
David Damerell
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

Rick Onanian wrote:
Am I the only one who'd rather spend $25 on a new chain once every
couple years, and a new cassette every other chain, than spend an
hour cleaning my chain for every 2 hours I spend riding?


A couple of years it's not, but you are not the only such person. I get
cheaper chains (more like $10 in your money) and more awkwardly obtained
cassettes, so I follow the 12 1/16" recommendation and aim to get three or
four chains to a cassette, but life's too short to do any more than oil
them when they squeak.
--
David Damerell Kill the tomato!
  #10  
Old July 30th 03, 02:31 PM
asqui
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Default Yet another thread on chain cleaning

I did three rinses of White Spirit and it worked like a dream! It was kind
of scary to see the WS go completely black virtually instantly in the first
and second repetition. (This is after I had cleaned it as best I could with
rags and degreaser aeresol!)

I left it to soak for a few hours then in the last repetition the WS
remained dark but transparent after some shakes so I fished it out and hung
it up to dry. I didn't bother saving the previous dirty WS because I figured
the grease was dissolved in it and would stay dissolved forever. The last
one I did leave in the bottle to use as the first rinse next time.

This morning the chain was beautifully clean, inside and out. I could feel
its love eminating.

I cleaned the sprockets and chainrings, put it back on, gave it a liberal
spray of lube (I believe it is called Super Spray Lube or something, and
apparently it is recommended my the British Cycling Federation... so I guess
it can't be that bad, even if the PTFE claims are bogus.) The chain looks
beautiful. I'm not sure how long it will stay clean (I think much longer
than it did this time, after they lubed the dirty chain with heavy grease,
and then I foolishly rode it). The LBS guy did after all sell me this lube
as an alternative to wax!

Then I measured the chain......

It would appear that it is getting rather close to half a rivet width off at
the 12 inch mark. (When at full tension from the derailer) How can this
be??? I checked the chain on my old bike (I cringed when I saw its state...
bearing in mind it was left in a relatively "clean" condition for storage)
It had barely any stretch, and I never cleaned that thing at all, with
anything, and lubricated it with WD-40 (*cringe*) then later Halfords chain
wax. I have done ~1,000 miles on it and that's after I bought it used! How
can this brand new chain be so stretched after only ~800mi from new?

Is it possible that being so clean and free of heavy oil/gunk inside has
made it seem longer?

I tried the "pull the chain off the front of big chainring and see how much
it moves" technique and it barely moves. The movement is localised to one
complete link only, and less than half a tooth height (using this test I
believe the criteria for a new chain is when you can pull it away more than
a tooth height).

What is going on here? Do 9 speed chains wear a lot faster when not taken
care of, because they are so loose that grit can get inside much more
readily?


Dani


 




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