Author Topic: Chain Lub. - an experiment  (Read 5070 times)

Chain Lub. - an experiment
« 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.

Rhys W

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #1 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).

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #2 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 08:52:44 pm »
So the theory is that there's benefit from oiling a chain?

Biggsy

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #4 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.
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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #5 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?
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Biggsy

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #6 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.
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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #7 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #8 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.

Marco Stefano

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #9 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)?

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #10 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?

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #11 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.


Kim

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #12 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
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2013, 03:19:04 pm »
Excellent spot Kim.  Thamks.  :thumbsup:

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #14 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #15 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.
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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #16 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #17 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...

Kim

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #18 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.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Biggsy

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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #19 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.
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Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #20 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #21 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?
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #22 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.

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #23 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!
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Chain Lub. - an experiment
« Reply #24 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.