Chain Waxing

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  • Could someone advise on why this might not be a good idea

    I thought we'd already covered this­incontext/

  • So in "explain it like I'm 5" terms, it's about keeping dirt out? Doesn't the bearing shield do most of that work?

  • it's about keeping dirt out?

    No, it's about how to get the lubrication to be somewhat in the vicinity of where it's needed. The compromise with ball bearings in hubs and the like is to use a somewhat fluid lubricant which can flow into the shearing zone which is a part of the ball/race contact, having been dragged into the conflict by the rolling balls. In order to keep the grease from being ejected, and to keep everything else out, the bearing has shields or seals. This works well at the low speeds involved; high speed rolling element bearings use oil, but that needs more complex containment than is practical in most bicycle components.

    A bicycle chain does not have the ability to retain a fluid lubricant for long, or to keep it clean, and the main contacts are sliding rather than rolling, so there is little mechanism to drag lubricant into the shearing zone. On the other hand, the pressure between plates is low enough that a solid wax will not be ejected, so metal to metal contact can be largely avoided in this region. It's not clear that wax alone will do much in the high pressure areas around the pins and rollers, but it can act as a carrier for other solid lubricants such as MoS2

  • And yes, that is how I talk to 5 year olds, although in practice I will resort to demonstrations with household goods. Explaining chip formation on a lathe is easier when you have a block of butter and a butter knife to hand­pek

  • That makes sense, thanks

  • Mmm, the first one looks like well marbled steak. :D

  • FWIW, I just did a full chain clean (white spirit, methylated spirit baths, etc.), but couldn't quite bring myself to do the full immersion wax. I've put on Tru-Tension Tungsten All Weather lube instead, after a good write up on ZFC.

    You shake the bottle to mix up whatever is in there. It comes out thin and penetrates the rollers nicely, but changes after 5-10 mins into a waxy finish.

    Seems to work really well. The first 50km was great at least.

  • I find the initial chain clean the tricky part.
    The rest is quite easy.

    I’be been using ‘food grade’ paraffin wax (no additives) since January (about 5.5k km). I usually switch or re-wax chains roughly every 350km or a very wet/muddy ride (whichever comes first) on the geared bikes and much less often on the fixed bike.

    Getting good quicklinks helps.

    I just use boiling water, wipe, dry and dunk chains in a slow cooker. I’ve only used ~£5 of wax so-far.

    It’s a bit early to say if component wear is less. I’m appreciating the clean bikes and less grease around the house.

  • Nice! 350km is a lot less than I'm getting from speedway, but it sounds like the wax is far cheaper.

    Are you changing chains because it starts squeaking, or just proactively?

  • I didn't really pay attention to miles but I'd just throw the chain in the pot any time I noticed it had got a bit noisier or if I'd come back from a wet/dirty ride. I just keep using the same paraffin and letting the particles settle at the bottom and then scrape the bottom crust off before each use.­88742404901351425

  • proactively

    This. I’d rather keep it coated. You can get rust spots (and probably some wear) if you push it. I guess in the dry I could easily get 500km before noise but I never get through that distance dry!

  • Now at 7500km on a shimano 11s chain using Squirt and it’s nowhere near .75 on the chain checker. Seems certain to go 10k, perhaps 15.

  • Are you and @hippy both doing boiling water from the kettle on the chain before you put it in the wax pot, or just straight into the wax pot off the bike?

    I may test out much shorter intervals before changing, as I've been getting some corrosion spots over the last 9 months waxed when replacing once it squeaks.

  • I’ve been putting the chain in a jar, pouring over some boiled water, let it sit a few mins, giving a couple of gentle agitations then pouring away. And doing this a couple of times before wiping dry, leaving the hot chain to air dry fully before waxing.

    If you dry the chain properly you can just dunk it in and out the wax in seconds. If you don’t ….. you’ll probably see bubbles that’ll continue (sometimes for an hour or so) as wax works it’s way in.

    I’m not sure the hot-water jar-clean is doing anything other than keeping the liquid wax cleaner for longer. Hippy’s method (chain goes straight in the wax, scrape off settled dirt from the cooled wax block) might be 80% as effective for 20% the effort 🤷♂️

    I figure if the chain is squeaking it’s wearing (stretching and wearing cassettes). I try and avoid that on the geared bikes. Fewer fucks are given on the fixed chains.

  • Straight into the pot. Sometimes I'll heat the wax in advance sometimes I just throw it on the wax and turn the pot on. Once it's to heat, just swish it around a bit, turn it off and then take the chain out once it's cooled down a bit.

  • I just look at my chains and they're at 75% worn

  • 80% as effective for 20% the effort

    My life in a nutshell.

  • This guy recommends adding some paraffin oil to your homebrew wax when riding in wet conditions or mtb to prevent corrosion. He does precede this by saying the oil will attract dirt... soooo basically... is there a point in all that faff? lolz

  • Depends if you're doing it for efficiency gains or for cleanliness gainz.

    It would also depend how often you wax your chain - are you doing a mult-day tour in Scotland or an XC race once a week?

  • Cleanliness gainz is the priority. But I don't want to be swapping waxed chains out after every wet ride. Going to start with the everyday commuter and see how it goes. Then perhaps the weekend bikepacking rig.

  • Oz highly recommends adding 1.6 micron PTFE powder to paraffin at 1:10 ratio. A bag is like 10 quid so might try it. Although maybe that just gains a watt or 2 at the risk of it all washing off more easily.

  • Has anyone made their own chain wax in a bottle? Looks really easy and cheap as you just take a bit of your paraffin block (+ PTFE powder if you used it), some isopropyl alcohol and heat it inside an applicator bottle. Sounds good for longer rides and lazy maintenance and saves re-buying Squirt etc. Plus you will always have the materials on hand to make more batches in future.

  • Don't think I'll be heating it up in an open top kettle though :s

  • I have a Ceramic Speed cocaine chain I need to relube with their UFO Drip stuff. I presume I'm going to need to clean off all the powder first and start from scratch with Drip?

  • I don't have a cocaine chain (although that sounds fun) but I use their drip lube to top up a MSW chain. Works really well to extend time between waxes.

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Chain Waxing

Posted by Avatar for hippy @hippy