Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => Topic started by: Crumbling Nick on August 25, 2013, 09:51:42 pm

Title: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on August 25, 2013, 09:51:42 pm
Prompted by Biggsy's suggestion : -
Controversial:
    With your next chain, you could try NEVER thoroughly cleaning it or saturating with more lube.  The original factory grease inside should prevent squeaks for the first couple of thousand miles.

I've just fitted a new chain to the primary bike. For the first time in a couple of decades I haven't added any extra chain lub. I shall see how long it all survives. Since typical chain life for this bike is about a couple of thousand miles, there is potentially a signficant benefit if I can get away without oiling. I don't do chain cleaning anyway, but this regime might reduce the level of oil/ferrous(ferric?) stains on my clothing.

Hopefully a gentle wipe of the outside with a rag plus a bit of water-soluble degreaser won't have affected the internal lubricant, but will reduce the crud accumulation problem. I can guarantee that the sideplates will rust visibly, but  that should only be superficial. A more serious concern is whether the lack of externally applied lub. will affect chainring & sprocket wear. That won't be measurable: the current sprocket is now on its 7th chain, and the chainring is far older, probably 25 000 miles.

It's a bad time of year to start. We are in the middle of the meadow mowing season, which means pushing the bike along the paths in the meadows & collecting long grass etc. in the transmission. That's mainly fixed wheel specific, but is going to make my experience pretty unrepresentative.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Rhys W on August 25, 2013, 10:26:38 pm
I tended to leave the factory grease on for at least the first few rides/weeks. A couple of years ago however a KMC chain started squeaking before the end of it's first ride (about 60 miles, and in the dry). Since then I've quite happy to degrease it very soon after installation and continue with my normal lubing regimen (Finish Line Cross Country in the winter, Prolink Progold in the summer).
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on October 11, 2013, 08:43:13 pm
Today I re-tensioned the chain for the first time. It's taken 838 miles. For comparison, the average distance of the same event for the last 7 chains (since I fitted the 50t chainring) was 303 miles.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Montmorency on October 11, 2013, 08:52:44 pm
So the theory is that there's benefit from oiling a chain?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Biggsy on October 11, 2013, 09:11:53 pm
Eh?

The theory is that the original grease is better for the insides of a chain than oil, and/or that some cleaning methods and excessive additional lubrication do more harm than good.

I don't suggest never oiling a chain, just not sooner or more plentifully than necessary while any of the original grease remains.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Canardly on October 11, 2013, 09:13:18 pm
Old chesnut I know, but why do we oil our chains when grease appears to do a better job?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Biggsy on October 11, 2013, 09:16:38 pm
Old chesnut I know, but why do we oil our chains when grease appears to do a better job?

Because we can't get grease into the works of a chain without high pressure or heat.

Actually, you could try spray grease (that contains solvent to help it flow in, then the solvent evaporates), but it's nasty sticky stuff - a faff to get the excess off.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Tewdric on October 11, 2013, 09:26:51 pm
Old chesnut I know, but why do we oil our chains when grease appears to do a better job?

If you can be arsed a through degrease in a parts washer, rinse, blow out with an airline and then immersion in a tobacco tin of hot liquid grease is the best you can do.  Probably.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mzjo on October 12, 2013, 11:59:41 am
Old chesnut I know, but why do we oil our chains when grease appears to do a better job?

If you can be arsed a through degrease in a parts washer, rinse, blow out with an airline and then immersion in a tobacco tin of hot liquid grease is the best you can do.  Probably.

This was the established procedure for motorcycles until the invention of the "O" ring chain. Has anyone yet made "O" ring chains for bicycles? Might be a bit difficult for a derailleur system but should have advantages for single sprockets.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Marco Stefano on October 12, 2013, 09:35:48 pm
Old chesnut I know, but why do we oil our chains when grease appears to do a better job?

If you can be arsed a through degrease in a parts washer, rinse, blow out with an airline and then immersion in a tobacco tin of hot liquid grease is the best you can do.  Probably.

This was the established procedure for motorcycles until the invention of the "O" ring chain. Has anyone yet made "O" ring chains for bicycles? Might be a bit difficult for a derailleur system but should have advantages for single sprockets.

And I inherited a large tin of 'Linklyfe' from Juan Martin for lubing motorcycle chains on the cooker (sorry Mum  :-[ ). Does anyone do this sort of thing for cycle chains (I think Linklyfe would be a little too thick)?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on October 13, 2013, 02:11:47 pm
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/sram-pc951-9-speed-chain/rp-prod9911

When a Sram 9 spd chain costs a tenner from CRC, do you really think I'm going to waste hours cleaning a half worn chain?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Polar Bear on October 13, 2013, 02:36:16 pm
I almost never clean chains.   I buy SRAM pc971's from CRC for £12 and replace the chain annually though I might buy some 951's for a tenner this year and see how they go.   

