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Home brew lube questions(12 posts)

Home brew lube questionstxcross
Aug 29, 2003 11:28 AM
It looks like the standard is 3 parts mineral spirits and one part 10w-30 motor oil.

How big a batch do you usally make?
What do you store it in?
How do you apply it to your chain? (medicine dropper)

Also, how does it work on mountain bikes? It seems it would collect a lot of dirt and grime.

I assume you mean chain lube ...Humma Hah
Aug 29, 2003 11:39 AM
Keep in mind, I ride singlespeed or fixed, using chains with masterlinks. I take the whole chain off, soak it in dirty mineral oil, move it to cleaner mineral oil for a rinse, then give it a bath in a motor oil/mineral spirits mix. I run closer to 4:1, mineral spirits to Mobil 1 5W30.

This system resides in 3 one-gallon paint cans (you can buy them at any paint store). Each contains less than a quart of mineral spirits. I use a hardware cloth basket to put parts in these baths for cleaning.

You could mix up smaller quantities of lube by simply putting a tablespoon or two of mineral spirits into a freshly-emptied motor oil bottle and giving it a shake. The exact proportions are not critical. The mineral spirits evaporate, leaving a thin layer of oil, and the goal is to apply the oil quite sparingly.

Dirt on the surface of a chain is ugly but harmless. Dirt washed INTO the link pins is the harmful thing. Most brush-on methods are as likely to put more gunk into the chain as they are to lube the chain.

Don't obsess too much about it: chains lead a short but useful life, and I prefer to change them WAY before they show any noticable stretch. Chains are cheaper than cogs.
How do you apply it? Also,bicyclerepairman
Aug 29, 2003 12:06 PM
1.) WD-40 is available in non-aerosol form. I'm guessing that it approximates the lube you're making. I brush it on liberally using a small paintbrush, hoping any grit washed in gets flushed out on the next pass of the brush. 30+ minutes later, I wipe off the outside with a paper towel. Once every 7 to 10 days, or after riding in the rain.

2.) Or use Dri-slide, a molybdenum/graphite formula. It doesn't seem to have caught on, but NOTHING kicked up from the road sticks to it.

3.) I could be throwing money away, but I like replacing sprockets, chainrings, and chains as a set.
WD-40 gives me a headache ...Humma Hah
Aug 29, 2003 12:48 PM
... and is generally considered a scoundrel's lubricant. It does clean and lube pretty well.

I've got a can of Dri-Slide around the garage somewhere. I use it on locks. It is possible to add moly disulfide and graphite to any lube you use, or disperse it in a solvent such as mineral spirits. I think you can get it in powder form for lock lubrication.

My 32-year-old cruiser just retired the original steel chainwheel. The original rear sprocket will go back in service on the original coasterbrake if I can fix the flanges on the coasterbrake. Both parts have 30,000+ miles on them ... neither is significantly worn ... good Schwinn steel. I retired the chainwheel because I found an identical barely-used replacement. OTOH, I replace the chain about every 1000 miles, twice as often as most roadies.

My fixed-gear chainring costs about $56 bucks. I'd rather replace $10 chains more frequently than change that out frequently.
Around 1970 Dri-slide was proposed as a solution tobicyclerepairman
Aug 29, 2003 3:05 PM
the jamming problems encountered with the original M-16 (supposedly a self-cleaning rifle, hahahaha - in retrospect, not funny). Powder form is the only way I've seen it. Thinking about it, ss sprockets and chainrings are built sturdier than their multi-speed counterparts (plus I was assuming an aluminum alloy chainring), so your recommendations get the nod. I'm impressed with the service life your seeing. Still wondering how you apply your homebrew...eyedropper? Spritzer? Grab your bike and jump in the pool (filled) with it? Just curious...whats wrong with the flanges?
I drown the whole chain ...Humma Hah
Aug 29, 2003 3:39 PM
... I just pry off my master link (never did trust home-swaged rivets on those new-fangled de-railler-thingies), put the chain in that custom-made hardware cloth basket, dunk it into the mineral spirits, let it soak until the next commercial, then swoosh like crazy.

Then I drain it, move it to the cleaner mineral spirits bath, and repeat.

Then I dunk it in the mineral spirits/oil bath, swoosh it a bit, and drain it well. Done properly, no grey gunk drains out of the links by this stage.

If I had an ultrasonic bath, I'd use that.

As for the flanges on the Bendix coasterbrake, I now know what finally kills a Bendix (I was wondering if they could be kept in service forever, with occasional bearings, shoes, and grease). The original hub spun in the flanges. They are serrated and pressed together, and the serrations finally let go after 30 years and 30-some-thousand estimated miles. The hub turns, the flanges don't, and the bike just sits there. I may be able to drill out the gap in a few spots, and insert either stainless steel rivets or screws to re-couple flanges to hub.

