Chain Waxing: Another Opinion

(CaptM recently posted a comment on my chain waxing article detailing his chain waxing experiences and I thought it merited a post.  My chain waxing article has worked its way up google and has garnered alot of comments, who’d of thought people were so into chain wax.)

Another opinion….
My commuter/urban assault bike is ridden ~22 mi/day in all weather. NYC area road conditions are not exactly clean but nor is it stream-fording wet gravel roads either. I am lazy and busy with other stuff so I am attracted to methods which don’t need too frequent efforts. I would rather spend an hr every few months than have to reapply something for every ride (not going to happen)
So: Twice a yr I clean chain and paraffin wax it. Maybe Use dry lube wax once or twice between. If I am behind on doing it right, I have found Fluid Film (which we use in the marine industry for everything short of cooking) as a fine if not too durable chain lube. We have 55gal drums at work so not using aerosols. But the clock is running on a proper redo once I start using solventy lubes.
When I am heading into cleaning my chain, I use WD40 for a ride and then a thorough soaking with the same before starting to actually clean chain. To clean it, I just use strait Simple Green in Park chain washer. 3 or 4 changes of washer get chain squeaky clean (judge by color of Simple green). Same results are likely with orange cleaner. in the event of odd ball lubes leaving hard gunky residue, oven cleaner is amazing stuff!
If I am feeling really motivated, I remove chain (SRAM link) and wash again in clean diesel (gas is really silly too dangerous for this). Then once again in simple green. Quart yogurt container works a treat.
Dry with compressed air or shop vac or use denatured alcohol wash which picks up water and dries very fast. It is easy to bathe in wax in double boiler. Truth is, the hot wax displaces the water but you get an emulsion in bottom of pot if there is a lot of water in chain so if you put it in wet you have to keep chain off bottom of pot…. However once wax cools water can be gotten of bottom of now solid wax ready for next time. Ok so clearly easier to dry it first! BTW I think you could skip Simple green after diesel wash. Diesel and Wax co-soluble so no big deal so long as it is not too much and definitely not dirty.
If, as I am often, I am too lazy to remove chain from bike I have good luck with the heat gun method mentioned above. Once the chain is clean and dry (shop vac works great), heat a section, rub the wax on the warm section. The wax softens and kind of gunks up on top of the chain ( I work on lower half). Heat it again and the wax flows into the pins and rollers beautifully. If doing it that way I usually go around the chain twice to be sure of getting it well into every link. If you over do it, you just end up with waxy derailleur wheels and cassette after a few rides.
Lastly I usually have access to a hose at both ends of my ride so I wash drive train off regularly especially after wet ride. It never takes the wax off but always washes grit away. Cassette/pulleys stay looking fresh for months.
So long story short. I reckon wax is good. I have the whole routine down to under an hour and I have a good quiet smooth shifting chain all yr long for a total of < 3 hr/yr. I think I might try bee’s wax mixture in fall application as the straight paraffin is pretty brittle in the cold. The softer bees wax might be stickier in colder months. Don’t want it too sticky tho as grabbing grit would defeat long service interval – major benefit of wax.
Something I have never tried is melting wax into derailleur joints and such. might be good there too.
Anybody tried the sheep dip or whatever it is called? We sailors used to rely on sheep lanolin to keep rust free the threads on turnbuckles and such that are regularly bathed in seawater. Thinking I might give it a try, although it is hard to change when you have a method that works….
Great to hear all the ways folks deal with this! Good Luck!

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About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Bikes and components and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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