I have found that a chain skogs up once you put something on it.   Where does all that crap come from?   I will happily de-skog built up over months if I need to work on the bike but otherwise I just let it do it's worst.   I reckon to get five years out of sprockets and chainrings, the latter only being the most frequently used rings at that.    The big ring on the tourer is coming up to it's decade and still going strong.   The middle and granny rings lasted six years, as did the cassette.

Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Kim on October 13, 2013, 02:59:08 pm
PSA: Planet X have PC971s for £9.99.  Shipping is free if you order a recumbent's worth.  Or you can stock up on cheap lights with silly names a la phantasmagoriana.  ;D
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Polar Bear on October 13, 2013, 03:19:04 pm
Excellent spot Kim.  Thamks.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Hot Flatus on October 13, 2013, 04:46:42 pm
I almost never clean chains.   I buy SRAM pc971's from CRC for £12 and replace the chain annually though I might buy some 951's for a tenner this year and see how they go.   

I have found that a chain skogs up once you put something on it.   Where does all that crap come from?   I will happily de-skog built up over months if I need to work on the bike but otherwise I just let it do it's worst.   I reckon to get five years out of sprockets and chainrings, the latter only being the most frequently used rings at that.    The big ring on the tourer is coming up to it's decade and still going strong.   The middle and granny rings lasted six years, as did the cassette.

Whatever works for you, I suppose. I keep mine as clean as poss, only use light oils and take the chain off when the chain gauge says so.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on October 13, 2013, 04:50:55 pm
I find that the factory grease lasts well if there is no rain (I don't add lube until chain starts squeaking).

If the weather is very wet, then the chain loses enough factory grease in a couple of hour's riding that it will be squeaky and start rusting by the next day.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: DrMekon on October 13, 2013, 06:16:11 pm
Same as mrcharly - tried relying on the factory grease. A wet ride later, I had a noisy chain. I do as flatus - regular degreasing and relubing, with regular replacement. The reward is snappy shifts and a drivetrain that doesn't feel draggy.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on November 03, 2013, 09:02:20 pm
Re-tensioned the chain last Monday. It had been rattling a bit before the Netherton tunnel ride, which was quite muddy & gradually became extremely wet during the last couple of hours. The rattling had stopped on Mon., but there were quite a few signs of external (superficial?) rust. Today's ride (very much a personal therapy after a week off the bike due to half-term/grandchildren) produced rattles after 10 miles or so & squeaks shortly after.

Distance since previous re-tensioning was 304 miles. Average distance between re-tensionings with the current chainring is 300 miles. I know it's stochastic (before or after the tunnel ride is 64 miles difference for starters). Nevertheless 1 100 miles without wasting time on chain oiling is a big plus.

But the big surprise was that the distance before first re-tensioning had previously averaged 303 miles, which shows clearly that adding aftermarket lub. is very successful in washing out the chain maker's superior product.

The second surprise was that the outsides of the sideplates were not quite as clean as I had expected. I had had a naive idea that bypassing the question of sticky versus washable lub. would leave a clean chain. But if the maker's lub. isn't inside any longer then it has to have come out. It's evidently capable of spreading quite a long way. Nevertheless it's better than my experience of aftermarket lubes that tolerate wet weather & even some that don't.

I haven't lubed it yet...
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Kim on November 03, 2013, 09:42:43 pm
The OEM lube that I've encountered has been an evilly sticky concoction covering the outside (as well as presumably the inside) of the chain.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Biggsy on November 03, 2013, 10:11:48 pm
Being sticky helps it to ...well, stick - to the works.  I wipe the excess off the outside to begin with and as it seeps out.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on November 04, 2013, 09:23:22 am
The OEM lube in a chain is IIRC, what the manufacturer recommends. I leave it in there and spray the chain with silicone furniture polish.
After three months, I check the elongation. After another three months, I replace the chain, which is usually near its limit.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 04, 2013, 09:27:58 am
hmm - that's one I've never tried.

How well does it stand up to wet weather?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on November 04, 2013, 12:34:40 pm
hmm - that's one I've never tried.

How well does it stand up to wet weather?

Like water off a duck's back.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 05, 2013, 09:23:08 am
Well I've just fitted a new chain and applied a sample of goop - some wierd stuff that a company sent me. Will report name of product and success later.

Wish I'd seen the furniture polish post first now!
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on November 06, 2013, 12:12:48 am
Well I've just fitted a new chain and applied a sample of goop - some wierd stuff that a company sent me. Will report name of product and success later.