This particular hub is original to the bike, although all its innards got upgraded to Bendix 1998 parts.
Is there any wear on the hub shell from the brake shoes? ...nmbicyclerepairman
Aug 29, 2003 3:55 PM
Here's the method and WD-40 is NOT a lubeKerry Irons
Aug 29, 2003 4:39 PM
Let some WD-40 evaporate and see what lube is left - essentially nothing. WD-40 is fine for cleaning things, but NOT a lube.

Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink application and use:
1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - sluice on ProLink while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. Also, you'll only need one 4 oz. bottle of ProLink for every 5-10K miles. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.

Three schools of thought: 1) wax lubes (White Lightning is the leading brand), 2) oil lubes (numerous brands, with probably TriFlow and ProLink the leaders), and 3) "magic" lubes that leave some sort of super dooper residue behind (Boeshield). Wax lubes, begun originally by folks soaking their chains in melted paraffin, tend to be clean to the touch, not hold up well in the wet, require relatively frequent application, and in White Lightning's case, are fairly expensive on an annual basis. Oil lubes may have all kinds of secret ingredients and additives, but hold up well in the wet, go long between applications, and if not applied properly, can be really dirty. Type 3 lubes claim that their ingredients leave behind some sort of much superior surface effect than wax or oil, and reported results are mixed. My own preference is for ProLink, which is an oil/additive package diluted perhaps 3X in odorless mineral spirits (OMS). You get a chain cleaning while applying due to the solvent effect, and then if you wipe things clean, oil is left only where needed after the solvent evaporates. TriFlow is just as good a lube, but very hard to wipe your chain clean enough after application to prevent a very messy build up. Some swear by simply diluting 1 part motor oil in 3-4 parts OMS and getting a much cheaper alternative to ProLink (which only costs about $6.5 per 15K miles). Recent simple tests have shown that ProLink leaves behind a more waxy residue than oil/OMS, so it is different than just that.
Dri-Slide - 4th school of thought?...morebicyclerepairman
Aug 29, 2003 6:41 PM
You provided an extremely clear and well reasoned post. I'm a former bicycle mechanic as well as a former motorcycle mechanic, and currently ride both. On a motorcycling website ( a thread began a couple of years ago with a number of riders using WD-40 (only) on their roadbike chains - modern 'o' ring types - and claiming much longer chain life. Their theory: road grit is 95-99% responsible for chain wear. I think they're right. I've thought of a test: after cleaning two 12" x 12" panes of glass, on one I will brush on a coat of WD-40. On the other I will brush on a mix of 1 part Castrol GTX 10W30 (this is what I have handy) to 3.5 parts OMS. This will be done with 2 new, identical brushes. I will lean them under an overhang (shaded & protected from rain), outdoors, and compare them after 1 week and again in 1 month to see which is dirtier. Comments?
couple thoughtsFrith
Aug 29, 2003 7:16 PM
so i guess your looking at which holds more airborn particles? What causes chainwear though? light particluate that's small enough to bury itself into the links (possibly the same stuff that sticks to your glass) or would larger more abbrasive particles be more damaging (and/or dirtying because dirtying and damaging may or may not be one and the same).
Glass is a nice surface to test on because it will be easy to see (or even measure) the amount of dirt that's collected...but the smooth surface may give an unfair advantage to one of the lubes (not sure which and quite possibly negligable) You may consider using aluminum sheeting instead.
I say go ahead and do it. I'd be interested to hear the results.
clean and lube...C-40
Aug 29, 2003 4:02 PM
Here's my method of using "homebrew" chain lube for a road bike. For a mountain bike, I suspect that the chain would have to be relubed after every ride of significant length to remove dirt. I only mix up a quart or less at a time. I've stored it in old water bottles, motor oil bottles or any metal can with a screw lid.

I use a mixture of 4 to 5 parts mineral spirits to one part synthetic motor oil to "clean and lube" the chain. Apply the mixture heavily, to the lower section of chain between the rear derailleur and the crank. An old Prolink bottle or contact lens solution bottle work great as applicators. Catch the excess with a paper towel, folded 8 layers thick, held under the chain. Wipe each section of the chain, before rotating the crank to the next section. When the entire chain has been lubed, spin the cranks several turns, wiping with the wet towel. The wet towel can also be used to clean the cogs, derailleur pulleys and chainrings. Follow up with a dry towel. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. If done at least once a week (more often in dirty conditions), the chain will never need removal for additional cleaning and there will never be any lubricant build-up. If you happen to neglect the chain for more than a week, apply the lube twice, to enhance the cleaning effect. The lubing should be done after riding, to allow time for the mineral spirits to evaporate (leaving only a thin coating of oil) before the next ride. This stuff is a wet lube, so expect a slight wet/black look to the chain after riding. A wipe with a dry towel after each ride will keep the chain looking good.

I apply the mix every other ride, which is probably excessive, but I don't get a buildup problem and my chains show virtually no elongation after 3000 miles. I probably use a quart of this mixture every season.
WD-40 is awefulspookyload
Aug 30, 2003 6:18 AM
It is actually a penetrant and will leave a residue that prevents traditional lubes from sticking to your chain after. That is the same reason you don't use gas to clean your bike parts right? Well guess what WD-40 is....aerosol version of diesel.