Wish I'd seen the furniture polish post first now!
Do you have ways of quantifying the benefit (or otherwise)?
I'll be the first to admit that mine are pretty rough & ready, but they are quantitative.

Nevertheless 1100 miles without having to apply anything to the chain suits me very well. I have realised that I spend far more time lubricating the chain than I do re-tensioning the fixed-wheel transmission, & I consider the latter to be a nuisance.

I'd tend towards caution about furniture polish. Any polish is basically a fine abrasive (just what your chain needs to make it shiny :demon:). The remaining ingredients have traditionally been about clever salemanship.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 06, 2013, 12:14:45 am
I'd tend towards caution about furniture polish. Any polish is basically a fine abrasive (just what your chain needs to make it shiny :demon:). The remaining ingredients have traditionally been about clever salemanship.

I'm not sure about this. I've made up my own polish. Wax, oils and a minor solvent.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on November 06, 2013, 12:25:44 am
If you've made up your own without abrasives, I withdraw my reservations. I'll be interested to see the results, since I'm only too well aware of the effects of wet weather.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on November 06, 2013, 07:10:24 am
The economies of chain cleaning and lubing are well documented on the CTC forum.
AFAIC, a £9.99 chain can last a few months and then is replaced. Cleaning and lubing is a quick procedure.
Those who buy £25 chains have also bought themselves into time wasting cleaning and lubing their expensive acquisition.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Biggsy on November 06, 2013, 11:01:18 am
I suppose the stuff sold as "furniture polish" is more of a "furniture shiny-upper" than a true polish.

Wax on top of oil and grease sounds a recipe for nasty sludge to me.  (Wax on a dry chain being a different matter).
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 06, 2013, 11:16:55 am
I think the sort of spray mentioned by Ningz has the wax component replaced by silicone
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on November 13, 2013, 09:10:50 pm
Chain re-tensioned for the third time today. It was only 127 miles since the previous tensioning. I think that's short enough to show that all traces of the original lub. had gone, but I feel it was worth continuing the experiment to confirm the conventional wisdom that a rattly, squeaky chain wears very rapidly. Progold has now been applied. I no longer have to suppress my mechanical sympathies ;).

Hopefully that's the penultimate report for this chain.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on June 25, 2015, 10:31:04 pm
Chain finally replaced when the rear axle reached the end of the dropouts with the 20t sprocket. It had lasted 4463 miles. For comparision, average life of the previous 7 chains, using the same criterion, was 2849 miles & maximum was 3492 miles.

It's an encouraging result, but I don't consider it a valid comparison. After 1770 miles I swapped from the 20t cog to the 22t, due to the effects of atrial fibrillation. Although I was riding over the same terrain, albeit more slowly, chain tension will have been 10% lower, & chain flexing about 7% lower. I'm no tribologist, so wouldn't try to guess the effect on wear rate.

Nevertheless it's encouraging, so I'm trying the same lubrication regime with the new chain, apart from applying lub. when the chain first starts to get noisy. Hopefully the operation to fix AF (6 weeks ago) will soon let me go back to the 20t cog.

Meanwhile, I measured the distance I had moved the axle back. 6.6 mm is about 1% chain elongation. My previous measurement techniques, showing about 0.5%, were badly wrong  :( . At least I now know why I've had tooth wear problems on the Galaxy cassettes & chainrings.

Edited to correct percentages elongation
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on June 26, 2015, 08:31:58 am
On a Sturmey or any single speed or hub gear bike, the chain needs replacing when it has worn to 10.2 inches over a 10 rivet length.
Not when the spindle reaches the extremity of the dropout.

When the chain is new, the spindle should be in line with the centre line of the chainstay.
The amount of adjustment from there, if the dropouts are parallel with the rear brake blocks, will not effect the brake block to rim brake track relationship. Much, well not that can be noticed.

When a chain is worn beyond the 2 % limit, sprocket and chainring teeth suffer.
As you've found out.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Crumbling Nick on June 26, 2015, 03:15:33 pm
Thanks Ningishzidda. I managed to lose a decimal place in the sums & have duly corrected the percentages in my post. A quick revisit of Sheldon Brown's advice (http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html) confirms that my wear limit is about right when the axle reaches the rear of the dropouts (actually more like 1.3% than 1.0%).

I'm not suggesting this as a general procedure, it is just fortuitous that it works on my frame & 50x20 gearing. What is slightly more to the point, it is less prone to measurement error IME than measuring 10.1 inches (or even 10.05 in the case of a derailleur chain), or the metric equivalent, with a steel ruler. Also my traditional method of measuring the length of the whole chain before it goes in the bin doesn't appear to give the correct answer.

However the main point in the case of this experiment is that the chain wear at replacement is more consistent between chains.

Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: rogerzilla on July 01, 2015, 09:14:31 pm
Old rule of thumb is to replace the chain before 12 full links (24 half links) are 12 1/16".  If it gets to 12 1/8" your sprocket(s) are almost certainly shot and will crackle horriby with a new chain.

I have heard of three chain maintenance regimes (not including total neglect))

1. Fully degrease and clean the chain back to bare metal when you clean the bike.  Only re-lube when completely clean and dry.
2. Just add oil when it looks a bit dry
3. Jetwash and spray with GT85

None seems any better than the others in terms of chain life.  I think they basically pick up enough grit to do damage on the first ride when clean and it neither gets better or worse after that.  The muck you see on a really dirty chain is, of course, on the outside and wearing the teeth of the sprockets rather than the chain; the stuff wearing bigger holes around the pins is very fine stuff.

The main thing to avoid is a dry, squeaky or rusty chain as this means a fairly severe loss of efficiency/
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Kim on July 01, 2015, 09:23:03 pm
I thought dry chains were supposed to be surprisingly efficient, albeit noisy?

Top tip: If you are a cyclist with ears of a certain age, and haven't lubed your chain for a while, don't assume that it's not squeaky...

Agreed that rust is the main thing to avoid.  I use posh nickel-plated chains on the bike that does the winter miles, simply so it doesn't go solid if I get back from a wet salty ride and proceed to ignore it for a few days.  I killed an almost new HG53 by doing that once.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: andrew_s on July 01, 2015, 10:44:38 pm
Chain Lube testing article (http://www.lillylube.com/uploads/Link_to_Velo_Article.pdf)
(used to be available in a slightly fuller form on the friction facts website, but they seem to have started charging for it now)

Power losses in the chain range from about 4.5 watts to about 8 watts,out of 250W, depending on the lube used.
Paraffin waxes seem generally better than oils, and thick oils generally better than thin oils.
One of the most efficient oils was extra virgin olive oil  ;D
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Kim on July 02, 2015, 12:13:08 am
Chain Lube testing article (http://www.lillylube.com/uploads/Link_to_Velo_Article.pdf)

Very interesting, thanks.  Shame they didn't test a dry chain and a wet (with water, before the rust sets in) chain for comparison.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: andrew_s on July 02, 2015, 09:51:13 am
Shame they didn't test a dry chain and a wet (with water, before the rust sets in) chain for comparison.
That's what I was looking for, having half a memory of having seen wet chain numbers somewhere.
I seem to recall that a wet chain (as in still being rained on) isn't all that much worse than a normally oiled chain, but it dries and stops lubricating very quickly.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on July 02, 2015, 11:07:17 am
I thought dry chains were supposed to be surprisingly efficient, albeit noisy?

Top tip: If you are a cyclist with ears of a certain age, and haven't lubed your chain for a while, don't assume that it's not squeaky...

Agreed that rust is the main thing to avoid.  I use posh nickel-plated chains on the bike that does the winter miles, simply so it doesn't go solid if I get back from a wet salty ride and proceed to ignore it for a few days.  I killed an almost new HG53 by doing that once.

"Noise" is vibrating air reaching your ears. Something makes the air vibrate, and its energy released by dry metal scraping over dry metal. Energy that could otherwise be transmitted to the sprocket.
'Noise energy is wasted energy'.

This last statement is also true of cyclists' mouths.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on July 02, 2015, 11:11:01 am
What would we do without your wisdom, Ningishzidda?
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: zigzag on July 02, 2015, 11:26:41 am
every time i have tried different wax based lubricants i said to myself it's the last time i'm using them. i appreciate that the drivetrain stays cleaner but the frequency that the chain needs lubing is too much (every 100k in my experience, if you want a quiet chain).
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Ningishzidda on July 02, 2015, 02:12:01 pm
After all these years, I decided the silicone based furniture polish the cleaner uses at work, is as good as any expensive stuff bought at extortionate prices at a LBS.
Title: Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
Post by: Jacomus on July 03, 2015, 01:08:44 pm
I used to be keen on a degrease and lube with Finishline Super Ultra Gold Shiny Wallet Damage 2000 routine. I was always happy with it and certainly didn't pay enough attention to wear rates etc that I'd worry about or even notice a difference. I did however spend bloody ages cleaning the bike!

Then I had a lifestyle change and have for a long while now just used LM2 grease on the chain. It stays put through a remarkable amount of rain and doesn't seem to get flung off, though of course it is black and gungy, and you definitely don't want to brush clothes against it!

It's simple, low effort, cheap and seems to work very well indeed.